Photo credit: River Thompson
Once there was filter coffee and Nescafe. And doileys. Now there are lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, espressos, skinnies, mocha chocas and hand-chalked boards. And somewhere in the middle, we became obsessed with coffee.
He is here to teach us the literal dark arts of making a decent coffee at home. Dear reader, if you thought you could make a decent coffee chez toi, how wrong you are. I will be the first to admit that my own cafetiere coffee ranges from weak and undrinkable to strong and undrinkable (my menu is rather short).
First things first: pre-ground or freshly ground beans? Will sets us straight very quickly: “Within one minute of it being ground, coffee loses 80% of the gas in the beans.” (translate ‘gas’ as flavour). Ah. He does a quick experiment to prove it: a coffee made with beans ground one hour ago and a coffee made with freshly ground beans (within a minute from grinder to cup). The difference? Immense. The pre-ground coffee is dull and lacks ‘brightness’ while the freshly ground has retained what Will describes as the ‘sweet acids’, giving complexity and subtlety to the flavour.
Rule number one: stop buying pre-ground beans.
To brew some decent coffee at home, you will need to invest in a bit of gear. Will recommends the aeropress at £30 (all of the equipment can be bought at origincoffee.co.uk), alternatively there is the V60 (a simple filtering device) or the more complex and expensive (but beautiful) syphon.
Rule number two: water. The best temperature is 93 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer then boil the kettle and leave it for a couple of minutes.
Rule number three: the brew ratio (coffee to water). For most home coffees (i.e. not espressos) a ratio of approximately 16g of coffee to 200g water works well (you will need to invest in some delicate scales).
Rule number four: speed up and time it. To get the best out of your grind, there is no time for dilly-dallying. With the aeropress there are two brew times – for the first, add half the water, stir and brew for one minute then add the other half and brew for a minute and a half. The press is then flipped and you plunge for about 30 seconds (the shorter the coffee, the stronger the plunge needed).
The time, effort and skill that Will demonstrated made for some excellent coffee. The best home brew I have ever tried. You will need to learn the dark arts yourself however and the best way to do it is to book onto a Brew House course. Courses cost £20 and are held in the evenings from 6:30 – 8:30pm on different dates throughout the year.