Who knew a sassy retail assistant would change my life forever? Last Christmas I was drawn in by the opulent storefront of Bacha Coffee and asked for their “standard” coffee. I was met with a death glare. “We have coffees from over 50 countries all over the world that all taste unique, there isn’t a “standard” flavour”, remarked the store assistant as she gestured over the gold boxes that filled the walls behind her. At the time, the only coffee flavours I knew were the seasonal drinks at Starbucks. Being a sucker for the packaging, I got a small bag of pre-ground beans and made some at home with makeshift coffee brewing equipment. Two years and having tasted over 80 different types of coffee later, I am here to tell you that you can be making amazing coffee at home in no time.
The first thing you will need are coffee beans. The magical thing about coffee is the myriad of flavours you can choose from with over 800 known distinct tastes and counting! While the most interesting coffee I have tried tasted like sparkling rosé, I recommend thinking about 5 basic categories of coffee flavours: chocolatey, nutty, earthy, fruity and floral. (Check out this coffee flavour wheel for more flavours!)
After establishing what flavours interest you, where do you get your coffee beans from? Do get freshly roasted coffee from local coffee roasters or cafes instead of supermarkets and get them ground according to your preferred method. Some of my favourite places to get coffee beans are Allpress Espresso, Hook Coffee and Cowpresso Coffee Roasters. Although coffee lovers advise against pre-ground coffee as it would taste stale quicker than whole coffee beans, good quality coffee bean grinding equipment can be costly. As long as you finish your coffee within a month, store it airtight and out of direct sunlight, the difference is marginal.
Next, is to pick your weapon of choice aka your brewing method. There are 6 main brewing methods: V60, Aeropress, Moka Pot, Chemex, Clever Dripper and Kalita Wave. For beginners, I recommend a French Press method which uses an immersion method where coffee grounds steep in water and are extracted for a richer and full-bodied coffee. All you have to do is soak your coffee grounds, leave it for a few minutes and you have fresh coffee ready to go! My personal favourite is the V60 is a percolation method where water passes through beans quickly to make a smooth and clean cup of coffee. The V60 has a bit of a learning curve but it is better suited for more delicate floral and fruity flavours while French press coffees reflect notes of chocolate and nuts better. Ultimately, the brewing method of choice boils down to personal preference!
For the recipes in the article, you will need a scale (preferably one with a timer), a kettle and either a V60 dripper and its filter paper or a French press depending on the method you choose. Here are my goto recipes:
French Press Coffee Recipe
Photo taken by Mizuno K
- Boil water and measure out 200ml. Set aside. (Do not add boiling hot water to coffee)
- Rinse your french press with hot water before adding 14g of coffee ground. (We will use about a 1:14 ratio where 1 part coffee needs 14 parts water)
- Gently pour the water till it just covers the coffee and wait 45 seconds to allow the coffee to bloom.
- Add all the remaining water, give it a good stir, and cover the French press with the filter up.
- Wait 4 minutes for your coffee to brew before pushing the filter down till you reach the grounds.
- Pour the coffee into a vessel of your choice to drink and enjoy.
V60 Pour Over/Drip Coffee Recipe
Photo taken by Ketut Subiyanto
- Boil water and measure out 200ml. Set aside. (Do not add boiling hot water to coffee because it will burn the ground beans and make your coffee bitter)
- Place your filter paper into the V60 and wet the paper to remove a ‘papery’ taste.
- Place your V60 on top of a vessel of your choice and add 14g of coffee ground for drip coffee into the V60. (We will use about a 1:14 ratio where 1 part coffee needs 14 parts water)
- Using the water that was set aside, gently pour the water till it just covers the coffee. Swirl the V60 without lifting it.
- Wait 45 seconds to allow the coffee to bloom where it absorbs the water and opens up for maximum flavour extraction.
- Split your remaining water into two pours. For the first pour gently pour in a circular motion then swirl the V60 again.
- When most of the water has been filtered, start the second pour. Gently pour in a circular motion and then grab a teaspoon and give it one good stir.
- Let all the coffee extract through the filter and then it’s ready to drink and enjoy.
I usually have my coffee with a little bit of sugar and frothed milk. To get frothed milk, you could get a hand frother or place some milk in a French press and plunge the filter up and down till you get the desired consistency. For those who prefer cold coffees, avoid adding too many ice cubes as this will dilute your coffee. Get metal ice cubes or place your coffee in the freezer for a while before adding your milk.
To take your coffee one step further, I highly recommend investing in some flavoured syrups. I recently got a toffee nut syrup and it will save me trips to my nearest Starbucks this Christmas season. And for a quick mocha add a pack of hot chocolate mix to your hot coffee and top it up with some milk (Swiss Miss is my favourite).
Making coffee at home has been such a fulfilling experience because trying out new coffees always feels like an adventure. It also saves you A LOT of money. Even though investing in the supplies upfront can seem costly, over time, a cup of coffee with milk at home averages out to $1.20 compared to paying upwards of $6 for coffee at cafes or coffee chains. Feel free to adjust the ratio to your taste. If the coffee tastes too strong try a 1:16 ratio instead and if you want an extra strong cup try a 1:12 ratio. Hopefully, this article inspires you to try your hand at making amazing coffees at home!