Brewing Great Coffee at Home is straight-forward and rewarding – so let’s take the Journey together.
I have to confess that before I arrived here at Cafe Rico Coffee Wholesalers, I was no more than a Coffee “dabbler” (sorry chaps!) but Since starting here I have been romanced by the smells, the tastes, the roasts and the sheer exotic names of the many, many different types of Coffee and the many, many different ways to prepare and serve them.
I really wanted to become part of the growing clan of Home Coffee Brewers so I decided as I am surrounded here in the Office by experiences Baristas, Coffee Machine Engineers and a couple of Coffee know-it-alls, I would pick their brains and try to design the perfect Home Brewing set up – it turns out that Brewing Great Coffee at Home is straight-forward and rewarding – so let’s take the Journey together!
If you want to skip the details below then I have suggested three Coffee Brewing Kits which cover a range of costs and expertise. Feel free to pick a kit and let me know how you get on!
I tried a few different brewing methods and different equipment and one thing is certain, you can’t make good Coffee with bad equipment. I’m going to ignore the need for Scales – you’ll already have an adequate set in the kitchen and pretty soon you’ll get proficient at manually measuring out the correct quantity of Beans or Grounds so I think that Scales are an unnecessary expense.
- Kettle/Hot Water Boiler
- Filter Papers
- Cups and Saucers
Coffee is a very personal choice. The Roasts alone range from Light to Dark, then you have to choose Arabica Beans, Robusta Beans or a blend of the two. Then there is the country of origin! We would suggest that you try a few different types before settling. You can always request samples from us!
But one thing we would definitely recommend is that you purchase your Beans regularly, possibly in small batches, to ensure that they are as fresh as possible when making your Coffee. It is suggested that you consume Coffee Beans within a few days of opening the bag, if you reseal the bag and store in a cool dry place then you should be good for 1-2 weeks.
Water makes up the vast percentage of any Coffee Drink and as such it is an important ingredient. Most tap water in the UK is too hard for making a decent cup of coffee so you really must use Filtered Water otherwise you’ll change the taste of the coffee and may end up with a film of scum on the coffee surface. If you aren’t lucky enough to have an under-sink water filtration system then a Worktop Water filter jug is perfectly adequate.
Choosing a Grinder
The Grinder reduces your Coffee Beans down to the Coffee Grounds that are used to make the Coffee – the longer you grind, the finer the grounds. You COULD skip the Grinder and buy Coffee
Grounds but the fresher the grounds, the better the Coffee so we recommend a decent Grinder. There are two types of Grinder, a Blade Grinder and a Burr Grinder. The Blade grinder is a bit like the standard blender – it smashes the Coffee Beans into ever smaller bits until you get Grounds. The more expensive Burr Grinders mill the Beans between two spinning disks which generally produce a much finer, better quality ground.
The Burr Grinders and therefore more expensive but if it is Coffee Quality that you are after, then a Burr Grinder is what you need. The cheapest option would be a Hand Grinder so if cost is a bigger factor than quality then this will suffice.
Burr Grinders cost anything between £50 up to £900. With the more expensive Grinders you are paying more for name and style than function so you will not have to pay anywhere near that much to get a solution. Below I have listed the best Grinders in certain Price bands.
An interesting observation is that the quicker you brew after grind the beans, the more “Crema” you’ll get on your Coffee. The Crema is the flavourful reddish-brown froth that sits on top of the foam which sits on top of the coffee. The presence of a Crema indicates a well-ground quality Coffee.
Hand Grinders and Mills
Choosing a Brewer
Firstly, I would advise staying away from Espresso Coffee as this requires an expensive set up and is particularly difficult to master. I plan to revisit Espresso in the future after I have mastered the basics.
Auto-brewers and Capsule machines are beyond the scope of this Article so I will cover them later so there are a few options for Brewing Coffee:
- French Press
- Pour Over Brewers
French Press/Aeropress Brewers/Cafetière
The Kettle isn’t as important when it comes to this type of brewing. French Presses and Cafetières are the same thing by different names and in my experience, the Aeropress and French press are also similar methods of preparing Coffee – you are slowly forcing Coffee and Grounds through a filter into a Cup. Once again, my opinion is that the French press is a whole lot less faff than the Aero, slightly more stylish and as there isn’t much difference in the price so I would recommend going for a French Press to start with.
Pour Over Brewers
Pour Over brewers allow you to get funky with both the equipment and the actual brewing. If you go down the Pour Over Brewer route then we recommend a “Gooseneck” Kettle, ideally electric but a Kettle that sits on a stove is just as good.
The Coffee Grounds are placed inside Filter paper that is placed inside the Pour Over Brewer. The Pour over brewer then drips the Coffee liquid into a receptacle from which it is poured into a Cup. Simple.
Most Brewers and Presses will come with their own Filter Papers or their own recommendation. French Presses do not need a Filter Paper.
Cups and Saucers
Obviously, any moderately stylish Cup and Saucer will suffice when you have brewed the perfect Cup of Coffee. However, for just a couple of quid more you can really turn on the style. I found that the Double walled glasses keep the heat in the Coffee really well especially when preheated and stop condensation whilst keeping your fingers cool. I personally tend to let my Coffee cool a bit so I’ll stick with a traditional Cup and Saucer.
And now with the enthusiasm of a 5-year-old building their first Lego Kit or a middle-aged man with spanner in one hand and a Haynes Manual for a Kit Car in the other, I am launching myself into the world of Home Brewing – and I’m loving it. But more importantly, my guests are also enjoying it!
How you brew your Coffee will depend on your chosen Brewer. Check the other articles on this Blog to get some more specific Brewing advice.