Small Purchases To Improve Your Coffee At Home
You might have assumed, from the title of this article, that I was going to give you a list post of coffee machines you need to go out and buy to make the perfect cup. The list post would probably get us more views, but I would rather teach you something worth knowing; how to make the most out of what you already have, with only a few minor purchases.
I guarantee that if you implement even one suggestion I made in this article you will make better coffee.
Coffee has a recipe
(%TDS x Brewed Coffee Weight)/Ground Coffee Weight = Extraction Percentage. To make a better coffee, you need to perfect that recipe. There are some little investments that are essential to doing that.
I know before you got here you were aimlessly browsing Facebook, and that formula looks a little intimidating, but it really isn’t that difficult.
Read on and give me a chance to explain.
We Need To Start Fiddling With The Coffee Recipe And Narrowing Down Where Your Espresso Extraction Is Going Wrong.
Investment: Digital Scales
Do you have digital scales? The amount of coffee grind you put in the group head will have a massive effect on the taste of your coffee. It is one of the first things you need to address when trying to make a coffee at home.
Have a look at the formula again, all three of those variables require that you know the weight of something. If you have scales, make a coffee how you normally would and weigh how much grind you put into the group head, and the weight of your coffee.
17 grams ground coffee weight
35 grams brewed coffee weight
The weight of the liquid espresso is ideally somewhere around one to three times the amount of dry coffee. The most common brew ratio to start with is two times the dry coffee dose.
Investment: A Shot Timer
Use a shot timer with a pair of scales to get your espresso exactly how you want it. The shot time is how long it takes from starting the extraction to when you reach your target brew ratio. You want to have this time between 25 and 35 seconds. I normally aim for around 30. The perfect shot time is dependent on more factors than I could possible hope to go into, so just take my word for it and get it as close to 30 as possible.
You might be wondering how you change the shot time. If you have a manual machine, and you press a button, pull a lever, or do anything really to control how much water passes through a shot, you simply watch your shot timer and press that button stopping it around thirty seconds. That is all good and well, but if you don’t have the correct grind, stopping the extraction at thirty seconds might be too long or not long enough for your brew ratio.
Investment: A Grinder
The coarseness of the grind is the most important variable in extraction. Larger coffee particles will extract quicker
while smaller coffee particles extract slower. If you stopped the extraction at 30 seconds, and the ratio is off, you need to adjust the grind.
I personally use this grinder by Breville. Scout’s honour. They are great machines, which in many ways outperform the more manual, commercial grinders. They retail for about $199.99 USD. I am not being paid to say this, but you should really take a look at Breville’s grinders. http://www.breville.com.au/
That’s right, I am not talking about a blade grinder, which cuts up coffee into randomly sized granules.
You need a precision instrument made for coffee. The consistency of the grind will impact coffee extraction regardless of the method you use, and different extraction methods require different grinds.
Having your own grinder allows you to set the grind. You can also buy unground beans, saving money and allowing you to be more selective.
Your tamper needs to be the same size as your group head. If it is a little bit smaller, as is often the case on cheaper home equipment, you are not compressing the grind evenly. This results in something called channeling. Water will take the path of least resistance. If you never compacted the grind around the edge of the group head, the water will all quickly flow through that channel, and the coffee won’t extract properly.
You tamp also needs to be consistent. You might have heard a rumour that you need to tamp with 7kg or 15kg of pressure. This is nonsense. Your grind determines your extraction time and very famous baristas have stood behind barely tamping.
I could talk about beans all day, but I will try keep this short and go over what you need to know.
While there are around 20 major species within the Genis ‘Coffea’ humans have only deemed two species worthy of cultivation; Coffea Arabica (known as Arabica), and Coffea Canephora (Known as Robusta)
Arabica species make up 60 – 70% of the Coffee market, and it is generally considered better. Robusta is not without its qualities. It is valued for producing a thicker crema, and it is a lot easier to grow, so almost always cheaper.
The freshness of the beans is another major factor influencing taste. Coffee beans have complex oils, and they definitely do not get better with age. Exposure to oxygen, humidity, and sunlight, all affect the volatile oils in coffee beans. Have you noticed the valves on supermarket coffee packets? These are put there so the beans can gas off. As soon as you roast coffee the oils evaporate when they come into contact with air. Supermarket beans were roasted months, maybe even years, ago. If they didn’t have that valve the bag would explode.
Hook Coffee can have sustainably grown, ethically produced, Arabica coffee beans sent to your doorstep within a week of roasting. You won’t see any valves on our bags. The flavour hasn’t had time to evaporate. If you are going to change one thing about how you are making coffee, try out some new beans.
Click here to learn more.