How to make a perfect coffee at home without a machine | Food

I’m spending a fortune on coffee to go. Can I make a good one at home without a machine?
harry leeds
You could save hundreds of pounds a year by upgrading your coffee game at home. A little investment goes a long way, says James Hoffmann, author of How to Make the Best Coffee at Home: “Take a month’s worth of coffee and spend it on a grinder.”

“Buying ground coffee is like buying a diced apple,” adds Hoffmann. “It quickly starts to get stale and break down.” A grinder also allows you to make coffee in many ways, by adjusting the size of the grind, from medium to medium-fine for a coffee maker, for example. “But be sure to choose a burr grinder to get a consistent texture.” A set of scales to weigh the beans is also helpful to ensure a reliable cup every time. That might sound nerdy, but you don’t necessarily need to shell out: “The kitchen scale works great,” says Hoffmann.

When buying beans, look for a roast date. “Fresh is important,” says Dale Harris of Ozone Coffee in London, so buy little and often, and store in something airtight and in the dark. He suggests preparing the beans “within four to six weeks; that way, your coffee will taste significantly better.” Another factor is provenance, although Harris says the name of the farm or producer is more important than the country of origin, “because it’s more likely that someone personally chose that coffee for its flavor.”

Roasting will also have a dramatic impact on the flavor of your coffee, Hoffmann says: “In supermarkets, you’ll see a strength guide,” which, he explains, ultimately has to do with roasting. “The higher the strength, the darker and more bitter the roast.” However, specialty coffee will not provide a level of strength. “Most of the time, it will be a light to medium roast,” says Hoffmann. “If you see fruity words in the description, this indicates some level of acidity, while a sweeter, nuttier description means a more aromatic brew.” If you’re lost, buy beans at your local cafe; after all, he is already a fan of the beans they use.

Next, you need to choose what you are going to prepare those beans in. Harris prefers “anything with a paper filter.” [from £10]although once you have a Chemex [a pour-over-style glass coffee maker at about £50]You will never come back.” They make a “really clean beer”. Harris uses 60g of coffee per liter of boiled water, gradually poured through a filter.

Nick Law, founder of Bean Shot Coffee in Bruton, Somerset, also recommends a Chemex or an AeroPress (around £30). “It’s a good, all-round device, and you can take it anywhere,” says Law, who uses 18-20g per 240ml of water, which should be filtered and around 90°C. Hoffmann’s preferred coffee maker, however, is the Clever Dripper (£20 or so). “It has a small plug at the bottom [of the conical dripper],” he says. Stir 18g of medium-fine coffee into 300g of water.

But, Harris says, a coffee maker can also produce amazing results. Hoffmann uses 60-70g of coffee per liter of water in his. He lets it rest for four minutes, removes the crust that forms on top and removes any residue. Be patient, let the beans settle to the bottom, then dip just to the top of the liquid and pour gently.

If you want strong coffee, the iconic Italian Moka pot (from around £20) is also great, says Hoffmann; he uses 100g of medium-fine coffee per liter of water, but he won’t give you an espresso. “That is much more complex, because you need a suitable machine instead of a coffee maker, which is expensive.” It’s much better to save the espresso for a weekly on-the-go treat.

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