At home with Grind: how to make the perfect cup of coffee

Sam Trevethyen, Grind’s head of beverage and training, shares his top tips on selecting, storing and making barista-grade coffee at home

16 April, 2020

Whether you’re craving the creamy kick of an espresso or the gentler aromas of a filter brew, life in lockdown is the perfect time to elevate your coffee-making skills. Here are some of the Grind team’s top tips and tricks for brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home.


HOW TO ACHIEVE THE PERFECT ‘CREMA’ AT HOME

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Espresso in Italian means ‘pressed or forced through’, referring to how it is made. The reason your espresso has crema on it in a café is that the coffee machine uses a pump and some very high-pressure boilers to force hot water through the coffee grounds. You can buy at-home espresso machines that do an amazing job of replicating this, and if you feel like treating yourself I’d recommend Delonghi’s La Specialista EC9335.M coffee machine.

If you don’t have access to that sort of kit and you’re not ready to invest, do not worry. The easiest way to achieve a crema on your coffee at home is to use a stovetop espresso maker (also known as a moka pot). Almost every household has one of these in the back of a cupboard, and they work by using steam pressure to force water through the coffee, so not a million miles away from a commercial coffee machine. The key is to remember that, just like espresso, you’ll need to use very finely ground coffee for this to work.


FRESH OR GROUND BEANS?

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As with all things, fresh is always best. However, not everyone has access to a quality coffee grinder, which is why there are so many different styles of ground coffee available. Once the coffee is ground, it can lose up to 50 per cent of its volatile aromatics (the good stuff) within five minutes, so how it is stored and how it is ground is very important. If the coffee is not in an airtight bag or container it can taste weak, or stale, and if the coffee is ground fine enough to brew espresso, it will lose even more flavour and intensity as it sits in the packet.

There are ways around this though. At Grind, for example, all of our tins are nitrogen flushed and then instantly sealed for freshness. The nitrogen replaces the oxygen inside the tin, creating a natural environment that helps to preserve the coffee. All of our ground coffee is, what we call, ‘Omni Grind’, which is suitable for all types of filter coffee, including drip, French press, or immersion brew. As this is a coarser grind, it helps to keep the coffee fresh for longer.


STORING COFFEE 

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This is really simple – store coffee in a dry, airtight container, away from sources of heat and direct sunlight. Never, ever store it in the fridge. This is because when you take the coffee out of the fridge, the temperature difference can cause condensation to form on the beans, which causes problems.

In recent years the idea of vacuum sealing coffee beans and freezing them has gained popularity –coffee has an extremely low moisture content, so removing the air and chilling the beans means they can stay fresh for months, or even years. Check out the tag #freezebeansnotpeas to see some examples of this.


FILTER BREW METHODS

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If you enjoy a long black or americano-style coffee then filter brew methods are one of the easiest ways to make a decent home brew without the need for any expensive equipment. The iconic AeroPress is quick and simple to use, really easy to clean and retails for around £30. The classic French press will also produce a flavoursome cup, if you follow some straightforward rules, and is likely to be found in most kitchen cupboards. Follow the steps below and use either of these to make a top-notch filter coffee at home:


FILTER BREW METHOD 1: AEROPRESS

Equipment:

  • Whole bean or pre-ground coffee
  • AeroPress and accessories
  • AeroPress filters
  • Brew vessel, metal or plastic
  • Digital scales
  • Timer
  • Tablespoon

Method – inverted:

  1. Boil the kettle.
  2. While boiling the kettle, weigh out 16g of coffee and grind to medium-fine (if using whole beans).
  3. Insert the rubber plunger part of the AeroPress to just below the number 4 marking and invert the AeroPress so it is standing upside down (with the plunger part facing upwards). Fill it with hot water to preheat.
  4. Discard the water and place the inverted AeroPress onto the scales.
  5. Add the coffee and tare the scales to reset them to zero.
  6. Start your timer and begin pouring – add 50g of water and then stir until all the coffee grounds are wet.
  7. Once your timer reaches 30 seconds, begin pouring again, slowly, until the scales show 260g.
  8. Rinse and preheat the paper filter in the AeroPress filter cap.
  9. Screw the cap onto your inverted AeroPress, give the coffee a swirl and flip the AeroPress over, onto your mug or serving vessel.
  10. Once your timer hits two minutes, slowly push the plunger down and stop when you hear the sound of air hissing.
  11. Remove the AeroPress, empty and clean.
  12. Enjoy your coffee!


FILTER BREW METHOD 2: FRENCH PRESS

Equipment:

  • Ground coffee
  • Kettle
  • French press
  • Digital scales or measuring jug
  • Timer
  • Tablespoon

Method A – scales:

  1. Boil the kettle
  2. While boiling the kettle, place the French press on scales and fill with water to three quarters full, noting how many grams this is – e.g. 800g.
  3. Divide this weight by 16 to work out how much coffee to use – e.g. 800/16 = 50g.
  4. Discard the water in the French press.
  5. Pop the French press onto the scales and add 50g of ground coffee.
  6. Add 800g of boiling water to the French Press and start the timer.
  7. Stir the brew until all the grounds are wet.
  8. Leave to brew for four minutes.
  9. After four minutes, break the crust of the coffee by gently stirring the surface.
  10. Slowly push down the plunger, stopping 2cm before the grounds in the bottom.
  11. Slowly pour the coffee into a cup and enjoy!

 Method B – measuring jug:

  1. Boil the kettle
  2. While boiling the kettle, fill the French press to three quarters full, and then pour this into the measuring jug, noting how many millilitres this is, e.g. 800ml.
  3. Divide this weight by 16 to work out how much coffee to use, e.g. 800/16 = 50g.
  4. Discard the water in the French press.
  5. Add 50g of ground coffee to the French press –1 tablespoon is approximately 5g, so for 800ml water, add 10 tablespoons of coffee.
  6. Fill the French press three quarters full with boiling water and start the timer.
  7. Stir the brew until all the grounds are immersed in the water.
  8. Leave to brew for four minutes.
  9. After four minutes, break the crust of the coffee by gently stirring the surface.
  10. Slowly push down the plunger, stopping 2cm before the grounds in the bottom.
  11. Slowly pour the coffee into a cup and enjoy!


COFFEE POD… PRESTO!

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Despite being in lockdown, not everyone has the time or inclination to become an at-home barista. For anyone with a Nespresso machine, we’ve made getting that caffeine hit even easier with our compatible coffee pods. Not only do they contain the same organic Grind coffee we use in our cafes, they’re completely compostable too. We’ve developed a punchy House Blend that’s perfect for espressos, a lighter Black Blend designed for long black drinkers and a Decaf Blend that contains all of the flavour with none of the caffeine.

Grind’s At Home range delivers direct to your doorstep, in letterbox-friendly packaging, from its state-of-the-art London coffee roastery. You can place a one-off order or subscribe for regular deliveries of Grind’s compostable coffee pods, whole bean or ground coffee; grind.co.uk