“this is the foundation upon which all your superfluous purchases will sit. Everything else is just a bonus“
Lots of people ask me ‘what do I need to get to make better coffee at home?’ Particularly over lockdown, more and more people are ready to make the switch from the instant coffee or the modest cafetière, for something far more rewarding. There is something about the process of making coffee which makes it the perfect lockdown activity. A more accessible sourdough; a less faffy banana bread.
After posing the question, these people patiently wait to hear their fate – how many hundreds of pounds are they now destined to part with?
I have to be honest. My answer comes as a disappointment. It’s not glitzy, it’s not shiny, it’s not even going to break the bank, it’s…two handheld objects. And they’re both under £30.
The two things you need to make great coffee at home (both under £30 each):
2: Hario Skerton hand grinder
I’ve had these two for years now. Over this time I’ve owned a plethora of other coffee making devices – but nothing will beat my mighty Aeropress/Hario grinder duo. I just love them – and I’ve convinced many other people to get on board too. None have been disappointed. I’d go as far to say that it has turned many a friend into official Coffee Snobs. So perhaps it’s your turn. Let me start convincing you…
“I don’t see a world in which a Coffee Snob wouldn’t have an Aeropress”
Device number 1:
The Aeropress – your coffee brewer
The Aeropress is a handheld syringe-type brewing device which makes coffee as quickly as it is easy to use. It was invented by Alan Adler (inventor of the Aerobie frisbee) in 2005, after trying to solve to the problem of reducing bitterness in his morning coffee. It pushes coffee through the filter paper using pressure just like an espresso machine – except instead of electricity, it is through human force. If you like smooth coffee, this will answer all your coffee prayers. The device is made up of two tubes which makes it self-cleaning, easy to travel with and…I could go on – I don’t see a world in which a Coffee Snob wouldn’t have an Aeropress.
“It pushes coffee through the filter paper using pressure just like an espresso machine – except instead of electricity, it is through human force“
It came into the world at the perfect time – just as specialty coffee was kicking into the mainstream and hunger for a better type of coffee was growing. Fast forward 15 years and Aeropress is not only recognised as the dark horse in the specialty coffee world, but it now sits amongst the foundation upon which specialty coffee is built. It is offered as a core brewing option in many specialty coffee shops, and there is now an Aeropress Coffee World Championships. And – most importantly to you – you can pick it up for a cool £25.
I’ve taken mine across the world with me, I’ve used it camping, I’ve used it in strange places where a smooth coffee provided needed comfort…and when I’m home, it stands in my kitchen proudly. I would recommend this as a starter, and then if your Coffee Snob ambitions start to grow, you can built your coffee-making empire from there. (Just don’t be disappointed when you start welcoming new brewing methods into your set-up and you realise…nothing is quite as good as the Aeropress.) Get yours here.
Device number 2:
The Hario hand grinder – your coffee grinder
“there are expensive options, but if you’re after taste rather than having a Ferrari-looking thing in your kitchen, grab yourself a Hario Skerton hand grinder”
The next part of the puzzle is to grind your own beans. This is essential for drinking fresh coffee at home, tasting just as it was destined to at the start of the roasting process. Again, there are expensive options, but if you’re after taste rather than having a Ferrari-looking thing in your kitchen, grab yourself a Hario Skerton hand grinder. The important thing here is the burr grinder, as opposed to a blade grinder. In a blade grinder, the blades sit at the bottom of the grinder, chopping the beans at random and causing all sorts of inconsistencies within the grind. You may be saving yourself a few pounds, but it is worth spending that little more for the burr – after all, consistency is key for great tasting coffee. With a burr grinder, there are just two blades which come together to grind the beans in a uniformed size, giving you much more control over the grind. Voila: a smooth, consistent grind.
The hand grinder provides a bit of a core workout, and if you’re after a morning coffee before work, it’s worth grinding the beans the night before. It even comes with a lid, so you can take your freshly ground beans to work in a nifty little jar. Get yours here.
(If I can’t persuade you along the manual route, may I suggest the Wilfa grinder as the electric alternative. It’s unanimously recommended by all the specialty coffee giants, and definitely on my shopping list. It even has an ‘Aeropress’ setting which says it all really. Get it here.)
And there we have it. The two staple items for specialty coffee at home.
I’ll be back with more items to add to your coffee snob empire – from the capsule lovers, to the milk froth lovers – but really: this is the foundation upon which all your superfluous purchases will sit. Everything else is just a bonus.
Keep me posted with your coffee snob purchases – I wanna see all your Coffee Snob transformations. Now get ready to say goodbye to average tasting coffee at home, folks, because this is – dare I say it – life-changing.
Take care and stay safe,
The Snob x