Coffee – it’s the blood pumping through our communal veins in the modern world. Few of us can comprehend a day started without it, and an ever-increasing proportion of the population has elevated coffee consumption to an art form, such that not knowing your Guatemalan from your Gorokan beans, your macchiato from your piccolo has become the worst kind of social faux pas. But never fear – it turns out it is possible to make good coffee at home, and even impress your friends with your barista skills. Here are my hot tips (see what I did there?!).
1. Buy good, fresh beans
Don’t skimp on the beans, because good coffee begins with good beans. Do some experimenting and find an origin, roast and producer that you like (and don’t forget to make sure it’s ethically sourced, because exploitation of the people who grow it and pick it is sure to leave a terrible taste in your mouth). And then, make sure you keep it fresh – coffee shouldn’t be kept for more than two weeks and it should be stored in an airtight container.
2. Grind the beans yourself
Part of keeping the coffee fresh is doing the grinding yourself, just before you brew your cup. Invest in a good grinder and you’ll thank yourself for countless mornings to come. The aim is to get a fine, even consistency.
3. Get the water right
Coffee aficionados insist that chlorinated water taints the taste of coffee, so you might like to consider a filter. Apart from that, it’s all about the temperature. The optimal water temperature for coffee brewing is 91°C (196°F) and 96°C – cooler than that and it will underextract and taste like dirty dishwater, hotter and it will burn the coffee and taste bitter as sin.
4. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Speaking of sin – the cardinal one of coffee making is poor equipment hygiene. I’m not even going to start on all the various types of coffee machines and methods available to confound the would-be home coffee maker, but no matter which you choose, keeping your equipment clean will keep your coffee quality. Give your storage containers and grinder a good wash every couple of weeks to avoid an oily build up, and run vinegar through your coffee maker every month to get rid of any tainting residues. Just don’t forget to rinse it well afterwards. That’s pretty important.