The year is 2020 - and your coffee routine is in disarray. You’re either not allowed to travel to your favourite cafe, said cafe has closed for a hiatus, or your budget has been cut and daily take-aways just aren’t an option anymore. What a time to be alive.
And yet, all is not lost. With no time wasted on a morning commute, and no minutes lost looking into the mirror while self-grooming (We're unsure what our reflection even looks like these days), your mornings can now be spent perfecting the craft of the at-home brew. Brew now, or forever hold your peace.
But how best to brew coffee at home? Which brew is right for you?
You shouldn’t take coffee for granted - there is a complex and precarious process of growing, shipping and roasting coffee that’s been done for you, and although it might not be as easy as removing a cork from a bottle, making coffee at home is pretty straightforward. To break it down for you we’ve our four chosen methods of the brew.
Before we do though, don’t bother unless you’re willing to do the following:
Spend money on high-quality coffee - you can’t polish a turd. Coffee is way too cheap as it is, moaning about spending $25+ on a bag of coffee means you’re not doing your sums.
Please measure your water and coffee. Buy some gram scales - “scoops” as a measurement ain’t going to cut it.
Buy a decent burr grinder - or have it ground by a pro grinder when you buy your coffee. Reserve the blade grinder for spices, it’ll butcher your beans.
Use clean water - filtered is best.
AeroPress - The Budget Solution
It’s not hard to see why the AeroPress has such a cult following. The Aeropress is a piston-style brewer that pushes coffee through a paper filter, straight into your cup. It’s easy to use, versatile and clean.
If you’re partial to experimenting with flavour, this could also be your jam, as people have created hundreds of recipes by adjusting variables like grind size and brew time - for a wide range of unique brew methods (see - Aeropress World Championships).
PROS: Easily portable (not that you’ve anywhere to go), Takes around 1-3 minutes to make, easily cleaned and produces sediment-free coffee, with plenty of clarity.
CONS: Only brews a single cup.
PRO-TIP: Once you’ve mastered the standard brew methods, explore the world of bypass brewing for full control and a cheat to making multiple cups.
RECOMMENDED BEANS: STELLA Tega & Tula, Ethiopia.
The French Press - The One You Probably Already Have
The French Press, or Plunger as we’ve elegantly re-named it, is perhaps the OG of homebrew, dating back circa 80 years - it’s what most people (born before 1995) grew up associating coffee-making with, and they can be found at the back of kitchen cupboards everywhere.
A French Press is what we call a full immersion brew technique, as there really isn’t any filtration involved, resulting in a heavier, textural style. So, if you’re wanting a cost-effective way of brewing multiple cups, French Press is for you.
PROS: The unattended steep time lets you focus on other things while your coffee is brewing, makes multiple cups of coffee, heavier profile, consistent.
CONS: Messier than the AeroPress, heavy, often textural mouthfeel.
PRO-TIP: Be careful not to under extract. Get a bigger French Press than what you need, leaving plenty of room to brew - and don’t be afraid of agitating during brewing.
RECOMMENDED BEANS: STELLA Jigesa, Ethiopia
The Automatic Filter Brewer - For Those Wanting to Splash Out
This might be something you associate with American homes or drab kitchenettes in offices, serving up brutal, bitter, just-need-something-to-wake-me-up coffee. That said, you may have also noticed the batch brew menu item at decent cafes. Well, this brew method - if you've only allowed yourself a small budget - is probably our top pick.
Automatic filter brewers are relatively precise and stupidly easy to use. There are great options from Breville and from stalwarts Moccamaster. It really is set and forget, and provided you’re using great coffee, you’ll kick yourself for not brewing like this earlier.
PROS: Consistent, clean and good for 1+ litres at a time.
CONS: Can be a touch pricey
PRO-TIP: Don’t bother messing with dose, just get your grind right. The golden rule across almost all filter brewing is 60g of coffee to 1000g of water.
RECOMMENDED BEANS: STELLA Halo Beriti, Ethiopia
Stove Top - If You Insist on Espresso at Home.
If you’re hellbent on having “espresso” at home (which we think is pretty much a don’t bother situation), then the classic Moka Pot is the way to go. The simplicity of passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee is a thing of beauty, and is best for those who like a fraction more oomph in their cup.
Moka pots are often regarded as the least-fashionable (see: most nostalgic) way to brew your coffee, but used right can deliver pretty tasty results. When using a stovetop brewer, your coffee is going to be strong and hot. Not for everyone, but its followers are devout.
PROS: Durable (except for the rubber gasket), easy to use, easy to clean, great if you’re going to pop milk in your coffee too - and want to keep things strong.
CONS: Can be bitter
PRO-TIP: Use pre-boiled water from a kettle. Don’t use coffee ground too fine, it should be a bit coarser than espresso ground.