The Ultimate Guide to Making Great Coffee at Home

Craving a cup of the good stuff from your favourite coffee shop? Having barista-quality coffee shouldn't be a thing of the past. Here are BoroughBox - we've got your back. To celebrate UK Coffee Week, we've put together this post to answer some of your top coffee questions, and send you well on the way to becoming a home brewing expert.

1) Should I buy whole beans or ground coffee?
All good coffee starts with good beans. Ground coffee might seem practical, but it can lose a lot of flavour through oxidation once the outer shell is cracked, so if you can, buy whole beans. 

2) What's the best way to grind beans?
There are lots of ways to blitz your coffee beans such as blade grinders or hand grinders. A burr grinder is by far the best option as it uses disks to smash the coffee beans into uniform grinds. You can choose your different type of grind from coarse to medium or fine.

3) How coarse should I grind my coffee, and how long should I brew it?
As a quick note:

Coarse = is the best grind for french presses (cafetierres) as they leave the biggest coffee granules.
Medium = good for a lot of different brewing methods such as vacuum and drip coffee.
Fine = sometimes referred to as "espresso grind" - primarily used in espresso makers, and filter brews.
If you're looking for a guide to coarseness and brewing duration, here's a superb infographic courtesy of Homestratosphere. 

Coffee maker

4) Why do some coffee companies have a roasting date, and does this matter? 
A lot of coffee companies roast their beans in small batches, as flavour and freshness peak around 2 weeks after the roast date, so it doesn't make sense to have thousands of packets on the shelf for years. The closer to the roast date you can drink your coffee, the better the flavour.

5) Which country should I buy my coffee from?
Choosing which country to buy your beans from is tough! There are over 50 different coffee producing countries - and coffee trees grow particularly well along the 'bean belt' which is a strip that lies between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (nicely depicted here). This area has favourable conditions for coffee growing - year-round warm temperatures, and sufficient rain. It all depends on personal taste, but some world-renowned coffee areas are Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, Guatamala, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Honduras. Really - you'll just have to taste your way through different coffees to discover your personal preferences

6) What do Arabica and Robusta mean?
Arabica is the type of coffee that comes from the coffea arabica plant - and it also happens to be the world's most popular type of coffee. Robusta coffee comes from the coffea canephora plant (also known as coffea robusta). Many believe it's an inferior quality coffee, although it has twice the amount of caffeine

7) What's Chemex?
Chemex is a style of pour-over coffee maker, made up of a classic glass funnel design that dates all the way back to 1941. There are a few stages to it (including letting the coffee grinds 'bloom') but once you get the hang of it, it can be very satisfying to watch. You wash the filter paper, add the grinds (carefully weighing the precise amounts of water and coffee), and then gradually add water that's around 91-94degrees C.

8) What's Aeropress?
Aeropress is an extremely portable piece of kit that was invented by the president of Aerobie (yes, the frisbee company!) It's a piston-style brewer that looks a bit like a syringe, and consists of a plunger, a chamber, and an area to put microfilters, and best of all, your coffee can be ready in 30 seconds! The pressure forces hot water through the coffee grounds to create espresso.

9) What's V60?
The V60 is a stylish type of drip coffee maker that was invented in Japn. The liquid flows to the centre of a 'V' shaped 60 degrees dripper through filter paper and into a cup below it. V60 can be bought in ceramic, glass, plastic, or metal.

10) What's cold brew?
Cold brew is a type of coffee that's made by steeping ground coffee in cold water for 12+ hours (some people leave it for over 24 hours).

11) How is iced coffee different to cold brew?
Iced coffee is made with hot coffee (and more coffee grounds than cold brew). It's then poured over the ice, which dilutes it.

12) How should I store coffee?
The best way to store coffee is in an airtight container (opaque ideally), and keep it in a cool, dark, place. Almost the same way you'd store wine - coffee hates light too! Don't be tempted to keep your coffee 'at hand' next to your kettle though, as it needs to be away from humidity

13) What is a siphon coffee maker?
This is also known as vacuum coffee - it can be quite high maintenance to use though (although it looks incredibly stylish)! There's two chambers - water goes into one chamber, and coffee grinds into another, then the pressure pushes water into the upper chamber (with coffee in it), and the coffee then drips back into the bottom chamber through a filter. Simple right?! 

14) What is green coffee? 
Green refers to the beans being unroasted. So this is how they might arrive at a roastery - they're completely raw

15) Does BoroughBox sell coffee?
Yes we do! From beans, to coffee tea bags, syrups, cold brew coffeeespresso glasses, and even coffee lovers gift boxes  like the beauty pictured below!

Coffee lovers kit

So that's it, some of your top coffee questions answered. If there's more you'd like to know - leave us a comment, and perhaps we'll do a part two. In the meantime, you can see all our coffee products here.

P.S. If you're reading this between 3rd May 2020 and 10th May 2020, our friends at Piccolo are holding an Instagram competition to win our Coffee Lovers Gift Set as well as a Piccolo Cooking Range bundle. Simply click on the image below to find out the competition details.

coffee competition