Hankering after a perfect barista-style coffee at home? Cofficionado Hannah Davies of Cup North spills the beans on how to crack home brewing
Feature from The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide No 3 – buy your copy here.
The ratio of coffee to water has a direct impact on the strength of your brew. The general rule in the UK is to use 60g of coffee per litre of water.
Top tip: You’ll be able to determine the strength of a coffee by assessing the mouthfeel – is it thick on the tongue or thin with a watery texture?
The temperature of the water has a direct impact on the length of time it’ll take for the coffee to be extracted. It also impacts on the flavours you’ll elicit from the bean. The recommended temperature for brewing coffee is 92-96°c.
Top tip: Always preheat your brewing apparatus to maintain a consistent water temperature throughout the brew time.
Use filtered water from a good home filtering jug or buy bottled mineral water (look out for a neutral ph level and a dry residue close to 180).
Grind size and freshness
For maximum flavour, be sure to grind your coffee beans just before you plan to brew. You will need to adjust the grind size depending on the brew method. Maintain a consistent dose size and water temperature, but experiment by using fine and coarse grind sizes to see how it affects the flavour. You’re aiming to find the sweet spot.
For immersion brew methods like french press (cafetiere) or Clever Dripper, ensure that you time the brew from the moment the water comes into contact with the coffee. I recommend anywhere from 3-4 minutes. For drip brew methods like V60 or Kalita, monitor the time from when you start brewing to when the water stops dripping through the bed of coffee. If it’s taking too long (over 3 minutes) then consider making the grind size coarser, which allows the water to flow more freely through the coffee bed. If the water runs through in 60 seconds or less, make the grind size finer.
Think of brewing coffee like a school science experiment: if you’re unhappy with the way the coffee tastes, change just one variable at a time.
Now you’re down with the brew basics, choose your weapon and refine your style
Aeropress: This is a flexible brewing device. You can make your grind size coarse and brew for 3-4 minutes to recreate a french press style brew. Alternatively, grind the beans on a fine setting and brew for 30 seconds with less water to create an espresso-style drink. Have a play! Set up your brewer on a set of scales so you can monitor the volume of water as you pour.
Immersion (french press/Clever Dripper): Avoid inconsistency in the brew caused by stirring (or not) the coffee and water – stirring one time and not the next will alter the extraction of the coffee so you can’t tell what’s working. Set up your brewer on a set of scales so you can monitor the volume of water as you pour.
Pourover (V60/Kalita): Wet the filter paper in the brewer before you start. This helps to reduce any potential papery taste and warms up the brewer. Use a dose of coffee and water relative to the size of the brewer – the bed of coffee should be 3-4cm deep. Bloom the coffee. This means adding a small amount of water (2 x dose of coffee) to the fresh grounds when you start the timer and letting the coffee release gases for approximately 30 seconds before adding the remainder of the water. Set up your brewer on a set of scales so you can monitor the volume of water as you pour. Invest in a kettle with a long spout which encourages a slow and controlled pour.