Easy, affordable ways to brew great coffee at home
There isn’t often a day that goes past that we don’t look around at all the chaos going on, shake our heads and think, ‘thank GOODNESS for good coffee’! It’s the silver lining that’s kept us going and it can be yours too. Good coffee at home is exploding in popularity as a little luxury to make lockdowns more bearable.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY AN EXPENSIVE HOME ESPRESSO MACHINE TO MAKE A TASTY COFFEE at home
Single group espresso machine sales are breaking all records as coffee lovers invest in a quality morning brew. But not everyone can afford a $2,000+ coffee machine. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot to brew a delicious filter coffee. Handy tools are available to produce the most flavoursome specialty coffee right on your kitchen bench. Let’s get right into how to brew this delicious coffee at home!
WHAT IS FILTER COFFEE?
Gone are the days where percolated coffee was only found in American diner movie sets. Manually brewed coffee has made a massive comeback, with a slick new name: Filter Brew. A name that nods to the filter paper method used when brewing this coffee. If you’re thinking, ‘oh this is another ridiculously strong black coffee’, you’re wrong! Filter coffee is rightfully referred to as ‘the wine of coffee’, with its lighter, semi-opaque appearance and its smooth, light flavour. To put it really simply, the flavours of the coffee shine, without any bitterness.
While it may be an acquired taste and very different from a milky cappuccino with chocolate dust, the specialty filter coffee experience is one that is catching on fast because it is quick, easy, and flavoursome. Be assured, the specialty coffee filter brew trend is a new chapter of coffee flavour enjoyment. Coffees are roasted a little lighter and the coffee gear has been refined. Follow a simple recipe and procedure and you might just stumble across a brand new way to enjoy coffee at home.
And, to sweeten the cup, brewing filter coffee is a portable and affordable task. For under $100 you can be ready to go, brewing professional-grade coffee from the comfort of your own home. There are a bunch of filter brew options to choose from; you may have heard of the AeroPress, a V60 or the Clever Dripper method, just to name a few.
CHOOSING YOUR FILTER BREW APPARATUS
There’s a lot of brew gear options available today and it’s important you select the right gear for your own needs and tastes. You will need a grinder, a scale, a kettle and your selected brew apparatus.
Here are some options and our honest opinions about them:
SELECTING A GRINDER FOR coffee at HOME
Good, fresh coffee beans are a given, but so is a grinder! The size of your coffee particles determines how fast the water seeps through the coffee and, thus, how much flavour is extracted from the grinds.
Starting at the basic end, this trusty hand grinder does a great job and is quite affordable, for it’s robust qualities. The grinder burr is adjustable, making for precision coffee grinding on the go! Be prepared for a little, healthy exercise as you eagerly whirr that handle around! LEARN MORE/SHOP
Only, for the pros? Why not join them. The Comandante is a wonderful piece of precision engineering that is made to satisfy the needs of the most demanding coffee guru. Made in Germany from the finest materials this hand grinder is used by specialty coffee experts and coffee connoisseurs the world over. Features of this trusted brand that make it the industry’s stand out hand grinder are, an advanced burr set which is the result of dedicated research and development, and a wooden capped handle made for smooth turning and a comfortable grip. And this grinder will last and last… But, then, so it should for the extra investment! LEARN MORE/SHOP
BREVILLE SMART GRINDER PRO
Keen to take the hard work out of grinding your coffee? We would recommend jumping straight up to this little beauty! The Breville brand is highly respected and trusted by thousands of home brewers. The Smart Grinder Pro is a professional unit that will give you excellent, consistent results. Programmable, adjustable, LCD display. 2 Year replacement warranty. And with 60 precise grind settings this grinder is totally flexible in its application from the finest espresso grind to a coarse French press grind. LEARN MORE/SHOP
SELECTING A COFFEE SCALE
A coffee scale is an essential tool in getting your brew recipe right and then keeping it consistent.
BASIC BREWING SCALE
This is an entry level battery powered brew scale that enables clear and easy mass measurement for your coffee recipe. These slimline scales are used by hundreds of baristas in cafes and at home. However, from our experience, we don’t expect them to last for ever. Cheap and cheerful, they say. LEARN MORE/SHOP
ACAIA PEARL SCALE
On the other end of the ‘scale’ (ha, ha), the Acaia Pearl Scale Model S in White is the device you’ve always wanted. It is a beautifully designed tool is super intelligent. It will weigh your coffee and water in real-time and count for you, all while offering you insights about your pouring speed. Many coffee brewers are thrown off during coffee brewing by delayed weight figures.
The Acaia Pearl Scale Model S fixes this with its rapid 20 millisecond response time. To keep this precise there is an embedded stopwatch so you’ll never lose track of brewing time again. The scale can measure weight down to a tenth of a gram. How about that to get you excited about achieving pinpoint precision? The Acaia Android and iOS app collection can collect information via Bluetooth about your pouring rate so you can track and improve your pouring method. The apps also treats you with access to brewing recipes for you to try and then share your own experiments with the rest of the coffee world. To top that, the Acaia Pearl scale has a mini-usb rechargeable battery and will auto-shutoff for your while you sip on your delicious brews! LEARN MORE/SHOP
The Coffee Brewers Acaia Lunar scale in Black is a small but technically advanced scale. It’s compact size (105mmx105mmx15.5mm) specifically fits onto the drip tray of any espresso machine and into the brewing routine of every coffee enthusiast. Want to push the boundaries of fine tuning your extraction? This is the scale for you. We’re serious when we say it’s high tech. It takes the guessing out of espresso and enables you to take control to achieve the flavour and body you seek.
Enjoy a 20 millisecond response time, an embedded stopwatch, and accuracy down to a tenth of a gram. Auto start and stop with the first and last drop. Bluetooth enabled and syncs to your iphone to track your shots and provide amazing insights into your brewing habits. It’s able to provide recipes for you to experiment with via the Acaia app collection. The Lunar scale also has a rechargeable battery and it’s water proof so you’ll never have to worry about spilling an espresso or accidentally rinsing it along with your portafilter again! LEARN MORE/SHOP
Any kettle will do, but specifically designed brew kettles control brew temperature and make pouring accurate and easy.
FELLOW STAGG ELECTRIC KETTLE
The Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle is every coffee brewer’s dream kettle. Intuitive to use, good quality and aesthetically pleasing. It’s multiple features include variable temperature control, control-enhancing gooseneck spout, and a matte black façade that will complement any kitchen. The distinctive, thin, curved spout gives you complete control over the speed and positioning of your water pour, this enables you to saturate the grounds evenly achieving a more balanced extraction when making pour over filter coffees.
With its built-in heating unit, you just press the dial to get started. The dial also allows you to set a target water temperature from 57 to 100° C, with the reading on the LCD display. You can also use a built-in stopwatch feature in the LCD screen to track your extraction time. The HOLD button sets the kettle to keep your water at the target temperature for one hour. LEARN MORE/SHOP
BREWISTA 1.2L SMART POUR KETTLE
With programmable temperature setting, clear LCD display and gooseneck spout, this kettle is ideal for all your requirements for brewing coffee at home. Pour with precision for ultimate control and delicious results. Other handy features include auto-on and off, keep warm function. With it’s high capacity of 1.2L you’ll be able to brew coffee for the whole family!
HARIO BUONO COPPER KETTLE 600ML
This beautiful ode to coffee and craftsmanship is the ultimate pour-over coffee brewing companion. The kettle’s nickel-plated interior ensures water remains flavorless and its long gooseneck spout allows for precise pouring, meaning you can control the speed and placement of water throughout brewing. Set yourself up for prolonged extraction and flavorsome cups of coffee with this eye-catching Buono Kettle.
But let’s make it clear, this is not an electric kettle – it is in fact just a good looking pourer that will impress your friends no end. Water still needs to be heated in another kettle and then transferred into the Buono for pouring. LEARN MORE/SHOP
MANUAL BREW GEAR
Think Hario, think world leader in brew gear. The Hario V60 has been a favourite amongst coffeekind for many years and for great reasons. The clear plastic version is an affordable way for home baristas to launch into the world of filter brew. This strong, light weight funnel features spiral ridges that extract balance flavoursome brews. To use, simply place the funnel over a decanter or cup, place a disposable filter paper, add the ground coffee and then pour in your hot water. That sounds easy but you will enjoy exploring the wonders of pour over with V60 as you experiment with recipes and different coffee beans. LEARN MORE/SHOP
This copper version of the Hario V60 looks amazing and pairs with the Buono copper kettle for an eye-catching coffee experience. It does the same job as the plastic V60 but wonderful copper materials make it a distinctly dearer option. LEARN MORE/SHOP
One of our favourite brewers! So easy, consistent and fun. Not only is it simple to use, but it also allows for reliable coffee brewing precision and balanced flavour results. It’s a plug and play set up. Pop your filter paper in, then your ground coffee and go. Control water flow with the ‘clever’ release system below the cone. Works on many different decanters or simply straight into your mug. Fantastic for taking on an outdoor or camping trip. Take a look at our how-to video on this method HERE. LEARN MORE/SHOP
The Aeropress has become such a well known name for coffee brewers on the go and brewing coffee at home. If you’re looking for simplicity and great coffee flavour, than the Aeropress will tick all your boxes. Loved the world over, this convenient, light weight brewing device produces a clean, well bodied brew on every occasion. With an Aeropress, nothing can separate you from your caffeine fix, take it camping or exploring, wherever you go, keep it close! LEARN MORE/SHOP
AUTOMATIC COFFEE BREWER
This is a reliable large batch coffee maker with the precision required to brew decadent filter coffee, automatically. Enjoy your favourite filter brews and the top class flavours you’re used to with manual filter techniques. Easy to set up and use. Six different brewing modes. Amazing functionality. Make one cup at a time or up to twelve. Fast – brews 12 cups in just ten minutes. The coffee is brewed straight into a thermal carafe which maintains the temperature, flavour and quality of the coffee for hours. And with it’s brushed stainless steel finish the Precision Brewer looks great and is built to last. It will also keep your coffee at home nice and warm for hours! (By the way this is the unit we use in the office to deliver delicious filter coffee to the team every morning!) LEARN MORE/SHOP
FIVE TIPS FOR GETTING THE BEST OUT OF YOUR FILTER BREW at home
KNOW YOUR WATER TEMPERATURE
The temperature of your water definitely affects the flavour in the cup. We generally set our kettles to … but depending on the roast profile of your beans you can explore what’s best for you. Generally, the lighter the roast the hotter the water (up to 98 degrees) and the darker the roast the lower the temperature (down to 90 degrees).
BUY WHOLE BEANS & GRIND AS REQUIRED
For optimum flavour in the cup we always recommend buying whole beans and grinding just when you’re ready to brew. Why? Because, once ground, coffee loses freshness and flavour very quickly as oxygen enters and aromatic oils evaporate. Also, having a grinder allows you to adjust the grind to suit the method and the roast style you’re using. So, step one, invest in a grinder and enjoy fuller flavour in your coffee at home.
FOCUS ON GRIND SIZE
Generally filter grind is a lot coarser than espresso grind but ideal grind coarseness varies between brew methods. The coarseness or fineness of your grind affects the rate that water will flow through the coffee and also the surface area of coffee particles that the water will come in contact with. This of course affects the amount of flavour that is extracted from the coffee.
Generally, under extraction (too fast/not enough time of water being in contact with coffee grinds) results in sour flavours, while over-extraction (flow too slow/too much time) produces a bitter or burnt tasting cup. Adjust your grinder finer to slow down your extraction or coarser to speed it up. Find your sweet spot for the brew method you’re using.
This is the most important aspect to defining flavour. We say start at 16.6 to 1 (16.6g of water to 1g of coffee) and then experiment depending on your brew method and taste. The higher the ratio, more clarity and the lower the ratio, less clarity. Use a scale to measure this. Once you have a favourite ratio scales will enable you to stick to it for consistency of flavour.
KEEP YOUR EQUIPMENT CLEAN
Cleanliness is of paramount importance with all coffee. Dirty equipment will contaminate your brew and affect your flavour. Most brewing tools can be washed in warm, soapy water and then should be rinsed well and dried thoroughly.
EXPLORING COFFEE FLAVOURS WITH MICROLOT COFFEES
Actually, the apparatus is just the hardware, dare we say it, the boring part. The real experience lies with your selection of coffee beans. Because filter brew tends to exemplify the flavour personalities of the coffees, you will be on a journey of flavour discovery once you get started!
Micro-lot coffees are the crème de la crème of coffee. Now let’s establish early on that micro-lots are for black coffee only. The complex and in most cases, fruity flavours of these coffees, tend to fight with milky flavours. Every respected coffee roaster has it’s only micro-lot program which consists of a seasonal, rotating range of coffees that come from all over the globe.
The key differences between micro-lots and, well, ‘normal coffee blends’ is the way they are harvested and processed. Only the best cherries are selected for micro-lots, and they are processed in controlled environments with extra care to bring out a more distinct flavour.
Micro-lots have the added feature of being fully traceable back to the exact lot and farm in which it was produced. At Zest this is one of our favourite parts about micro-lots as we are able to find out so many interesting stories about the brews we drink.