By Stan Kontomichalos
A lot of people are now interested in making barista-style coffee at home, but how do you choose a machine? With Christmas approaching fast, and presents needing to be bought for lucky friends and family, The Westsider’s resident coffee expert provides some tips.
There are a lot of different types of coffee machines for home and commercial use, like single cup coffee makers, espresso makers, French presses and brewers. The options to consider when making a purchase are endless, and depend on your need for convenience, your budget and taste. Are you time poor? Some machines produce a fantastic coffee but will make you their kitchen slave. Appreciate freshness? You might need a grinder to accompany your choice. Water pressure, temperature, tamping – are these considerations for you?
Here are some examples of coffee making methods and the machines that produce them for your consideration.
- A stove top pot would have to be one off my favourite methods of making coffee. A unit like a Brikka features an innovative pressure valve that permits the brewing to begin once the optimum pressure is reached, and once the coffee is produced the smooth taste and the rich crema will leave you wrapped in the moment. Plus they’re easily portable!
- A percolator uses a temperature rise method until the water in the bottom chamber boils, which forces some of it up the tube to the top where it splashes down onto the perforated lid of the coffee chamber. That water then seeps through the coffee grounds, and out through the bottom of the coffee chamber, then drops back into the water in the bottom of the pot. The end result will be sufficient for many people but it won’t remind you of your favourite café.
- Pod machines are everywhere, and come in various sizes and cost ranges. For sheer convenience they are hard to beat – mess-free, quick, automated, and you do not need to stress about which beans to buy and how to store them. They are particularly useful for apartment living, but you might feel detached from the process – just pressing a button – you may as well be on a spaceship. Plus the used pods create waste – unlike coffee grinds, they will not be much use as mulch and will go to a land-fill.
- Traditional espresso machines are the closest thing to the café experience. Try many before you buy, they range in price but a good one will be an investment in your coffee drinking future.
My favourite commercial coffee machine would have to be a Jura; made in Switzerland, for commercial and domestic use. With its fully automated pre-sets for latte, cappuccino, macchiato, flat white, short/long black that you can program and prepare to serve the best type of coffee and enjoy a professional concierge coffee experience., It will leave you and your guests wanting a second round, due to the aroma and unique taste of the coffee bean that the machine perfectly boils and prepares for the best taste – scientifically tested – giving you a maximum performance out of your coffee beans.
Once you’ve made your decision, a lot of people have been asking me since my coffee bean piece (The Westsider #10 – October) whether they should buy beans and grind themselves or buy pre-ground products. Ground coffee goes stale rapidly and loses its flavour due to oxidation of certain oils. Packaging ground coffee in air-tight containers and storing in the refrigerator will help prolong and reduce any loss of flavour; however the best quality brew is made when using freshly ground beans. It is recommended you also store your roasted beans in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and grind the required amount just before making the desired brew.