So you've gotten some training in how to make espresso and espresso-based drinks. The barista course was fun, you pulled plenty of shots, and you steamed jugs of milk and (almost) succeeded in making a beautiful latte heart. More surprising than how you managed to make a decent latte was how good it tasted!
Time now to build your own coffee corner at home and put your skills to good use! But where to start? Read on -- we'll share some thoughts about what you'll need to set up your own coffee corner at home (for espresso!) and what it'll all cost.
(Spoiler alert: We'll recommend our machines for beginner baristas - you'll get good practice and delicious drinks from just S$399!)
What makes good espresso?
Any experienced barista will tell you that coffee is as much science as it is an art. Espresso masters make microscopic adjustments to wash, blend, pressure, temperature and a hundred other factors, over and over again, to shoot for that perfect shot. Mind-bogglingly expensive specialised tools and machines are par for the course at their level.
We're not even going to try (nor are we qualified) to cover all of that.
Realistically, for a home coffee corner, we're trying to achieve:
Good tasting coffee - that's the priority!
- Reasonable consistency in the quality of our coffee
- Some degree of flexibility to experiment with new beans, brewing methods and skills
- Improvements in our barista skills through regular practice and experimentation
Let's break it down. At its most basic, an espresso machine forces heated water through ground coffee under high pressure. A properly extracted shot under ideal conditions produces a distinctive creamy foam (crema), which is composed of oils and gases released in the extraction.
With that process in mind, there are a handful of components that make a big difference to the quality and consistency of our home espressos:
- Raw material: coffee beans
- Grinding of the coffee beans
- Preparation of the ground coffee for brewing
- Brewing temperature
- Brewing pressure
We'll cover all of these areas, and a few more, and talk about how the coffee machines we have on our website fare in each of those areas.
As we began writing this post, we thought we'd be able to condense everything into one post. Mainly because of our signature longwindedness, we've failed. Coffee Corner 101 will have to be broken down into 4 posts.
On the bright side, we get to spend more time together! ;)
In Coffee Corner 102 (we know that's not how the numbering works -- so sue us!), we'll talk about coffee beans and how to store them.