“Mr. Higgins, you have got to help me!”

I remember a young lady beginning her conversation at my counter in a most distressed and agitated way. She was newly married. “Mr Higgins, you have got to help me! My mother in law is coming for the weekend. She has gone over, and over again how John likes his breakfast coffee and I am sure I won’t get it right!” I listened, and then said, “Well, let’s go and make some coffee.” What she needed was a little help to become familiar how her coffee maker functioned. To understand the coffee experience it was designed to give her, and just as important the confidence that she would make a great cup of coffee that they would all enjoy.

I have often listened to people who lacked confidence that they could make a good cup of coffee. The key to success is understanding your coffee maker and the coffee experience it is trying to give you. We want you to enjoy the whole process of making coffee whether it is just for yourself, or for your family and friends.

To start with, we always recommend that if possible, you grind your beans just before you want to make your coffee. If you have guests, the smell, or I should say aroma, reaching your friends will set everything off on the right course right from the start. They are bound to love your coffee. My father would sometimes warm some coffee grounds to give a longer lasting waft of aroma.

There are lots of methods for making coffee on the market.  They each give a very different experience in the cup. Here are just a few, together with coffees that I recommend work well in them.

The Espresso

The Espresso will give you the most intense and powerful coffee experience of any method. This is because of the intense pressure that builds up in the maker. Stove Top Espresso’s are very easy to use.  They come in various sizes and replacement parts are available.  There are some great stove top stainless steel makers as well as the traditional hexagonal Moka pots. Of course, they won’t give you cappuccino or latte. For that you will need a maker with a steam wand, or a Bean to Cup machine.

The Espresso is a great coffee maker and can give you a lovely powerful cup of coffee with lots of flavour.  However, in my opinion it won’t cope so well with coffees that have light and very delicate favours. On the other hand, some bean to cup machines, don’t like very dark roasted coffees as the natural oils produced can clog the grinders. I recommend our 1942 Blend and our Caffe Roma Blend. For the full Higgins experience, you could try our Brazil Daterra Bruzi which we use for our Espressos at Duke Street. Espressos are very sensitive to the degree of grind. Too fine and they produce a sludge. Too coarse and they will give you a very weak coffee. You can order all our coffees pre-ground for espresso.

The Cafetiere

Known also as a plunger pot or French Press, the Cafetiere is probably the most “social” of makers. Gathering around the Cafetiere, is a sharing experience. I think it is at its best with medium to dark, and darker roast coffees. However, if you prefer light and medium roasted coffees, I suggest being just a little more generous with the quantity of coffee you use. This will avoid your coffee somewhat lacking in character. Use medium ground coffee. I recommend Higgins Coffee-House Blend, Brazil Santos Dark Roast or our Tanzania Kibo Chagga Dark Roast.

Aeropress

The Aeropress works with a plunger rather like the Cafetiere, but it operates with a filter paper. Because of this, we recommend using more finely ground coffee. It is very useful when you want to make a single cup or mug of coffee. I recommend Tanzania Kibo Medium, Colombia Supreme Medium, or our Vienna Blend.

The Filter method

This method is known by many names: filter, drip, automatic, or pour over. It is one of my preferred methods of brewing. It won’t give you the intensity of the espresso, or perhaps the sociability of the Cafetiere. However, I think it has an advantage over the Espresso or the Cafetiere because it will cope with any degree of roast, or variety of coffee. From those with the most delicate flavours to the most powerful, it gives you a great cup of coffee.

If you want an automatic machine, I would recommend choosing one that filters into a thermos type jug, and avoids using a hot plate. If you use a hand pour over, it will take up a bit more of your time, but I think it will more than make up for the time spent in the quality of flavour. For hand pour overs, you can use a filter cone or a chemex maker, but of course, ensure you use filter papers to avoid the grounds passing into your coffee.

Regarding coffee suggestions, the field is wide open. The versatility of the filter means it can fit to any taste. So, if you enjoy delicate flavours, I recommend our Galapagos San Cristobal. For something with stronger flavours, try our Tanzania Kibo Chagga which we roast both medium or dark, or our Colombia Pacamara Las Margaritas. And if you prefer a very strong cup, our best selling Creole Blend is the one for you.

 

Which ever method you use, understand its unique qualities. And keep it clean – especially the milk nozzle on espresso makers. If you use a method that needs descaling, ignoring this will mean the maker will eventually pack up on you. And if it is a filter, it will either quietly sulk in a corner or go into a frenzy of steam extravaganza .

When you wash up your Cafetiere, I recommend not fitting the various parts together. Instead keep them separate in the body of the jug. That should help to keep the gauze filter from taking on unwanted smells. Though eventually it will need replacing.

It is essential  that you follow a strict routine of cleaning and maintenance of your maker, particularly the more complex the machine. I am thinking especially of Bean to Cup espresso machine with the facility for heating milk. And importantly, always follow the manufacturers instructions.

 

I hope this has been helpful. Each of the methods I have mentioned brings you a different coffee experience.

If you are unsure of what kind of experience are you looking for, or would like some advice on what coffee maker is best for you then let us know. We are always more than happy to help and you know where to find us

In the end it’s not only about maker or the method, important as they are, it’s about you, we want you to enjoy creating your great cup of coffee.

My very best wishes

Tony