Everyone seems to have an opinion on coffee. People get hot under the collar about their favourite cup of the black stuff; how they drink it, how you should drink it, and God forbid if you don't drink it!
It seems that coffee gets big reactions from everyone – maybe it’s got something to do with that psychoactive substance we know as caffeine.
With that in mind, here’s a run-through of the types of equipment you can use to make the perfect cup of coffee at home.
First up is the Italian classic, the percolator – a truly iconic piece of equipment. It’s also known by a host of other names, including moka pot, stove top, caffettiera and macchinetta. On the up side, the percolator is a beautiful Italian coffee maker that looks the part and creates great-tasting espresso that can be used for lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites. On the down side, it’s a bit labour intensive and you can only make one or two cups of coffee at a time.
How to use a percolator
- Start by filling the bottom chamber with hot water, up to just below the steam valve.
- Pop the filter basket on top of the chamber and fill it with coarsely ground coffee. Pat the coffee down slightly, then screw on the top chamber.
- Place your percolator over a moderate heat for around 5 minutes, or until your coffee appears in the top chamber.
- Remove your percolator from the heat, stir the coffee, close the lid, then pour.
Tip: Use freshly boiled water to fill your percolator, otherwise the pot will get very hot heating up cold water. This will overheat the coffee and damage the taste.
The AeroPress is the go-to quality tool for making great coffee on the road. Its small, compact nature means it can fit in your luggage and it’s sturdy enough not to get broken in transit. It really is a satisfying, geeky way to make an excellent cup of coffee, and once you’ve mastered the technique, it’s super-quick. It’s considered to be one of the very best ways to make coffee, hence why there are AeroPress championships around the world.
How to make coffee with an AeroPress
- Set up your AeroPress using the inverted method.
- Put the filter in the disk and wet with hot water.
- Put 1 scoop of coffee into your AeroPress, fill with enough hot water for 1 cup, give it a stir and leave for around 1 minute.
- Screw on the cap and filter, place your cup over the top, then flip the cup and AeroPress over.
- Press down steadily (but don’t push out all of the water), remove your AeroPress, then enjoy.
Tip: Stop plunging when you hear a hissing sound.
The French press, also known as the cafetière, is another iconic and well-known piece of brewing equipment. It’s the best way to make several cups of coffee quickly, perfect for five or six people. It’s also great if you want to make a batch of coffee for cold brew, and can be used to infuse loose leaf tea as well. The biggest mistake people can make with cafetières is using the wrong grind, and therefore not getting the proper extraction. Make sure you use a coarse grind, similar in size to pan bread crumbs.
How to make French press coffee
- Fill your French press with 6 tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee (the exact amount will depend on the size of your press – use the water-to-coffee ratio 10:1 as a guide).
- Add 900ml hot (but not boiling) water and give it all a stir.
- Leave your coffee to brew for around 4 minutes, keeping the lid off.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the grounds that have floated to the top, then place the lid on.
- Slowly push down the plunger, then serve.
Tip: Scooping the grounds and foam from the top before you plunge will help reduce ‘sludge’ and give a cleaner tasting cup.
We’ve all seen the classic pot coffee or drip-brewed coffee machines associated with many American diners. The problem with using these coffee machines is that the coffee tends to sit and stew on the machine’s hot plates, making it thoroughly unpalatable. However, in recent years, the cheap and simple designs of the Chemex and V60 pour over devices have seen filter coffee make something of a comeback. Filter coffee tends to have a subtler, smoother taste compared to the power of an espresso.
How to make drip-filter coffee
- Place the cone on top of the container and insert the paper filter into the cone.
- Pass boiling water over the filter and allow it to drip through into the container (this will remove any starchy taste and help the coffee drip through more easily). 3. Discard the papery water and reposition the cone on top of the container.
- Grind your beans to a reasonably coarse consistency (or use pre-ground), then pour into the paper filter.
- Slowly and carefully pour a little (30ml or so) hot water over your grounds in a circular motion, starting in the centre and moving outwards.
- After about 1 minute, pour more hot water over the wet grounds, again, starting in the middle and circling outwards. Keep pouring until you’ve filled the cup below to the level you want.
- The brewing will have finished when the dripping from the cone to the cup starts to slow (after about 1 or 2 minutes).
- Remove the filter from the cone, pour, and enjoy.
Tip: The grind for drip coffee needs to be in between the coarseness of that you’d use with a French press and the fineness of that you’d use with a percolator.
Cold brew coffee makes a delicious chilled beverage that’s perfect for the summer months, but it’s also amazing served hot. The term cold brew simply refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. It can be drunk neat or mixed with dairy or nut milks to create moreish alternatives to your daily caffeine fix.
How to make cold brew coffee
- Coarsely grind 250g of coffee beans (or use pre-ground) and empty the grounds into a big bowl.
- Slowly pour 1l of filtered water over the coffee, making sure all the grounds get saturated.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and leave for 20 to 24 hours.
- Once steeped, you’ll need to filter your coffee twice. To start, filter it through a sieve into a large bowl, then discard the grounds and rinse the sieve.
- Soak a piece of kitchen paper in water and place inside the sieve.
- Filter your cold brew again, this time through the sieve with the kitchen paper.
- Store your cold brew in a sealable container to keep it nice and fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Tip: Pour the cold brew coffee into an ice tray and freeze, then blitz and serve as a coffee crush.
Once you’ve finessed your technique and got your perfect cup of coffee nailed, mix things up with cappuccinos, macchiatos and flat whites.