They say it is the caffeine but it is also the soothing aroma and the feeling that you get when treating yourself to a cup of coffee that has given coffee such a strong hold in our lives. However, life is too short to drink bad coffee so it is important to find a home coffee kit that suits you. Fortunately, making a great cup of coffee that rivals your favourite barista’s now requires almost no skill at all.
The World of Beans
The world of specialty coffee is like that of wine, with vastly differing tastes and characteristics according to region, estate and blend. While Ethiopia, Kenya and Colombia are the coffee growing superpowers, regions like Sumatra and Guatemala are probably first and foremost known for their coffees.
The bottom line is to go for 100 percent Arabica beans. Considered to be of higher quality, Arabica has a sweeter, softer taste, with excellent acidity. The alternative is Robusta, grown at lower altitudes and which has a stronger, harsher taste, as well as twice as much caffeine; instant coffees are usually made from Robusta. In any case, keep the beans fresh in an airtight glass or ceramic containers — but never refrigerate.
The best coffee is made from freshly roasted beans. Ideally, buy them from a local roaster or even roast your own, but that is probably too troublesome. Buying from a quality conscious brand that packages beans in vacuum-sealed bags is the next best bet. Even better, seek out fair trade beans that ensure the livelihoods of coffee farmers are protected.
Coffee loses quality immediately upon grinding so it is advisable to grind beans just before you make the coffee. For coffee connoisseurs, grinding is itself an art. There are expensive, beautiful burr mills as well as more affordable electric blade grinders that will also do the job. In general, finer grinds yield more flavours.
Choosing the right coffee maker may be tougher than making a good cup of coffee, considering the myriad of options out there and their increasingly user-friendly designs. A basic coffee maker is a filter coffee machine where cold water is heated before dripping down through a basket of ground coffee. More sophisticated machines today, however, allow you do away with grinding and filters so that you can make a professional standard coffee by pushing a button
Capsule or pod machines have become so ubiquitous. Pioneered by Nestlé’s Nespresso, these machines are now offered by major makers such as Krups, Illy and Lavazza. The coffee is packed in a sealed capsule, which you insert into the machine. Once you press a button, hot water is sent through the capsule and the coffee is made. These are super easy to operate but the choice of coffees is limited by what the manufacturer offers.
Connectivity is the buzzword in today’s world, so even your coffee machine cannot be left offline. Nespresso’s new Prodigio allows users to schedule a brewing time, choose the strength and size of the coffee, and manage capsule stock via an app.
Purists would say that the bean is nature’s perfect packaging for the coffee, and that brings us to bean-to-cup machines. All you need to do is put in the beans and press the button. The machine will then grind the beans, run hot water through them before dispensing the coffee. It usually comes with a tool that steams milk for cappuccino and latte.
Swiss made Jura Z6 is the crème de la crème of bean-to-cup machines. With a smart interface that allows you select your coffee on a screen, it sustains a superb quality across different specialty coffees, from the fiery ristretto to the smooth flat white, all prepared with an intensity and breadth of aroma thanks to its patented Pulse Extraction Process, which allows for maximum extraction time. You can even adjust the milk temperature, a first in domestic machines, and crown your drink with beautiful milk foam like a real barista at the touch of a button.