Thursday, September 29, 2011

Escaping the daily grind: how to make the perfect cafe-style coffee from home

By Ashleigh Lonsdale

We all feel the pressures of the “daily grind”; after all, there are never enough hours in the day for the amount of work we need to get through. Despite our constant struggle with juggling work, life and play as well as the ever-present economic pressures, Australians are spending more time indulging in their love of coffee than ever before. In fact, the average Australian drinks on average more than seven sups of coffee a week, many taking time out of their busy schedules to visit a café for their daily dose of caffeine.
Catering to this increasing desire for café-style coffee, it’s estimated that three in ten households now have coffee machine at home. Intertwining cafe luxury and a “time-is-money” lifestyle, the at-home cafe experience is on the rise, with many of leading appliance companies offering innovative machines, making it simpler than ever to replace instant coffee with silky-smooth cafe lattes.
Being your own in-house barista can be a tricky task. From sourcing the best beans, achieving the right milk temperature and correct consistency, the checklist for the perfect coffee seems endless. UK-based World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies is in Australia to participate in the Fine Food Festival in Sydney and Melbourne and lends us a few minutes of his time to shed light on the skills you need to create a top-notch cup at home.


What are the most important tools to create a café-style coffee at home?
A coffee grinder is as important, if not more important, than the machine. Coffee needs to be ground just before use. [And] fresh roasted coffee beans – naturally – and a quality machine.
How do we know what coffee beans are best and tastiest to use?
The most important factor when choosing coffee beans is that they are freshly roasted and traceable. Personal taste is individual, so what's best and tastiest will be determined by your own taste.


What’s the best way to store coffee beans to maintain quality?
Treat coffee like fresh produce; buy and use very quickly. An airtight container in a cool, dark place is best. Coffee is an agricultural product and needs to be treated as such.
What’s your advice on how to achieve silky steamed milk, and what happens if it’s overheated?
If milk is too hot, you will lose sweetness and the foam won’t be stable, so it will break down quicker. When you are steaming, you put the air in with the steam wand at the start, when it reaches body temperature just spin the milk in the jug. When [the jug] is too hot to hold it is too hot to put in your mouth.


Does the type of water we use affect the coffee’s quality?
Absolutely, we should be using filtered water at all times. If you use bottled water, be careful not to get one that is too high in minerals because it affects the fine PH balance and can be disastrous to the taste.

What are the most common mistakes that untrained baristas tend to make?
They don't clean their machines. You cannot make good coffee with a dirty machine. Always clean your machine every time you use it.
They don't taste the coffee. A chef tastes his food; baristas need to do the same so they can determine if the coffee is over/under extracted. It is very difficult to visually determine this with coffee, so tasting is integral to serving good coffee.


What are the consequences of over/under extracting coffee?
Under extracted is sour and over extracted is bitter. They taste almost identical to some people, so it is very difficult. [The extraction process should take] somewhere between 22 and 30 seconds but this completely depends on taste.


How do we correctly pack the coffee to ensure perfect extraction?
Simply put, as long as the grind falls evenly into the basket and it is tamped level and flat, then that's all that is needed. Don't over think it.


Finally, what do you love about coffee and what makes it such a life-long passion for you?
Making delicious coffee is a very new idea. We don't know that much yet and there is a lot to discover. It is the excitement of that journey and that all the time we are getting better at producing nice coffee. There are so many new tastes and flavours as we discover different varieties and improved processing methods.

Whether you consider yourself an amateur barista or need a little more assistance, there is a range of coffee machines on the market to suit your needs. From coffee machines that do the hard work for you to ones that give you a lot more control, whatever your skill level, there is a product out there to help you get the perfect caffeine hit from home.


Bodum Grinder from Matchbox, for more
Information visit: www.matchbox.com.au/Stores



Nespresso Lattissima+ coffee machine, for more
information visit: www.nespresso.com.au


Vacuvin coffee saver, available from:
www.vacuvin.com


Smeg fully automatic coffee machine, for more
information visit: www.smeg.com.au



Vibiemme Domobar Junior coffee machine, available from:
www.jetblackespresso.com.au


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