How to make perfect coffee at home
You can’t compete against the espresso machine in cafes, but for perfect coffee at home there are alternatives. FT food columnist Tim Hayward tests an AeroPress, stovetop and Chemex filter.
Filmed by Liam McCarthy. Edited by Oli McGuirk. Produced by Josh de la Mare
Like anybody else, I just can't function without a decent cup of coffee in the morning. Whatever coffee you're making is to extract the flavour that's in the beans, like this, and get them into your cup. And the easiest way to do that is actually to just grind it and then philtre it.
We've got some brewing coffee in this Chemex here with philtre paper, the same as you would in a lab. That will give you actually a lovely delicate flavour, but for me, it's something with more kick, something, perhaps, that's a little bit more like espresso.
The espresso machine, they were built in places like Cherin and set outside factories, where the factory workers would come out at once, and one guy would steam hundreds and hundreds of cups of identical coffee. That can't be done at home. You don't have that kind of kit. But these two methods do something a little bit like it. They combine the idea of pressure and heat.
This one here is what most people would refer to as a stovetop. It's an amazing bit of technology invented in Italy in the 1930s. There's a little water in the bottom here, and the cup that holds the grounds has this spigot that comes in underneath it, stays under the surface level of the water. Fill it up with coffee grounds like this. And then screw the top on. The water will heat, the pressure of the steam up above it will build up so it maintains the pressure of the steam on the grounds and then blows out through the top. I put that on the heater over here. That should bubble away quite happily.
So this third one here, an Aeropress. This is the most amazing bit of technology. As you would see, it is just a big syringe. Into the bottom of that take a spoonful of coffee. Now this is a slightly coarser grind than was used for the stovetop. Take your just boiled water. Pour a little bit in. This is called blooming the coffee. And what that does is allows the gas, CO2, that's in the coffee to work its way out so it doesn't bubble out later. I also pour a little bit hot water into my mug to heat up. It's a lovely thick sided American diner mug. I must admit I stole it. And then top it up with water. Piece a philtre paper inside the lid. A splash of water on it, which rather glues it in place. Now that will brew. Apparently, they used the time things before they had electronic timers with Hail Marys. I reckon three Hail Marys will do it for that, about two minutes.
You can hear the coffee's just off the bubble in the stovetop.
Two minutes gone, three Hail Marys. This one's ready to go. Flip the top over. The Aeropress is working with the pressure that I'm applying to it. That's the last of the air blowing through there. But that's now fully extracted. Pour some of that. And that's satisfying. That's very clear.
As you expect, it's incredibly refreshing. Full of light notes. This stuff from the Aeropress. A lot more complexity to it because more oil have been squeezed out of it. But it's really very good. That works well black. It would work with just a little bit of milk. This one that comes out the stovetop has extracted a hell of a lot more of the oily dark flavours to it. Tastes like waking up in an Italian flat in Rome first thing in the morning. And the thing that makes it perfect as a memory picture of family holidays and things of that is a spot of UHT milk. it's got just enough of that slightly caramelly sweetness to it.
Oh yeah. That'll do.