Missing that perfect coffee meticulously prepared by your favorite barista? We can relate! The good news is, with the right equipment and some practice, you can recreate your favorite coffee drinks at home. All you need is good coffee, the right tools, and a few pro tips.
Choosing your coffee type
Great coffee starts with fresh, high-quality coffee. While some coffee people believe it is necessary to start with whole beans and grind them yourself, we unequivocally do not. Grind quality is as vital to a great cup of coffee as the beans themselves (more on that here) and purchasing a top-tier grinder can be pricey. Fresh, pre-ground beans in a valve-sealed bag work just as well as freshly ground beans. Bottom line from our perspective: look for a high-quality arabica that fits the coffee profile you enjoy and make sure the coffee is ground to the right grind for your preferred brew method.
Preparing a barista-worthy drip brew
Achieving an artisan cup of drip coffee is all about precision and timing. While you can use a drip machine, your best cup with likely be produced with a pour-over brewer. The benefit of using a hand brewer over an electric brewer is that you can respond to the coffee grounds, allowing them to bloom fully and controlling the rate of saturation — which can vary for each brew. When brewing a pour-over most baristas also employ a food scale, a gooseneck kettle, and a thermometer. The food scale is used to measure both the coffee grams and water input, the thermometer shows the water temperature (coffee brews best between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit), and the gooseneck kettle creates a very even, controlled water flow, which is critical for creating a great cup. To learn more about brewing a perfect pour-over, click here.
Perfecting a machine-free espresso
Quality espresso machines are expensive and unless you are a diehard espresso lover or only drink espresso, we recommend you pass on that purchase. There are many ways to replicate the rich, bold taste and concentrated texture of a pressed espresso — starting with other types of pressure brewers. For a rich, silky cup make an Italian-style stovetop espresso with a Moka Pot. Moka Pots are inexpensive, easy to use, easy to clean, and produce a fantastic espresso cup. For a lighter textured espresso-drink, such as lungo or Americana, you could also use an Aeropress. This hand press is very versatile, allowing you to make a range of coffees from a drip to a lighter-bodied, flavor-packed espresso. Click the link to learn more about brewing with a Moka Pot or Aeropress.
Making homemade cappuccinos, lattes, and other espresso-based drinks (including flavored lattes!)
Espresso-based drinks with frothed or steamed milk can be easily replicated at home. We recommend using coffee brewed with a Moka Pot, if available. Strongly brewed coffee from a French Press or drip brewer will also work. You may also want to purchase an electric or hand frother though frothing milk on the stovetop is also an option. To get the best froth or foam, use cold milk and follow the instructions on your frother carefully. To ensure you are using the right milk-to-coffee proportions and layers of milk, consult a quick chart on espresso-based drink composition. If you enjoy a flavored coffee drink, we recommend investing in professional flavoring syrups, such as Monin Gourmet Flavorings and DaVinci Gourmet Naturals Syrups. These flavors are designed specifically for coffees and are what your local barista most likely uses to create that fabulous pumpkin spice or vanilla latte. If you want to take that one final step and create latte art, use a store-bought stencil or paper cut stencil. Place the stencil over your finished drink, sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa over the stencil, and voila, latte art!
Brewing the prefect iced or cold cup
Brewing a great cup of iced coffee or cold brew at home is easy. The key is getting the best coffee-to-water ratio and for your preferred drink. Iced coffee is easy to water down once ice is added, leading to a somewhat flavorless drink. To avoid dilution, most coffee shops brew iced coffee using the Japanese Drip Brew Method, brew heavy, or use coffee ice cubes instead of regular iced cubes to prevent altering the coffee-to-water ratio. Cold brew is equally easy to make at home. The key to a great cup here is finding a rich, thick coffee, getting the right grind, and using filtered or mineral-free water. Oh, and patience! A great cup of cold brew can be made in any immersion brewer / vessel that allows it to steep, airtight, for at least 12-hours. To learn more about cold brewing, click here.
If you are looking for a home brewing kit, we have three ready for you here. For more brewing tips and home coffee info, please visit the following blog entries.