A friend of ours tweeted a recipe just the other day. How to make that perfect cup of Joe from the comfort of your own home. You know that morning drink which you generally grab on the go? It usually involves a lot of shuffling and waiting in long lines, under neon lights and big corporate hoardings of the multinational chain of your choice, oh and overpaying for it all, when the waiter couldn’t be bothered to even get your name right on the cup?
Now why would you want the fast food equivalent of coffee in your life? When you could just as easily make it at home. Good point we thought. Here’s the recipe, ready?
Make a cup of coffee. Put a five hundred rupee note into the cup. Stir briskly. Serve hot!
Ok no. That was a joke. He had a point and he made it, albeit infused with some dark humour, but we like darkness. Don’t we? Everyone knows even the best coffee is drunk black!
In any case, after that tweet got a lot of retweets and #lols, we decided to draw up a quick list of how you could actually make better coffee at home. And it’s a lot simpler than you think. Here goes (and yes, for real now). You should be taking notes!
Raising The Bar
1. Invest in good grounds. There’s all kinds of great coffee out there. Take time out to visit a couple good organic stores and find a blend that you are bound to love. Buy them pre-roasted to make life simpler. Buy them fairtrade because it’s the right thing to do. The rest, your cook can more than handle – pfft, no problem. These are women who’ve ground everything in their kitchens from the get go: chutneys for chaat, spices dried and ground after they were sourced whole (because who in their right minds buys desi spices in packets?), batter for fluffy idlis, dosas and vadas, saag for palak paneer that lets face it, is always a hit…. should we go on? Grinding your beans is literally a three minute aside for her in the kitchen
2. Storage is everything. Coffee like spices, and most food items tend to deteriorate in quality over time. Don’t store your beans in the refrigerator. Keep them far from all moisture. The correct way is to store small quantities in airtight jars, in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. The more diligent you are about storage, the more flavourful your beans are likely to remain over time.
3. Invest in some equipment. It doesn’t have to be a whole cappuccino machine. You don’t need heavy-duty coffee makers that weigh more than you and take up half your kitchen. That said there are some nifty little machines out there and if you love your coffee as much as we do, it’s certainly something to think about. If you’re trying really hard to not break the bank – oh and bonus, you can also pretend to be really old school about this – we recommend a sturdy little French press, or even a stainless steel utensil associated with filter coffee that grandma loved so much. And we all know, her coffee is still the best!
4. In Gods name, change the filters! If like a lot of us you use paper filters at home along with your coffee pot, don’t be a Neanderthal about it. We are not cavemen, nor are we living in times of war where rationing was a real thing. If you could afford two cups of iced mocha lattes at a fancy mall every other day, you can afford to change the coffee filters everyday!
5. In the end, it’s all about finding balance. Believe it or not – and this is wisdom that worked its way down from our mothers kitchens’, our grandmothers before that, their mothers before that… good coffee is about balance. Too much milk and it’s not strong enough… too much sugar – what is this you heathen, it’s no longer a drink, it’s dessert! Even brewing coffee, is a gentle and nuanced art. It requires observation, patience, and some amount of dedication. For starters, your water should be boiling already when you add the coffee grounds. This is not tea, there is no steeping. Alternately, pour boiling water over coffee in a fresh filter or French press. The resulting decoction (as this brew is called in South India) must then be mixed freshly with the right amount of milk or cream and sugar. And you do this mixing by hand for best results. No stirring. Always shaken. See? Art.
But you’ll get there. We promise. Just make a start.