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.
– 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!