If you’re new to the world of coffee, first things first, I’d like to welcome you warmly. Coffee is an intense beverage but it’s one that many people around the world enjoy on a daily basis. Once you get to know your way around this famous bean you’ll discover the complex and subtle flavors that put this drink a cut above the rest.
As with a lot of things, if you’ve never tried it before, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
The best coffee for first time drinkers should be something of a light roast, ideally mixed with milk (ie a latte) or some kind of sweetener (ie mocha) to balance the bitter notes. Once you get used to taking coffee in this form you can gradually move on to darker roasts, black coffee, and espresso.
I have my own personal theory: if you like the smell of coffee, you can definitely acquire the taste to absolutely love it.
This article is a thorough guide to get you started on your coffee journey in a way that’s enjoyable and harbours a good relationship with the drink. We will start with the basics, so first let’s consider, why even drink coffee in the first place?
Why Drink Coffee
The first thing we need to address is why should you even consider trying coffee?
If you’re a coffee fanatic (like me!) then this question may seem ridiculous as we know that everything about coffee is just wonderful. The smell, the taste, the energizing buzz it gives you are all pretty hard to beat.
If you’re not sure about coffee then here are a few good reasons to give it a go.
If none of these reasons seem inviting enough to you then the delicious taste and warming embrace that comes with a cup of java is something everyone should experience, at least once in their life!
Coffee is also a beautiful aesthetic, from a steaming mug in the hazy morning light as you wake up for the day right through to the electric buzz of a busy coffee shop, there’s no wonder that coffee has claimed its place on social media platforms like Instagram.
Best Types Of Coffee For First Time Drinkers
So you’ve decided to give coffee a go and hats off to you! Welcome to this wonderful world of delicious caffeination.
The next most important question is which coffee should I opt for first?
Coffee is a rich, dark, distinctive drink that really is like no other. If you jump straight in with an espresso you may end up with a bit of a shock.
I have found that the best place to start is a coffee containing beverage that has other flavors in there so you’re not overwhelmed before you get started.
A Mocha is a perfect baby step into the coffee world especially if you are a fan of hot chocolate.
Cafe mocha is an espresso with chocolate syrup, topped with steamed milk and sometimes whipped cream.
You can make a mocha at home by adding hot chocolate powder (or cocoa and sugar) to a cup of coffee and top with milk or cream.
The sugary sweetness of the chocolate balances any bitterness in the coffee and will introduce you to the sweeter notes of the lovely drink.
The cafe latte is an ideal next step for coffee newbies. The latte is an espresso shot topped with steamed milk and has a lovely thick texture and sweet taste. The milk helps balance out the stronger coffee notes so makes this a much easier beverage to enjoy if you’re still getting used to the coffee taste.
Lattes with added sweeteners and spices (like the pumpkin spiced latte) are very popular options and can really help gently introduce you to coffee with a lovely festive twist.
A little darker than a latte, a cappuccino uses the same ingredients but contains more milk foam so has a darker taste. This is another great starting point if you’re keen to really taste the coffee but would still like the balance of the milky component.
Cold brew coffee is a lovely summer choice and perfect for new-comers to the coffee world. Proper cold brew is steeped in water for 12-15 hours in the fridge or at room temperature to allow the coffee flavors to gently infuse.
The slow extraction used gives a much gentler, sweater brew that is ideal for new-comers to the coffee world. This drink can be enjoyed in so many ways. You can serve it black over ice, add milk or sweeteners to taste, warm it in the microwave to enjoy it as hot coffee, or add it to a cocktail or smoothie recipe.
Best Brew Method For Beginners
If you’ve dipped your toes in already, maybe you’ve experimented with a few lattes or a sneaky mocha on your lunch break, and now you’re ready to take it to the next level then you’ll likely be wanting to know the best method for brewing your own coffee at home.
Instant coffee gets a really bad rep in the world of coffee enthusiasts. It’s generally made from poor quality coffee beans and is brewed then freeze-dried to leave the distinctive dark powder. Instant coffee isn’t a prime example of what good coffee should be but it isn’t necessarily a poor choice for first-time drinkers.
It’s milder in taste and has less caffeine than fresh coffee and is very simple to make. It can be a good option to get you started but make sure you choose a decent brand, not the cheap bitter stuff you commonly find in office breakrooms.
A pod machine is a nice step up from instant as it gives you the bolder flavor of fresh coffee but none of the hassle. Pod machines can come in all shapes and sizes and there are hundreds of pod varieties to choose from.
If you are eco-aware then using re-usable pods that you fill up with fresh coffee is a great way of minimizing waste with these machines.
Now we are onto the real deal. Freshly brewed coffee is hard to beat and a drip coffee machine can make it a straightforward task. These machines are simple to use and can make fantastic coffee so are a great choice for getting you started.
All you need to do is add water, place the filter paper in the basket, and then add fresh coffee grounds to the filter. Press the button and the machine will do all the work for you.
Drip coffee makes a lovely smooth tasting cup of joe and you can adjust the flavor to suit you by adding more or less fresh coffee. You can drink the coffee black or add a splash of milk or a sprinkle of sugar to taste.
If you’ve mastered the drip coffee and are craving a darker brew, or maybe you fancy making lattes at home, then an AeroPress is going to be your new best friend.
This coffee brewing device makes a lovely balanced cup of java that is very similar to an espresso. You can enjoy this as it is or add steamed milk or hot water to make it taste just how you like it.
The AeroPress works using pressure as well as heat to extract the flavor from your fresh coffee. You position it over your mug and press a large plunger to push the coffee down into the cup. It’s easy to use and there are loads of instruction videos online to help you out if you’re finding it a little confusing.
Pour-over is a brew method very similar to a drip machine but without the automation. It works by placing a filter paper containing fresh coffee into a funnel-shaped device and you pour the hot water over this to brew the coffee.
Pour-over has a few tips and tricks to get the brew perfect and extra equipment like a coffee scale, gooseneck kettle, and timer can really help achieve a beautifully balanced cup of joe.
The french press is one that’s often marketed to coffee newcomers. On the surface, it’s a pretty simple to use coffee brewing vessel but I feel that this is more of an advanced option. It can take a bit of practice and know-how to brew really good coffee in a French Press and you really need a set of coffee scales, a timer, and a burr grinder to get it just right.
If you’re up for the challenge then a french press is a great option. It brews a thick, dark cup of coffee with a full spectrum of flavors. Just make sure you let the water cool a bit if it’s straight off the boil as very hot water will scald the coffee and make it taste bitter.
Best Coffee For Newbies
If you’re now looking into an at-home coffee brewer then the next decision you need to make is what type of coffee beans should you choose.
Arabica beans are where the money is at. These coffee beans are grown at high altitudes and makeup around 60% of the world’s coffee. They are difficult to grow and harvest and are sensitive to climate changes. This makes them more expensive to buy but the taste more than makes up for this. They are sweeter and often have fruity undertones. They tend to be a bit more acidic than robusta beans.
Robusta beans make up around 40% of the available coffee. These beans are very high in caffeine and have a stronger, more earthy flavor. They are easier to grow, cheaper to buy, and are typically used in instant coffee.
The roasting stage of coffee preparation influences the flavor a lot. A darker roast gives a richer, more intense flavor and can be more oily and bitter to taste.
A lighter roast is more fruity or floral and gives a more delicate cup of coffee.
The roast is something that can be chosen based on the brew method as well as just flavor. If you’re looking to brew a gentle and easy drip coffee then a lighter roast may suit you. If you’re trying for an intense and bold espresso then a darker roast will help optimize the flavors here.
To really enjoy a balanced and consistent cup of joe you need to get the grind size correct. If the grind size is off then the coffee may end up far too strong, weak, or bitter to drink.
For french press, you need a very coarse grind and espresso brewing needs an extremely fine grind. Have a read up on your chosen brew method and make sure you choose a grind setting that suits you.
Tips For Brewing Delicious Coffee
To get the most out of your home-brewed java, follow these top tips and you’ll experience consistently great tasting coffee.
The golden ratio of water to coffee is something that you need to play around with. This is the weight of coffee you add to hot water used and will really affect your coffees’ taste. A good starting point is 1g of coffee to every 15g of water used. Try it out and see what you think. If the coffee is too strong then add more water. If it’s too weak then try less water next time. Everyone has different taste preferences so practice makes perfect here.
If the water is too hot when it’s added to the coffee it will burn it and cause it to taste bitter and unpleasant. If the water is too cold then the coffee won’t be fully extracted and you miss out on some of the delicious flavors.
Make sure you use water that’s between 195-205F for optimal brewing.
A drip machine is useful as it does this for you and some specialist coffee-making kettles will hold the water at this temperature which is really useful.
Use A Grinder
Grinding your coffee beans at home ensures the freshest and fullest cup of coffee you could wish for. The problem with a lot of coffee grinders is that they don’t ensure an even particle size to your coffee grind. An uneven grind will affect the flavor of your coffee and you won’t be able to produce a consistent flavor.
To get around this issue, make sure you choose a burr grinder. These are a bit more expensive but if you’re getting serious about great tasting coffee they are are a must.
Make sure you match the grind size to your brew method and feel free to adjust it until you end up with the perfectly brewed cup of java.
Great tasting water makes great tasting coffee it’s as simple as that. Using a water purifier/filter or buying filtered water is a simple way to elevate your coffee making game to the next level.
Some coffee machines come with built-in water filters which is a really nice feature to help improve that delicious coffee flavor.
Where To Go Next?
So that’s it. We’ve covered all the easy ways to get used to that delicious coffee flavor as well as all the basics to get you started with brewing fresh coffee at home. If you need a bit more from your coffee game then you may want to consider making espresso which is a much more involved process.
Check out our complete Barista Guide if you feel ready to move from beginner to expert coffee maker.
As a final note, I wish you all the best for your coffee journey and hope this article has helped inspire you to give this fantastic lifestyle a go.