As the world of work has changed this year, so has the world of coffee. With more people working from home and fewer opportunities to grab a cup on the go, more of us are trying to reproduce our morning takeaways in our own kitchen. Of course, there is nothing wrong with just an instant pot – but if you want to improve your coffee brewing game the choices are almost endless. For those in search of the ultimate cup of coffee heaven, here is our expert guide.
Jonny England, Global Coffee Manager at Pret a Manger, warns that you shouldn’t feel the need to try and upgrade to barista-level coffee expertise right off the bat. “For example, if you are an instant coffee drinker, something as simple as roasting and grinding and making a really good coffee maker in the morning is a huge step up in the quality of the coffee. ” If this is your first time buying beans, England suggests that you “use a storage clip to keep your package sealed and keep it in a cool, dry place away from strong odors or of the sun “. Certainly, certainly, do not put them in the refrigerator. “This will actually speed up the breakdown of coffee, due to the humidity and the strong smells of the food products in your refrigerator,” he says. “Coffee is like a sponge and absorbs all the smells to which it is exposed. You really don’t want your coffee to start tasting like blue cheese! “
What type of coffee to buy?
It is important to remember that your taste for coffee is completely subjective, so there is a fair amount of trial and error to be expected. Anson Goodge, head coach of Ozone roasters in London, offers to visit the cafes in a spirit of experimentation. “You can gain a lot by talking to the baristas and asking them what coffee they use. “
The ‘grade’ bean
The most important factor in making expert coffee is the quality and freshness of the beans. “There are specialty grade and basic grade grain,” says Goodge. “Almost everything you see in a supermarket is basic grade coffee. The specialty category means that the cherries are selected and picked by hand. They grow in higher climates to develop a more natural sweetness. will develop more acidity and this is where you will get a diversity of flavors; so whether the coffee tastes like tea, raspberry, or a bit of strawberry, it starts to get a little more interesting just because it tastes like has more time to develop these flavors Another reason to avoid buying your beans at the supermarket is that they are likely to linger longer on a shelf, compromising their freshness.
Do you really need to grind yours?
Yes, the mark of a true connoisseur has always been whether or not he grinds his own beans. Lewis Spencer of Coffee Direct says, “Pre-ground coffee just can’t retain the same powerful flavors. The moment the air begins to interact with the coffee particles, they begin to dissipate. With ground coffee, you essentially have a larger surface area, which increases coffee-air interactions. “
What’s the best way to do it?
England really doesn’t want you to cut corners by grinding your coffee beans with a spice grinder or – worse – a food processor. “It’s very difficult to accurately grind your coffee at the correct setting on either of these kitchen sets,” he says. “They will often heat the beans to too high a temperature, which will damage their flavor. Importantly, it will also produce an uneven particle size distribution leading to uneven flavor extraction and often a muddy cup of coffee. Not great.”
If you want to commit to making the right coffee, you will need a coffee grinder. Professionals almost uniformly recommend a burr grinder, which crushes, not chops, your coffee to a precise, consistent size. Manual grinders are cheaper and much quieter – you can get decent stainless steel work for around £ 20. An electric burr crusher will save you a lot of effort; they or they from just £ 40. Or, if you’re feeling red, the Daily Espresso website recently picked the £ 329 Wilfa Uniform + as their coffee grinder of choice. Not only does it have 41 different settings, but you can also use it remotely with your phone, ensuring your beans are perfectly ground as soon as you walk through the front door.
Espresso or drip?
England says most of Pret’s products revolve around the company’s espresso blend. However, he says, “the reality is that espresso is quite difficult to make well at home. It takes a lot of skill. You need to make sure that you buy fresh coffee. You need to make sure that your water is of good quality. At home, he prefers filter coffee. Goodge supports him; his the weapon of choice at home is a £ 30 Aeropress. “It’s just a slightly more modern version of a coffee maker,” he says. “It works in a very similar way, but you are using a paper filter rather than a mesh filter. You pour in some coffee, pour in boiling water, let stand for two or three minutes, then press it down. It is quite simple and it is quite easy to play with them.
A note on water
Two main elements are at play here: quality and temperature. Spencer says the optimum water temperature for an espresso is 90C-96C. “With water below this range, characteristics such as body, acidity and aroma are drastically changed,” he says. Quality is harder to achieve – there are huge regional variations when it comes to tap water.
England recommends filtering your water and adjusting your setting “according to your local water supply”. This will “ensure that you remove any unwanted hardness from the water and leave behind the essential minerals needed to extract the optimum flavor from the coffee.”
Spencer is slightly more forgiving. “Guidelines have been written to suggest the perfect balance of dissolved minerals and pH levels in the water for the best results when brewing coffee,” he says. “But most people would prefer not to have to worry about testing their water. All things considered, to brew a tasty cup of coffee that does the beans justice and doesn’t have a flat or bitter taste, it makes sense to use cool, cold, clear, impurity-free water, chlorine and other unwanted elements. “
England says that the tastes of British coffee tend to be characterized by a love of “the creamy texture of cappuccinos and lattes and flat whites” – so in the UK milk is a very important addition to consider. However, there doesn’t seem to be a “better” option – it’s subjective. “Whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk is perfectly acceptable to most people,” says Spencer. “However, we are in favor of alternatives; oat milk tends to produce a sweeter drink and works great with most varieties of coffee. Generally speaking, however, a milk or milk substitute without a dominant flavor is preferable, otherwise you are potentially mixing up flavors that do not have to be consumed at the same time.
Again, this is subjective, but Goodge advises against approaching every new coffee with a prescribed notion of how much sugar to throw away. “I think people are definitely adjusting to sugar,” he says. “So if you naturally have a very high sugar diet, everything will taste bad to you until you get a little sweetness in it.” However, “some coffees are naturally sweeter. It’s like ordering soup out of a restaurant, you should always try it first and season it next, instead of just automatically putting a bunch of salt on it. In our coffee, we don’t put sugar for customers when they ask for it. We always just say, “Give it a sip first.” “
Cup or mug
Like wine, the size and shape of a cup of coffee can dramatically alter your drinking experience; to the point that entire scientific articles have been written on the choice of the optimal receptacle for different types of coffee. Spencer says, “Large cup sizes tend to have larger diameters, to expose a larger area. This can enhance the aromatic experience, while also softening the tannins in your infusion. In addition, “the smell of your coffee can greatly affect the perceived taste, which is why the choice of your cup is important. In the same way that modern wine glasses have a large “headspace” – the empty part that allows the aromas to swirl and thus accentuate the drinking experience – so do some coffee glasses. . “