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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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We love this tongue in cheek coffee tutorial

Sometimes coffee lovers are accused of taking themselves and their coffee far too seriously but I personally love nothing more than a light-hearted p*** take of coffee snobbery and this video from uhhhhh does it particularly well. It’s good for the soul to laugh at yourself occasionally!

Coffee Tutorial from uhhhhh 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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Kitchen Coffee Machines with Style

A growing area of science known as neurogastronomy studies how our brains think about flavour. One fact emerging is that food and drink really tastes better when it is made with style. Which is why everything taste better in a swish restaurant or trendy bar. Our brains add something to how we perceive flavour which goes far beyond the drink’s chemical and physical properties. This has one obvious implication. If you want the best possible coffee at home, you need a kitchen coffee machine with real style.

Luckily, we have found three coffee machines with so much style, your coffee is guaranteed to taste better.

Want Amazing Kitchen Coffee? There’s an App For That


The brushed copper and glass construction screams style by themselves but they are just window dressing for this coffee maker. From the coffee bean hopper at the top, down to the double-walled carafe, everything is designed make the freshest, most divine coffee ever. The inbuilt grinder is designed to preserve the all important oil from the beans and delivers exactly the right amount of coffee grounds needed. The charcoal filter for the water ensures it purity and the water temperature along with the grind size and brew time can be controlled. This kitchen coffee maker can create perfect coffee but what if you are not in the kitchen? Well, the app for your phone allows to you control it remotely, enabling fresh coffee to be ready when you wake up or walk in the door from work. It will also automatically order new filters from Amazon when you run low.

More: Pour Over by Poppy.

From The Wilds of Canada to Your Kitchen – Coffee For The Lumbersexual


The construction of most coffee makers does not begin by felling a tree but the Canadiano is not your average coffee machine. A block of wood, carved into a bowl, and an environmentally-friendly reusable metal filter is the sum total of this beautifully simple idea. The water and the ground coffee beans are added to the bowl and coffee drips through the filter into the mug. It’s design already proclaims style through simplicity but your coffee experience will be enhanced in another way. Over time the wood absorbs coffee oils and each Canadiano develops its own unique flavour depending on the type of wood and the coffee beans used in it. The makers recommend different woods for different beans and for the ultimate experience, to keep a coffee maker dedicated to a specific bean and roasting house. A cynical reader may notice this means buying multiple Canadianos but this is one home kitchen coffee machine worth buying repeatedly.

More: Canadiano

Coffee Sans Kitchen, Sans Coffee Shop


It is hard to grasp but there are places in the world not within easy reach of either your own kitchen or a coffee shop. These places, known as the great outdoors, even lack free wifi. For those unfortunate enough to find themselves “outdoors”, there is no need for panic. Great coffee, made with style, is still within reach. When other people pull out their thermos flasks, the coffee-lover pulls out the Minipress. This hand-operated espresso machine goes anywhere. Wonderfully compact, with its own cup, the GR model is perfect for ground coffee. Nothing portable can match a dedicated kitchen coffee maker but this compensated by the pure style inherent in brewing a fresh espresso on top of a mountain.

More: Minipresso

Kitchen Coffee Machines With Style was written by Chris Tregenza on behalf of Fitted Kitchens, Nottingham.

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How to make the perfect iced coffee

There are two main ways to make iced coffee – steeped in cold water for at least 12 hours, or brewed fresh and hot then poured over ice. Each method has its benefits. A long brew over cold water reduces bitterness as heat releases the oils and chemical compounds from coffee, including those responsible for bitterness. This method gives a more subtle. clean flavour. However there is also the risk of over-extraction which counteracts these benefits.

Brewing coffee hot means that more of the coffee’s flavour and oils are released so you get more of the flavour. You can also better control the extraction and pour straight over ice at the optimum time, allowing you to get a consistently good coffee. This is Japan’s preferred method of brewing, and ours too. Here’s how to do it:

1) Choose your coffee beans. A sweet, fruity bean works particularly well, We have created a special Summer Time blend especially for iced coffee

2) Brew your coffee hot as you normally would. An immersion method that brings out all the fruity flavours of your coffee beans works particularly well

3) Fill a glass to the top with ice. You’ll need lots

4) Sweeten the coffee to taste while it is still hot as the sugar dissolves better

5) Pour the coffee S  L  O  W  L  Y over the ice

6) Give the coffee a good stir to ensure there aren’t any hot spots. Add any extra ice as required

7) Enjoy!

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Going from buying pre-ground to whole bean coffee

You may have been drinking pre-ground for a while. You may have only recently made the leap from instant (if you are drinking instant visit this link for the first step) but are keen to know how to make an even better cup of coffee.

Your next investment should be a grinder. Even if you’re using a cafetiere it will make a bigger difference than you anticipate to your coffee. When you grind beans, you release the oils to the air and even the most air-tight packaging or specialised grinding cannot stop the fact that ground beans have a larger surface area and therefore a larger exposure to the air. Letting the soluble parts of the beans dry up quicker can make your coffee taste flat.

Grinders can be cheap and cheaper grinders are getting better all the time. A blade grinder chops the beans and a burr grinder crushes them. You want the latter as chopping beans can give an inconsistent size which, when exposed to water, will mean different amounts of the soluble parts of the coffee go into the brew to either over-extract (smaller pieces) which could be bitter or an under-extract (larger pieces) because there hasn’t been a sufficient period for all the good stuff to be released into the water yet. Mix those two up and you will get an inconsistent cup that is never quite right.

Since this is an introduction to the subject I’m going to concentrate on two grinders only. Thousands exist but these are two I use, are usually under £30 and readily available.

Hario Mill Skerton hand grinder. This is hand grinder and is used a lot throughout the specialist coffee world. It’s small, has good ergonomics and can do the finest of grinds. Making lots of cups with this grinder will really strengthen your arm muscles as the burrs are quite small but it’s consistent enough and well worth the money. It comes apart and goes back together very easily to clean which you should do once a month.

De’Longhi KG79 Coffee Grinder. An electric grinder that got fame in the specialist coffee world because it’s hackable to produce a finer grind. However, newer models seem to grind fine enough for espresso without even being on the top setting. Plug it in, set your fineness and dose setting (we recommend pre-weighing and adding to the grinder so you never grind too little or too much), press the button and wait. It’s loud but that is the only down side.

If you look for reviews on the above grinders you will find good and bad. Mostly good, some bad but these seem to compare with mid & top of the range grinders with these sub £30 grinders so bear that in mind.

Dialing in. A bit of coffee lingo now that you may see around the place. Dialing in is what specialist coffee drinkers do when they have a new bean and they are finding the right dosage, grind and roast. It’s basically making small adjustments until it’s right. Stick to general guides for now but feel free to experiment if you want – it becomes addictive however so don’t forget to enjoy the odd cup of coffee too.

General guide to brewing, dosage size and grind level

  • French Press 1 litre 60 grams –  Very coarse
  • Drip / Filter 1 litre 60 grams – Coarse
  • Cold Brew 1 cup / 250ml 30 grams – Coarse
  • Espresso 30ml (single shot) 7 grams – Fine
  • Aeropress 200ml 16 grams Coarse – Fine
  • Moka stovetop – Fine
  • Syphon Coarse – Very coarse

The above levels can be adjusted 20% either way depending on your taste.

Any questions we are only a tweet away.

 

Image by Yara Tucek CC BY 2.0