My top 3 choices focuss on aesthetics, practicality, usability and price point.
But before considering a potential purchase, I’d like to stress the importance of coffee quality. If you’re using commodity grade, poor quality, or old crop coffee, you’re fighting bit of a losing battle.‘Specialty’ grade coffee focuses on quality and ethical sourcing. It all starts with great coffee!
I’d also like to emphasise the importance of freshly ground coffee. Whole beans will hold their freshness for approximately 4 weeks (from the roast date). Ground coffee will start to go stale almost straight away. So, if you’re buying pre-ground coffee, it will most likely be ‘flat’ and lack complexity…. Think warm cola that has lost its fizz.
It’s also important to have control over grind size. How fine or coarse you grind is dependant on your chosen brew method and desired flavour profile.
So, when considering home brewers, we must also consider an accompanying grinder. I’ve included some recommendations.
If you really want to get the best out of your coffee when brewing, you must use a recipe! (See videos). For this we need scales (that weigh to 0.1g) and a timer (stopwatch). I’ve also included suggestions for scales. (All the scales have an integrated timer)
My recommendations are split into three parts; Budget, Mid Range and Luxury.
I would love to have included many more. However, here are my ‘current’ top 3, based on price, design, uniqueness and performance….
Aeropress (35 Euros, Stooker)
Method: Immersion/ filter/ Espresso???
"Aeropress for espresso I hear you ask"....well, hear me out! Though not strictly designed for espresso, you can modify the Aeropress with the Fellow Prismo. This is a pressure-actuated valve attachment. In short, it creates a build up of pressure to brew espresso style coffee on your Aeropresso. The reason I included the Aeropress in my top 3, is because you get a lot for very little. Though it will never compete It would be unfair to leave it out in terms of versatility and price point.
The Aeropress was invented by the designers of Aerobie Sprint (the retro frisbee we all treasured as kids). Its popularity has inspired Aeropress competitions throughout the World.
How it works? Stage 1: the coffee is brewed much like a french press. Water is poured onto the coffee and is left to brew. Stage 2: the coffee is then forced through a paper filter, using a bit of elbow grease. It’s designed to achieve body from the immersion and clarity from the filter. Clever stuff!
The Aeropress is user friendly, quick to make a brew and easy to clean. And for the environmentally conscious… you can buy reusable metal filters.
The Aeropress is incredibly versatile. With a bit of practice, you can achieve anything from clean, elegant florals to big body; sticky sweetness. Most single origins work with an Aeropress. You can achieve blackcurrant juiciness from a Kenyan, just as easy as toffee apple sweetness of a Guatemalan.
If I had to choose one thing I like most about the Aeropress, it would be how travel friendly; it is. You can pop it in your bag and take it anywhere. It’s lightweight and won’t break. I’m always accompanied by my Aeropress on vacations.
Recommended grinder: Hario Skerton Plus hand grinder (Approx 30 Euros)
Recommended scales: Hario VST-2000B scales (Approx 45 Euros)
9Barista (£295, 9Barista.com)
This is brand new to the market. It’s innovative, aesthetically pleasing and has revolutionised the old skool Moka Pot (Stove Top).
Where the Moka Pot, arguably, produces watery, burnt coffee, the 9Barista performs like an actual espresso machine. Very clever stuff!
The key is in the name; 9BARista. It can produce 9 bars of pressure like a commercial grade espresso machine. This might not mean much, however, pressure provides that beautiful body and crema we have all grown to love.
This is due to the engineering excellence of William Playford.
Not only can it produce the appropriate pressure, it also brews the coffee at a desirable temperature; 93 degrees C.
I’m so excited to see this in people’s homes. Espresso at home, without the price tag of a commercial espresso machine.
Recommended grinder: Comandante hand grinder (Approx 200 Euros)
Recommended scales: Acaia Pearl (Approx 250 Euros)
La Marzocco Linea Mini (Approx 4K)
The design of the Linea Mini is based on the most iconic La Marzocco machine ever built, the Linea Classic. Loved by thousands of professional baristas, the Linea Classic truly helped launch the specialty coffee movement of the early 1990s.
This is high end, coffee shop quality in the comfort of your own home. The Linea Mini comes in 6 different colours.
These are by no means affordable for every home, however, the build quality, consistency and performance of these domestic machines is unmatched.
Recommended grinder: Mazzer Mini, On Demand (Approx 700 Euros)
Recommended scales: Acaia Lunar (260 Euros- Stooker)