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Our (amateur) baristas guide to coffee making
Once upon a time, making a cup of coffee involved little more than reaching for the trusty kettle and finding a clean spoon. Nowadays, we all fancy ourselves as part-time baristas. We have the coffee, and a bewildering amount of ways to transform it into a stimulating and enjoyable cup. All we're missing is the name badge.
But in truth, do we really know our perculators from our V60s? What should we really make of these little pods which are taking over our kitchen cupboards? And is it perhaps time to put the humble kettle out to pasture?
We - via the knowledge of our friends at Cafédirect - are here to help, so that your 'ridiculously good coffee' tastes exactly the way it should do.
1. Stovetop pot: style over substance
These little pots might look the part and emit an enticing low burbling sound when the coffee is ready to go. But there's no getting away from the fact that you're sacrificing substance for style. Not least because coffee is not meant to be boiled.
The resulting coffee is generally thick and syrupy, with none of the delicacy or variety of its intended flavour. Often we use the wrong coffee in the first place - it should only ever be the more finely ground espresso sort.
2. Cafetières: all the theatre, not all the taste
This is the method many of you will probably be regularly using to turn your aromatic Cafédirect grounds into a flavoursome cup of coffee. The item in question is affordable, functional and easy to store, even it is a bit of a pain to clean out each time.
There's also something immensly satisfying in the act of plunging it. More than most other methods, you feel more involved in the brewing process, seeing it through from start to finish, with a deft touch and a rewarding pour.
The only issue though is that coffee is not meant to be stewed. The flavour becomes flat, with a far smaller spectrum of flavours and a build up of undesirable gritty sedement. Picking the right coffee, putting in the right amount of it and knowing how long to brew for can be tricky.
3. Pod machines: small, stylish landfill
For convenience and expedience, pod machines are hard to beat. If you buy the right ones, the taste can be pretty good too. There are a huge variety on offer. Generally the machines are stylish, affordable, compact and easy to maintain. So what's not to love?
Well there's one thing George Clooney won't tell you about; the waste. Pods are not widley recyclable and, in an age where the use of plastics is rightly being scrutinised, these little capsules are an outlier and a source of concern. Unless you can find somewhere to recycle them locally, they are destined for landfill.
4. V60 dripper: coffee as it should be
Here we have a real contender. Coffee as it should be; filtered, not stewed. The Hario V60 takes its name from its shape and the degree of its angle, the scientific way to brew the perfect cup.
Insert a (recyclable) filter paper, rinse it, spoon in the good stuff and gently pour hot water in concentric circles. Gravity takes its course and in less than four minutes you have a balanced, flavoursome drink, with the oils all filtered out. Coffee the way it should be, made by our steady hand, with assistance from our neglected friend, the humble kettle. Best of all, the filter and the grounds can go straight into the compost bin.
5. Bean-to-cup: the ultimate tool of the trade
There are many obvious upsides to an all singing, all dancing bean-to-cup coffee machine. Grinding the beans on demand produces the freshest cup possible, maximising all the flavours of the coffee. Many of them can produce drinks of varying lengths and some heat and froth up the milk, for barista style lattes and capuccinos.
There are some obvious downsides too. Principally the cost of course, some run into the thousands. With great power also comes great responsibility, so expect to cleaning them out on a regular basis. Still, if you are a serious coffee connoisseur, then this is the ultimate tool of your trade.
Now you know how to make your coffee, read part will help you get to grips with the coffee regions.
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