(reposted from my Tumblr)
If you’re reading this, you probably already know how to make good coffee. If not, nobody can help you. God have mercy on your soul. Also, I’m assuming you or someone at least brought some good quality whole bean coffee, cuz otherwise, drink tea.
To make good coffee, you need: a coffee “maker” (pourover dripper + filter or french press), hot water, and a decent grinder.
Worst case scenario, you could make cowboy coffee: Grind coarse and just boil hot water in a pot, let it cool for a minute or two, then add the coffee. Stir gently, and then pour off the liquid (the grinds should have sunk to the bottom) gently through a fine sieve or through a clean cloth (a paper towel will choke off and stall).
A few years ago, I used a Mr. Coffee type machine, but instead of brewing coffee in it, I used the funnel like a pourover dripper. In this case, you can maybe even use a paper towel as a filter if your stupid relative is out of the crappy brown filters they usually buy.
Here’s the real tip: The problem with coffee at your relative’s is usually gonna be that they don’t have a good (burr) grinder. All is not lost! Best case: if you can, grind it in advance and bring it. It’s the best alternative. Worst case: If they don’t at least have a blade grinder, they’ll at least have a food processor. Here’s what you do.
Working backwards, your end result will be coffee grinds that are mostly of the desired size you want, plus a bunch of grinds that are too big. You’re going to sift out the too-small fines with a sieve. Warning: I did this when I did the Mr.-Coffee-as-a-pourover-cone trick, and I was sifting for a solid 15 minutes. Twice.
So deciding (from your experience) what your target grind size looks like, your goal is to make as much of that as possible. You should start with about twice the amount of beans as you actually want. It’s gonna look like a shit show, but do your best and just imagine the confused looks on everyone’s faces when the coffee actually tastes good!
You need to up your eyeballed dose by at least 25–40%, because you’re going to pretend that the ‘boulders’ (too-big grinds) aren’t there. Since they’re too big to brew well, you can just treat them as filler, but that means you’re gonna have to waste coffee by dosing up to have the right amount of “good size” grinds. Don’t worry too much about waste, because at this point, you’ve already sifted out almost half the coffee anyway. Anyway, it’s between that and the three-year-old Yuban in the cupboard.
You’ve got it from here, right? Good luck!