How to... become a coffee connoisseur

Become a barista in your own kitchen with these expert tips and top-notch technology

Want the coffee you serve up at home to be as tasty as the stuff you pay huge amounts for at your local espresso joint? We picked the brains of Deaton Pigot, Head Roaster at top Brooklyn coffee house Toby’s Estate, for tips on beans, grinding, roasting and more.

Good beans cost good money

“My job is focussed on the coffee program, which means I buy green coffee by travelling to origin, roast the beans on our Brooklyn floor and handle quality control. We source our coffees using direct farm relationships across the globe. Coffee producers find us their best coffees and in turn we pay premium prices, far above fair trade coffee prices. We visit the farms to make sure the producers have sustainable practices and pay their workers a fair price. This ensures we follow the bean from crop to cup.”

Roasting coffee at home is fun

“Imagine your guests arriving just as you’re roasting coffee to be enjoyed after dinner – although note that it’s best to let it rest for at least 12 hours before drinking. There are online green coffee companies that offer a wide range of coffee beans. Once you dial in your home roaster and understand your personal preferences I don’t see why you couldn’t replicate something similar to what you’d get from your local professional roaster.”

Get on that grind

“I highly recommend investing in a home grinder, as coffee stales a matter of minutes after it’s ground. I’d go for a Baratza Encore grinder if you’re using a pour-over method, or a Mazzer Mini E for espresso. You really pay for quality in a grinder: the Mazzer has flat, metal burrs which produce less fines (smaller coffee particles that go a long way to producing a bad cup); metal burrs are a better option for espresso.”

More after the break...

Don’t leave ground coffee for too long

“While coffee doesn’t expire, it stales surprisingly quick. Try to avoid keeping it for longer than a couple of weeks, and look for a roasted on date so you can keep an eye on freshness. Think of it like fresh bread and buy small amounts weekly.”

And don’t leave it in the fridge

“Refrigerating or freezing coffee is unnecessary, and hinders fleeting aromatics. The best way to store it is in an airtight container away from heat and direct sunlight – kitchen cupboards work a treat.”

Home brewing is best kept simple

“I leave espresso brewing to the professionals at my local cafe. At home I use a Chemex or Hario V60, and a relatively inexpensive $300 grinder that lets me grind fresh on demand just before brewing a cup. I make pour-over, filter-style coffees because they produce a much cleaner cup. A French press has a lot more ‘body’ in the mouthfeel from the unfiltered fines floating in the brew – some people love that, but I prefer the finesse of a filter coffee.”

Images courtesy of Flickr users Premshree Pillai and ascherer

Now click over to page two for the gear that’ll change the way you enjoy your daily caffeine fix.

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