How to make better coffee than a barista for less cash
- With a few low-cost gadgets and know-how, you can become a ‘home barista’
- Coffee fans spend at least £500 a year on more than 200 takeaways on average
Coffee lovers can finally get back to their favourite coffee shops as high streets open up again and we start to return to something like normality.
While you can make a cup at home, there is nothing like a coffee brewed by an impressive machine with shiny chrome knobs and dials and steam wands that transform cold milk into a hot frothy treat.
But with a few low-cost gadgets and know-how, you can become a ‘home barista’ and make a brew hopefully more sublime than one made by a professional.
Treat: Coffee lovers spend at least £500 a year on more than 200 takeaways on average
Keep costs down and you could save money as well. Coffee lovers spend at least £500 a year on more than 200 takeaways on average.
Of course, we want to support local coffee shops from time to time. But they need not be relied on every time for a perfect cup.
A great place to start is a ‘dripper’, such as a £5 plastic Hario V60. This is a cup with holes in the bottom, into which sits a paper filter.
Freshly ground coffee can be spooned into the filter and near boiling water poured over – with a brew collected beneath.
Alternatively, consider a cafetiere that also strains ground beans into a cup of Joe, or a £29 AeroPress. Another budget option is a £28 moka pot, used to boil water on a stove that filters through ground coffee.
Equipment, such as a £189 De’Longhi Dedica Style, offers a great starting point
Next the milk: there’s no reason why you can’t make a perfect latte or cappuccino at home. Coffee blogger Kev Lewis says: ‘You can froth milk by putting it into an old cafetiere found at the back of a cupboard and then pump it.’
An alternative to consider is a specialist milk frother, which you can buy for £50 from Nespresso.
But if you really want a textured latte that tastes as good as your local coffee shop you must go to the next level – and consider investing in an espresso machine.
Equipment, such as a £189 De’Longhi Dedica Style, offers a great starting point. But Lewis, who runs website coffeeblog.co.uk, believes you might have to spend more if you want to make a really top brew.
He points to the £399 Sage Bambino Plus and the £429 Gaggia Classic Pro as great options for those who would like to become a home barista. However, you would have to forgo a lot of takeaway coffees to make a cost saving. For a really flavoursome brew, buy whole coffee beans and grind them yourself at home.
Hand-grinders, such as a £30 Hario Skerton, offer great value, but you might also consider an electric grinder targeted at top espresso making, such as a £330 Baratza Sette 270 or £360 Eureka Mignon.
Lewis says: ‘Once started you will discover a fascinating new hobby. But these machines take time to master – there is a lot of experimenting with how fine the coffee should be ground, the weight of the beans used and the time it takes for the espresso to be poured into shots.’
He adds: ‘So before buying ask yourself whether you really want to spend all this time learning a new skill or do you simply want to press buttons to make great coffee?’
And budget for beans…
The coffee bean is the vital ingredient in a great brew – more important than the fancy bells-and-whistles equipment that turns it into a drink. For the best beans, buy from a specialist trader.
Check out the UK coffee roasters directory at coffeeblog.co.uk to find details of your local specialist.
Coffee beans are grown around the world, offering a variety of flavours
There are more than 400 from which to choose. Dealers grind coffee on request and can sell recently imported beans that should be fresh.
There are two main species of tree that coffee beans come from – the Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica is of superior quality, but the cheaper Robusta is a favourite for instant coffee.
Coffee beans are grown around the world, offering a variety of flavours enhanced by different roasting techniques.
There are also coffee clubs, as offered by roasters such as Redber, where from about £6 a month you get sent a variety of global coffee offers.
Many people already own relatively cheap coffee machines, such as a £72 Nespresso Virtuo, that use capsules of ground coffee to make the brew.
Kiara Maher, a manager at coffee trading company Redber, in Guildford, Surrey, says: ‘If you have already gone down this capsule route consider a reusable pod.
‘They might seem expensive at about £20 each, but you can put freshly ground coffee of your choice inside them – rather than what the company decides – to help you appreciate a wider range of coffee beans.’
Maher adds: ‘It might all sound rather intimidating, but the fundamentals of making coffee are fairly straightforward – it’s just beans and hot water. And you don’t need to spend a fortune to create a brew that can taste far better than you get in a coffee chain.’