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Be your very own at home barista – how to make the perfect cup of coffee

Espresso Machine. Image purchased

Wondering how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home? 

If you – like us – have suddenly found yourself estranged from your local barista and coffee shop, you’ve probably thought about how you’re going to get your routined coffee fix.

But because nobody should ever settle for instant coffee, we asked Lavazza Australia National Training Manager, John Kozsik, for his expert tips on how to perfect our morning brew.

What do you really need at home to make the perfect cup of coffee?

The Expert: “The best way to perfect your at-home coffee is to purchase high-quality beans or ground coffee. Look after your coffee properly, make sure your equipment is super clean, get your espresso dosage right and perfect your milk texture technique. If you can get these right, you’re on your way to becoming an at-home coffee pro.

When you’re choosing your coffee, look for beans or ground coffee with good quality packaging – this ensures it will remain fresh for longer. Look for a packet that is non-transparent, has foil on the inside and has a one-way breathing valve on it. Don’t forget about them once they’ve been opened. Correct storage is key to maintaining quality. The packaging kept open will let oxygen in and turn the coffee stale. Keep them in a tightly sealed pack in a dry and cool place, without refrigerating.

Of course, choosing the right machine for you will come down to personal preference. For beginners, you can’t go wrong with a good quality capsule machine. Being biased, I would recommend the Lavazza Deséa which can prepare a perfect coffee at the press of a button – but of course, I encourage you to get out there and find the right machine for you.”

Always purchase high-quality ground or whole bean coffee. Image purchased

Always purchase high-quality ground or whole bean coffee. Image purchased

Which style of coffee do you recommend to practice making and enjoying at home?

The Expert: “In my opinion, I would suggest espresso! It’s definitely worth the extra effort to get it right.

For a nice traditional Italian espresso, try a coffee blend that has a mix of arabica and good quality robusta. Made well, the espresso is well-rounded, full-bodied and you can also get hints of chocolate and nutty flavours – it’s great! Whereas if you like your espresso a bit more delicate and mild, try something that is 100% arabica. Try to steer clear of a super “light roast” for espresso. That works better for alternate brewing devices like a V60 Pour Over or Chemex.

Once you’ve perfected your espresso, preparing a milk-based drink is easily done.

Whether it’s a large cappuccino or a small latte, for the fans of milk-based coffee, there’s no argument that coffee can be elevated with smooth, warm, creamy milk. Any milk can work to cater to your personal choice – for full cream milk make sure your temperature is around 65 degrees. For those who drink almond, soy or oat milk, make sure you adjust this to 55 degrees or it will burn.”

Making the perfect espresso is key to any good coffee. Image purchased.

Making the perfect espresso is key to any good coffee. Image purchased.

What should we be looking for at home to see if we’re on track and making the perfect cup?

The Expert: “Whether you drink double espressos or milk-based coffees, it’s safe to say that if you don’t get the espresso right the chances of your coffee tasting good are slim to none.

The espresso is the foundation of any coffee (black or white) being made on an espresso machine, so it’s important to get it right! The overarching goal when it comes to at-home coffee machines is to aim for extraction of about 25–30mL of coffee in 25–30 seconds. If your pour is over, or under, it will often mean your coffee grind is too coarse, too fine or you are not sticking to your target dose.”

Tips for crema:

Once the coffee grinds are packed down and extraction has begun, the coffee should be coming out looking like honey off the back of a spoon. It should have a thick, yet consistent pour before blonding out towards the last few seconds of the shot. Here, you want to avoid extractions that exit quickly like a pressure hose. The ideal extraction will leave a golden layer of aromatic and flavoursome foam known as ‘crema’ on top of your espresso. Too little crema may indicate that your coffee grind is too coarse, you’ve under dosed or your coffee is stale.

Tips for pre-ground beans:

For those at home using pre-ground coffee, if your espresso is coming out too fast, try using a little bit more coffee to slow down the extraction.

Tips for whole beans:

If you’re grinding your own beans and the espresso is too fast, try to grind the coffee a bit finer or add a bit more coffee and the shot should slow down and get a respectable shot time.

Once we perfect our coffee, how can we spice things up?

The Expert: “With extra time at home, there has never been a better time to experiment with new blends or creations.

The best blends to look for at the supermarket or online contain a mixture of coffees from different origins from all over the world – these are 100% arabica, sweet and fragrant, or a mix of arabica and robusta for a full-bodied bold taste.

It’s also really easy to spice up and supercharge a regular cappuccino and convert it into a mocha. For a mocha, mix a teaspoon of chocolate powder with a little bit of hot water to make a chocolate sauce in a mug. Add one or two espresso shots – depending on how big your mug is. Then texture some milk and pour it into your mug. Give it a little stir and enjoy!

Enjoy the discovery process and journey of trying different coffees to become an expert in your own right.”

Coffee beans from around the world. Image purchased.

Coffee beans from around the world. Image purchased.

So there you have it, follow Lavazza’s tips and you’ll be making first-class coffee. And if you don’t straight away, don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of practice time on your hands…

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