Five Tips for Brewing Coffee at Home
At eightpointnine.com, we’re passionate about people drinking good coffee whenever they drink it. Coffee drinkers shouldn’t settle for poor coffee just because they’re not at a fancy cafe. Below are four simple ways you can improve your cup of coffee without spending a bomb - and a fifth that costs a little more.
1. Use a filtration system
Our water is full of TDS (total dissolved solids) that affect the flavour of our coffee. Remember, coffee is 97% water, and so it makes sense to think about this as a vital ingredient. We’re used to just filling the kettle from the tap, even if we have a Brita filter or something similar, but water from the tap is really, really bad for making coffee with. Using a filter of some kind is important for getting a rounder flavour to your coffee, and, as an added bonus might keep your kettle alive for a while longer. (The former applies to all, but water quality varies hugely by area. If you live in London, you’ve tasted your water: consider the above to have been written in upper case.)
2. Keep your coffee locked away
There are many different myths behind storing coffee. One is that they should be frozen, an even more prevalent one is that they should be refrigerated. To the former, the real problem with freezing is that it involves subjecting the coffee to temperature changes, which damage the coffee. To the latter, never, ever keep your coffee in the fridge. The main enemy to freshness is moisture, which is one thing your fridge is built to produce. Keep your coffee in a cool, dark place, preferably in an airtight container (I use Kilner jars). This will help your coffee stay fresher for longer.
3. Weighing in
Making coffee is like making a meal, and like any meal there is a recipe to follow. At eightpointnine, we’ve calculated that the ideal amount of coffee is 8.9g per 160ml. Your tastes might differ from this, and every coffee requires a differing ratio of coffee to water, but if you want to make a truly balanced cup of coffee, it’s worth bearing this ratio in mind at least as a ballpark figure.
4. Avoid boiling your coffee
Boiling water is, well, boiling and this heat can have a detrimental effect on your the taste of your coffee. Water that is too hot can lead to overextraction, which means that your coffee will taste too bitter and lose a lot of subtleness. Water should be ‘off-boil’ before it comes into contact with the grinds, so maybe just leave the kettle for a minute or two after it’s boiled. In addition, if you’re using an espresso machine, there is sometimes a tendency to over-texture the milk, for a ‘hotter’ coffee. This can just be your personal preference, but it also has a negative effect o the coffee, which has already been subjected to searing heat and pressure in the espresso machine.
5. Use a grinder!
This is the only tip on here that will cost quite a bit of money, but if you’re serious about your coffee it’s definitely something you should consider. It doesn’t matter whether you’re ordering the finest eightpointnine blends, or just a supermarket brand, coffee always tastes better if it’s been freshly ground. It’s more than just freshness though, most grinders let you set the coarseness of the grind. This gives you control over another factor that can affect flavour. If your coffee is too bitter, it could be enough to just make your grind a little bit coarser, and this will make it more to your tastes.
Coffee and Cycling Symposium
Coffee and cycling have a kind of cultural affinity; an alliance in the war of sub-cultures. Last night, CycleFit and Look Mum No Hands held a series of short presentations on the intricacies of well-brewed coffee and snug-fitting bicycles.
The coffee talks were from Stephen Leighton, Dan Webb and James Hoffman. Stephen Leighton, owner of Has Bean coffee, talked about the various different ways of getting beans into the country. He explained the various merits and disadvantages of direct trade and using importers/exporters. Dan Webb, head roaster at Crediton, detailed the environmental problems faced by even a small roaster and ways to combat this using new technologies. These were essentially air filtration systems that charged polluting particles and then removed them from the air. Last of the coffee talks was from James Hoffman, 2007 World Barista Champion and owner of Square Mile coffee roasters. James talked about the primary enemies of day-to-day coffee: bad water, bad coffee and a lack of fresh grinding. In brief terms, his message was something we can all learn a lesson from: think about what ingredients are in your coffee.
On the cycling side, James Hewitt (pictured) and Phil Cavell, both from CycleFit, banished some common myths about cycling. The first myth was that saddle comfort is decided mainly by the softness of the saddle you choose (softer = comfort). James Hewitt argued that the set up of the saddle, and the saddle shape are far more important. Phil Cavell then opened up discussion with the floor about whether or not steel is an objectively useful material out of which to make bikes. Despite putting forward an impassioned argument that steel is only of sentimental value, it felt like he didn’t convince the audience! Lastly James and Phil gave a joint talk questioning the usefulness of pulling up in your pedal stroke, given the weakness of the muscle that movement uses. This had rather more success in convincing the crowd.
This weekend was the London Coffee Festival at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. It is a celebration of the UK’s coffee industry and its achievements, as well as its position at the forefront of the world’s coffee production. Eightpointnine were there just because we love coffee: and who can say that’s not a good reason? Here are some shots of our favourite bits.
eightpointnine’s Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Coffee Addicts
It’s that time of year again, and we bet you’re already struggling to think of what to get people for Christmas (or what they can get for you). So we thought we’d take a little weight off your shoulders by compiling our Top 10 Gifts of 2012 for coffee addicts. You may want to purchase something off here for a known coffee lover, or perhaps drop some hints to your nearest & dearest when they’re asking what you want for Christmas…
Better still we have a fabulous prize to giveaway courtesy of our friends at occa-home - more on how to enter our competition below!
1. BEST MUGS
You’ve probably noticed it’s getting cold - time to dig out the jumpers/sweaters. Be super on trend with these Nordic inspired Marius mugs (thermo cups) which are so clever they even keep your coffee hotter for longer!
We love these Bodum espresso mugs for their really snazzy design and comfortable grip! The perfect gift for a design-conscious coffee drinker.
2. BEST COFFEE HAND GRINDER
The Ceramic Hario Coffee Mill is a mini hand grinder and we love the fact that it’s so lightweight; the plastic body makes for easy travelling, so you can have great coffee wherever you go. We’d advise getting this with the Aeropress to make fabulous coffee without breaking the bank!
3. BEST COFFEE POT
Depending on what you believe, this sleek Bistro Coffee Pot’s from Nick Munro was inspired by continental coffee shops, a bike pump or his love of penguins! Either way we think it looks amazing and is a great take on the humble cafetière - find out how you could win one below!
4. BEST ESPRESSO MAKER
It’s very likely that if you love your espressos (or know someone who does) you already have one of these. But we think it’s worth being put on the list just in case you don’t! The Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, (6 Cup) is the original traditional espresso maker.
5. BEST MILK FROTHER
The beautiful Hostess HM250MA Milk Frother has 3 temperature settings, can be put in the dishwasher and can be used to froth milk for cappuccinnos, lattes, make wonderful hot chocolate drinks and even heat up your favourite soup! Eightpointnine’s very own Kris owns this magnificent little frother and vouches for it’s quality!
6. BEST GRINDER
The Rancilio Rocky coffee grinder is modelled after commercial machines. It uses slow turning commercial grade burr grinding wheels to crush the coffee beans, creating a consistent ground - your very own coffee house right in your kitchen.
7. BEST COFFEE MACHINE
We think that the Gaggia Classic RI8161 Coffee Machine is the perfect addition to your coffee lover’s kitchen. It’s impressive looking and solid, but small enough not to take up too much counter space. And the wonderful aroma produced by the fresh coffee is a bonus.
8. BEST ALTERNATIVE COFFEE MAKER
The Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker allows you to make fresh coffee in the time it would take you to previously make instant – 20 seconds! It’s a revolutionary piece of equipment that means you’ll never have to skimp on good coffee because you’re short of time!
9. BEST CAFETIERE / COFFEE PRESS
The Bodum 1308 Columbia Tea and Coffee Press is an 8 cup cafetiere with a fantastic build quality and an elegant design. The double-walled stainless steel gadget is a must have for those lazy Sunday morning coffee times.
Create a truly personalised gift today with our eightpointnine gift vouchers. They are the perfect present for your coffee loving friends (or enemies) and are recommended in this month’s BBC good food magazine. They now start from just £5.89 and the best part is you can print/send them straight away so perfect for that last minute panic or secret santa!
Competition Time - Win a Nick Munro Bistro Coffee Pot
Courtesy of our friends at occa-home.co.uk we have 1 of the amazing Nick Munro Bistro Coffee Pot’s to giveaway (RRP £59). To be in with a chance of winning, simply head over to our facebook page before December 16th, like us and complete the following simple sentence:
If Santa drank a personalised coffee blend from eightpointnine.com he would call it…..
Spotted this great mug and it gave us a thought…for those doing Movember perhaps get yourself a monocle and style it out 365 days a year!
4 Reasons why blending coffee beans produces the best coffee in your cup
A lot of people like to tell you that single origin or single source coffee is the best coffee. Whilst this may be true for some people it surely isn’t for everybody given each person has a unique sense of taste as discovered by Arthur L. Fox, a scientist working for DuPont, way back in 1931.
But that aside, have you ever wondered why that espresso from the coffee shop on the high street tastes completely different from the one you bought last week from your local cafe? It’s just coffee right? Coffee flavours differ from country to country, from plantation to plantation and even right down to the plants the bean comes from – so it’s likely that in a week you’ll sample coffee from numerous locations around the world - with no jetlag!
For those less geeky, let’s get some definitions out of the way before we give you our thoughts on why it’s better to buy coffee blends versus single origin coffee. So some definitions…
- single origin - basically what it says on the tin. Coffee that comes from just one plantation or country, e.g. Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya etc…
- coffee blends - when two or more types of coffee are combined from different regions/countries/plantations.
We think asking someone whether they prefer coffee made from a single-origin bean or a blend is similar to asking whether they prefer a church hymn or an aria. Both have their time and place, but they’re definitely very different styles of music. Perhaps you’d like to think of it as the difference between a blended vs single malt whiskey, if you are that way inclined!
If you have read this far then you are probably pretty interested in coffee, maybe you are the type who knows what is in your cup: “I’m drinking Brazilian Minas Gerais at the moment darling” That’s nice if that coffee gives you everything you want, but wouldn’t it be better still if you were able to really personalise your cup to your individual tastebuds. You can be creative and really experiment with a blend, it gives you that flexibility to tailor the flavour so instead you can tell your fellow coffee geeks: “I’m sipping a rich, sweet seductive blend of Colombian Bucaramanga coffee with a dash of Brazilian and Costa Rican beans to add some crispness. Better right?
So, back to the main topic, why buy a coffee blend? Here’s the 4 reasons we promised:
- Firstly we think a blend produces a better and more well rounded coffee, by introducing other coffee origins to boost weaker areas of the base coffee so that the mixture of flavours, aromas and textures complement each other.
- Like wine, the best coffee’s are often blends. Most of the best coffee shops (and Starbucks) use blends to ensure their customer’s are happy and on the wine front it is a similar story as luxury traveller describes rather nicely in its great profile of Champagne: “Each cellar master creates a unique blend, or cuvee from as many as 70 different base wines - the specific style of each producer. For this reason, every champagne is a unique creation”
- Some things taste better together than on their own– strawberries and cream, chocolate and chilli, bananas and toffee. Your coffee blend is no different, certain pairings just go so well. We have our favourites but the beauty of a service like eightpointnine is you can try your own.
- And finally, isn’t single origin a bit boring? And who wants to be known as the person who drinks boring coffee?
So next time you’re deciding what to drink – why not be a little adventurous and give your senses a treat by sipping a blend (designed by you for you?)
What do you think? We’d love to know what’s in your cup and why?