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How to choose the right coffee for you

We want you to have the best cup of coffee possible, and that can be subjective. Even within our small team of two we have completely different definitions of a good cup of coffee. Adam likes darker and smoother coffees like the Brazilian whereas I like the wild flavours of Ethiopian coffee. We both agree on Guatemalan coffee though which combines smoothness and fruitiness. Here’s our guide to helping you find the right coffee for your taste.

Strength

Supermarket coffee often has a strength guide, although this tends to refer to how ‘strong’ tasting the coffee is rather than strength of caffeine. A strong coffee will be a darker roast which gives more of those rich, toasty, smoky flavours whereas a light coffee will be a lighter roast with more of a milder biscuit or fruity taste. Medium will be smooth and fruity. 

If you like a strong coffee look for flavour notes described as rich, smokey, liquorice, tobacco, leather, spicy. 

For medium coffees, look for flavour notes described as smooth, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, plum, cherry

For lighter coffees look for flavour notes described as biscuit, apple, blueberry, citrus fruits, floral

Flavour

Each of our coffee includes tasting notes. These aren’t literally what the flavour is, a coffee that is described as having notes of chocolate won’t literally taste like chocolate, but a way of describing the flavours that you can expect from the coffee. A coffee with notes of chocolate will be smooth and sweet whereas a coffee with notes of blueberry will be juicy and fruity while notes of apple will indicate a light, crisp and slightly sweet coffee, and tobacco indicates spiciness and smokiness. 

Think about what kind of flavours you enjoy and look out for tasting notes similar to that. 

Brewing style

Your brewing style massively affects the taste of the coffee, and some flavours do better with some brewing styles than others. 

Espresso and mokapot

Espresso emphasises richer, darker flavours and brings out the best in coffees with notes of chocolate, smokiness, spiciness, and stone fruits. These coffees also tend to do well in a stovetop mokapot brewer 

Cafetiere

A cafetiere, aka French Press or plunger, is an immersion brewer and the long contact time between the water and the coffee grinds means it brings out the body in all coffees. It can be used with any coffee, although it does particularly well with full-bodied and fruity flavours. Coffees that taste good in a cafetiere also tend to work well in an Aeropress. 

Filter

Filter is really good at bringing out the nuanced fruity flavours of the coffee, so look out for tasting notes of soft and stone fruits, eg cherry, blueberry, strawberry, and also for coffees described as sweet. 

If you still can’t decide, we have a multi-pack which contains 4 x 250g of our current coffees or our Coffee Club allows you to try all of our coffees on a two or four weekly subscription.

If you have any questions or would some coffee advice, please contact us on coffee@roastinghouse.co.uk or tweet us @roastinghouseUK

 

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The one piece of equipment no coffee lover should be without

Three coffee espresso portafilters, one with coffee featuring latte art, one with ground coffee, one with beans

I’m fairly agnostic when it comes to brewing styles. Whether you drink it in a cheap and cheerful cafetiere or a £5000 espresso machine, the most important thing is that you find what works for you from a budget, time, and taste perspective. However whatever your brewing style, there is one one piece of equipment that no coffee lover should be without and that is a grinder.

If you’re looking to up your coffee game, a coffee grinder will give you a much greater improvement on flavour and quality of brew than any other piece of equipment. And with the exception of the humble cafetiere or moka pot, it’s often a cheaper investment. You can get an electric burr grinder for around £50 (you can also spend way more if you really want to!). Grinding your coffee fresh from whole bean just before you brew will give you a gorgeous fresh coffee aroma hit, and as most of the oils and volatile flavour compounds are locked up inside the bean until you grind it, you’ll be getting much more flavour in your cup. When you buy pre-ground coffee, many of those volatile flavour compounds are already gone by the time you brew.

Which grinder should you buy?

Whatever your budget, be it small or large, a burr grinder is the best choice. These crush the beans, whereas a blade ‘grinder’ chops them. The crushing releases much more aroma and flavour, and gives a more consistent grind which is essential for brewing methods like filter, espresso, moka pot etc. They also tend to offer a wider range of grinds, so if you do have multiple methods of brewing that you like to switch between then you’ll be able to grind for whatever you’re using currently.

For an entry level grinder, we love the DeLonghi KG79. There’s also the newer KG80 but we haven’t had a chance to try it yet but the reviews online look good. The KG79 is available for around £50.

Hand grinders are cheaper and tend to offer much more fine tune control over the grind, but the downside is it can take a while to grind enough for a cup and you might wish you had an electric grinder when you’re making the first brew of the day or when you have guests over and you have to grind even more. If you do opt for manual, the Hario Coffee Mill is a great choice as it allows lots of control over the grind, is easy to use, and the grinding chamber comes with a lid so you can keep any remaining ground coffee sealed for next time (although we’d recommend weighing out the right amount of coffee and just grinding when you need over grinding in bulk).

 

 

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Three easy ways to make iced coffee

Iced coffee

Iced coffee is a perfect refreshing drink for hot sunny days or after a bike ride. Here’s our guide to making the best iced coffee, whether you want it right now or you have a little time to make it slowly.

We’ll cover the fastest way first because you’re in a hurry and can’t wait around!

Espresso over ice = instant iced coffee

  1. Make an espresso as you normally would. Choose beans which are sweeter and fruitier rather than traditional dark and bitter beans for a better taste
  2. If you want to sweeten it with sugar, do it while it’s hot so the sugar melts
  3. Pour over a glass filled with ice
  4. Enjoy

Pour over iced coffee

  1. Set up your pour over as you normally would BUT fill the receptacle that the coffee drips in to with ice
  2. Make your pour over as you usually would but over the ice and with a slower pour to allow the coffee to cool as it runs through the ice

Overnight French Press

This method involves patience as you’ll need to leave your coffee to brew at least over night but you will be rewarded with delicious, naturally sweet coffee that tastes better than the other methods.

  1. Coarsely grind coffee. Aim for ratio of 1:8 coffee:water, so for a one litre French Press you’ll use 125g of coffee.
  2. Place the grinds in the French Press and cover with cold water
  3. Place in your fridge for at least 12 hours but if you’re really patient, leaving it for 24 hours will give better flavour
  4. Plunge (and optionally but highly recommended, filter it by pouring it through coffee filter or cheesecloth for a cleaner taste)
  5. Serve with extra water to dilute (the coffee will be strong, if you don’t dilute it you may well be buzzing all day!).

Bonus tip: make ice cubes with coffee so that your ice doesn’t dilute your brew!

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How to make coffee with a V60

V60 coffee brewer

V60 is a brewing style where technique (and patience) make all the difference to the flavour. While it isn’t the most forgiving brewing method – if you pour too quickly or don’t get the grind right you’ll end up with a poor cup of coffee – it yields an excellent clean and flavourful cup if you get it right. Precision and patience are key. Use scales to measure your coffee and water and a timer to time the whole process.

  1. Freshly boil your water. Save water, don’t boil more than you need! You’ll be using around 350ml of water for one cup of coffee if you include extra for rinsing. Once boiled, let the water sit for around a minute to cool down to the optimum brewing temperature of 91°.
  2. Place your cup or jug with the dripper on top on the scales
  3. Fold the filter along the crimped edge and place it in the V60 dripper
  4. Rinse the filter with freshly boiled water. This ensures that you get no papery taste in your finished brew and also heats the dripper and jug or cup
  5. Grind 20g of coffee to a medium-fine level, about the consistency of fine sand or table salt
  6. Place the coffee grinds in to the dripper and make a small indentation with the tip of a finger
  7. Set your scale to zero
  8. Gently pour a small amount of water over the coffee grinds to bloom the coffee. Use 1-2g of water per 1g of coffee, just enough to wet the grinds. Allow the coffee to bloom for 45 seconds
  9. Slowly and gently pour your water over the coffee in a tight circle until the scales display 300g, being careful not to let the water directly touch the paper filter. I use a circle that is around the same size as a 10p coin
  10. Wait for the water to finish dripping through. The whole process should take 2-2.30 minutes. If it happens too quickly you may need to use finer grinds
  11. Enjoy your coffee!
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How to make coffee in a moka pot / stovetop coffee maker

Brewing guide – moka pot

If you like the rich taste of an espresso without spending a couple of grand on a high-tech espresso machine, the moka pot, or stovetop coffee pot is a great option. There’s also something really satisfying about making coffee on the hob, and watching the steam come out of the spout. Here’s how to make coffee with a moka pot:

  1. Grind enough coffee to fill the basket, approximately 20g for a typical 4 cup moka pot, to a fine level, the same as you would for use in an espresso machine (although some brands of moka pot have larger holes than others. If you find that your coffee is coming out sludgy because grinds are getting through the holes, use a very slightly coarser grind).
  2. Fill up the base of the pot with water until the water reaches below the safety valve. You can speed things up by using pre-boiled water but beware that if you do, the base will be hot when screwing the top on so be careful.
  3. Add the coffee to the basket and give it a gentle shake to evenly distribute the grounds then add the basket on to the water chamber.
  4. Screw the top of the pot on and then place on the hob
  5. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, you don’t want it to boil too quickly or things could get explosive!
  6. As the water comes to a boil you’ll hear the pot gurgle and hiss, this is when the coffee is ready!
  7. Enjoy your coffee
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How to brew coffee with a cafetiere/French Press

A cafetiere or French Press is one of the easiest ways to brew coffee and because of that it is my personal favourite for making the first cup of the day; simplicity is important when you’ve just woken up and are still bleary eyed.

As well as being simple, this method also produces really tasty coffee. All of the oils are left in the coffee which means you get all of the flavour and goodness.

Here’s how we make a delicious cafetiere coffee:

  1. Freshly boil the right amount of water for how much coffee you’re going to make (save energy, don’t boil more than you need!)
  2. Weigh out 45g of coffee beans per litre of water (15g per 250ml which is about 1 cup’s worth)
  3. Freshly grind the coffee beans to a coarse grind, it should look a bit like sea salt in courseness. Too fine and more will be able to get through the mesh filter so you’ll end up with more grinds in your finished drinkCoarse coffee grinds
  4. Add the grinds to the cafetiere and pour over the freshly boiled water
  5. Wait 30 seconds and then stir the coffee to avoid an under-active brew (you don’t want all of the grinds sitting at the top of the water for the whole time)
  6. Leave to brew for at least 3 minutes and up to 8 if you want all of the goodness out of the brew
  7. Plunge gently
  8. Pour and enjoy

Coffee beans which best suit cafetiere brewing

Cafetieres are really versatile and get the best out of most coffee beans but especially those which are naturally rich and full-bodied which is emphasised by the french press. Here are some of our favourites

  • Coffee farm

    Alemayehu – Rocko Mountain Reserve, Ethiopia

    Jasmine, pineapple, mango, hibiscus. Incredibly floral and complex with a juicy kiwi-like acidity.

    £12.00£36.50 Select options
  • V60 coffee brewer

    Decaf coffee subscription

    Get a regular fortnightly or four weekly delivery of our decaffeinated coffee beans.

     

    From: £9.00 every 4 weeks Select options
  • Francis Arturo Romero, Honduras

    Plum and cherry, orange, dark chocolate, with a rich fudge body.

    £11.00£32.50 Select options
  • Kiangai, Kenya

    Blood orange, brown sugar, cocoa.

    £12.40£38.00 Select options

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Animated guide to different coffee brewing styles

We love this animated video guide to brewing coffee in different styles from &Orange Motion Design, including Aeropress, French Press, and Moka Pot. What’s your favourite brewing style?

An Instant Guide to Making Coffee from &Orange Motion Design on Vimeo.

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Review: The Bialetti Moka Pot

Like all caffeine hungry people, my search for the best coffee machine has been a long one. When Freud spoke about the ‘paradox of choice’ I have no doubt that he was talking about this very thing. The eternal question of how to make a good coffee from the comfort of your own kitchen without compromising on taste, price or usability remained a tough nut (or bean) to crack. So when a friend bought me a Bialetti Moka Pot a few years back I was, admittedly, sceptical but ready to give anything a try.

Bialetti Moka Pot

Features

Based on the original Moka Express model created in Italy in 1933, the Bialetti is strictly
speaking a percolator although is seen as closer to an espresso maker because of the strength of the coffee it makes. Its three components include a thick-bottomed ‘water reservoir’ which sits on the heat, a ‘filter’ which holds the ground coffee and draws the water upwards and the ‘coffee basket’ where, after 4-5 minutes , the finished product comes flowing forth. This hob-top machine works with electric or gas and preferably in combination with a Bialetti diffuser which ensures even heating and prevents tarnishing of your pot.

A Design Classic


Owning a Bialetti has much to recommend it. Its well-made, strong frame means it runs rings around the competition in terms of longevity and durability (much to the consternation of my inferior brand owning friends). Multiple London moves, numerous camping trips and not just a few kitchen incidents later and my Bialetti is still going strong.

Bialetti Moka Pot Photo 5 - coffee pouring

User Friendly

It is also simple, straightforward and quick to use. First fill the reservoir with water to just below the valve, add your favourite grind to the filter then screw the coffee basket on top before placing on a gentle heat. It’s low maintenance (simply remove coffee and rinse), very low investment (RRP around £20) and is infinitely portable (nothing like a fire-side brew).

It Packs A Punch

But most importantly, and after a few practice runs, it produces a rich, dark, strong flavour which is utterly customisable depending on your chosen roast and bean. My Italian friend still delights in his morning ritual of preparing his Moka pot and manually piecing the components together, then waiting for the first scent of the coffee to come.

Bialetti Moka Pot Photo 3 - Coffee cup (with filter)

Negatives?

However the Bialetti, like all coffee machines, does have its dark side too. Its flavour can be unpredictable and sometimes downright unpalatable. At it’s worst the Moka Pot produces bitter, metallic tasting coffee that makes you wonder why you didn’t just trump for the instant (heaven forbid). The reason for this is usually down to using too thick a grind in the filter, tamping down the coffee too tightly so the holes are blocked and most importantly heating the pot too quickly so all the water evaporates before boiling point has been reached.

But with a little experimentation when making your coffee it is possible to improve results. Grinding the bean more finely (or choosing a different coffee), tamping it down gently in the filter and removing the pot at just the right moment (you’ll soon learn when) will all help to produce a more consistent and smoother cup.

If you had to choose…

So how does the Bialetti compare to other coffee machines both in its class and otherwise? Well this is of course a question of taste and expense. The French Press is a close neighbour which is similarly low cost and low maintenance (filter papers aside), however for espresso drinkers looking for that strong flavour the higher water content of the cafetiere will not compete favourably with the Moka pot.

Then there’s the auto-drip option which I have in my time enjoyed many a good coffee from. Against these machines the Moka pot, understandably, does less well. The Cuisinart Grind and Brew filter and auto-drip coffee maker is a great all-rounder producing a freshly ground, full-bodied cup with the option to choose the strength (something you miss on the Bialetti) and cup size (up to 12). Its thermal plate also ensures that leftovers are kept warm for hours.

The Low-Fi Choice

But when counter space and budgets are tight, the filter papers have been left unordered and the grinder uncleaned and blocked, the footloose and fancy-free Bialetti is still on my shelf waiting morning after morning to deliver the low-fi hit I need.

Review by Claire Moran

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Review: DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S

Rather than fill up Roasting House with many different coffee machines, we’ve asked coffee lovers to review the coffee makers they use to make their perfect brew at home. First up – the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S

delonghimagnifica1-edited

The DeLonghi Magnifica is an essential piece of bean to cup kit for coffee connoisseurs. Not only does it grind beans on the spot for an intense, rich flavour, it has a smart energy saving function too so you can save the planet while making your morning espresso, latte or cappuccino. With this in mind, here is a run down of the pros and cons of one of DeLonghi’s most popular models. If you are looking for a serious step up in your morning coffee, this machine could well be the investment for you.

A Great Option for First Time Buyers

If you are buying a bean to cup machine for the very first time, the DeLonghi Magnifica is the perfect choice. Compared with some of the best coffee machines out there, the DeLonghi Magnifica is exceedingly easy to use when it comes to making coffee. Simply switch it on, select from the one cup or two cup buttons and the machine does the rest for you. It is packed full of fantastic features that allow you to create a coffee that is full of flavour in seconds and is also affordably priced. It lets you know when it needs cleaning and even collects the grounded coffee in a separate compartment so that it can be emptied periodically.

Café Quality Coffee In An Instant

Freshness means a lot when it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee. One of reasons that this machine is so popular is its ability to create coffee of the highest quality at the touch of a button. It also uses freshly ground beans for each new cup of coffee so you always get the freshest taste. This bean to cup machine is an excellent choice for those who want that authentic coffee shop taste at home. With a milk frother and an adjustable spout to allow you to use cups of all sizes, this machine really does put you in control of your coffee.

A Tailored Coffee Experience

One of the standout features of the DeLonghi Magnifica is its ability to tailor your coffee experience to suit your individual requirements. Thanks to its high-tech features, you can adjust the quantities of both coffee and water to achieve the ideal coffee.  With the DeLonghi Magnifica, you can tailor everything from the temperature to the strength of your coffee. Espresso lovers will fall head over heels for the advanced boiler system that ensures you get the perfect temperature every time.

 

DeLonghi coffee makerHigh Performance Low Maintenance

With a 15-bar pump pressure, there’s no denying that the DeLonghi Magnifica is a high performance piece of kit, but is it low maintenance? This coffee machine is exceptionally easy to clean thanks to the fully removable brewing unit and built in drip tray. Not only does this machine practically clean itself the moment you switch it on, it boasts automatic descaling, cleaning and rinsing programs.

Style and Substance

Sleek and shiny, this machine is not lacking in the style department. Compact with a sophisticated silver finish, this design is versatile and will complement every style of décor. However, the DeLonghi Magnifica isn’t just a pretty face. It is packed to the brim with fantastic features that make creating the perfect cup of coffee a breeze. There are clever little features such as the plate on top of the machine that is designed to keep your cups warm and it is small finishing touches like these that really set the DeLonghi Magnifica apart from the rest. The silver finish makes it a popular choice, as it will look great wherever you decide to put it in your kitchen.

Any Negatives?

The DeLonghi Magnifica ticks almost every coffee lover’s box. However, if I were to turn my attention to the negative aspects, there is one slight drawback with this machine. The bean to cup model does make a cracking cup of coffee but it certainly isn’t quiet about it. The grinding of the coffee beans and the frothing of the milk does tend to make a racket but in my opinion that is a small price to pay for café quality coffee.

So, there you have it, a review of the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 4200.S. In short, this is a serious piece of kit that brings the coffee shop experience into your own home without breaking the bank. With excellent results on all types of drinks, this machine boasts the perfect balance between quality and convenience. Have you tried the DeLonghi Magnifica? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


 

This is part of a series where we ask coffee lovers to review their home coffee making equipment – crowd sourced coffee maker reviews you might say. Want to submit a review? Email coffee@roasting.house

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Five ways to brew coffee while camping

It’s summer and that means camping season is here, Whether you’re off for a week in the wilderness or hitting the festivals you shouldn’t have to forgo your morning brew just because you’re packing light. Here’s some ingenious ways to brew up while camping:

GSI coffee brewerCollapsible coffee dripper

If you regularly like to get in the outdoors and spend the night under canvas, it’s worth investing in a lightweight coffee dripper that collapses down flat when not in use. The GSI Collapsible Drip Coffee Maker folds to a slim disc so it won’t take up any space in your bag. Alternatively, the Ultralight Javadrip is a fabric filter which clips on to your camping mug so you don’t even need to take filters, handy for those who are wild camping and don’t have any facilities to dispose of used coffee filters. Being fabric, it also packs down nice and small

Handpresso Wild Hybrid

I have been crushing on the Handpresso for a while. The Handpresso is the lovechild of a bike pump and an aeropress. Seems like an unimaginable mix, but it is very much real and a fun way to make espresso on the go. You add in the water and the coffee grounds, pump to get the right amount of pressure, and then pour a perfect espresso. You can get pre-prepared coffee pods or an adapter to use your own coffee which is far better for the environment.

https://youtu.be/aHcVbLv7APghttp://

 

Aeropress & Porlex

Of course no portable coffee list would be complete without a mention of the aeropress, It’s a little bulkier than the dripper or the handpresso, but it is very affordable, lightweight, and makes a reliably good cup of coffee every time.  If you’ve gone to the effort to pack good coffee for your trip, you don’t want to ruin it with pre-ground coffee. Fresh is best! The Porlex mini grinder is one of the most compact available and is fairly lightweight. Conveniently, it also fits inside the plunger of the Aeropress making them the ultimate coffee camping combination.

 

 

Moka pot
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Mokapot

If your morning brew of choice is a dark, rich espresso then pack a mokapot. They are slightly bulky but very lightweight and easily fit on most camping stoves and you’ll be rewarded with a really strong cup of coffee in the morning.

 

Cowboy style

And if even the weight of filters is too much for you, you can brew your coffee straight in to the water for cowboy style. You’ll need to ensure the grounds have sunk to the bottom fully before drinking and don’t knock it back to fast or you’ll up with a mouth full of grinds. Not for the faint of heart but there is something satisfying about being in the middle of nowhere and drinking your coffee rough and ready.

How do you brew up when you’re camping?