In so many ways, quarantine sucks. For one thing, we no longer have the freedom to do something as simple as going out and socializing with people. All that we can do is stay at home, scroll through social media feeds for hours, eat (or more likely skip) meals, and head off to bed. If you think this alone already sucks, then imagine how worse it is for us coffee lovers to be stuck in this quarantine thingy.
Going to our favorite café? Impossible. Meeting with friends at our go-to café? Not allowed. Trying out a new coffee flavor at Starbucks? Dream on. There are so many things about a quarantine that just makes it harder for us coffee fanatics to go through this pandemic.
However, on a more positive note, there is one good thing that quarantine can give us. That is ‘time’. Staying at home 24/7 means that we can have more time to up our homemade coffee game. If we can make coffee on our own, we will be able to save a lot of money from buying it from coffee shops. So, why not take advantage of this quarantine to become an expert home barista that you never think you are capable of becoming? You might have failed before.
You might think ‘Well, I have tried making my coffee, but it just doesn’t taste anywhere near the one at my favorite café.’ Don’t lose hope. We all make mistakes, but what is important is how we can learn from them to become better. Therefore, we’ve decided to list down below some of the common mistakes that new home baristas make, along with the tips and tricks that will help you to come out of this quarantine as a skillful home barista.
- 1. The Freshness of Coffee Beans
- 2. Using Whole Coffee Beans
- 3. Storing your coffee properly
- 4. Using measurement scale
- 5. Using the right amount of coffee
- 6. Using the right water (filtered water)
- 7. Tamping method
- 8. Cleaning your coffee machines properly
- 9. Choose the right brewing method
- 10. Spice it up a little
1. The Freshness of Coffee Beans
One of the most common mistakes made by many home baristas is not using fresh coffee beans. They spend all their time and energy buying fancy equipment, but they forget to think about the freshness of their coffee beans. Also, they tend to take their coffee beans for granted. They do not pay much attention to the kind of coffee beans that they use to produce their coffee. If you have ever wondered why your coffee just does not taste as good as the one you buy from a café, then there’s a high chance that you choose the wrong coffee beans. You can’t just brew your coffee from the coffee beans that are off roast for almost a month and expect it to turn out as aromatic as the one from Starbucks.
That is because the freshness of coffee beans plays an essential role in determining the taste of the coffee that you will get after brewing. Most beginner home baristas spend so much money on and put so much effort into purchasing the latest coffee equipment while ignoring the quality of the coffee beans. If you are like this, then it is time for you to change. You should always make sure that your coffee beans are “fresh”. “Fresh” beans do not necessarily have to be immediately off roast right before brewing. By “fresh”, we mean the beans that are somewhere between 4-14 days off the roast. Therefore, ideally, you ought to be seeking coffee beans that have clear roasting labels on them, so that you know exactly how fresh the beans are.
2. Using Whole Coffee Beans
Besides freshness, as a home barista that wants to make an excellent cup of coffee, you should also buy whole coffee beans. As a home barista, most people overlook this point, even more so than the freshness of the beans. They do not see how buying whole beans can make a difference in their cup of coffee. Well, it does make a difference. A huge one. Compared to ground coffee, the whole coffee beans are much more aromatic and flavorful, which promises to give you the perfect cup of coffee that you so deserve
The aromatic compounds that are found in coffee beans are what give the nice aromatic flavor of your coffee. These compounds are quite hard to maintain, however. There is a process called degassing in which the flavor compounds start to escape from the coffee beans. The more days after roasting, the more compounds will be gone, up to 70-80% of them. The grinding process with coffee grinders is going to accelerate the speed of this process. This is why it is important not to buy ground coffee. You need to purchase your coffee whole so that this process is not happening so quickly. By buying whole coffee beans, you can ensure that most flavor compounds are still well kept within the beans.
3. Storing your coffee properly
Okay, so you have bought whole coffee beans that are still fresh, but why does your coffee still taste bad? Well, then you might have fallen victim to this mistake: improper storage of coffee beans. No matter how fresh off the roast your coffee beans are, if you do not carefully store them in the right container, its quality will go down very quickly. Then you won’t be able to use them for your coffee anymore. So, by this point, you may be very curious to know how to store your coffee properly? Keep on reading, and you’ll find out!
Once you have opened the coffee bag, it is important to protect it from sunlight. The best container to store your coffee would be canisters. This canister will be able to act as a shield that prevents sunlight from getting in contact with the coffee. Moreover, you should also put your coffee beans in dark-colored containers ideally made from glass or ceramics as well. This storage method has been proven to help restore coffee freshness very effectively. Another rule that you must abide by as a home barista is to never put your coffee in a freezer. The reason behind this is because when you have your coffee frozen, the coffee beans are going to absorb more moisture, which will alter the final taste of your coffee cup.
4. Using measurement scale
There is one big mistake that is made by most home baristas, and I’m sure you are also guilty of this. That mistake is not using a measurement scale. Because we are making coffee at the comfort of our own home and kitchen, we are tempted to just do whatever our heart tells us. You might think there is no need for you to use a scale because you are not working in a coffee shop, so precision is not needed. However, I guarantee that you will change your mind after you get to know the benefits of using a measurement scale. Simply eyeballing the number of coffee beans that you put into your coffee is not going to work. There should not be any guesswork involved in brewing coffee. Making coffee is about getting all the details right and precise.
To achieve that, we need the help of a measurement scale. Well, at this point, you might still be skeptical of using a scale. You might think using a scoop is enough to estimate the amount of coffee. However, truthfully, not every scoopful of coffee is the same amount. This is why we need help from a scale. We need to be precise or else the quality of our coffee is not going to be consistently tasty. So, make sure you get yourself a nice affordable measurement scale that will help you to know just how much coffee is needed for your perfect coffee recipe.
5. Using the right amount of coffee
Even though this factor might seem obvious and simple, most home baristas never get it right. They never use an appropriate amount of coffee. They just never do. Generally, they think it is not essential to be all It does. The amount of coffee that is put into brewing will determine how strong your coffee will taste. This is also where the measurement scale comes into play. Because it is so important that you use the right amount of coffee, you need to make sure you have a scale right next to you. With the scale, you will be able to ensure that you are using the right amount of coffee.
It is quite hard, however, to give you a one-size-fits-all tip, when it comes to how much coffee you should use. It is highly individualized, depending on each person. Some people might prefer their coffee a little stronger than others. Therefore, it is your job to figure out the right recipe for you. Maybe you can go through a few trials and errors for the first couple of times. Once you have found out the right coffee ratio for you, then things are going to be easier. Just stick with that ratio every time you make your coffee, and you will notice how much better your coffee will be.
6. Using the right water (filtered water)
A lot of home baristas overlook the importance of water. They focus a lot on choosing the right brand of coffee, the fancy coffee machines, but do not realize how important water is. Water makes up 98.5% of brewed coffee. Only around 2% of coffee are the flavor compounds extracted from the coffee beans. What this tells us is that water plays an extremely vital role in producing the final taste and flavor of your coffee. If you use water that smells funny and tastes bad, your coffee will also taste as bad. Therefore, the importance of water must be a highlight for home baristas.
For the coffee to taste great, it is recommended that filtered water should be used. Of course, there are some places where tap water is clean enough for you to brew your coffee without negatively affecting the taste. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. You always need to ensure that your water is purified before pouring it into your coffee machine and make sure that the water goes through a thorough filtration process in which all the impurities will be removed. You can also use bottled water, but do not use a distilled one. If you follow this step of using the right kind of water, then your coffee is going to turn out better than you ever expect.
7. Tamping method
Tamping coffee is probably the most difficult skill to perfect in making a perfect cup of coffee. Most home baristas find it hard to execute the game of coffee tamping. That is because there are a lot of details about this tamping method that you need to pay attention to if you want to make it right. Tamping is highly important because it helps to produce even extraction of coffee. If you tamp differently each time, then your coffee is also definitely going to taste different. Therefore, to achieve the right taste, you need to be consistent with your tamping technique.
A good tamping method will ensure that pressure is consistently created in every coffee shot. The main point is to achieve an even distribution, which means the water will be able to flow through each grain of coffee. This will result in a consistent flavor extraction from the coffee beans. The key is to tamp with consistent pressure. And, to do this, you should place your tamper perfectly even and flat on top of the beans before you press it. Also, don’t forget to get comfy as well. Stand in your natural position and make sure you are comfortable. Because if not, your pressure and force will destroy the tamping practice and ruin the flavor of your coffee. Talking about tamping methods, there will be a need for good portafilters. But “Does A Portafilter Matter For Your Coffee?”, let’s figure it out!
8. Cleaning your coffee machines properly
There have been so many home baristas that fall victims to this seemingly obvious factor. Most people, especially a real coffee lover, tend to not give their coffee machines a nice thorough cleanse. There is a legit reason behind this. Because they think that they will frequently use the coffeemakers to make their coffee every single day, it would be a good idea to just rinse the machine with water. Not much cleansing is needed. Some people mistakenly think it is even better to not clean the machines because it will stock up all of the good residues of coffee. These residues will make the next coffee taste better. It couldn’t be more wrong than this. It is important to keep your coffee machines super clean. Because the remaining residues are going to go bad and make your next coffee shot taste bad.
Coffee beans are quite high in oil contents. This residual oil, if not cleaned out and left for too long, will destroy the taste of your coffee. If you brew your next coffee with this oil remaining, you will notice that there is a burnt aftertaste to your coffee. That is because you have not cleaned your coffee machines properly. Therefore, to prevent this from happening, you had better keep your coffee makers cleaned.
9. Choose the right brewing method
As you might have already known, there are several different ways to produce your coffee. However, what most home baristas don’t know is how these various methods differ. They tend to think that all brewing methods are more or less the same, resulting in the same coffee in your cup. This is not true. Different brewing methods will produce different coffee tastes. Therefore, if you want to improve your coffee-making skill at home in quarantine, it is important that you be more mindful of the method to brew your coffee. We will list down some of the most common brewing methods for you below. It is not, however, easy to tell you what method fits you. You need to make your own choice and choose the one that you simply love best.
First up, the pour-over coffee method. This is one of the oldest, cheapest, and most common ways of making coffee. It is very simple because all you need is just a paper filter and coffee cone. The temperature of the water has to be hot, and then it must be poured through the coffee filter and dripped over the ground coffee beans. The flavor profile of this method is smooth and well-rounded.
Another common method is known as the French Press. For this brewing method, you need to have some equipment, like a coffee press coffee maker. In this pot, the coffee will be soaked with water, steeped, and finally strained in hot water. By doing this, all the essence of the coffee grinds will be consistently extracted, producing the purest form of coffee flavors you can ever have. Besides these methods, there are several other brewing methods, like vacuum or plunger press, each with distinct flavor profiles.
10. Spice it up a little
One of the worst mistakes you can ever make as a home barista is to be afraid to try out a new recipe. When it comes to making coffee, the best tip you can have as a home barista is to always be adventurous with your coffee. You have to dare to try out something new so that your coffee will not taste boring. You can try thinking about what ingredients would help enhance the flavor of your coffee. Most importantly, you should never be afraid to put those new ingredients to the test. Practice. Do experiments. Over time, you will find the ingredients that will help bring your coffee recipe to another level.
Some people love adding a touch of honey to their coffee. This natural sweetener will balance out the bitterness of black coffee, and make it taste better. Others have suggested adding a squeeze of orange juice to black coffee, coconut water, or maple syrup onto their cup of coffee as well. Therefore, don’t be afraid to try new things. Use new ingredients to make your coffee better! It might seem frightening at first, but once you give this tip a try, there’s no going back!
This whole quarantine thing has been extremely stressful to all of us. However, it is even worse for us as coffee lovers because we are not allowed to go to our favorite coffee shop. That is probably the worst nightmare for every coffee fan. We no longer have access to all our favorite coffee stores.
However, just because we cannot buy a cup of cappuccino from our favorite café doesn’t mean we cannot have a great cup of coffee at our home. During this quarantine, we can use our time to learn how to make great coffee. By giving you some tips, we hope that you can be the home barista that can give yourself a cup of coffee every single day. Can’t go out to a café? Why not be your home barista?