Coffee at home

I like coffee. I like the taste and I like the experience. It forms a part of my routine,and I look forward to my morning coffee each day. Yeah it’s only a drink but it’s one of my hobbies and with hobbies one is permitted to be obsessive or unnecessarily indulgent.

The Machine

I don’t think I’ve ever been particularly adventurous in my methods for brewing coffee at home. I’ve never had an espresso machine, (espresso is a treat for outings) and had only brewed with a french press… until one day I read someone I respect rave about the AeroPress. They didn’t seem to be expensive, so I grabbed one and have never looked back. The easy cleaning got me, and the great taste and alternative recipes kept me.

Coffee Retailers

Unless it’s an emergency 1 , I get my coffee from Zokoko which is the retail front for Morgan’s coffee. They import and roast, and tend to have new single-origin beans each week (here’s a map of the last year or so of single-origins). The staff are really friendly, make great coffee and have incredible brownies so it’s never a hard thing to drive the 10 minutes down the road from my place to visit.

I’ve recently started a fortnightly subscription from SampleCoffee. Each fortnight they post a bag of freshly roasted single-origin beans and while it’s a bit more expensive than a trip to Zokoko, I thought I’d try something different. Followup: SampleCoffee didn’t work out. I loved the packaging and attention to detail from them but found their light roasts to be too sweet. Once they start an espresso roast I’ll probably try them again.

The Grind

I couldn’t bring myself to spend several hundred dollars on a burr grinder, so for ages I used a $50 blade grinder. Yeah, it gives an inconsistent grind and apparently it heats up the beans as it grinds, but it’s served me well and I’ve enjoyed the coffee that I’ve made with it, and that’s what counts for me. The downside of the blade grinder was that I couldn’t use it to make my morning coffee (4:30-5am) because of the noise. So I’ve been getting my coffee ground by the place where I’ve bought it, mostly Morgan’s/Zokoko. My rationale is that they have a top end grinder, which gives a great grind, and I go through a bag of coffee every week so it doesn’t have a chance to loose much of its flavour. Actually, it did have a chance to lose some of its flavour but I was none-the-wiser and still enjoying it, so it was a good option. Having started a subscription with SampleCoffee, which only delivers beans, I thought I’d investigate options for grinding and found that the Porlex Mini Hand Grinder was inexpensive ($40) and quiet, and easy to use. Having the grinder at home meant that I switched to buying beans from Morgan’s. The aroma from freshly ground beans is wonderful and the taste is a step up. It was a great purchase.

The Preparation

There are about infinity different ways to prepare coffee using an AeroPress. I use an iPhone App called AeroPress Timer that has step-by-step guides to some of the better preparation methods, and a timekeeper function to help while using the recipes. I like it because tells me when to do move to the next step (so I don’t need to think, which is an important consideration at 4:30am) and it gives several preparation methods (different grinds, different timing), all from winners of national AeroPress competitions (yeah, that’s a thing). I generally use Martin Karabinos’ second place recipe from the 2014 comp with a few small modifications. The original recipe is:

18.5g coffee, 92℃, 215g water, EK43 grind at 6.2. AeroPress in regular position. 80g of water at 35C for 3 minutes, stir well and close AeroPress. 135g of water at 92C, stir once and push slowly for 30 seconds.

My changes:

  • I use 250ml of water at around 80°C instead of two different temperatures. I only have a regular kettle, so I get this temperature by mixing 50ml of cold tap water mixed with 200ml water straight from the jug. I use a plastic beaker, which makes it easy to get the proportions right.
  • I use a reasonably coarse grind. I guess I could measure the number of turns in the Porlex, but I can’t be bothered. A coarse grind makes for a slower brew and an easy plunge
  • I use a little more than 18.5g of coffee. I tend to fill the Porlex almost to the top, which is more like 22g… or something

The only other thing worth mentioning is that I preheat my mug, lest I have beautifully brewed, tepid, coffee.

Simple, right?

Coffee preparation can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. This is my sweet spot at the moment, where preparation and consumption remain enjoyable - hobbies should always be enjoyable, and this certainly is for me. If it looks like it’s not, a gentle reminder is most welcome!

  1. An emergency involving a lack of coffee. A first-world problem if ever I saw one