In Part 1 we looked at coffee, so how to best turn that into a decent cuppa? Making coffee from ground beans is dead simple, you literally just add hot-water… the key is preparing the coffee in a way that keeps the grounds out of the mug and, most importantly, get the maximum amount of flavour from your beans.
There are two main options for getting the coffee and water together:
No pressure – where the water and the coffee mixes together either in a cafetiere or a filter coffee ‘machine’.
Pressure – an expresso-type device, either a glorious worktop expresso machine favoured by baristas (professional coffee makers) the world over, or an expresso pot as seen in every kitchen in France.
By far the easiest option is the familiar cafetiere – it’s a glass pot with a plunger, the ground coffee gets mixed with the hot water in the pot, and then the plunger is pushed down to strain the grounds from the coffee. Simple to use, simple to clean and a perfectly acceptable way to make a decent coffee. The only issue we’ve had with cafetieres is that the glass ‘pot’ can be quite prone to damaging easily, but aside from this minor hitch, they are the ideal solution for someone who only has access to a kettle or boiling water, say in an office.
The filter coffee maker, where you load some ground coffee in a paper filter, is a good option if you need to keep a lot of coffee brewing through the day – so we only tend to get it fired up when we have visitors in Mombee Towers.
Our preference for much of our coffee needs is the ‘Pressure’ option. Our ‘go-to’ choice is one of the two old French expresso pots that we have – different sizes depending on much coffee we need, but both work on the same principle of cold water in the bottom, ground coffee in the middle, the whole lot screwed together and then put on a gas ring. It’s then simply a matter of pressure – the water boils, forcing itself through the coffee and into the top of the expresso pot, where it collects ready to be poured. It’s a simple system that’s easy to clean and should be reliable – there’s a rubber ring that seals the top and bottom parts of the pot, and over time this can harden and need replacing, but they’re fairly easy to find in a decent cookshop.
Working on the same principle as the French expresso pot, we have a beautiful little Portguese coffee set. This has two spouts that dispense neat expresso size shots into cups standing on a little platform. It’s quite exquisite, yet still makes good coffee.
One other pot that’s worth a mention is our Boka cappuccino pot – this again works on the same principle as the expresso pots, but uses milk instead of water… and therein lies the issue. Boiled milk, especially boiled milk that’s been overheated and dried into the body of a coffee pot is a pain to clean… and on that basis it rarely gets used. In contrast, you can get away with rinsing the expresso pots in water to get rid of the old grounds and coffee stains.
I know in the previous article I was quite scathing about those Nespresso-type machines, but… they have a time and a place, normally away from Mombee Towers when time is short. Certainly at some of the sites I’m currently working on they have these machines and they make a decent coffee – and these machines also have a similar coffee holder to a proper barista machine, and you have the option to either use proper ground coffee or use one of the coffee ‘pods’, which is a neat option.
So our preference is to keep it simple with a French style expresso pot… so next time you find yourself in a French market or the local charity shop, keep an eye open for one of these beaten up coffee icons.
One final note – we tend to throw all of our coffee grounds straight onto the garden… by all accounts it does wonders for the plants.