coffee at home

How to make coffee at home: Introduction

In a few weeks our church is having a community night where I will be (along with a professional coffee roaster) talking about how to make coffee at home. I’m going to do up a little booklet to hand out on the night filled with tips on how to make coffee using different methods – from plunger to commercial machine.

I thought I might blog the things I write for the night. Starting in the next day or so. In the meantime, here’s a good little article on how to get good espresso based drinks at home…

1. Use the double shot basket (even if you’re only after a single shot).
2. Time your shots – 30 seconds for 30 mL is the basic rule, though if you up your dose of coffee or make your grind finer you can make it go a little longer to produce the oilier ristretto. Which is rich and thick.
3. Watch the colour of the coffee as it hits the cup (which isn’t always possible with cheaper machines) – when it turns blonde (as soon as it does) stop the shot. You’ve finished extracting the good stuff. If it comes out blond your machine is probably too hot or your grind too coarse.
4. Use the right sized cup for milk drinks. Most cups are too big, so most coffee at home is too milky.

Coming a cropper

Gizmodo celebrated some sort of food week last week. Some good stuff came out of it. Including this post on coffee. That was really good. Right up until the last heading. On espresso. The post covers the myriad brewing methods available and the range of costs involved. And then the writer shoots his credibility in the foot with this gem:

You know what? Let’s just get this out of the way: You can’t make amazing espresso at home. Not unless you’re will to spend something $US7500 on an espresso machine from someone like La Marzocco. Why? Consistency. Temperature. Pressure.

I call shenanigans. That is rubbish. Certainly a good machine in the hands of professionals is going to produce a better coffee than most people can do at home. But this is the biggest piece of rubbish I’ve ever seen. My machine was $450. It’s a machine in the class the guy mentions – but there are home machines in the prosumer/semi commercial capacity that would produce much better coffee than mine because they’re built with more control over those variables.

I’d also argue that getting the grind and the beans right is much more important than having the machine right – because at the end of the day all machines perform the same basic function – just with different abilities to control those variables.

I’m not going to completely discredit everything this turkey says on the basis of one error. Because the underlying principle, that a good cafe will make a better coffee than a good home set up, is true.

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