Welcome to the 6-Week Home Barista Bootcamp. The idea behind this is simple: I want to help people take their home coffee making to new levels. There are a few key steps to the coffee making process - freshly roasted coffee, some equipment and a solid understanding of how it works, but mostly following a specific process so that when you make a good cup of coffee, you know how to repeat it.
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Coffee is Best Fresh
The raw coffee green bean has a fairly stable shelf life. However, once it has been roasted it will brew at its best for about 3-4 weeks. Any coffee at the supermarket with a 'Best Before' date is probably already past its ideal age. For best brewing results, look for coffee which tells you clearly when it was roasted.
In the first week after roasting, coffee is going through what is called Degassing. The chemical reaction that takes place during the roasting process alters the coffee bean dramatically. Over the course of the next week, the coffee beans release CO2, during which times extractions can be a little bit inconsistent, especially when brewing under pressure with an espresso machine. Ideally, if you know the roast date, you can start brewing your coffee one week after the coffee was roasted, through to about 4 weeks in order to have the best potential for great flavour.
In order to get the most out of your coffee at home, a good grinder is a key aspect of your setup. The coffee stays so much more fresh as whole beans, as once you grind up the coffee there is so much more surface area for oxidation to occur. Think of it like a bowl of fruit vs a bowl of fruit salad. The fruit bowl can sit on your kitchen bench for the week, where as a fruit salad will start to deteriorate in the open air within an hour. You also need to make little adjustments to your grind setting in order to dial your extraction in perfectly. With a cheap grinder or preground coffee, you can't really make the minor adjustments you'd need to nail that extraction.
Scales and Timer
Some additional equipment which is standard in most specialty coffee shops but missing from a lot of home setups is a set of scales and a timer. Being able to weigh your dose and your yield, and accurately follow a recipe, is the easiest way to improve consistency in your coffee. Although you can buy very responsive and accurate coffee scales, a simple digital kitchen scale with accuracy to 0.1g will help you get started. It is still possible to brew good coffee without these items, but it is so much easier to brew excellent coffee with the help of a few extra tools.
In the next lesson we will look at everything that goes into pulling great shots of espresso. Before you dive into the next lesson, get yourself some great, fresh coffee to work with. It will make the dial in process a lot easier, and the coffee much tastier!
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