I started learning about coffee two years ago. Third wave coffee to be exact. Prior to that my impression about coffee was a beverage that requires tons of sugar and creamer. That was how you could get rid of the natural bitterness and burnt taste of the coffee.
The more I started to know about coffee, the more involved I became. Some say I’m a coffee geek! The fact of the matter is I love the art and science of preparing a great cup of coffee.
From bean to cup, the process sounds simple, but it is quite complex. In order to brew a good cup of coffee you’ll need various equipment to get the job done right.
I built a coffee bar for my equipment in the kitchen. It has become our favorite spot where we utilize and enjoy on a daily basis. To me for a home coffee bar, the espresso machine is the soul equipment that you really need to invest in when you start the journey of creating a good cup of espresso. From here, you can diversify to a variety of drinks such as Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Macchiato, and more.
There are many types of espresso machines available on the market. I am using a heat exchanger espresso machine for my home coffee bar as the core workhorse. The heat exchanger espresso machine allows you to pull an espresso shot while steaming milk at the same time. This is helpful especially when you need to serve a big group of guests at the same time.
The next necessary equipment is a good quality coffee grinder. People may ask, why do I need a grinder since I can buy ground coffee? The answer is simple, freshness! Always use fresh coffee beans and grind it just before brewing for optimal extraction.
When budget allows, go with a burr grinder as opposed to a blade grinder to avoid heat being transferred during the grinding process. You really don’t want a burnt taste in your coffee, do you?
People say tamper is barista jewelry and I couldn’t agree more. A good metal tamper is an essential tool to ensure your ground is perfectly leveled and tamped in the portafilter before engaging to the espresso machine for extraction. Not all tampers are created equal. So pick a tamper that suits your own taste and skill. Keep in mind not to pick an overly heavy tamper as this will wear your wrist out in the long run.
Your coffee bar is not complete without sets of cups and saucers. I opted for strong body porcelain cups from Konitz. I like its durability and clean look. They retain heat very well once you pre-heat the cup.
If you are a coffee-and-milk drink person like me, you will probably appreciate the art of pouring frothed milk, aka latte art. You will need a good stainless steel pitcher to get the job done smoothly and flawlessly. The key point here while frothing the milk is to keep the big bubbles to literally zero, creating silky smooth microfoam for your latte.
After you are done brewing, a knock box comes in handy to collect coffee ground waste. I used to use a trash can for this purpose but found it very troublesome as it created a big mess just to dump a small puck of ground out of a portafilter. A knock box can keep it clean and easy for you.
Last but not least, always use freshly roasted whole coffee beans. When buying whole beans, always check on the roasted date but not the expiration date. The rule of thumb is to consume the beans within two weeks from the roasted date for optimal flavor. Well, you can still use them after the two-week period but it will lose some of the flavor profile and boldness.
I was not a coffee drinker in the past until the day I realized coffee is actually an art. It has its own logical way in preparing a good cup of coffee. The procedure is the most enjoyable thing during the whole process. Now go and enjoy these moments in the comfort of your home and appreciate the art of coffee.
List of things I have for my home coffee bar:
- Espresso machine. I have a Simonelli Oscar. I recommend the Rancilio Silvia for beginners.
- Burr grinder – I have a few but here I’m using the Breville grinder.
- Metal tamper
- Knock box – I have a Breville knock box.
- A set of cup and saucer – I have Konitz cups and saucers.
- Fresh coffee beans
Article and photos by Latte Art Guy