How to make the perfect lockdown coffee
- Credit: Hannah Huntly and Beth Cook
As people continue to work from home due to lockdown, many workers are undoubtedly missing that beloved brew they'd usually get on their daily commute.
To fill that caffeinated void in the meantime, why not learn the tricks of the trade so you can make your own barista-style brew at home?
Beth Cook and Hannah Huntly from the award-winning Applaud Coffee in Ipswich have a number of tips to help you perfect your coffeemaking skills. From grinding your beans and steaming your milk, to getting that pour right, they’ve got it covered.
Sourcing your beans
But where do you begin? Firstly, it’s all about the beans.
“The most important thing is to buy the best quality coffee beans that you can - as this is the ingredient which is going to provide the base of your drink,” explains Beth.
“If you buy your coffee beans from your local specialty coffee shop or roaster, your beans will be of a much higher quality than if you buy them from a supermarket. The higher the quality, the better the taste and flavour.”
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Speciality coffee refers to the highest grade of coffee available, and applies to the entire supply chain - from the farmer, to the buyer, to the roaster, and finally either your barista, or yourself if you’re brewing at home.
For coffee beans to be graded as ‘speciality’, they must score at least 80 points on the 100-point Coffee Review Scale set out the Speciality Coffee Association. They are scored on their uniformity, aroma, flavour and body, and must have little to no defects.
“The bonus of buying beans from your local coffee shop or roaster means your coffee will be fresher. To get the best flavour, you should grind your coffee as close as possible to when you will be brewing it. At Applaud, we source our coffee from Butterworth and Son, an award-winning coffee roaster in Bury St Edmunds.” adds Hannah.
Once you’ve bought your coffee beans, the pair recommends storing them in an airtight container and keeping them somewhere cool and dry, such as a cupboard.
“Some people think you’re meant to keep them in the fridge - but that’s a myth, as coffee doesn’t like moisture,” says Beth.
Coffee that’s become stale will eventually lose its flavour over time, and produce a less than robust flavour.
Choosing the right brewing method and grind size
Once you’ve got your beans sorted, you now need to know how to grind and brew them.
“We’ve already had customers come to us through social media, asking us how to actually brew the coffee, and what sort of equipment they should buy. That all comes down to what the customer enjoys drinking.
“We’d always ask them first if they like their coffee black or milky, as that makes a difference in which brewing method we would recommend,” Beth explains.
An Aeropress or V60 coffee dripper is the preferred choice of equipment for black coffee drinkers, whereas an espresso machine is recommended for those who enjoy espressos and milk-based coffee drinks such lattes and cappuccinos.
Beth says: “Next, you’ll need to grind your beans. If you haven’t got a coffee grinder, it’s important that when you order your coffee you select the right grind size for your brewing method. The ends of the spectrum are coarse and fine - you’d want a coarser grind for a cafetiere, and extra fine for an espresso machine. Anything in the middle would be used for other home brewing methods, such as a V60 or an Aeropress.”
One common mistake people make when brewing coffee at home is using water that’s too hot, as boiling water can actually burn the coffee and lead to a bitter taste.
“The easiest way I describe it is to use water that’s just come off the boil. But if you have an espresso machine, you’d set the boiler temperature to around 93 degrees,” says Beth.
Steaming your milk
If black coffee isn’t to your taste, you’ll need to add milk to your brew - and to get that real coffeeshop feel, you’ll want to steam your milk.
Beth says: “Most coffee machines come with a steamer, and again, there’s a few variables that would affect the outcome of your milk. Temperature being the main one – you want to make sure you’re not overheating your milk.
“Secondly, the higher the fat content, the better the milk is for steaming - that’s why full fat milk always works best. In terms of alternative milks like soya and oat, a lot of brands have professional versions that are great for steaming.”
Pouring your brew
“Step one is getting a good base in your cup. You want around 30-35g of espresso in your cup, and if you’re feeling extra luxurious, you can add a couple of teaspoons of hot chocolate powder in to turn your drink into a mocha.
“Next, pour your milk in. How you combine your milk and espresso is important, and that’s where the technique of the pour comes in. Hold the cup by the base, and angle it as you slowly pour the milk in.
“As you fill the cup, you want to be pouring in a circular motion. To create latte art, you need to then move your milk jug closer to the cup, and the action is all in the wrist - and there you go, you’ve made your own barista-style coffee at home.”
Beth can be found on Instagram at @applaud_home, where she is happy to answer any home brewing queries.
“We also run home barista masterclasses, which we’re excited to do again once lockdown restrictions lift,” adds Hannah.