What do I need to know about making great coffee at home?
Having the best coffee beans is an excellent start to making great coffee at home, but that's not where it ends. Other important factors include coffee storage, equipment hygiene, and choosing a quality milk. It is also worth considering whether you can factor in a grinder to your coffee set up so you can ensure you have freshly roasted coffee on hand at all times.
STORING COFFEE BEANS
In regard to keeping coffee fresh...air, moisture, heat and light are harmful. Keeping this in mind, the following practices are a useful guide:
Buy your coffee in small quantities (up to 2 weeks worth)
Store coffee beans in an airtight canister, preferably ceramic, in a cool dark position, possibly on the counter or in the cupboard.
Do not store coffee in the fridge as it absorbs the odours and flavours of other fridge items.
If possible, buy whole beans and grind as needed.
CLEANING COFFEE MAKING EQUIPMENT
Different types of coffee making equipment require different methods of cleaning and varying levels of commitment to the cleaning process. Whatever your equipment choice, cleaning is essential to ensure great tasting coffee and will also help with the longevity of your coffee equipment.
Organic matter (such as ground up coffee beans), heat and water encourage the growth of mould and bacteria, especially in the case of espresso machines and some drip filter equipment. Some coffee makers are also building up mineral deposits due to the calcium crystals in your tap water. Something like the French Press however, has no internal workings but still requires some disassembling and cleaning of all components.
Milk is more than a means to create impressive latte art. For those who choose coffees from the milk based menu, milk makes up the majority of the cup. Milk can affect the taste and texture of coffee, depending on the type used. The biggest influences are fat content and protein. The level of protein in cow’s milk (not always found in dairy alternatives) is essential in creating texturised milk. Fat content also plays a part in frothing the milk and is often lower in the generic supermarket brands which can make it difficult to perfect the beautiful texture we associate with a high quality espresso coffee.