Make Café Quality Coffee At Home
To indulge in a great cup of coffee is a privilege that rewards you with every sip, sniff, and slurp. It sets the precedent for the rest of your day. It keeps you going, and gets you where you want to be. However, there’s always something about the coffee in your local cafe that gets you excited like a home-brewed cup never would. Perhaps you’ve accepted this as the truth. We’re here to bust that myth. The process of breaking down one’s coffee walls is akin to being liberated, and it’s something every coffee-lover deserves to experience. While the ambience & experience of the coffee shop can never be replicated, it’s possible to curate your own as you desire and personalize your coffee beyond the limits of a cafe.
Creating a cup of coffee is science. It’s more than just mixing ground coffee with warm water. There are several factors that influence your final cup, and controlling them will be second nature once you get the hang of it. Each one of these parameters has a profound impact on your coffee, and even focusing on just one of them can transform your cup. Let’s start with the brew and work our way backward.
Brewing boils down to just one phenomenon; extraction. To gain control over our brew method, we need to control the level of extraction.
A perfectly brewed cup of coffee is balanced, brings out the natural sweetness, and is refreshing.
Over-extraction is typically characterized by an unrelenting bitter aftertaste while under-extraction tends to elicit a belligerent pucker as a natural response to the cups’ extreme sourness.
An important criterion that influences extraction is brew time or contact time. It refers to the amount of time your coffee grounds spend in the water. Most brew methods are fundamentally different. This means that extraction happens at a varied pace with each method. It’s the reason why an espresso tastes so different in comparison to a cold brew. Contact time is easier to manage for immersion-based brew methods like french press, siphon, cold brew, and Aeropress because all the coffee grounds have equal contact with water. Making your coffee stronger is just a matter of letting your coffee sit for a bit longer and vice versa.
For filter and pour-over brewing, the contact time isn’t consistent for all the grounds. Coffee drips through the filter over time and the only way to ensure satisfactory contact time is by changing the grind size. Espresso & Moka pot also benefit a great deal from managing the grind. Understanding how your brew method works and the effect it has on contact time is paramount in achieving a greater home-brewed cup.
There are three ways this affects your cup; grind size, grind freshness, and grind consistency. Remember the waft of fresh coffee that hits you as you enter your favorite cafe? That’s likely the smell of fresh ground coffee. It hits you like a freight train carrying good times. Coffee grinding essentially exposes the surface area of the bean for easier extraction.
Generally, the finer the grind, the quicker the extraction process. This principle does not translate the same way while brewing. A coarser grind technically will brew quicker because hot water can pass through with greater ease relative to a finer grind. Grind it too fine and your coffee takes longer to brew but also comes out over-extracted. When the grind is mismatched, either too fine or too coarse, the brewed cup won’t meet your expectations.
Grind size is determined primarily by your choice of brew method. Long brewing processes like cold brew benefit from an extra coarse grind because the brew happens overnight. It also helps avoid over-extraction. Finer grinds do well with quick extraction processes like that of espresso and Moka pot. One of the prevalent concerns while grinding coffee is consistency. Non-uniform grind size impacts the extraction of flavors for any brew method, especially for quick brew methods like espresso.
There are two types of grinders for domestic use; Blade grinders and Burr grinders. The former uses a spinning metal blade that cuts the beans into small pieces causing an inconsistent end result. Burr grinders on the other hand have two cutting planes called burrs that face each other. Here, the contact between the burr and the bean is predictable and consistent which results in a significantly more uniform grind.
After your coffee is roasted, the beans start degassing. Degassing is an important step that lets some of the carbon dioxides escape from the bean which would otherwise create an astringent flavor in your cup. Grinding accelerates degassing. After you grind your coffee and leave it open to the air, lots of flavors and aromas will be lost along with the carbon dioxide. Once coffee loses all of its gasses, the coffee made with it would taste stale and lifeless. A fresh, consistent grind can do wonders for your cup. If done right, your morning cup would match your local cafe with ease.
Roast profile & freshness are among the primary factors that impact your cup. We’re entering territory that even some cafes don’t venture into. Understanding the different stages of a roast can help you control the flavor of your cup. Each phase brings out different flavors from the bean. Although ultimately, the roast level is a matter of preference.
Dark roasted coffee typically has low acidity, a heavy body, and reveals deeper, darker flavors. While very few of the beans’ origin attributes thrive, the coffee doesn’t necessarily become bland & bitter. Coffee beans of certain origins come to life with dark roast profiles. Especially ones with nutty, chocolatey, and caramel notes.
A light-roasted bean is often characterized by bright flavors, a mellow body, and crisp acidity. Light roast profiles are beloved for their ability to bring out natural flavors and highlight their origin better than other roast profiles. The difference in the flavor of your coffee achieved just by changing the roast is truly incredible. If you still haven’t started roasting coffee at home, begin with the Bunafr Home Coffee Roaster.
Roast freshness plays a critical role in the final taste of your cup. Once your beans are roasted, the flavors only last 8-10 days. Oftentimes, coffee in your local store was roasted months before, which means that most of the flavors & aromas have already dissipated.
That’s why we recommend that you roast coffee at home in small batches. This also means that you can stock up on green coffee which has a much higher shelf life without any flavor loss.
This is the factor that has the most influence on your coffee. Like with all foods and beverages, your ingredients have the most impact followed by the process of cooking. In coffee, it’s green beans. Choosing raw green coffee based on its origin is a simple and effective way to find delightfully unique coffees that are perfect for you. Sometimes, even within the same country, city, or estate, there are coffees that taste completely different from each other. Differences in varietal, elevation, and processing methods develop a bean unlike any other. There has been continuous innovation in breeding new varietals, experimenting with new processes, and transplanting the varietals from one region to another.
Our green coffee marketplace has coffee from around the world. If you’re looking for some personalized green coffee recommendations, take our quiz and get matched with coffees from award-winning farms. Green coffee bought based on your taste profile and freshly roasted according to your preference is personalization and quality at its peak. Even your favorite cafe is unlikely to meet the same standards for personalization.
As a coffee lover, you have the right to a stellar cup of coffee curated for your palate. The path to improving your cup isn’t a passive one. If you feel overwhelmed by coffee grinding, start with brewing. If you already grind your coffee at home, start roasting too. As a coffee-loving individual, it’s your duty to begin the journey. Each step you take towards full ownership of your coffee life will be a significant upgrade to your cup, to the environment, and to coffee farmers across the world. Start your coffee revolution now.