I’ve been making coffee at home for ages now and have learned a few things. I’ve been blogging about coffee for quite a while too. I figured I’d pull all this together in one place: here’s my guide to making coffee at home.
Brewing your own coffee (starting simple)
If I was just starting making fresh coffee at home today I’d probably choose a simple brewer like a French Press, a filter, or an Aeroporess. They’re all a pretty cheap way to start, and fairly easy way to learn. So how do you choose which one to go for? Back in 2018 I wrote a post to help choose a coffee brewer based on what it does for the taste of the coffee:
- on one end of the scale, filter coffee produces light, delicate coffee (because it filters out a lot of the solids and the oils)
- at the other end of the scale, French Press produces strong flavours (because the ground coffee is immersed in the water)
- in between, an Aeropress allows you to get a bit of both.
I published posts on my method for brewing filter coffee, brewing with a French Press, and brewing with an Aeropress . . . but I oringinally wrote them a long time ago on a (now defunct) food blog I used to run, then ported them over here a few years later. They’re not the method I’d use now. And more importantly, coffee guidance has moved on a lot since I started all this in the early 2010s. Nowadays I’d recommedn James Hoffman as a good starting point, see his videos on French Press, filter coffee and Aeropress.
If I had to choose my favourite of the three to start with I’d suggest the Aeropress. It’s the most versatile my far. If you tweak your method, you can use it to create something that’s pretty close to filter coffee or French Press coffee. And loads of variation in between.
Gateway to espresso
It’s difficult to make good espresso at home. But I started making coffee at home in the 2010s when it was pretty difficult to get much guidance and I accidentally went in at the deep end with an espresso machine . . . and then had a bunch of baristas tell me they’d never make espresso at home. So I wrote a post called don’t make espresso at home (probably).
If you’re really interested in making espresso at home then a moka pot (also known as a stove top pot) can be a good way to get familiar with the basic principles in a cheap way. You’re not creating espresso when you make it, it’s still brewed coffee. But it’s still nice, and allows you to build familiarity with some of the basic principles of making espresso. Obviously, James Hoffman has a decent video on how to make coffee with a moka pot.
There’s a new (2-3 years old) product called a 9Barista that makes genuine espresso. But it’s small, so doesn’t take much space. Works on the stove, so doesn’t take-up a plug socket or counter space. And is locked-down and simplified. So it means you can get to grips with the core aspects of making espresso in the simplest way possible (without getting a fully automatic espresso machine). I got one during the pandemic and wrote on post on how to make espresso using a 9Barista.
Making espresso at home
Ok, here it is. My favourite way to make coffee. I always come back to espresso. For the longest time my espresso machine was a Gaggia Classic. In 2019 I wrote a post on why espresso is my favourite coffee to make at home, and how I use my Gaggia Classic. My old machine finally stopped working earlier this year and I wrote a post on my top 3 tips for looking after a Gaggia Classic. I just worked backwards from the reasons that mine stopped working (long story short: a LOT of limescale, thanks London water - so clean and descale regularly).
My new machine is a Miss Silvia from Rancilio Silvia. It’s ace. I wrote a post on how I chose it, set it up, and use it to make espresso.
Coffee shops have been a lovely part of my life for a long time and there are several I have fond memories of. I’ve written about a couple of them, like Flat White in Soho and the original Prufrock when it was in Shoreditch. There have been loads more over the year, all over the country - I might write about some more one day, a short book about coffee places would be fun to put together. My current regular is Dark Arts in Hackney.