In these challenging times, rituals are comforting. Whether it's putting on the same pair of house slippers every day or getting in your daily yoga session, there's something deeply therapeutic about a repeated action that you know can kick-start your day.
For many people, an essential morning habit is brewing some coffee. While some bleary-eyed individuals haphazardly throw some spoonfuls of grounds into a filter basket, add water from the sink and press a button, others painstakingly weigh their grounds and monitor their water temperature to extract the perfect cup.
If you want to mix up your approach to morning coffee — or if your approach, until a few weeks ago, was standing in line for a to-go cup, and now you need a refresher — keep scrolling, for a number of ways to create your own comforting morning beverage.
In a pot
Brewing coffee in a pot? What other method is there, you may ask. Well, a multitude, in fact, but we'll start with in a pot. "All coffee varieties can be used in any machine or device, it's one of the beautiful things about coffee — you can literally have a never-ending coffee experience," says Giorgio Milos, master barista at Italy-based coffee company Illy.
"I find it really satisfying to carve out a morning ritual of coffee brewing that allows me to prepare my coffee exactly how I like it," says Allie Caran, director of education at Brooklyn-based roaster Partners Coffee. And one way she likes it is from a moka pot.
Commonly known as "stovetop espresso," the moka pot creates a concentrated beverage similar to espresso, Caran explains: "a dense, big-bodied cup of coffee that tastes best with chocolate-forward coffees."
Bialetti Moka 6-Cup Express Espresso Maker ($34.99; target.com)
3-Cup Cuisinox Liberta Espresso Maker ($93.99, originally $115.46; wayfair.com)
This one's a less traditional, downright chic option that's good for coffee for one.
For espresso-strength coffee via a six-cup moka pot, Caran recommends 20 grams of coffee — you can try a little more or less, for your tastes.
The water: Boil your water, then let it sit for a few moments. Unscrew the moka pot. Fill the bottom chamber with the amount of water you're using depending on the size of your pot.
The grounds: Grind your beans, espresso grind.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro ($199.95; crateandbarrel.com)
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder ($139; amazon.com)
Both of these conical burr grinders "offer an easy user experience, create a wide range of consistent grind sizes, and take up little space on the counter. And both companies provide excellent support," Caran says.
The weight: Measure out 20 grams of finely ground coffee.
"One of the best tools to invest in for your home coffee setup is a gram scale," says Caran. "Similar to baking, coffee brewing can be unforgiving in taste when it comes to measurement error. Using a scale allows you to create — and recreate! — the same delicious coffee over and over again."
Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale and Timer ($50.48, originally $56.50; amazon.com)
This one can measure to 0.1 gram increments and includes a helpful brewing timer.
The brew: Place grounds into the filter basket, then carefully place it on top of the bottom chamber. Screw the top of the moka pot on.
Place the pot onto your stove burner, and turn burner to medium. "Once heat is applied, the water will force its way through the grounds and into the top half of the brewing vessel," Caran explains. When brewing has begun, you'll hear your moka pot gurgling and hissing — the happy sounds of your concoction at work.
The serve: You'll know the brew is finished when the gurgle-hissing stops, and when you smell the freshly brewed coffee. Take the pot off the burner and serve coffee immediately.
Caran likes to top her espresso with a touch of freshly whipped milk made with a handheld frother "for an elevated experience," she says.
"I like using the Aerolatte because it's powerful and compact and has proven to be incredibly durable over time," she says.
Milos likes a mechanism that involves a paper filter, because it strains the water through the grounds "almost completely to make a cleaner and sweeter coffee." At home, Milos is a purist.
"Every coffee-lover should have a Chemex," he says. "It's elegant to have on the counter or shelf, and makes a stellar coffee if used properly." Intimidated by a Chemex? Don't be.
Chemex 6-Cup Pour-Over Glass Coffee Maker ($43.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
The water: Boil the water, in a gooseneck kettle if possible. "Water is up to 99% of your coffee, depending on your method of extraction, so using good water is fundamental," Milos says. "Tap is okay if it tastes good and is free of chlorine, filtered is better unless it's soft in minerals. Spring water is best unless it is hard in minerals and tastes slightly salted."
Barista Warrior Pour Over Kettle with Thermometer ($38.97, originally $46.99; amazon.com)
Heat 25% more water than necessary for your brew, Milos advises. For home brewing, he recommends a standard ratio of 50-60 grams of coffee per liter of water (that's about four 8-ounce cups, or two grandes). "From there you can adjust to your taste," Milos says.
The grounds: Grind the beans. You can of course use preground beans, but if you're bothering to use a Chemex, Milos suggests going the extra mile and grinding your own. He uses a scale at home for more precise measurements, but if you prefer to measure with existing kitchen tools, Milos suggests using cups instead of tablespoons. He recommends ⅛ cup (about 8 grams of coffee beans or grounds) for every 5 fluid ounces of water, based on the 60 grams per liter ratio.
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder ($249; amazon.com)
Milos uses this burr grinder at home, set to the Chemex setting (you can change it to your brew type).
He notes this type grinds the beans "so that the ground is not homogeneous in particle size — there are fine and coarser particles mixed together. This is fundamental in transfusion methods like pour-over because the coarse particles facilitate the passage of the water."
Oxo Brew Conical Burr Grinder with Integrated Scale ($224.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
Milos is also a fan of this grinder, which comes from one of our favorite kitchen brands.
Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill ($46.25; amazon.com)
If you're more of a DIY person, Milos says this hand grinder is a good option.
The pour: Set a paper filter in position.
Chemex Unbleached Square Coffee Filters ($9.95; williamssonoma.com)
Pour 2 ounces of boiled water through the paper filter, and then discard the water. Wetting the filter before adding the coffee eliminates the paper taste. Pour your grounds into the wet filter, and shake gently to even out the pour. Pour just enough water to wet all of your grounds — this is called "blooming" — and wait 30 seconds. If you're a stickler for timing, start a timer so you can start to gauge how long the perfect brew takes. Add the rest of your water, pouring in a circular pattern as slowly as possible.
If your final brew time was less than four minutes, your grind is too coarse, and if it was more than five minutes, your grind is too fine, Milos advises.
The serve: When all the water has dripped through the filter into the carafe, remove the filter and serve. "The best way to serve drip coffee is immediately after brewing and then let it cool down in the cup," Milos says. "Drip coffee stays good for minutes after brewing, and up to an hour if kept in a thermal pot or container."
Rio Insulated 4.25 Cup Server ($29.95; wayfair.com)
Without a coffee maker
At Partners Coffee, the preferred manual brewing method is the individual pour-over, according to Caran. Requiring just a one-cup-size filter and a mug, this may be one of the most streamlined methods for a lovingly created single cup of coffee — but it does take a wee bit more time and attention. The baristas at Partners use the Hario V60 to brew individual cups, using delicate, floral beans.
Hario Ceramic Coffee Dripper ($25; amazon.com)
"V60s are manufactured in Japan and the name refers to the shape (V) and angle of slope (60°). The curved grooves inside help with even extraction," says Caran.
Melitta Pour Over Single Cup Brewing Cone ($4.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
There are also plastic options, which are just as functional and cheaper.
Caran prefers ceramic drippers though, as they "allow for heat retention while brewing, where heat can escape a plastic brew quickly. For long-term wear and tear, ceramic brewers are nonporous and won't stain as quickly as plastics."
The setup: Fold paper filter, place in ceramic or plastic dripper, wet paper filter with boiled water.
Melitta Natural Brown Coffee Filter 100-Count ($3.42; target.com)
The water and grounds: Add coffee and shake gently to ensure there is a flat, even bed of grounds. For V-60 pour-overs, Partners uses a 1:15 ratio (1 gram of coffee to 15 grams of water). For an 02 size Hario filter, Caran uses 23 grams of fine to medium ground coffee.
The pour: Place your brewing vessel (that could be a 12- or 16-ounce mug, or a Mason or Ball jar that fits under the V60), your V60 and your V60 filter, all assembled, on a digital kitchen scale, like the one Caran recommends under the moka pot section. Pour a little boiled water into your empty paper filter to prewet and preheat the brewer, then discard the water. Reset the entire setup back on the scale. Add your 23 grams of ground coffee. Press "tare" on the scale — that means to reset it to zero after something is placed on top — make sure the scale is at 0.00, and start your timer. Slowly pour boiled water using a circular motion, avoiding the sides when possible.
Hario V60 Buono Gooseneck Coffee Kettle, Electric ($67.55; amazon.com)
For steady pouring, Caran likes an electric kettle with a gooseneck spout.
Brew is complete when the scale reaches 360 grams, approximately three minutes. Discard filter and coffee grounds, and serve fresh coffee immediately.
Now, if you find yourself woefully without any real coffee equipment whatsoever, don't fear.
"Making coffee at home without a coffee maker is easy if you have a way to separate the ground coffee from the liquid: a type of mesh, cloth, paper, metal, etc.," says Illy's Milos. You simply steep the ground coffee in hot — not boiling — water for no more than four minutes, then filter it. Use the same grind as you would for a French press (we'll get to that next): medium-coarse.
BergHoff Ron 7-Inch Cast Iron Open Saucepan ($86.99, originally $134.99; kohls.com)
Find a pitcher-like pot that's stovetop-safe, with a spout for easy pouring. Something like this works in a pinch.
Circulon Innovatum Aluminum Covered Straining Saucepan ($29.99; target.com)
For a more budget-friendly option, check out this sweet red saucepan with a grippy handle.
The water: Using the same 1:15 ratio of grounds to water, add your water to the pot and bring to boil.
The grounds: Use the amount of medium to coarsely ground coffee per the ratio above.
The brew: You have two options with this method: Steep the grounds in the boiled water and then filter after four minutes, either through a metal strainer or through a paper filter.
Or put the dry grounds into a filter — you can use paper coffee filters as bags, tying them off with food-grade ties — then throw the filter bag into the boiled water and remove after four minutes.
In a French press
A French press, or plunger pot, is a full immersion brewing method, and one of the easiest and most popular methods available. We've gone real deep on French presses in the past, but to reiterate: The full immersion process "creates a heavy body with rich flavors," says Partners' Caran. Her go-to is the Bodum 8-cup.
Bodum 8-Cup French Press ($19.99; worldmarket.com)
The water: Boil your water, then pour off about two ounces into the French press to warm it up. Discard water.
The grounds: Grind 60 grams of beans, coarse.
The pour: Place empty French press on scale (if using). Tare scale. Pour grounds into the empty French press. Press tare again. Start timer. Pour 100 grams of water over the grounds in a circular motion. Gently stir the grounds. At 45 seconds on the timer, pour the remaining 800 grams of water — when the scale reaches 800 grams, or you've added water to just below the silver line on the top of the French press, stop pouring. Place the plunger gently on top of the French press.
The plunge: After four minutes on the timer, slowly, gently press the plunger all the way to the bottom.
The serve: Pour and serve immediately. If you don't serve all the coffee immediately, decant the remainder into another vessel to keep it from continuing to steep. "This will ensure your coffee tastes great even at the last sip," Caran says.
In an automatic drip machine
Though many professional coffee experts like more manual brew methods, there's something to be said for an automated approach. "Automatic drip machines are easy to prepare and quick to deliver, which is great on days when time just isn't on your side," says Caran.
Breville Precision Brewer 12-Cup Thermal Coffee Maker ($299.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
"I love how easy it is to program and that it allows me to customize my recipe as well as preprogramming my morning coffee," Caran says.
Black + Decker 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker ($34.99; amazon.com)
You can't hate on a classic like this one, which has everything you need for a beginner coffee-lover.
For an automatic drip, Caran uses in the range of a 1:14 to 1:17 ratio of coffee grounds to water, depending on how strong you like your coffee. For those measuring in tablespoons, that's about one tablespoon of coffee beans for every 7-8 ounces of water.
Illy Espresso Medium Roast Ground Coffee ($14.99; target.com)
A single blend of 100% Arabica beans, this has a rich, balanced flavor .
Partners Coffee, Coffee Filter Blend Brooklyn ($15; amazon.com)
This blend has sweeter notes, like chocolate, toffee and dried fruit.
Rifle Paper Co. for Anthropologie Garden Party Monogram Mug ($10.50, originally $14; anthropologie.com)
You're going to all the trouble to weigh and slowly brew your coffee, why not get a monogrammed mug, too?
Rory Reactive Glaze Mug ($10; urbanoutfitters.com)
Charming, like hand-thrown pottery, but they're dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed prices at the time of publication.