Tasting, Making, and Enjoying Fair-Trade, Bird-Friendly Coffee at Home
Upon purchasing your favorite single origin or blend of bird-friendly coffee beans, have you been faced with the desire to replicate your favourite coffee shop staple, only to find that something just isn’t right? Or have you always wanted to know more about coffee preparation methods? Or maybe you’re a seasoned home barista simply looking to hone your skills. Whatever the case may be, the team at Aves Coffee Co. has compiled a list of our tried-and-true at-home coffee making methods, along with a few extra tips and definitions for your reading, and brewing, pleasure.
First of all, the act of tasting itself is subjective. Tasting notes are meticulously ascribed to our coffees simply to give a sense of direction, but you may find that what tastes like caramel to us may taste like vanilla to you. You may also find that you prefer a floral light roast to a chocolate-forward medium roast, or that your tastes change with the seasons or with the brewing method. Our favourite way to taste coffee is through the V60 pour over method, which grants us a crisp, clear flavour truly indicative of the qualities of the beans. Another popular method of coffee tasting within the specialty coffee world is called “cupping”, and refers to the act of smelling the aromatics of the beans before steeping the coffee, unfiltered, within a cup for up to 15 minutes, breaking the initial crust of coffee grinds with a spoon at the midpoint of brewing, and subsequently tasting the final product with a spoon (here is a very good explanation of the process).
There are many ways you can make coffee at home, from a simple French press, to an aeropress, to a cezve, to an espresso machine. Below you will find our guide to the best brew with each machine.
French Press: a classic for a reason, the French press is one of the more financially accessible pieces of coffee equipment you will find. Use a tablespoon of ground coffee for every 4 ounces of almost-boiling water. Pour the water onto the grounds, and stir. Let stand for four minutes, and then plunge and enjoy! We particularly enjoy our Golden Eagle Guatemalan single origin for this method.
Moka Pot: Another inexpensive piece of coffee equipment, the moka pot does not require the use of a kettle, as water is heated within the bottom reservoir, ultimately percolating up and giving you a great, concentrated cup of coffee. We recommend our Peregrine Falcon Medium Roast Blend for this one.
Aeropress: A bit more effort-intensive than the first two methods, the aeropress produces an impressive cup. We recommend using a 2.5 grams of medium-fine ground coffee to every fluid ounce of water ratio. Bring the water to a slow boil, and bloom the grounds for about 45 seconds before slowly pouring in the remainder of the water in a circular motion, stirring 4 times for an even extraction. Steep for a minute, and slowly press the chamber down until you feel resistance and hear an audible wind-like sound. We particularly enjoy preparing our Tanzania Peaberry Single Origin with this method.
Chemex: A fan favorite, and an aesthetically-pleasing addition to any kitchen. We recommend using a 1 to 16 ratio of coffee to water. Start by boiling water and rinsing your filter to get rid of the paper taste, and then add the grounds to the filter. Bloom the grounds and let rest for 35 seconds. Pour water in a circular motion for 2 minutes and 10 seconds, and then let sit until all of the water has drained through the filter. Remove the filter and serve! For extra precision, we recommend working with a scale, which allows you to accurately assess how much coffee and water have gone into your chemex. We love using the method for our Yellow Breasted Chat Single Origin from El Salvador.
V-60 pour-over: Similarly to the chemex, the V-60 is well worth the time and effort, and also benefits from the use of a scale. Follow the same advice as for the chemex. We personally use 21 grams of coffee for 350 grams of water, and particularly enjoy our Piping Plover Light Roast Blend in the V-60.
Cezve: Also called Turkish Coffee, this method produces a delicately sweet, strong cup of coffee. Using a ratio of one part coffee to two parts water, mix very finely ground coffee, cold water, and sugar within the cezve. Gently heat the cezve until the coffee approaches a boiling consistency (you should see foam at the top), and remove from the heat. Place the foam into your cup(s), and place the cezve back onto the heat, letting the coffee rise again. Serve when it starts to boil.
Drip coffee: We recommend a ratio of 8 grams of freshly ground coffee for every 100 ml of water. Using filtered water, along with high quality coffee, will ensure that you get the most out of your drip coffee machine. We recommend using our King Rail Single Origin from Peru.
Espresso Machine: The most costly and complex apparatus on this list, the espresso machine is also incredibly rewarding to the home-barista, who can now replicate most coffee shop favourites. The two primary components in making espresso-based drinks include the pulling of the perfect espresso shot, and steaming the milk accurately. Whilst potentially initially daunting, the perfect espresso is simply the result of using the right amount (weight) of adequately-ground beans, of applying even stamping pressure, and of having consistent water flow from your espresso machine. We use 18 grams of ground coffee in our double shot of espresso, tap the sides of the portafilter to ensure even dispersion, stamp it down, and make sure that the coffee extraction is no longer than 30 seconds, but no less than 23 seconds (if it is shorter or longer, we adjust our grinder). Steaming milk is truly a question of practice, and you will get better with time. Place your milk of choice in your pitcher, never filling it above the initial dip near the middle of the pitcher. Place the pitcher at an angle, with the steam wand resting on the side of the pitcher and begin steaming the milk, slowly pulling the pitcher down towards you. The milk should look like wet paint. Tap the pitcher on the counter and give it a few swirls to eliminate any air bubbles. That's it! You’re now ready to make any espresso-based drink (we recommend using our Barn Owl Espresso Dark Blend, specifically engineered to make the best espresso drinks around). Here is a simple guide to differentiate espresso-based drinks:
Latte: consists of a double espresso shot, steamed milk, and milk microfoam.
Cappuccino: composed of a double espresso shot, a bit of steamed milk, and a lot of milk froth.
Americano: a mix of hot water, which is poured into the cup first, followed by a double shot of espresso.
Flat white: similar to a latte, this popular New Zealand drink is made of a double espresso and steamed milk with a fine layer of microfoam.
Macchiato: a double shot of espresso and milk foam within a smaller cup.
Cortado: a double shot of espresso, a bit of steamed milk, and milk foam.
A few notes on milk:
Dairy milk: the easiest milk to foam, dairy milk is rich and unctuous.
Oat milk: a fan favorite (and certainly our favorite here at Aves Coffee Co.), oat milk is a fantastic alternative to dairy milk, offering a similar full body and creamy taste.
Coconut milk: Initially popular in Australia and New Zealand, coconut milk is rapidly gaining momentum in the Canadian coffee scene. Light and airy, this milk is a great plant-based alternative.
Soy milk: Excellent for foaming, soy milk was one of the first plant-based milk alternatives readily available to consumers. Unfrothed, it tends to curdle in hot beverages, making it a less versatile alternative than the others mentioned here.
Almond milk: A bit trickier to foam, almond milk is also prone to curdling, but provides a nice, subtle nuttiness to your drinks. Barista-specific almond milks are however much safer bets for home baristas than traditional almond milk, as it allows for better foaming.
Cashew milk: Similarly to oat milk, cashew milk offers a comparable creaminess to dairy milk. Although a bit more expensive than the other options and slightly trickier to foam, this milk provides a slightly nutty, full-bodied addition to your coffee.
Toddy: At Aves Coffee Co., we use the classic Toddy brewing method, which relies solely on a reusable filter, as it aligns most directly with our environmentally-friendly approach (as opposed to the double-filtration method, which uses a second disposable filter bag). We use 340g of coarsely-ground coffee and 7 cups of water, and let the coffee steep for 24 hours. This leaves us with a strong coffee concentrate, which we famously use in our cold brew and salted honey cold foam drink.
With these tips and tricks in your back pocket, we hope that you’ll feel inspired to become your best barista self!
Until next time,
The Aves Coffee Co. team.