Not all cups of coffee are created equal. Contrary to what some Filipinos have been led to believe, paying premium prices at posh coffee shops won’t guarantee that you’ll get a premium drink. There are cafes that would mask their brew’s bitter taste with syrup, sweeteners, and other add-ons, transforming it into a concoction that true coffee aficionados would frown upon.

So what exactly is the definition of a good cup of coffee? According to Peter Ong, the managing partner of Craft Coffee Revolution, the coffee’s original flavor should take center stage. “The important thing is that you’ll be able to discern the flavor of the coffee,” he told FN.

While it’s still best to seek out a skilled barista for that perfect brew, coffee lovers hankering for their caffeine fix need not despair, as they can easily brew a quality cup of joe right in their own home. Read on for a few of Peter’s tips, all guaranteed to make your personal coffee ritual more delightful.

The coffee’s flavor will vary based on where the beans used were harvested. “You want people to perceive the coffee’s real flavor by its origin. Like for example, with Brazilian [coffee], its real character is chocolatey with a sweet caramel finish,” says Peter. Coffee beans from Ethiopia and Panama, meanwhile, are known for fruity, floral, and sweet notes, while Indonesian brews have a bold and strong flavor.

A lot of cafes normally use a dark roasting method that can churn out a greater volume of coffee that sometimes results in a bitter taste. However, Peter says that in Craft, they only use the city roast, a medium brown roast that really brings out the flavor of the beans. And yes, in case you’re wondering, you can roast your own coffee beans at home. “There are a lot of home roasting equipment available on the Internet that you can purchase,” says Peter. “Some just use a roasting pan, while others use popcorn makers, turbo broiler, toasters, ovens. But of course, the more specialized the machine [for roasting], the better the quality of the coffee.”

“We encourage people to buy whole beans or roasted beans rather than having it pre-ground. We recommend people to grind on demand, meaning you just grind the coffee you need for your immediate consumption,” says Peter. “That’s because coffee has a lot of nutrients, flavors, aromas, and once you crack or grind the coffee, these will evaporate, and these will be gone after 15 minutes.”

There are many brewing methods out there: you can steep your coffee, use a French press, a siphon, or do a pour-over, among other techniques. What you should use will depend on your personal preference as each method can alter the coffee’s tastes. “If you use a metal filter, the coffee will have a stronger character or taste. If you opt for a paper [filter], the coffee’s boldness will be lessened because the paper filters the coffee. With an espresso machine, you’re using an eight to nine-bar pressure, so you’ll be extracting more of the coffee,” says Peter.

“Use water that’s off the boil, not boiling, or the coffee will get burnt and the flavors and character of the coffee will be gone,” says Peter. At Craft, they use a thermometer to make sure that the water they’ll be using is at the perfect temperature.

The 15-minute rule previously discussed also applies to the finished product. “Coffee should be finished within 15 minutes. It’s not right to prolong the coffee before you drink it,” says Peter, adding that this is why some coffee shops abroad don’t have a lot of seats. “In coffee shops in Australia, US, they don’t put a lot of seats, they only have a bar or a table, so people will just drink their coffee, and then they leave.”

(Photo courtesy of Peter Ong)

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