Such are the lengths that coffee lovers will go to for a perfect brew that it is said that Beethoven himself would count sixty beans to the cup exactly whilst making his coffee at home. But most of us like an easy life and don’t always have the time to put quite as much love into brewing our favourite beverage. So here we take a little look at a few simple ways to get the perfect cup of coffee at home, without having to go the extra mile for each individual cup.
Selecting the bean: There’s way too much science and ethics, not to mention individual tastes to cover when it comes to choosing the right coffee bean for you but here are a few things to start you off. One, the fresher the bean the better the taste. Two, do you’re research, the way coffee tastes can vary drastically (even with beans from the same crop and the same plantation!) so test lots and really get to know your Arabica from your Robusta. Three, look for Organic, Fair Trade and Rain Forest Alliance certifications, these certs will help you choose a coffee that is more sustainable and doesn’t take the planet or coffee producers for granted.
Grinding: Freshly grinding your coffee at home makes a huge difference to your brew. The correct grinding process changes the way that the coffee reacts with the water and can substantially change the taste. Hand grinders are a great tool to have at home and can be used for all brewing methods. Making the perfect brew at home really can’t be done unless you freshly grind your beans. A good tip for those new to the game is that the size of the grind and how long the grind is immersed in the water have a direct effect on the taste so if you find that your coffee always comes out that bit too bitter, try experimenting with a coarser grind and or brewing for slightly longer.
The right coffee machine: Some love the art of brewing a coffee by hand, French pressed coffee is a common sight at breakfast in many a household. However, there really is a science to a great cup of coffee and the slightest changes in water temperature, grind consistency etc can have a huge impact on the taste of the same coffee beans. Often this is where people decide a really cracking coffee machine will come in handy. By selecting a really good quality coffee machine you can ensure the right brewing temperature every time, get a machine with a grinder and you’ll save yourself a little more time in the morning too!
There’s an amazing variety of fantastic coffee machines and brewing equipment out there and it can be hard to choose what kind of tools are right for you. When thinking about coffee machines that make the best cup of coffee there’s an abundance of choice even just under the umbrellas of Bean to Cup, Filter and Espresso and it’s important to do your research, try consulting guides such as Which? and visiting coffee fairs to get a really good idea of the options available out there and don’t forget to sample as much as you can, whenever you can! I’ve got a fair few favourite machines all for different reasons and all produce a great cup of coffee but they all have their own unique elements. Here are just 5 of my faves…
Jura Giga X3: In my opinion this is one of the best coffee machines for commercial use, it offers a huge selection of pre-sets (around 30) and 12 of these can be customized. I love its ‘two heat process’ allowing two delicious cups of coffee in one go which is a real time saver. Whilst we are talking about time its grind process is also pretty swift thanks to its top quality ceramic disc grinder. You can get a business lease on one of these beauties for under £20 a week so its a great office coffee machine to consider.
Linje Espresso Maker: This machine by Øystein Helle Husby just oozes style, it’s a Norwegian approach to coffee with a touch of Italian inspiration, a machine made of wood! With its elegant stylish and modern exterior it would be my pick for the guest annexe to add a little bit of luxury. But alas, it is but yet a prototype.
Sanremo Verona SED: A beauty for the small business, this machine has all the pleasing aesthetics you would be happy to show off front of house in your business. More importantly to add to its pleasing exterior it is top of the range in the functionality department. It’s a great machine for the artistic barista, easy to use and ergonomical giving the user the time and means to perfect the art of a beautifully presented coffee.
The OTTO stove top espresso maker: My favourite for trips away, (along with a few lovely little extras) you get a great little travel case for the OTTO and it’s small/light enough to stash in your case so this is a great little machine for longer trips away in aparthotels or self-catering accommodation. The machine itself requires a hands on approach to your coffee making but OTTO provide a really useful instruction DVD for it so this shouldn’t be a problem for most users. It’s got a small, robust and elegant design that makes it a gem of a machine, you can get your hands on one for around £600 but there are very limited stockists in the UK.
Poppy Pour-Over Coffee Machine by Quirky: Now we are really talking tech with this stunningly designed one cup artisan machine. Science, design and technology are beautifully merged to create a machine that is not only incredibly pleasing to the eye, but also works alongside apps that make your life easier! For example, the app can automatically order your bean refills, the glass carafe is designed to hold the perfect drinking temperature and has a grinder that crushes the beans (rather than chops) to get the best taste from your favourite blend. It really is a little stunner of a machine and I’m desperately waiting for the email to come through from Poppy confirming when they will be on the market.
There are hundreds of coffee roasters around the world all working to perfect the roasting process that creates the most flavoursome and unique coffee beans. Creating a streamlined process of turning the stored soft green coffee bean into the crunchy, flavoursome roasted bean we know and love before shipping it off for use as soon as possible, as once roasted they flavour of the bean will deteriorate with time. It really is a tricky process and there are a lot of roasters out there who excel at what they do so for now let us stick with the roasters in the UK that are (in my opinion) worth their weight in gold…
Artisan Roast: 57 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3RJ. These roasters started out in Broughton Street in 2007 and they boast cafes and freshly ground beans to take home as well as a handy subscription service. For new customers I highly recommend checking out their taster pack as it gives good value way to taste four different coffees in their range.
Extract Bristol: In the south of the country you can find Extract Bristol at Unit 1, Gatton Road, Bristol, BS2 9SH. These roasters offer excellent subscription customization and have an incredible range of blends to choose from so it’s unlikely that you won’t find something to tickle your taste buds on the extract coffee site.
North Star Leeds: These guys are relatively new on the scene, having opened in 2013 at Unit 27, Penraevon Industrial Estate, Penraevon Avenue, Leeds, LS7 2AW. They are a ‘micro-roastery’ that offer up nine delicious blends with each and every batch being personally taste tested by the roasters themselves. North Star offer a fortnightly subscription so if you like your coffee fresh and on mass then this is likely to be a great subscription for you.
Sandows London: The Brewery can be found at Unit 8 Triumph Trading Estate, Tariff Road, London, E9 5LH. These guys really know style and offer something just a little different. They started out in 2014 and are going from strength to strength crafting the finest ‘cold brew’ coffee out there which gives you a convenient and easy way to drink a fresh and smooth brew. They pride themselves on perfection and they do it in style.
Collonna & Small’s: Located at 6 Chapel Row, Bath, UK, Collonna & Small’s offer a wide range of coffees that change regularly. They believe in working with the season and so choose beans that are perfect in each growing season rather than having the same blends all year round. The café also offers two contrasting brewing methods as they create amazing espresso coffees but also fight in the filtered coffee’s corner in The Brew Bar. The team at Collonna & Small have won their fair share of awards over the last few years so they are certainly worth a visit.
One of the best things about coffee is its versatility. When I see coffee I don’t just see a little espresso, I don’t even just see a fancy barista vanilla double macchiato, I see a world of possibilities for this bean as an ingredient in some absolutely superb dishes. Be it breakfast dinner or tea there is a recipe with coffee at its heart that I adore and here are just a few of my very best.
Breakfast: I know it’s a little dated now but I’m still just a little bit addicted to my Nutribullet and absolutely love just being able to throw a quick smoothie together in the morning that gives me that much needed jolt of energy and nutrient fast. Of course, me being me, I’ve found a beaut smoothie recipe that give me by coffee buzz too. Simply throw in an espresso, oats, a banana, almond milk and almond butter, whizz it all up and you’re good to go for the day.
Lunch: BBQ Chicken Hoecakes with Coleslaw. BBQ chicken is one of my absolute favourites anyway but mix it up by using a delicious coffee barbeque sauce and I’m sold. A super quick (and a bit of a cheat) recipe for the coffee barbeque sauce is simply a mix of ketchup, sugar, onions, chilli, garlic and of course coffee! There’s affair few recipes out there you can use for the sauce but I find its just as good if you choose the easiest one.
Dinner: Bobby Flay provides one of the best Coffee Rubbed Rib Eye recipes I’ve ever followed. It produces a mouth-watering fall from the bone Rib Eye that just can’t be beaten in my eyes. Plus, it only takes about half an hour to cook. You can find a copy of the recipe at The Food Network, if you give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
Desert: My default restaurant desert has to be Tiramisu. I’ll admit it is a little bit clichéd in its traditional Italian style and can be done outrageously badly. But done right, I just cannot think of a more perfect end to a meal. I am a little loathe to admit that my favourite Tiramisu is in fact a homemade one created to the tune of Nigella Lawson’s recipe and it isn’t very traditional, in fact its lathered with Baileys but I let myself have this as my guilty pleasure as it’s so easy to make at home and requires next to now ingredients. The handy Christmas baileys can finally be put to use alongside savoiardi biscuits, water, eggs, caster sugar, mascarpone cheese and a bit of cacao powder you’ll have everything you need for this stunner of a desert.
A Side Tipple: One of my absolute favourites, this can keep me going throughout a long evening with the girls, it is the stunning and elegant Espresso Martini. This martini has coffee at its heart, for me it must be made with a freshly ground and brewed espresso, a shot of Kahlua (Not essential, but serve me one without it and I can’t pretend I won’t be disappointed use a good quality sherry. Add ice and shake then add the all-important cream and a sprinkle of cocoa to the top.