As coffee drinkers, we’re placing more importance on the quality of the coffee we drink. Research shows that flavour is the leading criterion in selecting a brand of coffee and the most important factor in your loyalty to your favourite café.
When you’re brewing at home, it pays to take a bit of time and effort to bring out the best in your beans. Not that it needs to be complicated. With the right know-how and some simple equipment, you can enjoy the perfect java.
Getting the perfect coffee at home
Here’s what you need:
Water can have a surprising effect on the quality of your coffee. Make sure your water is fresh (not been sitting in the kettle for ages or been boiled before). When you make your coffee, the water should be just off the boil, at between 90°C and 96°C. Leave it for a minute after it’s boiled if you don’t have a kettle where you can set the temperature.
The hardness of the water can also affect the taste of the coffee. Soft water doesn’t extract as much flavour from the beans, so you may want to choose a darker roast.
From stovetop espresso makers to aeropress, there’s a whole range of equipment that can help you get the perfect coffee. But a simple cafetiere can do an excellent job, so don’t feel the need to splash out unless you want to.
The key thing is to know how your coffee maker works best. Although it may seem obvious, spending some time to read the instructions can give you valuable hints to get the most from your coffee.
3. The right beans
The quality of your beans is of upmost importance. Some people don’t realise that coffee has a limited life. Treat your ground coffee as you would perishable goods, keeping the bag sealed and refrigerated after opening. Try to use it quickly, as the flavour diminishes in older coffee.
There’s also lots of different beans available from many different countries, all of which have a different taste. Experiment with different beans to find one you like and that works well with your water.
Some coffee connoisseurs are horrified by the thought of adding milk to coffee. But it’s your coffee so you can do as you like.
There’s some debate about whether the milk should be warmed - clearly if you’re adding a lot then it’s better if it is heated up to ensure that it doesn’t cool the coffee too much.
Putting it all together
If you’re using a cafetiere, here is our advice on getting the perfect coffee:
- Add at least two rounded dessertspoons of coffee per person. It may sound a lot but you’ll achieve a good depth of flavour.
- Pour on enough water to moisten the grounds.
- Let them absorb the water, then fill the cafetiere.
- When to plunge? It depends on what flavour you’re looking for. Most people choose to let it steep for 4 minutes for a deeper flavour, but a few only leave it for 30 seconds which gives a crisper taste. Try experimenting to see what works best for you.