I love coffee. I drink it every day. I love trying new brewing methods at home. I'm also lazy when it comes to my daily cup of coffee. I'm not willing to go through the ridiculous steps most coffee connoisseurs suggest for the "perfect" cup. With that in mind here are a few tips I've picked up over the years to make a good cup of coffee as conveniently as possible.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.
Before we get started, of course the best way for lazy people to get good coffee is to go buy a cup at a coffee shop. With that out of the way, we're talking about home brewing. There are tons of different brewing methods. If you talk to a hardcore coffee fanatic they will argue to death about how their chosen method is the best tasting method. Coffee appreciation can be so complicated that it requires a five lesson guide to really understand.
Unless you spend your life trying every single brewing method and experimenting with tons of different roasts, you'll always be hunting down the perfect cup. That's fun and fine if coffee enjoyment is your hobby, and you find joy in it, but most people don't want to spend that much effort on their morning brew -- and even some coffee connoisseurs don't, either. Most of us just want our morning cup to not suck and be enjoyable to drink. Let's boil that down to its essential steps.
Get Good Coffee Beans and Grind Them Right
Three factors decide the taste of coffee: the beans, the grind and the brewing method. Getting good beans is an easy way to up your coffee game with no real effort on your part. Good beans do cost more money, but it's one of the biggest defining factors of overall taste.
Good news though, coffee roasters around the world have realised just how lazy coffee drinkers are and tons of roasters offer subscription plans for bags of coffee. This means you can have coffee show up at your door weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly with little to no effort on your part. Some local examples include Coffex, The Coffee Post, Ministry Grounds and Coffee Beans Delivered.
With beans in hand, make sure you only grind what you need each morning. I know, this a lazy person's guide and grinding beans can take 15-20 precious seconds of your life, but this is also about good coffee. The fact is, freshly grinding coffee is one of the best ways to a tasty cup, and if you did go ahead and spend a little on good beans, you may as well treat them right. The second you grind coffee, it releases flavour, so you want to grind and brew within minutes of each other to capture that flavour in your cup before it's gone.
Generally speaking, a burr grinder is the top recommendation from coffee snobs because you get an even, uniform grind. According to our friends at the Sweethome, the absurdly priced Baratza Virtuoso is the best option available. I love coffee, but I'm not spending that much money on a grinder. Honestly, just about any burr grinder will do if you're not too particular. The point is that pre-ground coffee tends to taste a little stale, so avoid it and grind your own.
However -- and some people are bound to call me sacrilegious for this -- if you buy your coffee locally on a weekly basis, you can get away with having the coffee shop grind it for you. You'll lose some flavour, but you'll gain a few seconds each morning and you won't have to go out and buy an expensive grinder. In a not terribly scientific but still interesting study, Entimos Coffee found that while pre-ground coffee wasn't nearly as good as fresh ground, getting it ground properly at a shop produced better tasting results than using a cheap grinder at home.
The Simplest Brewing Methods: Good Automatic Makers or Pour Over Machines
I find the french press too messy, the AeroPress' espresso method doesn't produce enough coffee, percolators waste beans, the Chemex requires special overpriced filters, Moka pots are a hassle to clean, and everything else is so damn complicated there's no way my morning brain is going to do it correctly. That leaves drip -- but not your average, brown-inated water drip. We can do better.
I have two brewing methods I like based on convenience alone. One's an automatic coffee maker. The other's manual, but it's still easy to make a cup of coffee (and clean up afterwards).
The coffee connoisseur world hates automatic coffee makers. Generally, their complaint is that the temperature of the water is inconsistent, which can lead to a bitter, poorly extracted brew.
Enter my favorite coffee maker, the Bonavita series. It solves the temperature problem by hitting a consistent, coffee-nerd-approved temperature every time. This style of coffee maker is often referred to as an “automatic pour over.”
You can pick up the Bonavita BV1800 8-Cup Coffee Maker for around $345.
Everyone's tastes are a little different and everyone's laziness threshold varies, so what works for me might not work for you. Thankfully, you have tons of coffee making methods to choose from and each makes a pretty distinctly different cup of coffee. Plus, half the fun is experimenting with various methods, but that doesn't mean you want to do that every morning.
The Bonavita makes a killer cup of coffee and requires no more effort than any drip coffee maker: put water in the machine, grind your beans, put the beans in a normal filter you can purchase at any grocery store, and push a button to brew coffee. Any time I make coffee for guests, I unintentionally sell them on the coffee maker because they end up loving the coffee it makes.
Not everyone drinks eight cups of coffee in the morning. If you just want a cup or two, the Bonavita is overkill. In that case, try the Clever Coffee Dripper which will set you back around $70.
Yes, this is a “pour over,” and yes you have plenty of alternatives here, but this option is the simplest. It works basically like a manual version of the Bonavita coffee maker. The process is simple and takes around four minutes:
- Place a #4 filter inside the dripper and rinse it with water (this gets rid of the paper taste).
- Grind beans as coarsely as you would with a drip coffee maker and place them into the filter (about three tablespoons).
- Pour a small amount of water over the grounds to saturate them. Wait about 30 seconds for the water-coffee sludge to stop bubbling.
- Add more water until the Clever Dripper is full.
- Put the lid on and wait three minutes.
- Pick up the Clever Dripper and put it on top of you cup. It’ll start dripping into your cup. When it’s done dripping, your coffee’s ready.
As far as cleanup goes, you can just toss the filter and grinds in the trash, give the Clever Coffee Dripper a quick rinse, and you’re done. Of course, this is coffee, so you’ll find plenty of videos like this and this that show off various methods to tweak the taste. It’s up to you if you want to exert that extra effort.
Everyone’s tastes are a little different and everyone’s laziness threshold varies, so what works for me might not work for you. Thankfully, you have tons of coffee making methods to choose from and each makes a pretty distinctly different cup of coffee. Plus, half the fun is experimenting with various methods, but that doesn’t mean you want to do that every morning.