The Single Most Important Thing To Do When Making Coffee At Home, According To A Barista

One simple tool could be holding you back from caffeinated greatness...

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We’ve got all sorts of problems right now in Australia.

One silver lining, though, is that we can shove a fantastic range of high-quality coffee down our gullets.

And wouldn’t it be such a waste if we didn’t make the most of it? After all: high-quality coffee is more accessible than it’s ever been.

To make sure you’re not spurning this opportunity, DMARGE got in touch with 2019 Australian Barista Champion Matthew Lewin to get his top tips.

Matthew gave us a number of surprises (believe it or not, the machine you use to brew your coffee isn’t that important). He also confirmed a couple of rumours we had heard but weren’t sure were true (a good grinder really is essential).

Kock yourself up a brew, settle in, then read what you’re doing right (and wrong).

If you’re not drinking filter coffee, you’re missing out

You may associate it with Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas or American Gas Stations or Terrible 90s Diners or The Hangover or Scummy Dish Liquid… but you’d be wrong.

In 2021, filter coffee is so much more.

It’s convenient too. As Matthew told DMARGE, even though filter coffee is something “a lot of people don’t talk about” it’s an easy, trending, way to get your morning jitters.

“You don’t need an espresso machine to explore a whole new world of coffee. There are filter coffees that have a relatively cheap set up.”

“It’s something people don’t talk about enough in cafes and also at home.”

“It’s kind of the go-to I think. If you don’t have a filter coffee set up at home I reckon you’re missing out on a huge world of coffee.”

You don’t need a fancy espresso machine to make professional quality coffee

Whether you have an Aeropress, a French Press, or a Moka Pot, if you buy high-quality ingredients – and one other crucial thing – then you can make professional-quality home coffee.

“Think American diners – that idea, that method, hot water poured over coffee that’s ground then it drips out,” Matthew told DMARGE.

“We’ve just modernised it through a current climate of amazing specialty coffee – great beans and great roasting and that all just makes that diner coffee or Moka Pot even better.”

These modern techniques with better equipment are akin to good wine, scotch or tea. Just like all those products, you can get really good offerings or really bad.

Regarding the kinds of high-quality coffee currently on the market, Matthew says they lend your cup of Joe a “nuance of flavour” and a bit more “of a journey” in your mouth (compared to the aforementioned diners).

“Grab some paper and stick some water on some ground coffee and you get this nice big cup of coffee compared to a little espresso and you enjoy it over 5 or 10 minutes or whatever and it takes you on a bit of a coffee journey.”

Variety can help, too

Matthew, who works with @onacoffee, says “we offer about 15 or more every month. We’re one of the roasters that offers the most.”

The single most important thing you can do is buy good coffee

“The most important thing you can do is obviously buy good coffee,” Matthew told DMARGE.

“There’s so much good stuff around, people are roasting better stuff now – from the farm to the cup – just better product.”

The second most important thing is to have a good grinder

“It’s crucial to have a good grinder,” Matthew told DMARGE. “It can be a hand grinder (you can get a really good one for 100 bucks) or an electronic one for 200 bucks.”

“You can get them for 500 but the 100 one is amazing.”

“It’s like a chef having a sharp knife.”

If you, like us, rely on buying pre-ground coffee, then perhaps this is the time to reconsider your life choices… and discover a new world in the process.

Making coffee is like baking a cake

Image Credit: Medium

Matthew told DMARGE: “When you’re making a filter coffee you’re thinking: ‘how much dry ingredients and flour do I have?’ and ‘how much water or liquid am I adding to my cake.’ Get that ratio right, brew it for a certain amount of time, and your going to get the most delicious damn coffee every time.”

“Buy great ingredients and follow a simple recipe. Thinking about it this way you’re going to make the most delicious cafe quality filter coffee; it’s going to blow your mind.”

“You can do it in your Moka Pot, French Press, an Empty Coke Bottle; doesn’t matter, brew it, keep it warm while it’s brewing and filter it out.”

“I’ve made coffees in the weirdest hotels with the weirdest equipment but with me I had a good grinder and I just used my simple ‘cake’ or coffee recipe and you’re just brewing ‘gansta’ juice all the time.”

Don’t be afraid to experiment… though the results will be on you

Matthew is no snob. In fact, he’s been known to leave his filter coffee in the car overnight and have another crack at it in the morning.

So when we asked him how many times it was acceptable to reheat your coffee in the microwave, he didn’t fall over with apoplectic rage.

“Reheat the shit out of that stuff,” he said. “Drastic times call for drastic measures.”

He did warn us though that you shouldn’t expect the same results.

“Making coffee is all about cooking stuff – you’ve kind of cooked that coffee so if you reheat it you’re cooking it again.”

If you reheat anything enough times – could be in a pan on the stove or in the microwave – “you’re going to break it down.”

“Test it and find out.”

“If you’re buying good coffee and investing in that and know how to do it pretty well then if you want to reheat the thing and you like it then go for it.”

“I think speciality coffee is awesome; it doesn’t need more wankery around it and, at home, you’ve got a bit more licence to live how you want to.”

“If it tastes like shit reheating it for a second time then brew a smaller coffee and drink it more often or just make a fresh one.”

Something to mull over as you watch your Soy Flat White rotate in the microwave for the umpteenth time, globules of soy metastasising like hideous goo…

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