Friday, 18 January 2013

The Perfect Coffee

I've been trying lose a bit of weight over the last couple of weeks and on my two 'fast' days, limiting myself to 500 calories a day, I've cut out coffee as my milky sugary latte is easily 100 calories.

Not having my coffee has made me enjoy it all the more when I do, and making it is almost a ceremony in itself.

 The first thing is a good coffee machine.  Forget all the gadgets - grinders, steam spout, and in my opinion, pods.  To get a good creamy 'head' or crema on a coffee you need to look for a an expresso machine that is advertised as being 15 bar pressure or more.  This is the pressure that the water is pushed through the coffee which gives it a great flavour.  And takes ground coffee.

Why an expresso machine? Even if you don't drink expresso, all you need is a machine that makes a good expresso as this is the base of cappuccinos and lattes.  Both our machines did have steam spouts (milk frothing nozzles) but they were a pain to clean and when we discovered that half a mug of milk, microwaved for 1 minute then topped up with coffee with the drip tray taken out of the machine, makes a great creamy latte we stopped using the spout.  Dad uses the larger two shot filter basket for a strong coffee.  I use the smaller 1 shot one for my latte.  And the great thing about only needing a basic machine is that it doesn't cost the earth.  Our first Morphy Richards coffee machine cost nearly £200, but it's DeLonghi replacement cost under £100.

Using the right coffee is as important as a good coffee machine though.  Not only does good quality coffee make a better cup of coffee but it doesn't clog up the filter baskets.  We used to grind coffee in a separate coffee grinder each time - the taste was great but not something I want to be doing in the middle of getting kids up for school - but now buy pre-ground.

Firstly I look for a strong ground coffee.  Coffee is often labelled 1-5 in terms of strength, 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest.  So I look for 5 strength coffee, which can be also labelled as Continental, French, Italian, Expresso or After Dinner coffee.

How fine the coffee is ground also makes a difference, mainly to how your coffee machine performs.  We discovered that the finer ground good quality expresso coffees like Lavazza can clog up the filter baskets on the machine.  So much so that we replaced our first machine thinking it wasn't working, only to discover that giving the filters a good clean with an old toothbrush and a change of coffee was all it needed.  We now buy a cheap supermarket own brand 5 strength ground coffee and add a teaspoon of this to the filter first, before adding a more finer ground expresso coffee on top.  Tamp down lightly with the provided tool and away you go.

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