Most people can’t start their day without having a cup of coffee. And enjoying a cup from your favourite coffee place in town or on your way to work might be the highlight of your day.
Now, while we’re in the middle of lockdown, we miss those mornings running into the shop, ordering your cuppa Joe and running out again. And let’s face it: coffee at home isn’t nearly as delicious as that from a coffee shop.
But don’t despair, we have the easiest tips to help you make the perfect cup of coffee in the comfort of your own home. You can thank us later.
1. Buy good, fresh, whole bean coffee that’s within your budget
Fresh, high-quality foods give you fresh, delicious meals. That’s the same with coffee. Good, fresh, high-quality coffee will give you the perfect cup every time. Right now, it’s also important to stay within your budget, so don’t splurge too much — just enough to ensure you get great coffee.
And opt for the whole-bean coffee. That way you’ll get more flavour as the coffee’s natural flavours are locked in the bean’s essential oils. Once the coffee is ground, the oils evaporate pretty quickly. That’s why you want to fill your cup with those precious oils.
2. How and when you grind matters
Firstly, ensure you have the right grinder to grind your coffee beans consistently. A burr grinder is often the most expensive, but it is the best investment if you want to have a barista-quality cup of coffee from home every time. But if you can’t afford it, a manual hand mill is also a great option to get a nice, consistent grind.
Grind your coffee immediately before brewing to get the ultimate flavour. According to experts, coffee begins to lose its flavour about 30 minutes after it’s been ground. Also, ensure you grind the beans to the right size and consistency. Too coarse means you’ll have a weak pot of coffee, while too fine means you’ll over-extract the coffee and it’ll taste bitter. Try to get a medium to medium-fine grind.
3. Use a scale and make sure the measurements are correct
Scooping or eyeballing the amount of coffee you use can give you a passable cup of coffee, but to get it right every time, it’s best to use a scale to measure the right quantities. You want to use the “Golden Ratio” — the quantities for brewing the perfect cup of coffee. The “Golden Ratio” is using 1 gram of coffee to 18 grams of water, meaning for every unit of coffee you should use 18 units of water. Of course, this all depends on your own personal preferences, so use this guideline to find your own “Golden Ratio”.
4. Store beans the proper way
It’s important to keep your coffee in an airtight container that shields sunlight, as deterioration speeds up when coffee is exposed to oxygen. That means your coffee will lose flavour and go stale. Never refrigerate or freeze your coffee beans. Ideally buy a 5-7 days supply of coffee and store it at room temperature.
5. Brewing methods matter
To get the perfect, preferred cup of coffee, you’ll have to have the right tools and equipment as not all coffee brewing methods are created equal. There are a few that’ll give you that delicious cuppa Joe you want:
Pour-over/drip with a coffee cone
One of the oldest, simplest, fastest and cheapest ways to brew coffee at home. The drip method using a coffee cone and paper filter is when hot water is poured evenly over the coffee grounds in a paper filter, with gravity helping the coffee the slowly drip into a cup or pot.
Pour-over/drip with Chemex
Chemex is an elegant pour-over glass flask. It’s the same method as the coffee cone but uses a special Chemex paper filter that is 20-30% heavier than other filters.
This is considered the best and easiest method for brewing consistent coffee. In a press pot, you soak, steep and strain ground coffee which keeps the coffee’s flavourful essential oils, caffeine and antioxidants. You’ll find our easy step-by-step here.
The AeroPress is plastic and comes in three parts. A filter sits in a coffee basket at the bottom of the brew chamber. Coffee grounds rest in the brew chamber where hot water is added to steep the coffee. To extract the coffee, a plunger is pressed down creating air pressure to force brewed coffee through a filter and into a cup.
Steam is used to create pressure from boiled water in the lower section that passes through coffee grounds in the mid chamber of the pot. Brewed coffee then sits in the higher chamber.
6. Use the right water
Once again, good-quality water gives you good-quality coffee. If your tap water is not good or has a strong odour or taste (such as chlorine), use filtered or bottled water instead. If you do use tap water, let it run a few seconds before filling your coffee pot. And always use cold water.
7. Always keep your equipment clean
Coffee beans have oil, so if you don’t wash your equipment, that oil is going to stay which will affect the coffee’s taste when you brew again. Make sure you wash it every day.
8. There is a perfect temperature for coffee
The perfect temperature to brew coffee is between 90°C and 96°C. If the water is too hot (like boiling water) it’ll extract compounds in the coffee that are bitter, rather than pleasant. Also reheating or prolonged holding on a warming platform will turn even the best coffee bitter and foul-tasting.
9. Steam your milk
You can steam your own milk at home. Get yourself an electric milk frother. Or if you don’t want to spend extra money on extra equipment, just use a clean jam jar and a microwave. Shake the milk in the jar to create foam, then you microwave it for a few seconds to stabilise the foam. Using low-fat or non-fat milk will give you the best foam, as it’s fortified with added protein.
10. Experiment with different types at home
During the lockdown, you have time to experiment and find your ultimate favourite coffee. Play around with different coffees, grind sizes, brew methods and even spices to find that perfect cup.