Home Coffee Brewing Guide PART ONE

INTRO

It’s pretty clear that most folks these days are much more quality conscious when it comes to purchasing coffee when they’re out and about. This is reflected in the growing standard of your favourite brew not just in cafes, but also in places like petrol stations, where the quality of technology of bean to cup machines (if not the quality of the beans themselves) is improving, so that the base levels of coffee, at least, are improving.

However, whilst there are a few hard core coffee heads out there who meticulously prepare their coffee to very closely match that of cafe standard, the average man & woman in the street is still settling (in my opinion) for a less than satisfactory brew at home.

THE CURRENT GENERAL OPTIONS (and why they suck)…

instant coffee.jpg

a) Instant Coffee

It’s cheap and it’s easy to make. Two factors that have made it so popular.

Just like many foodstuffs (and perhaps cooking in general) 70 or 80 years ago we started losing the run of ourselves favouring technology and convenience over taste. Why bother with the traditional preparation of coffee when you can just add water to instant coffee. Just like why bother making a decent home made soup when you can just add water to a Cup-a-Soup. Hopefully this analogy sums up my feelings on instant coffee. Yes, it’s available (just like Cup-A-Soup), but with a bit of hope on my part, you’ll agree that we’d prefer to (at the very minimum) purchase a fresh soup from the refrigeration isle of the Supermarket over a Cup-a-Soup any day.

Instant coffee processes (either freeze drying or spray drying) inevitably eliminate a lot of the pleasurable characteristics of coffee (sweetness, acidity), etc. They also involve complex processes involving very expensive machinery. In order to constitute a viable business, something has to give, and in the case of instant coffee, the price of the coffee has to be low to compensate for the expensive machinery and processes involved and hence overall quality suffers.

Conclusion - don’t do it…. just don’t….

b) Coffee Pods & K-Cups

Yip - there is a difference between pods and K-Cups. Pods are encased in a filter, are flat and are pliable (bit like a flattened disk shape). K-Cups are the plastic cup shaped cartridges. Now you know ;)

When you think pods & K-Cups, you automatically think Nespresso. And why not; established in 1986 as part of the Nestle Group, they are now present in 76 countries, have more than 13,500 employees and have over 440,000 unique visitors to their online store every day. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s 160 million a year.

But are they any good and is George Clooney enjoying that sip of Nespresso espresso in the adverts, or is the estimated $40,000,000 in earnings over the last 7 years from being the global ambassador making it a little easier to swallow?

Ignoring the very stark environmental damage that these pods/K Cups are causing (59 billion were produced in 2018 and roughly 56 billion headed to landfill) you also pay an extraordinarily high price for these coffee in the pods. To highlight this, the average amount of coffee in pod or K Cup is about 5 grams. Given that the average price per pod is around 50c in Ireland as of today’s date, that equates to roughly €25 per 250g. Our 250g bags of ground coffee or bean that we sell in the shop cost €9.99. As you can see, pods are clearly not cheap.

They also come up short in terms of providing a caffeine hit given that the average Americano/Latte/Cappucino/Flat White you buy in a cafe has approximately 18 grams of coffee (for double shot drinks). You’d be happy enough to sacrifice taste for a quick caffeine hit in the morning, but given it’s not even doing that, you start to question the hype of the multi million dollar pod/K Cup campaigns.

But surely it tastes much better than instant. Well, yes. But that’s a little like saying that hospital food is better than prison food. It might be the case, but it’s not something I want to voluntarily consume on a daily basis. You might state that you’ve been enjoying Nespresso for that last few years so who am I to argue against what you enjoy. I can totally understand this viewpoint. However, all I can state is that from personal experience, moving from preparing coffee from scratch (with a little extra time and attention) to tasting one cup of pod or K Cup coffee, you’ll notice the difference immediately. I recently tasted one in a plush hotel in Dublin and one sip was all it took before throwing it discreetly in to a plant pot (sorry Mr plant)

Just because you’re used to something, doesn’t mean it’s good.

COMING UP… Part Two will highlight recommended home coffee brewing methods and gadgets

Richard Finney