How to make the perfect home coffee brew

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With many of us spending more time at home, embrace the art of a making a quality brew as part of your daily morning ritual.

For coffee lovers, there’s nothing better than starting the morning with a great cup. Recently, working from home has been on the rise, which means coffee enthusiasts are now shifting their focus from sipping flat whites at their local cafes to making quality home-made brews. Whether you like your coffee black, milky or a bit of both, here are some ways to enjoy coffee in the comfort of your own home without using a fancy espresso machine.

Know your bean and brewing method

It’s important to choose a brewing method to match your particular taste, needs and lifestyle. “Good coffee will make or break a day,” says Caleb Podhaczky, director and roaster of Prodigal Coffee Roasters. “Australians are so used to a high standard of coffee that we take for granted how good we have it … until we all need to brew from home.”

Different types of coffee beans and brewing techniques can largely depend on whether you prefer your coffee black or with milk. For most in-home methods, it’s best to opt for lighter coffee designed for filter roast unless you’re making milky coffees at home — then it’s best to buy coffee that is roasted for espresso. Filter coffee is extracted more slowly as it spends more time in contact with water, which results in a delicate, light-bodied brew.

A good cup of coffee starts with using good-quality ingredients. Do your own research and find out where the coffee comes from, how it is roasted and if it has been sourced ethically and sustainably. Acidity, strength and flavour profile usually depend on the region the coffee is from. Look out for extra information about the bean, its specific tasting notes, and buy from a local roaster whenever possible.

Size matters

Similar to baking, coffee is a specific art, not a free pour. Measurements are critical. To make the perfect brew, it’s important that you measure correctly and invest in a scale and timer at home. For the real coffee nerds, some coffee scales even have a built-in timer.

Whole or ground beans? This usually depends on your chosen brewing method and how much time you have on your hands. Grinds range from a very fine texture to one that is more coarse. If possible, it’s best to purchase whole-bean coffee and grind the beans yourself if you have a grinder at home as whole-bean coffee tends to be fresher and more flavourful. It’s best to only grind what you need each time to keep the coffee fresher for longer. If you have a good-quality grinder at home, you can adjust the output and ensure you grind on the spot.

Storing coffee

Whether you’re buying it ground or whole, make sure you look out for the “roasted on” date. “Coffee is usually best used within the first three to four weeks,” says Podhaczky. As a rule of thumb, whole-bean coffee stays fresher and tastier than pre-ground.” Over-roasted and old coffee tends to have an oily residue.

It’s recommended not to buy too much coffee in bulk if it’s going to be used longer than this period. Beans are best stored in a cool, dark place like an air-tight container in a pantry that is protected from sunlight, heat and moisture to prevent them ageing prematurely.

The perfect brew

When it comes to coffee, the quality of water matters. Use filtered water wherever possible as it can affect the quality and flavour of the coffee. An easy way to do this is to keep a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge. This results in a more consistent coffee each time.

So what brewing method is right for you? Here are some of our favourite to experiment with at home.

Coffee plunger (French Press)

Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not as good. Plunger coffee, or more fancily called ‘French Press’, is as simple as it gets when it comes to home brewing and involves soaking ground coffee directly in hot water, resulting in a rich, full-bodied coffee. All you need is the plunger or press, hot water, coffee and a timer. Simply remove the plunger, add coarsely ground coffee, then add boiling water and give it a quick stir to make sure the coffee is properly covered. With this method, patience is key. Allow the coffee to brew for a few minutes before plunging and serving to make the flavour more intense. The general rule of thumb is to use 60g of coffee per litre of water, so if you’re using a small plunger that holds 320mL of water, use approximately 19g of coffee. It’s best to use a coarser grind for this method to prevent it becoming bitter and over-extracted. Just make sure the coffee doesn’t sit for too long as it can become sludgy.

Aeropress

When science meets coffee: an aeropress is a relatively new device and resembles a giant syringe of sorts, which is really a two-part plastic tube with a plunger. But don’t let this put you off — aeropress is a very straightforward and affordable brewing method. It’s not as light as other forms of coffee, but is still very clean and smooth on flavour. Opt for a fine to medium level of grind for this brewing method. To make this coffee, insert the paper filter to the base of the press and rinse, then place the brew on a mug and add ground coffee then boiling water and stir. The plunger forces hot water and coffee through a filter and straight into your cup. It’s also very convenient to take travelling since it is so compact and easy to clean.

Espresso machines

Espresso machines are very convenient and do all the hard work for you if you’re particularly time-poor and want coffee in a hurry. They are best used with darker roasted beans due to fast extraction. This results in an intense, robust flavour of espresso, which suits people who prefer coffee with milk in a latte, flat white or cappuccino.

Pour over coffee

Pour pause pour. The pour over is one of the oldest ways to brew coffee. With this method the bean should be finely ground but not too powdery. This can clog up the filter and leave you with a muddy-tasting cup. For this method, you’ll need a filter cone and disposable paper filter (make sure it’s compostable). Simply place a paper filter over the pour-over device, add the coffee to the filter cone and allow the coffee to drip slowly into the vessel. First, pour some water to saturate the coffee grounds, then wait approximately 30 seconds before more water is added and poured in circular motions. This takes a bit of practice at first but you’ll be an expert in no time. This method uses filter roast beans and is best enjoyed black as it has more of a subtle, delicate flavour. The whole process should take around two minutes and results in a super-smooth cup.

Another version of filter coffee is made with a drip machine that is also an easy, convenient option. It’s a good way to make multiple cups and is like an automated pour over of sorts.

Stovetop espresso

This popular way of brewing coffee is a staple in Italy. Similar to espresso machines, stovetop coffee or “moka pots” work better with darker espresso roasted beans due to the more intense and full-bodied flavour of espresso. It is more of a concentrated coffee shot best served with milk or more hot water. For this method, simply fill up the vessel with boiling water to the full line, then fill the other basket with coffee, screw together and place on the stove on medium heat. It’s best to use hot water to speed up the extraction time. The coffee is ready when you hear the whistling sound of heat escaping from the vessel. Just be careful when opening as it’s very hot — use a tea towel or similar.

Composting coffee

Those leftover coffee grounds from all your home coffee making can be put to good use. Coffee is organic, so it can be used in the compost rather than ending up in landfill. Coffee is high in potassium and nitrogen and this high carbon content can help feed the soil. Just make sure not to use too much as it can throw off the balance because it is quite acidic. Since it is a green compost material, it needs to be balanced with brown compost material that includes dried leaves and organic garden waste.

Lisa Holmen is a food and travel writer and photographer. Her aim is to “eat the world” one inch at a time and explore as many different cuisines and cultures as possible. Follow Lisa’s journey at www.lisaeatsworld.com

How to make the perfect home coffee brew

By: Lisa Holmen

With many of us spending more time at home, embrace the art of a making a quality brew as part of your daily morning ritual.





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