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There’s something magical about a cup of morning coffee from your favourite café, finished with beautiful latte art. It takes years of practice and a good quality espresso machine to achieve that perfection in a cup. However, there are a few steps you can take now to get closer to brewing a perfect cup at home, whether you are an espresso or a filter coffee lover – it’s easier than you think!
Read on for our top 10 tips for stepping up your coffee game at home.
1.CHOOSE YOUR EQUIPMENT
Choosing which equipment to use will depend on what kind of coffee you like, how many people you are brewing for and how much you are willing to invest. For example, if you are a fan of heavy-bodied black coffee to go with your croissant, a cafetière would be optimal. Especially if you live with other coffee lovers who enjoy a nicely brewed cup in the morning. A cafetière is great for sharing!
Alternatively, if you prefer a medium-bodied brew and a fast, low-maintenance method, we would recommend going for an Aeropress. Apart from satisfying your coffee cravings and giving you Monday Motivation – it is also very easy to use and clean.
There are, of course, more types of brewing equipment available - have a look at the table below to help you select the perfect one for you!
2. ADD A GRINDER
A grinder plays a very important role in achieving a great cup of coffee. Trust us – grinding your coffee fresh is one of the biggest changes you can make to achieve excellence when brewing. Pick a burr grinder (not a blade one) – which will grind your coffee beans thoroughly compared to blades, which slice. A burr grinder will give you a more consistent size of particles and a more even extraction. Use your grinder for coffee only – to avoid aromas of other ingredients contaminating its delicate taste.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ type of grind so you will have to ‘fine-tune’ your grinder to best suit your needs and learn the right grind size for your brewing method.
Whatever you choose, make it fresh!
Coffee reaches its peak flavour just days after it has been roasted. To enjoy the brew at its best, buy fresh. Ordering direct from our roastery ensures your coffee is roasted to order, meaning it arrives through your letterbox just a few days after it was roasted. Look out for the ‘roasted on’, not the ‘best before’ date for the freshest coffee.
‘What about the flavour?’ - you ask. We know, it can be overwhelming to choose from so many varieties - each with unique flavour notes, different roast levels etc. To get you started, we advise getting familiar with the four classifiers that shape the taste of your coffee: roast, country, blend or single origin and flavour notes.
The roast level influences the flavour and body of coffee and can be either light, medium or dark. Although there isn’t a universal rule with regards to what you call each roast, in general, lighter roasts show more of coffees’ natural flavours and tend to be brighter, fruitier coffees. The darker the roast, the more you will taste the caramel and chocolatey notes from the roast itself.
Country and region both indicate the origin of the coffee - the geographical place where it was produced. The climate, the altitude and the cultivating process affect the taste as well as other features of the coffee. Specific countries have typical taste profiles, but these can also vary (e.g. Brazil is usually nuttier, whereas Ethiopia tends to be floral and citrusy). A blend, as the name suggests, is a recipe of coffees blended together from different origins to create a specific taste profile. A blend allows for a more consistent taste throughout the year. Single origins come from a specific country, and the flavour can change according to the season. When it comes to Microlots – these are very unique coffees, which are sold in limited parcels and often have more exotic taste profiles. They sometimes are compared to fine wines due to the complexity of their flavour and the knowledge required when it comes to brewing and tasting the coffee.
Taste notes naturally occur in high quality coffee. We split them into four flavour groups...
These taste notes are influenced by all the variables listed above, and as well as the processing method and many other factors. Start exploring and discover the styles you like and dislike – the world of speciality coffee is exciting and varied!
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4. WATER FOR COFFEE IS LIKE TONIC TO YOUR G&T
Water makes up to 98% of your cup of coffee – its quality directly impacts how the coffee tastes. Hard water won’t allow you to extract delicate coffee flavours. The mineral content in water also leads to scale build-up in your coffee maker. Using a simple filter pitcher will ensure a better-quality brew.
When it comes to temperature, coffee is best brewed at 92-96ºC (just off the boil). You can use a thermometer to ensure optimal brewing temperature. When your water is too hot, it can burn the coffee grounds causing bitter flavours.
5. MEASURE IT UP
...get weighing, time it, brew!
When it comes to coffee, precision is what determines the difference between a “good” and a “great” cup. Think scales, ratio and timer. First, weigh the coffee rather than measuring it by volume. Then check the water to coffee ratio depending on your brewing method. And finally, have a timer handy to make sure the extraction time is just right! A good rule of thumb for water to coffee ratio for filter is 1g per 16 ml water: all you need to do is decide how much coffee to use and calculate the amount of water you’ll need.
Master your chosen brewing methods with recipes and timings
Whilst knowing the essentials will be sufficient to enjoy a good coffee, when it comes to speciality roasts, going that extra mile will allow you to experience the full variety of flavours. The coffee notes will flourish when you are using the right brewing method for a chosen coffee.
7. ADJUST THE RECIPE
Too strong or weak - how to get it just right...
If you feel like something is off - check on the following few rules of thumb. First, check whether the grind is right for the chosen method. Adjust it.
Second, check your water to coffee ratio and adjust if needed.
In general; if the coffee is too ‘weak’ and flavourless, your grind could be too coarse, and/or you might be using too little coffee. Try a finer grind and adjust your coffee to water ratio. On the other hand, if it tastes bitter, your grind might be too fine leading to over-extraction – try a coarser grind.
To find the perfect ratio, write down the recipes you’ve tried and the result for each!
8. MILK HACKS
If you want foam but don’t have a milk steamer...
We’ve tried using a mason jar, a cafetière and a frothing wand. Our verdict is – whilst all three work well, the cafetière method is best as it creates the most stable cappuccino foam. Use full fat milk (or a milk alternative) for best results. Simply heat the milk and then add it a quarter way up to your cafetière. Using a plunger pump the milk up and down gently creating a foamy texture. Voila!
If you want to challenge yourself and create a microfoam texture that resembles the milk in a flat white, try transferring your already foamed milk into a jug with a pourer. Gently tap the jug on the flat surface to get rid of bigger bubbles. Swirl the milk to achieve a more velvety and even texture. And now – pour!
Share your best latte art on our social channels.
9. STORE YOUR COFFEE RIGHT
Once opened, store coffee in an airtight container. Why? Because fresh air is coffee’s worst enemy. Coffee is hygroscopic which means it absorbs everything in its environment – oxygen, moisture and odours. Contrary to popular belief the fridge is one of the worst places to store coffee – due to its distinct and pungent aromas. Instead, it is best to store your coffee in a dark and dry place and use it within 14 days. If you can’t use all your coffee within two weeks, you can freeze it and use as needed brewing it straight from frozen!
Finally, don’t forget to keep your equipment clean. It is best to avoid abrasive harsh washing liquids. Hot water and a clean sponge are the best in keeping your equipment squeaky clean.
And here we are, you are all set to begin your brewing journey! Make sure to have fun with it!