As ardent coffee lovers, we know your caffeine commitment extends well beyond your favorite barista (whom you’re on a first-name basis with) and coffee shop. Mastering the art of the perfect cup at home is now a sacred part of your morning ritual. That said, whether you’re whipping up an espresso, cold brew, cappuccino, or classic latte, you’ll need the tools and techniques to rival any New York barista. Here’s our complete, beans and all guide to being your own home barista brewing up every coffee style imaginable.
The DIY Barista Tool Kit
First things first you’ll need a professional coffee grinder to grind those beans to perfection before getting to work. Go for Krups Electric Blade Grinder or Capresso Infinity Plus Conical Burr Grinder. Keep in mind, not all grinders were created equal. Blade grinders usually require more work to move around and check the size of the beans as they are being ground, while the Capresso burr’s grinder is automatic, after you choose your desired setting, it’ll do the work for you. You’ll also need to invest in a scale to measure out the exact amount for each cup – this bit is important as beans start to lose their flavor an hour after being ground.
Coffee Style: Pour Over
Pour over coffee, invented in Germany, is the process of slowly pouring hot water over coffee grounds that sit in a filter within a coffee cone. The coffee is brewed as the water slowly moves through the grounds. It’s best to use a light roast as this has the most acidic flavors, which means the flavor of the coffee bean will be stronger.
What You Need: A Pour Over coffee machine like the Hario coffee cone (Size 2). Compostable, unbleached filters and a pour over tea kettle like the Stagg Stovetop Pour Over Tea Kettle (this kettle allows for more control when pouring your water in a circular motion). Coffee beans like those from Real Good Coffee Co. Note, coffee grounds should be medium to coarse in size and you need 14g (three tablespoons) for each cup of water (eight ounces).
How to Make Pour Over Coffee At Home: First grind your beans so they are medium to coarse in size. Heat your water in your tea kettle and pour in a circular motion into the grounds, maintaining a consistent flow. After your first pour, wait a few seconds for the blooming process to complete. During blooming, carbon dioxide is released and the grounds should puff up a little. This process is essential to allow an even extraction of flavor from the grounds in your next pour. Once you have filled your cup (we love these cute Bodum Bistro mugs) (remember for 8oz you would have used 14g of coffee) add milk and sweetener or drink black, according to your preference.
Cafe tip: If you do want to try the best pour over coffees, head to Cat and Cloud in Santa Cruz, California.
Coffee Style: Italian Cappuccino
The cappuccino was invented in Italy and is an espresso-based coffee drink topped off with a ratio of 1:1 steamed and frothed milk. Italians typically start their day with a cappuccino to go along with their breakfast or pastry and prefer not to drink espresso after dinner. The cappuccino has bold and strong flavors but also tastes slightly sweet due to the naturally occurring lactose sugar in milk.
What You Need: A stainless steel Moka pot to brew your espresso (we recommend Illy’s Classico Medium Roast which is a fine grind, needed for espresso) and a Nespresso milk frother for the foam on top.
How to Make an Italian Cappuccino at Home: Start by filling the bottom of the pot with heated water just below the level of the pressure valve and then add the coffee grounds to the strainer – don’t pack the coffee too tight. Insert the strainer into the pot and then screw the top onto the base of the pot and place over a low flame on the stove. As the coffee is brewing, add milk to the frother and turn on; it will stop automatically when done. Once the water starts spewing out of the top a little and boils, your espresso is brewed. Pour into a cappuccino cup, add your foamed milk on top, and enjoy.
Cafe tip: Bar del Cappuccino in Rome makes one of the best cappuccinos in the world, but in New York, Blue Bottle in Chelsea makes the next best thing.
Coffee Style: French Press
The French Press is a result of soaking, steeping, and straining coffee grounds in hot water to produce a seriously flavorsome brew. Despite the name, the French Press style of brewing originated in Italy in 1929 but the device itself was created by two Frenchmen (so they get some credit). This brew is filter-less which allows the full flavor of the coffee bean to come through and is strong, so watch out for that kick.
What You Need: A French Press of course! We recommend the Bodum Chambord French Press in chrome. You’ll want a medium to dark roast and medium to coarse grinds since the bitterness usually associated with a dark roast will be relieved.
How to Make French Press Coffee at Home: Warm your French Press with hot water by sloshing it around the inside; this will help maintain consistent extraction as the grounds brew. Add 56g (eight tablespoons) of grounds and pour hot water into the press, gently stirring the grounds with a wooden spoon or spatula (metal can crack the glass). Insert the plunger into the beaker, stopping just above the water level, let it steep for four minutes, press the plunger down slowly applying steady pressure, and voila. Sip this strong cup of coffee black for a real kick or add some milk to sweeten it a little.
Coffee Style: Cold Brew
Nitro cold brew and regular cold brew are the latest coffee trends to take off in the U.S. due to their smooth, creamy, sweet taste. Hailing from Japan the downside is these Kyoto-style cold brews take a long time to, well, brew as are made by soaking coffee grounds in cold water in the fridge for at least 12 hours to extract the natural sugars, caffeine, and flavors from the beans. To speed up your cold brew creations, and avoid the endless drip process, invest in a cold brew coffee maker that does the work for you – it uses coarse grinds for faster filtration and removes the bitterness from your brew since it avoids hot water.
What you Need: The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a whizz that can be used with any coffee grounds. We love the Buena Vista Dark Roast from Verve Coffee Roasters, which infuses your cup with the dark chocolate flavors of s’ mores. Yum.
How to Make Cold Brew Coffee at Home: Scoop 14-16 tablespoons of grounds into the mesh infuser and twist the lid on top. Add four cups of cold, filtered water to your pitcher and lower the infuser into the water and twist the lid to create an airtight seal. Store the pitcher in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 36 hours (open and swirl the infuser during the brewing process occasionally). Once brewed, remove the infuser to avoid your cold brew becoming too bitter.
Cafe tip: California’s cult Verve Coffee Roasters is now available in Tokyo, Japan at Shinjuku Station. And if you’re looking to try that traditional Kyoto-style cold brew in NYC, head to Birch Coffee on Madison.
Coffee Style: Turkish Coffee
Strong, thick, and usually enjoyed without milk, Turkish coffee – which originated in the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s and deeply ingrained in Turkish culture- will give your day and your sense a serious kickstart. Made in an ibrik (a traditional little pot that sits on the stove) the coffee is unfiltered so all the grounds are left in the bottom of the cup, making it an unusual style of coffee that’s not for the fainthearted but perfect for those who love their coffee thick and robust. You can sweeten with sugar or brew au natural.
How to Make Turkish Coffee at Home: In your ibrik, bring one cup of cold water and sugar (if used) to boil, remove ibrik from heat, and add the coffee. Return ibrik to the stove and bring to the boil again, removing once the coffee begins to foam, let sit until the foam dissipates. Return to the heat once more again allowing the coffee to foam (the entire process should take around 10 minutes). Remove from heat and pour into these beautiful garden-inspired espresso cups.
Expert Tips from a NYC Barista
“If you want to create a cafe-style coffee at home the most important thing is to invest in good beans – buy them from your favorite coffee shop, it’s worth spending a little more – and respect their use by date and care advice. At Banter and SonnyBoy we use Café Integral, the beans are from Nicaragua and roasted in Brooklyn. Whether you are making an espresso, latte, flat white or cappuccino – the amount of coffee used for a shot and method is all the same – the difference comes down to how much milk you add. If you can steam your own milk, that’s best, as some frothers can be too frothy and all you taste is foam. It’s also important when you pour your coffee into a glass to pour the milk in at the same time and note the closer the pitcher is to the mug the more white foam, so hold it further away if you want less milk and foam. Once you’ve mastered your desired coffee to milk you can attempt to create the love heart on top. Ha.”