They say life starts after coffee. It can be a perfect day starter and a mood booster. Some even drink it before hitting the sack! But with the apprehensions about public places brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are skipping that extra trip to the coffee shop for their dose of caffeine, and settling for a cup they can buy or make instantly.
If you are on a search for ways to elevate your coffee experience in your own kitchen, we have a few suggestions that can immediately improve the quality of your coffee, no matter how fancy (or basic) your coffee machine is.
By the way, did you know that 1 October is celebrated as International Coffee Day?
1. Mind your beans
A local barista friend advised that if you want a good cup of coffee, you need good coffee beans. Buy fresh, whole bean coffee – not the ones that are pre-ground to enjoy more flavour. You can buy whole coffee beans from local coffee shops or online.
There are two main species of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans tend to have a sweeter, softer taste and the acidity is higher. Robusta, however, has a stronger, harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and nutty aftertaste. Starbucks purchases only high-quality Arabica beans cultivated at high altitudes.
2. Store your coffee beans correctly
Now that you have your beans, make sure you are storing them properly so they won’t lose flavour. A standard mason jar will suffice for most people, although a vacuum sealed canister is still better to shield sunlight. They are also a nice addition to your kitchen displays.
Don’t grind all of your coffee beans at once. Keep your at-home coffee as fresh as possible by only grinding the amount of coffee beans you plan to use. Experts say that coffee begins to lose its flavor within 30 minutes of being ground. That being said, it is best to grind on the spot, just before brewing a pot.
Grind size and consistency matter quite a bit, as well. Grind too coarse and you will have a weak pot of coffee. Grind too fine and you will over-extract the coffee and it will taste bitter. Most drip coffee makers call for a medium to medium-fine grind.
Burr grinders are more advisable than blade grinders to achieve a nice, consistent grind.
4. Measure your coffee
Measure coffee by weight instead of volume. Using a digital scale to measure takes just a second and allows you to better compare how much coffee and water is used each time. Ideally, a ratio of 1:20 (that’s one part coffee to 20 parts water, or about 7.5g of coffee to 150mL of water) makes a fairly strong cup of coffee.
5. Brew at the right temperature
The desired brew temperature for drip coffee is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit (90-96 degrees Celsius). While a thermometer is ideal for checking temperature, water that is about 30 – 60 seconds off boil usually falls right within the desired range. Another tip: use filtered water, as the quality of the water can affect the taste of your espresso shot.
Remember to also pre-heat your mug to ensure that most of the heat of your beverage stays in your drink instead of being absorbed by the mug. Fill your mug with boiling water first, let it sit for a few minutes, dump the water, and fill it up with your coffee.
6. Steam your milk
CHEAP: Use an at-home, electric milk frother. This handy machine does all the work for you to steam or froth milk.
CHEAPER: A handheld milk frother easily froths your milk while it’s warming over a stovetop.
CHEAPEST: Have a glass (mason) jar and a microwave? Pour the desired amount of milk into the jar and cover. Shake the jar hard for 45 seconds. Stop shaking when the milk has doubled in volume. Unscrew the cover and place the jar in a microwave and heat on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Watch it carefully. If the milk gets too hot, the air you’ve shaken into it will deflate. A good rule of thumb is to heat until the jar is hot to the touch but not so hot that you need a pot holder. Remove from the microwave and move the foam on top to a side while you pour the steamed milk into the coffee. Then spoon the foam on top.
7. Know your flavour
You have to figure out which flavour of coffee you like: latte, cappuccino, macchiato, americano. In the end, it all comes down to how much milk or froth you want in your espresso or dark coffee roast. If you love froth, you’ll want a cappuccino. If you love milk, but not froth, lattes are for you. If you hate milk in general, you’ll want an Americano, which combines espresso with water.
8. Make a coffee corner
Whether it’s a small corner of your countertop, a shelf, a repurposed bar cart, or its own little nook in your kitchen, designate a space for all your beautiful coffee equipment to make your coffee ritual more delightful. It’ll make walking into your kitchen for that first cup seem extra special.
And now that you know your basics and have set up your own coffee corner, you can start becoming your own barista with these coffee recipes from thespruceeats.com.
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