May 25, 2020
This might (not) come as a surprise, but we like coffee. Espresso, drip, French press, whatever it is, we love it. And if you’re reading this, chances are so do you. But if you’re relatively new to the world of gourmet coffee, knowing where to start can be a challenge. If you’re just starting to get ‘in’ to coffee, we have some easy tips for making a quality cup at home.
Figure Out What Kind Of Coffee You Want To Make
This is really the only first step you can take: what coffee do you want to make? Espresso, lattes, or is drip coffee all you need in life? Once you answer that question, you can figure out how to move on. After all, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end bar-style espresso machine if you love drip coffee more than anything else.
Invest In Your Machine
Whether you like a nice, neutral cup of drip coffee in the morning or a brutally strong shot of espresso, make sure that the one thing in your home brewing setup you invest in is whatever you’re using to actually brew your coffee. This is where the magic happens, and its importance can’t be understated, whether its a standard drip machine, bar-style espresso machine, or French press. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg - unless you want to! - but cheaping out isn’t necessarily worth the savings. If espresso is your goal, check online reviews of lower-end bar-style machines carefully, and ask your coffee aficionado friends what type they prefer and why. If money is tight, a stovetop espresso machine actually works really well, though not quite to the standard of high-end bar-style machines. Granted, a stovetop espresso maker is a fraction of the cost.
Use Good Beans (And Grind Them)
Like we talked about here (link to week of 2019-12-23 blog) good coffee starts with grinding great beans for maximum flavor and freshness. A grinder doesn’t need to be expensive, but try to get a burr grinder - it will make for a finer, faster grind, and less friction heat while processing beans. That last point is actually pretty important, as if you have a grinder with a dull blade (or burr) it will start to crush the beans against each other, creating friction and singeing the grounds prior to roasting. Take it from us, friction-burned grounds don’t taste nearly as good as, well, not friction-burned grounds.
Try A Variety of Roasts
When you’re just getting into making your own coffee, try a few different brands’ roasts on both ends of the dark/light spectrum to figure out what you like in terms of flavor and caffeine content. See how different roasts pair with milk, or different meals. Knowing which coffee is great on its own, and which coffee is wonderful with a snack brings you one step closer to true java joy.
Get a Milk Frother
Many fancier espresso beverages call for some application of steamed milk or foam, and it’s hard to do either of those without a milk frother. Like your grinder, you don’t need to spend a ton of money here, but get something that’s durable and well reviewed. Alternatively, most bar-style espresso machines will have their own attached milk frother, in which case you can avoid this entirely.
In the end, your entrance into the world of home barista-ing will entirely depend on what you want out of your coffee experience. You might need something as simple as nothing but a drip coffee maker, or a stove-top espresso maker and hand-held milk frother. However if you’re a true caffeine connoisseur, a bar-style espresso maker is hard to compete with. But remember, as long as you’re satisfied with your coffee, you’re your own perfect barista.