A Beginner’s Guide to Finding Good Coffee

Finding good coffee isn’t easy. Although there’s a Starbucks or some kind of cafe on every other street corner, it’s still difficult to track down that perfect cup. There’s more bad coffee out there than good, and if you’re drinking coffee every morning, you want the best of the best.

What is good coffee?

Most people drink at corporations like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Sure, they can be convenient if you’re in a hurry to get to work, but the sad truth is that many people have never tasted good coffee. Coffee is grown as a commodity; as a result, taste is often ignored. Fast food coffee is usually burnt because it’s the only way to make it taste like something after it’s been sitting on a shelf for who-knows-how-long.

Good coffee is something everyone should experience. There are a ton of different varieties of coffee, and there’s a lot more to coffee than the typical light, medium, and dark roasts. The best coffee is at its peak for two weeks at most. Now that you know what good coffee is, how can you find it?

How to find a good cafe

Finding a good cafe is optimal if you don’t want to take the time to make coffee yourself (if you do, we’ll get to that in just a moment). Read online reviews to determine whether a cafe is worth trying. If it is, try their coffee a couple times or ask for a recommendation from one of the baristas.

The most important thing to look for in a cafe is freshly brewed coffee. If the coffee is sitting in a thermos or comes out of a machine, it’s probably not fresh. Most cafes use pour overs, french presses, or aero presses. Make sure the coffee is brewed fresh once you order it, and that it’s not poured from a thermos that’s been sitting around.

Look for cafes that primarily sell coffee. If they sell coffee in addition to breakfast sandwiches and bakery goods, that’s not a good sign, although it’s certainly not a dealbreaker either. However, if they only sell coffee, that means they’re paying attention to the quality of it (their business depends on it).

If the baristas aren’t busy, they should be able to offer recommendations and teach you about their coffee. There should be different coffees available, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Blends like “Ethiopian” or “Costa Rican” are good signs and are usually fresh.

How to make it yourself

Many of the same tips apply if you’re planning to roast your coffee at home. The coffee beans you’re buying should be high quality because they’re the most important ingredient. If you have a cheap coffee maker, you can still make a good cup of coffee if you have quality beans. If you’re serious about making your own coffee, invest in a hand grinder.

Check out local roasters who sell fresh coffee. If not, look online or check out local cafes that carry fresh coffee beans. Make sure the coffee you’re buying has a “roasted on” date to tell you how fresh it is, and try to avoid roasters that only advertise generic, lower quality coffees like “bold” or “dark”. If your roaster is local, ask for recommendations.

If you really want to treat yourself to a good cup of coffee, exchange your Starbucks gift card balance for a coffee subscription provided by Moustache Coffee Club. Supporting grassroots businesses is a great way to give back, especially during the holiday season. Trade convenience for something you’ll actually enjoy drinking, and feel good about paying for it by buying from quality roasters and cafes. Soon, you’ll be such a coffee connoisseur that your friends and family will start coming to you for recommendations.

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