I got this question from an old friend on Facebook today: I currently drink shop coffee and use a plunger. What should I do to enhance my coffee enjoyment? I thought the answer might be worth sharing here on the Baristador blog.
Ant, where do I begin? One of the main reasons I created Baristador was to combat the perpetual disappointment I experienced when drinking coffee bought from shops (continental delis, supermarkets, etc) because it was always cheap, astringent beans that were already staling because they were roasted and ground and packed half a world away, spent months in transit, and then goodness knows how long in the supply chain of the store. Plus shelf time in hot/cold, etc.
Cafes are not always better because most owners use the cheapest beans they can get away with and many baristas relish milk-based drinks and have little idea how to prepare a self-contained shot of perfect espresso.
There are always exceptions of course.
Finally, buying beans loose can be better, provided you know how fresh they are.
Coffee making method
Before answering your question, I must also state that my bias is towards rich, almost oily, espresso, just one simple shot with lovely crema, drunk without milk or sugar. This simply can’t be achieved with a plunger because there is no pressure to espress the water through the beans to extract the oils, etc.
I compensate for this when forced to plunge by overdosing my plungerto saturate the contents with plenty of coffee. The method I was taught was:
- spoon in your coffee
- cover that with some hot water
- stir gently to create a runny, coffee-based mud
- add the remaining water, as much as needed
- place on the plunger lid
- wait 4 minutes
- then plunge
Plunge and pour at once because after the sought-after flavours have been drawn from the beans, bitter tanins are released whcih you don’t want in your coffee. Hence, if you leave some water “brewing”, it will soon become undesirable.
Warm your cup too, before pouring.
it still comes down to quality coffee
Of course, underlying all of this, buy good, fresh coffee.
I like double roasted coffees for the sweeter edge they bring.
And don’t scimp. You really do get what you pay for at the top end.
At the bottom end of the market, you often still pay for things you don’t get!
Baristador is a great example. NO FILLER BEANS from low quality producers, just top shelf. So you will pay $14.50 for a half pound (just under 250g), which is around $60 a kilo. Go much less than this and you either have to buy in large quantities or get cheaper beans.
Baristador ONLY comes in small Half Pound bags which are resealable and have one-way valves to allow roasting gases, etc, to exit the bag but no air to get in.
REMEMBER, coffee’s mortal enemies are air and moisture. Your coffee will be super absorbant, hence the crucial need to squeeze excess air out after each use, reseal the bag, and store it in a cool, dark place. Avoid fridges or freezers because the sudden drops and rises in temperature create condensation which spoils coffee.
Hope this helps – feel free to ask more questions.
PS Finally, I do recommend the Baristador Fair Trade blend as an absolute ripper. Or, the Baristador B70 if you want a full espresso blend with just a little less caffeine – 30% less. Good luck.
Yours in the spirit of espresso
Founder / Espresso Evangelist