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Make The Perfect Cup of Coffee

Unleash your inner barista with the Artisan Coffee School

The start of the year always requires extra effort and sometimes a cup of coffee is just what you need to get going. Here Laura Bratti, Head of Training at the Artisan Coffee School, shares her top tips for creating exceptional coffee at home – it’s time to step away from the instant granules and unleash your inner barista.



Coffee at home serves many purposes; a comforting cup for one to give you that lift before work, or perhaps a more carefully prepared brew, enjoyed in bed on a Sunday morning. A big pot can provide delicious sustenance for putting the world to rights with a friend, and nothing rounds off a dinner party quite like a serving of fresh, hot coffee; the delectable smell alone is a treat.

If you have read TOAST’s recent Spotlight interview with Laura Bratti, you’ll know that she is the head of training at Artisan, Europe’s leading SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) accredited coffee school. Laura’s principal role is to teach the art, science and passion involved within specialty coffee.

For Laura and the team at the Artisan Coffee School, it’s not simply about the process of coffee making but also explaining ‘why’ every single step of the way, so here Laura share’s her expert knowledge and top tips for creating exceptionally good coffee at home. 

Artisan Coffee School 8

Unleashing Your Inner Barista With the Artisan Coffee School's Top Tips 

How much skill is required in making a good cup of coffee?

With so many variables to consider when making a cup of coffee it can seem as though the perfect cup is almost impossible to achieve. It’s important to note the amount of work that goes into the coffee before it’s even reached your grinder; Coffee Arabica must be grown at a high altitude, in the right micro climate, handpicked and sorted, processed, shipped, roasted all at the highest possible standard and then finally brewed with care and precision - easy right? But by starting off simply at home it is most definitely achievable by anyone with enough interest and curiosity!

What coffee making method would you recommend when serving coffee to a crowd at home after a meal?

When serving to a large group of people at home I would definitely go for the ‘Chemex’. It’s a drip filter coffee, which basically means it’s brewed via the aid of gravity only (no pressure) and you can get them in various sizes i.e. 3, 6, 8 and 10 cups. The brew is extremely light, almost resembling tea, and it is a great way to serve quality and quantity at the same time.

Chemex Selection

Chemex

Chemex, available from £37, www.hasbean.co.uk

Are there any other methods of coffee-making that are great to use at home?

My personal favourite home brew method is the Aeropress, a filter style coffee brewed using immersion and pressure. There are dozens of ways to brew using this device, and you have so much control over the extraction. It’s a great one for people new to home brewing as it can be a quick and simple process!

 Aerobie Coffee Maker

Aeropress Coffee Maker, available for £29.99 from www.shop.aeropress.co.uk

Thinking about coffee - is it essential to grind your own beans or is buying ground coffee ok?

I think that it is absolutely essential to grind coffee fresh. We grind coffee to expose surface area to make it easier for water to extract flavour - this also means that anything else can’t be absorbed into the coffee, tainting its flavour - moisture in the air for example. Coffee starts to become stale and lose aromas within minutes after grinding. Hand mill grinders are really easy to use at home.

 Coffee Grinders Grunwerg Hario Skerton Stelton Collar Grinder

Grunwerg Coffee Grinder, is £25 fromwww.johnlewis.com, Hario Skerton Hand Coffee Grinder £40 www.hario.co.uk , Selton Collar coffee grinder, £70www.trouva.com

Are they any other bits of kit that we need?

Apart from the hand mill grinder, there are a couple of other pieces of equipment that I think are important for making consistent coffee easy at home: digital scales and a timer. It’s also important to understand the impact water can have on the flavour of your coffee. I would recommend investing in a simple brita filter jug for home use to bring the hardness level of your water down.

Brita Marella Cool MS Scales Eva Solo Magnetic Timer 

Brita Gold Glitter Water Jug, for £22 fromwww.brita.co.uk , M&S 5kg Digital Scales, £15 from www.marksandspencer.com , Eva Solo Magnetic Kitchen Timer, £30 www.houseology.com.

Do you have any tips when it comes to buying coffee i.e. what intensity or flavours to go for when serving a crowd?

Coffee flavour is a very personal choice and is influenced by our own surroundings. A large number of things affect the flavour of coffee and so the best place to start is by trying a few different origins, different roasters, chatting to your barista and then pick what you like best. Don’t be afraid – there is so much knowledge out there, and lots of people willing to give it!

Artisan Coffee School Coffee

Are instant coffee granules ever acceptable?!

In this day and age, I have to say no! With all of the new technology that’s available, there is no need to substitute quality for lack of time.

How should we serve the milk?

Milk should be served with coffee no hotter than 65 degrees, after this point the natural sweetness in the milk starts to diminish and you slowly start to introduce burnt flavours. Full fat milk is best to drink with coffee - fat equals flavour! The best way to heat and texture milk at home without a steam arm from espresso machine is with a stand-alone milk frother - the milk is basically heated and textured inside its own jug ready to pour.

Lavazza Milk Frother Krups Frother Nespresso Aeroccino Frother 

Lavassa Milk Frother, £29.95 from www.johnlewis.com , Nespresso Aeroccino, from £50 www.nespresso.com , Krups Milk Frother £99.95www.johnlewis.com

Is latte art recommended at home or is this best left to the professionals?!

Absolutely! Go for it! Latte art is a lot of fun but it does take a lot of practice! The key is to have perfect silky foam and a steady handy, but with a little bit of patience, everyone can do it. A good milk jug helps too.

Barista Co Milk Jug Rhinowares Milk Jug Hario Hiroshi Sawada Latte Art Pitcher

Barista & Co Copper Milk Jug, £12.99 www.hotplateproducts.com, Rhinowares – Professional Black Teflon Milk Pitcher, from £13.95 www.coffeetastingclub.com, Hario Hiroshi Sawada Free Pour Latte Art Pitcher, £30www.hario.co.uk. 

When ordering coffee in a café you can sometimes add flavours and syrups, is this something that can be done at home?

To be able to really taste the coffee and appreciate it, we should be keeping it simple. Sugar and syrups cover up any delicate and complex flavours that have been skillfully enhanced by the farmers, roasters and baristas.

Are there any non-dairy milks that work well in coffee?

I think that there are some that work better than others, however I don’t think that they pair well with coffee. I would say that soy milk is still definitely the most popular. The most important thing to remember when adding things to coffee is to use things that complement the flavour notes, not override them.

Krups Frother

Is there anything else we should serve our coffee with?

No, just keep it simple. When you have good quality beans, less is more!

Artisan Coffee School Coffee Cups


So next time you’ve got a friend over for a cuppa, a group round for meal or perhaps when you next fancy a caffeine hit yourself, step away from the instant granules and unleash your inner barista.

For more information on the Artisan Coffee School check out Laura’s recent Spotlight interview over on TheEdit now, or visit their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book

 
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