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A Guide to Coffee Brewing Methods

  1. Cafetieres
  2. Moka Pots (Stove Top Espresso)
  3. Filter/Drip Coffee Makers
  4. Espresso Machines

1. Cafetieres

A cafetiere or French press consists of a beaker shaped container, and a plunger, consisting of a wire mesh filter attached to a metal rod. Coarse ground coffee is placed in the cafetiere, and hot (not boiling, you will scorch the coffee) water is poured in. The coffee is left to brew for a maximum of four minutes, and then the plunger is depressed. Though simple, cafetieres allow for a full flavoured cup of coffee, with little fuss. One persistent problem with cafetieres though, is heat loss. The main body of a cafetiere is usually made of thin glass and the heat dissipates very quickly. An excellent solution to this problem is a double walled cafetiere. The best of these are made of solid steel, and manage to maintain the temperature of the coffee for up to two hours. Another plus point to having a thermal stainless steel cafetiere, is that they are virtually indestructible, unlike their frail glass counterparts. Whether it’s used once or ten times a day, the cafetiere offers a good cup of coffee for a reasonable price

You can view our full range of Cafetieres HERE

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2. Moka Pots (Stove Top Espresso)

Italian in origin, and often misleadingly referred to as a stovetop espresso maker, the moka pot provides the drinker with a good, strong cup of coffee. It consists of three parts; a base chamber with a safety valve, a middle section which holds the coffee (medium grind and not tamped), and the top section into which the coffee flows. Once assembled, the pot is placed on the hob, and as the water in the base is heated it is forced up by pressure, through the coffee and into the top chamber. Again, as with the cafetiere moka pots allow the user a good cup of coffee for a modest sum of money. It does not, as the name sometimes suggests, create espresso. The pressure created is not nearly enough to create the separation of oils, which characterises the true espresso.

You can view our full range of Moka/Espresso Pots HERE

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3. Filter/Drip Coffee Makers

Massively popular, the electric drip or filter coffee maker is very straightforward to use. Water is heated in one chamber, and then dripped over coffee grounds held in a conical filter. The resulting coffee is then collected in a glass carafe, and usually kept warm on a warming plate. One point to be aware of is that though the warming plate seems like a sensible function, it can mean the coffee becomes overheated and slightly bitter. A good solution to this problem can be found in some of the excellent filter coffee makers that use an insulated carafe, allowing the coffee to be kept hot, without possible overheating. These machines are very convenient and suitable not only for the home, but great for the office environment as well.

You can view our full range of Percolator and Filter Coffee Makers HERE

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4. Espresso Machines

Espresso - king and most potent among coffees. The coffee extraction methods mentioned above essentially create a coffee solution. Complex and concentrated, espresso is so much more than this, all at once a solution, a suspension and an emulsion. Small and powerful, espresso is characterised by its intense flavour and aroma. Because of these strong flavour properties, espresso is not just enjoyed by itself, but can act as the base for many drinks which are now a part of everyday coffee culture, such as cappuccino, latte, mocha and americano coffees. True espresso is both an art and a science.

Espresso as we recognise it today appeared at the end of the 19th century. At the Universal expo at Paris in 1855, a machine was unveiled which forced hot water through hot coffee grounds using pressurised steam. In 1935 Francesco Illy substituted compressed air for steam, and in 1935 Achille Gaggia patented the first steam free pump driven espresso machine.
An espresso, by technical definition, is a beverage made from 7 grams of finely ground dark roast coffee that produces 1.5 ounces of extracted beverage utilising 10 bars or more of pressure, at a brewing temperature of approximately 88 degrees Celsius over a period of 25-30 seconds.

Requiring a basic bar pressure of 10, the espresso machine will create that which defines an espresso; the crema. A properly brewed espresso always has a crema, which is a thick foam cap. This foam is actually a combination of vegetable oils and proteins, which separate from the coffee under pressurised extraction.

As mentioned above, in the UK espresso is perhaps more regularly enjoyed as the base to a number of drinks. Some everyday beverages you may not associate with the espresso are:

  • Latte - espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk in a 3:1 ratio. Traditionally a breakfast drink, the latte is a very popular everyday beverage in the current coffee market.
  • Cappuccino - espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk in equal thirds. Cappuccino is rumoured to be named after the robes of the Capuchin friars.
  • Mocha - to create a Mocha, add chocolate syrup and milk to espresso. A sweeter option, this should not be confused with the Mocha coffee bean, a variety of coffee bean native to Yemen.
  • Caffe macchiato - espresso with a small amount of steamed milk.
  • Americano - to create an americano, add hot water to espresso. This coffee was originally created as an insult to those who could not handle the strength of espresso; the hot water weakens the coffee, giving it a softer flavour.
  • Latte macchiato - steamed milk into which a shot of espresso is poured: frequently served in tall thermal glasses, giving the coffee its recognisably tiered appearance.
  • Ristretto - a very short shot of espresso, intense in flavour.

    These are just some of the most popular drinks that require espresso as a base but there are many more to be enjoyed.

    You can view our full range of Espresso Machines HERE

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