If you're a person who isn't exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning without a hot cuppa joe, you have lots of company. Whether folks take it black, creamy, sweet or flavored, coffee helps get them on their feet and ready to face the day. For those on the run, there are a number of ways to prepare homemade "instant" coffee.
Use the Best Coffee Beans
Good coffee, instant or not, starts with the proper ingredients. Use high-quality coffee beans and pure, clean water. Yes, it's OK to use packaged ground coffee, but truth be told, the best brew comes from freshly ground beans.
Know your measurements. Have on hand a graduated, clear-glass measuring container that holds at least 2 cups. Typically, it takes 1 to 2 tablespoons of your instant coffee grounds to make a 6-ounce cup of coffee, so adjust that to suit yourself. Also, bear in mind that your water should be not quite at the boiling point when added to the grounds.
Use a Good Coffee Grinder
A well-equipped coffee-lover's kitchen should include a decent grinder, and burr grinders tend to do a better job than blade grinders. Burr grinders deliver uniformly sized grounds of adjustable coarseness, and unlike blade grinders, they tend not to overheat (and thereby damage) the grounds. Both manually operated and electric models are available.
Grind only the amount of beans you'll be using in the next day or so. Whole beans should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. If your mornings are super rushed, prepare your instant coffee grounds the night before.
Instant Coffee: How to Make It Yourself
The shortest journey to "instant" coffee is simply to set your electric coffeemaker ahead of time for a morning brew. That way, when your alarm goes off, you'll awaken to that oh-so-beckoning coffee aroma, and all that's left to do is to make your way to the kitchen. If this isn't an option, there are other helpful devices available to you.
- A French press is a simple, manual device that consists of a plunger and container into which you add your grounds and water. You have to allow the mixture to steep for a few minutes. Then, push down the plunger to force the coffee grounds to the bottom of the container, making it easy to pour out liquid only.
- AeroPress claims that it has gone the French press one better with its own immersion coffee maker that combines both a fine mesh and paper filter in its plunger. AeroPress says this device can produce up to 3 cups of coffee in one minute and can also be used to make espresso.
- A Keurig brewer makes single-cup servings super fast, and the company offers the option of recyclable pods. Still, the ground coffee inside those pods isn't fresh, and depending on your coffee consumption, you might find the cost prohibitive for this single-use gadget.
No-Frills Homemade Instant Coffee
Even if you don't have any special equipment on hand, you can make decent DIY instant coffee at home or away in just a few minutes.
- In order to make pour-over coffee without a fancy apparatus, place a regular coffee filter on top of your coffee cup, allowing for overhang so that it can be secured with a rubber band. Spoon your instant coffee grounds into the middle of the filter and pour very hot water over it slowly.
- Note that even when you're using nearly boiling water for the steeping, it will cool a bit before it's ready to drink. If you need your coffee to be piping hot, try using an insulated container or mug.
- Tea bags work for tea, so why not coffee bags for coffee? Put your grounds in the center of a regular coffee filter and then pull it up by the edges and tie tightly with string. Dunk the "coffee bag" into a cup of very hot water and let it steep for a few minutes. Press the wet bag against the side of the cup to extract as much flavor as possible.
- Folded-over cheesecloth or clean, lint-free fabric can be used instead of paper coffee filters. Avoid using paper towels since hot water may cause them to break down.
Making "Cowboy Coffee"
"Cowboy coffee" is the most basic of all and can be made at either home or camp. Just heat up water in a saucepan. When it's almost boiling, add ground coffee, cover the saucepan, remove it from the heat and leave it alone for a few minutes.
When the coffee is ready, pour it into your cup, being careful not to disturb the grounds that have settled at the bottom of the pan. This takes some practice, and you'll probably wind up with a bit of grit no matter what you do.
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