If you are a coffee lover, you know just how wonderful it feels to sit down at your favourite cafe to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee. But imagine being able to prepare your favourite coffee, to coffee house standards, anytime you want it and from the comfort of your own home. Keep reading if you want to know what is needed to replicate your favourite coffee house-style drink.
One of the keys to making the perfect cup of coffee at home is choosing the right coffee machine. But should you go for a home model or for a high-end machine?
Some basic home espresso machines are perfectly adequate for the task, but you need to keep in mind that the water capacity is usually very limited (which means that you will need to keep topping them up). If you drink coffee more than twice a day, you want to go for a machine that has a capacity of at leat 1 litre. Also, while home models can heat and froth milk, usually they will not heat it to anything above 65 degrees, and this can affect the overall quality of your drinks (especially if you love cappuccinos or lattes).
the keys to making the perfect cup of coffee at home is choosing the right coffee machine. But should you go for a home model or for a high-end machine?
On the other hand, commercial espresso machines can be costly, with some models exceeding the £600 mark. If you are willing to take the time to research however, you can find good home espresso machines (designed to be like commercial barista style ones) and they are attached to great names, such as Gaggia etc. They will they often have built-in extras, like steamers, and some even include “cappuccino settings” that create the perfect drink automatically.
Heat and pressure are essential elements when it comes to making the perfect coffee. It is important that your machine heats espresso shots at exactly 200°F, as fluctuations can spoil the taste. To achieve this, it is recommended to go for a machine that has a double-boiler system, so that water and coffee are heated and pressurised separately. A good espresso machine should be able to maintain at least 9 bars of pressure during 20 seconds (the time it takes to pull an espresso shot).
More bars of pressure are not necessarily better, as the key for the perfect shot is pressure consistency. Ideally, you should look for models that come with a PID pressure controller.
Next, you need to look at additional equipment, which may be built into the machine or sold separately. This includes coffee grinders with a range of finer to coarser settings (finer for dark roast and espresso and coarser for lighter varieties, such as a regular ground coffee), automatic tampers that release the perfect amount of pressure (30-40pounds) or manual tampers for you to trial and error with, and milk frothers, thermometers, and jugs.
The latter should be made of stainless steel to prevent odd aftertastes. And don’t forget a scale or measuring scoop that gives you 7 grams of coffee per shot.
Popular coffee drinks and top tips to make them at home
Espresso: this is the base for all coffee drinks. Wait until the water is heated to 200°F and the pressure stays at 9 bars or 130 PSI. Pour 7 grams of coffee and tamp them to 30 pounds, release the espresso, and stop the shot after 25 seconds.
Cappuccino: froth the milk making sure that the temperature doesn’t exceed 70°C and that the wand nozzle is half an inch below the milk’s surface. Let it froth until you have 1/3 of foam and 1/3 of hot milk, then pull an espresso shot and slowly pour the milk and foam over it in a 7oz cup. For a latte, follow the same procedure but change the proportions to 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, and ¼ foam.
To make the perfect americano, boil filtered water on a 2:1 proportion to coffee, pull the espresso shot, and pour the water over the coffee gently so that the cream stays on top.
Visiting a coffee site like Coffee Geek can give you great insight into machines and also recipes and advice so you can make the perfect drink at home – http://coffeegeek.com/.
To sum up, it is possible to make the perfect coffee at home as long as you develop the perfect technique and have a reliable espresso machine. As well as being prepared to get past the teething errors you’ll have on your first few shots!
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At home I had an old coffee machine and could never get anyway close to making a nice drink. Then, at work we hired some bean to cup coffee machines which gave us a wonderful tasting drink. So it was this that made me think ‘how can I do this at home?’. Well you have to spend a little to get the right machine, and then be prepared to have a trial and error session, but it’s not as hard as you think. And it is certainly worth it – although don’t drink one after 5pm or you won’t sleep!