Making a coffee at home can be very rewarding or incredibly frustrating. When you get it right, you’re a caffeinated genius. When you get it wrong (and there’s a lot that can go wrong), you’re without a morning beverage, you’ve probably wasted half your supply of beans and it will take you a while to clean up the mess.

Let’s face it – it’s nearly impossible to make a flat white at home that’s comparable to one served at a cafe, even for an experienced barista. There are several reasons for this but without getting too technical, it’s mostly to do with the equipment and technique.

If you shop at any department store and buy the best espresso machine and grinder available, you’ll still be less than half of the way to making a cafe-standard latte. Commercial coffee equipment is worth substantially more money and you really do get what you pay for.

Then there’s the training involved to know what to do with that expensive machinery. Baristas spend years honing their craft and the best will never stop learning.

But don’t give up! There are still many ways of enjoying coffee at home. You might just have to readjust your expectations on the espresso machine or try brewing with alternative methods.

Brewing Filter Coffee

Filter coffee has been a large part of the third-wave specialty coffee movement, which has motivated the industry to up its game and push the boundaries with sourcing, roasting and making the most delicious brew. It’s all about making a coffee that best represents the effort gone into producing the beans at the country and region of origin.

Brewing filter coffee is actually quite a simple process of pouring or immersing hot water over ground coffee. Just like espresso, you should always use the freshest coffee available when making filter coffee. There’s almost no point in making a brew with stale, ground coffee as the subtle tasting notes enjoyed with filter coffee would have all but gone as the coffee’s oxidised.

Ideally, you also want coffee that’s been roasted lighter than an espresso roast. Coffee roasted this light can be hard to find but being a boutique roaster, we always have fresh coffee that is either roasted for espresso or filter.

The most common and recognisable piece of brewing equipment is the humble French Press or Plunger. Don’t underestimate this ubiquitous apparatus – some of the most reputable coffee companies in the world are now brewing award-winning roasts with a Plunger.

Other methods utilise a filter paper. The old-school way of brewing coffee with a filter is known as Drip Coffee – something that sits in the tea room for hours, making enough brew for the whole office but only leaving a few cups worth drinking. A more refined method that has become very popular in specialty coffee is known as a Pourover.

Using a V60

Making a Pourover usually gives you enough for one or two cups but it’s highly efficient, cheap and relatively simple to learn. We recommend using the Hario V60 dripper. It’s been adored by Japanese coffee fanatics for decades and is now the industry standard for brewing filter coffee.

All you need is the dripper, filter papers, a grinder and a kettle with the smallest spout you can find. Scales that go down to a tenth of a gram also help, as does a stopwatch. But to begin with, it can be a fun exercise to make brewing as simple and enjoyable as possible by using the measuring spoon provided and a measuring cup.

Pourover fundamentals:

– Use freshly ground coffee that is MEDIUM-COARSE (think of sand)

– Brew with water that is OFF the boil

– Brew no longer than 3 or 4 minutes

V60 brews are very tea-like and best enjoyed without milk and sugar. If you still like to add a little bit of something to your coffee, try brewing with less water or more coffee. Alternatively, use a Plunger as this full bodied brew will retain some of the oils from the coffee, which helps the flavour carry through milk.

There are endless ways of drinking and making filter coffee but the best thing about it is the cost. Getting a Pourover wrong will cost you less than half of what’s spent on a dud cappuccino.

Come in and speak to us about making coffee at home, whether it be on an espresso machine, stovetop percolator or a plunger. Better yet, get yourself kitted out with a hand-grinder, Hario V60 and a bag of single origin beans and start brewing!  

We value our customer’s opinions just as highly as fellow specialty coffee roasters and other industry experts. That’s why we let those who attended our cupping night last month decide what our next featured single origin will be.

If you didn’t happen to come along, we showcased four high quality single origin beans from the most reputable farms in Colombia. These were cupped, discussed and compared to make the decision.

What is Cupping?

Put simply, a coffee cupping is the litmus test for coffee. Just like tasting a bottle of wine at a restaurant, any defects affecting the flavour and bouquet of the coffee are usually quite noticeable during a cupping.

As there are quite a few variables from crop to cup, such as incorrect processing, storage and roasting, cupping is an essential test to identify the quality of the beans and the roast. It’s also a fun and social way of getting passionate coffee drinkers together, talking about what they love in a cup.

The exact method produces a consistent brew and is quite simple to replicate. Once the samples have been brewed and cooled to room temperature, they are smelt, slurped and tasted with the aim of evaluating:

  • Aroma
  • Flavour
  • Aftertaste
  • Acidity
  • Body
  • Balance
  • Sweetness

 

The Winning Coffee: la Noreña

Cañón del Combeima

It’s no mean feat choosing a coffee that stood out from the bunch but the la Noreña took the pick for being the tastiest. The unmistakable yet mellow citrus bouquet and sweet tangerine characteristics are carried by a smooth body to yield a balanced and fruity cup.

This estate-grown coffee of the Caturra varietal comes from the Tolima region. The high altitude farm (1,700 – 1,740 m.a.s.l), has the Nevado del Tolima volcano to thank for its rich soil and year-round microclimate. Subdued sunlight and pristine water cascading from the Combeima canyon river creates perfect conditions for growing outstanding coffee.

The harvest is hand picked, naturally pulped and fermented for 24 hours before being washed and dried on suspended beds under a marquee. This is classed as a fully Washed process.

As always, we have paid close attention to the roasting of this bean – giving the farmers of this spectacular coffee the respect they deserve. And it’s a tasty batch!

Coffee as good as this doesn’t last for long so stay posted and try it for yourself when it’s in the hopper next or buy a bag for the office or home.

Image courtesy of Edgar Jiménez CC BY-SA 2.0

The Colombian Coffee Co. ♦ Real stories ♦ real people ♦ honest marketing.

One part of roasting specialty coffee that we enjoy most is sharing premium grade single origin coffee with locals and tourists alike. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had the privilege of featuring our organic single origin – Colombia, San Sebastian – up the road at The Old Bean (formerly, The Good Bean).

Sunny Coast locals and specialty coffee drinkers from around the world have frequented this Mooloolaba institution for many years and engaging in a partnership such as this is truly an honour. The baristas at The Old Bean have scored some amazing coffee too.

San Sebastian, Colombia

The San Sebastian farm has a reputation for producing high quality coffee utilising sustainable farming and processing methods. The resulting cup is clean and balanced with medium berry-like acidity.

The Santander region, where this plantation is located, is blessed with a high altitude (1,850 m.a.s.l.) and a favourable microclimate for growing coffee. This means the farmers can grow, harvest and process a fine specialty coffee while preserving the biodiversity of the natural environment.

As well as being Organic, this coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified and shade-grown. This method is known to be easier on the environment and no flora or fauna are impacted negatively.

Once the cherries are hand picked, they are washed using innovative methods that greatly reduce water contamination and consumption. The process this coffee went through is known as Semi-Washed. After some or all of the skin and pulp of the fruit has been removed, the beans are sun-dried with the outer layer (mucilage), which results in a cup with added body.

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Why We Love It

With sweet red berries coming subtly through the definitive notes of chocolate, this delicious Colombian coffee suits our tastes perfectly – especially as a black coffee.

By choosing to roast and sell this coffee we also feel better for supporting the Santander region’s social and economic development, as the farm fulfils all the requirements for the UTZ certification.

To top it off, an Organic and Rainforest Alliance certification makes this coffee the complete package for anyone who is passionate about coffee and sustainability.

Enjoy the sweetness and balanced acidity of the San Sebastian, now at The Old Bean!

 

Image courtesy of CIAT CC BY-SA 2.0

 

The Colombian Coffee Co. ♦ Real stories ♦ real people ♦ honest marketing.

Let’s face it – some people are just fussy. It’s part of our human nature to prefer the coffee extra hot, not too hot, with one sugar, with one and a half or two, or just sweetener, or only raw sugar. Some of us will only like one brand of soy or almond milk and others will only enjoy their coffee in certain cups or glasses. Last week, for example, I made two coffees for a couple. Both small flat whites, with shots from the same basket and milk from the same jug, brought out at the same time, in the same cups. Surprisingly, one of the coffees was “too watery”, the other was “spot on”.

How to prepare for that it still a mystery to me – not only as a marketing professional but also as a Barista. It is perhaps one of the biggest customer service challenges to ensure that the complete experience in our shop consistently meets the highest standards while properly considering the variable subjective factor.

Instead of trying to explain that the coffees were the same, I just replaced the one that tasted “watery” to ensure that she was able to enjoy her coffee exactly as she likes it. The effort put a smile on her face. She has been back twice since then and has brought some friends with her. All of them have very particular ways of ordering their coffees. It does take more time to make them but that’s all included in the price!

 

The Colombian Coffee Co. ♦ Real stories ♦ real people ♦ honest marketing.

It is fascinating to hear stories from new customers when you work in a coffee shop. Some tell us about how they used to love another place until coffee started being inconsistent, or until the Barista changed, or until they stopped making their flat whites extra hot, or until someone served them a bitter cup, or until they changed their soy brand, to mention but a few reasons for their urge to switch out.

Now, when asking them if they fed that back to the staff when it happened, most would say they did not. They just decided to vote with their feet.

Making good coffee consistently is an art form that requires full control of a number of variables such as temperature, timing, dosing, bean quality, milk consistency, proper grinding, correct bean storage and skilled Baristas. On top of that, when beans are roasted on site, many other variables come into play such as weather, airflow, humidity, etc. For example, occasionally – even after putting proper controls in place- it is inevitable for one single bean that was over or under roasted, to make its way through the grinder and end up in the cup. It can make the coffee bitter or taste grassy, or sour. It is beyond control to prevent it from happening and in most cases is just a matter of time.

An invitation to all our customers: if that happens to you, just let us know and we will amend it straight away. Give us a chance to fix it and make you the perfect cup before you go elsewhere. Now, if it happens all the time, definitely we deserve to see you go.

The Colombian Coffee Co.: Real stories, real people, honest marketing.

 

The concept of honest Marketing goes beyond publicity. The idea of being sincere and transparent in the way we communicate with our customers should become the driver behind doing business in the coffee industry, an industry where there is no room for misleading communication, overpromising or efforts aimed at selling products or services that are not a reflection of the truth.

Let us all – coffee shop owners, green coffee brokers, roasters, traders and all coffee people – strive to ensure that the image we create in the mind of our customers about our products and services matches the reality of the products and services we deliver. Let’s call specialty coffee only those beans that have been graded as such, let’s call ourselves roasters only when we actually roast our beans, let’s acknowledge that it is alright to make mistakes and apologise, let’s not be afraid of admitting that we are working towards getting better at what we do. It has been proven that atoning for mistakes in a sincere way when doing business, results in better consumer engagement than not making any mistakes at all.

For example, here at The Colombian Coffee Co. I make most of our food every day at 5:00 am before opening. I have never done that before but I know what nice good tastes like; I put enough effort behind sourcing good quality ingredients and making everything as if I were going to eat it myself at home with my wife. The result is not always consistent, and let’s face it, my sandwiches look as if they were made by a child! However, they are very tasty and are already starting to become popular. People come in asking for a couple of tasty ugly buns. Fair enough.

♦ The Colombian Coffee Co.: Real stories, real people, honest marketing ♦

Colombian Coffee Beans