An exclusive guide to start your very own home cafe
During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is safer to stay at home at all cost, especially when you are able to.
But what happens when you have a strong craving for a specialised coffee?
We are not talking about instant coffee powder or 3-in-1 coffee, we are referring to the aromatic taste of americano, the creamy taste of cafe latte or the foamy texture of cappuccino.
Nowadays, it is possible to have a cafe-like experience even at home.
Using the right equipment and ingredients, you can have that glass of iced cafe latte at the comfort of your home.
Your home cafe starts with a shot of espresso.
If you have the money to buy a coffee machine, go ahead.
However if you don’t, there are other more affordable replacements.
How do you start your home cafe without a coffee machine?
Kicking off the list is a Moka pot. It is a stove top or electric coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurised by steam through ground coffee.
Invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, it is named after the Yemeni city of Mocha.
There are plenty of tutorials available on Youtube on how to use a Moka pot.
The basic ratio for coffee to water is 1:2.
Since the pressure of a Moka pot is five to 10 times less than that of an espresso machine, the coffee brewed using the pot is not exactly an espresso by definition.
However as far as taste goes, it is as strong as close to you can get to espresso without buying a fancy machine.
Another affordable replacement for an espresso machine is the French press.
Similar to a Moka pot, a French press does not produce as much pressure as an espresso machine.
Nevertheless, it is still good enough to make an espresso-like coffee.
While you need to boil the Moka pot to let the steam brew the coffee, you only need boiling water with a French press.
The idea of a French press is to slowly press the plunger down with even pressure after allowing your coffee to steep.
The perfect time to brew a French press is about three to four minutes. If it exceeds this time, you may find yourself with a bitter over-extracted coffee.
Lastly, if you can get a hand of a ‘Kompresso’ or a portable espresso maker then that is the easiest way to make an espresso.
Starbucks Korea for instance offers a limited edition Picnic Series which include a Picnic Kompresso.
Along with one of these replacements, it is a good to have a liquid thermometer, a small electric whisk and a kitchen timer to help you to brew the perfect shot of espresso.
Arabica, Robusta or Liberica
To make that shot of espresso, of course you need ground coffee.
If you are a coffee enthusiast, then you probably already have your personal preferences of java beans.
When you search ‘ground coffee’ on online shopping platform such as Shopee, you are dumped with different kinds of choices.
So how to choose?
The most common type of ground coffee that are easily available is arabica coffee, also known as Arabian coffee.
The label on the packaging usually states ‘100% Arabica’ which means the coffee ground is made only using arabica beans.
This species of coffee tree Coffee arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated and made up about 60 per cent of global production.
Meanwhile, the second most cultivated types of coffee is robusta coffee.
Widely known as Coffee robusta, the plant is scientifically as Coffea canephora.
The third choice is Liberian coffee or Coffea liberica.
It is more common species in the Philippines, Indonesia as well as in Malaysia. Here in Sarawak, we have our very own Sarawak Liberica.
So how do you choose your java beans?
Firstly, let us talk about the most important factor which is the caffeine concentration because a decaf coffee is just a sacrilege.
The caffeine concentration of Liberica beans is the lowest of the three with 1.23g/100g.
Arabica has 1.61g/100g and Robusta has 2.26/100g. Hence, choose one that suits your caffeine expectations.
As for the taste, every blend has a specific sensation on its own.
Overall, arabica is known for its smoother taste often with hints of fruits or sourish aftertaste.
If Robusta is an occupation, then it would be a strong, six-packed construction worker. It has harsher, stronger and bitter taste compared to Arabica.
Last but not least is the Liberica beans. The feedback for this bean is varies. Some said it is the most aromatic beans compared to Arabica and Robusta beans.
It is also known for its woody and smokey taste.
When choosing your coffee grounds, you can also choose mixed blends between different kinds of coffee beans. The most common blend is a combination of Arabica and Robusta beans.
Now that you have chosen your beans, next is to choose the type of grind.
There are ‘extra course’, ‘course’, ‘medium’, ‘fine’ and ‘extra fine’.
If you are using French press, choose ‘extra course’ or ‘course’ or ‘medium’. For a Moka pot, opt for ‘fine’ grind.
Other ingredients for your home cafe
Besides coffee beans, you must have milk in your home cafe. It is recommended to use skim milk for frothing since it is the lightest.
You can use whole milk but the froth will be creamier in taste.
Speaking of frothed milk, you can make one without a machine.
The steps include heating the milk and using a hand mixer to whisk the milk until it reaches the desired frothiness.
Don’t have any hand mixer or a whisk? Make full use of your biceps and triceps by shaking a jar filled with warmed milk.
To make more home cafe recipes, get ready other ingredients such as whipping cream, flavoured syrup such as vanilla and hazelnut as well as cocoa powder.
Your home cafe recipes
Once you have that particular shot of espresso perfects to your taste, you are ready to have your own home cafe.
The easiest thing to make is americano. Take your shot of espresso and add into 100-150ml of hot water.
Do not go the other way round because the water being flowed through the coffee can lead it to be over extracted.
For a cup of cafe latte, have an espresso with 150-300ml steamed milk poured over it. Feel free to add your own flavour with vanilla or hazelnut syrup.
You can make own cappuccino by adding 160-240ml milk foam into your espresso.
A flat white is made with a double espresso and about 150-240ml light frothy milk.
Not feeling like too much dairy? Make yourself an espresso macchiato with as shot of espresso and about 50ml of milk froth.
An espresso macchiato is a single shot of espresso with a dollop of milk froth on top.
Another way to make full use of frothed milk is by making latte macchiato.
Unlike a cafe latte whereby the milk is poured into the espresso, a latte macchiato is made by adding a single shot of espresso slowly onto a big glass of steamed and frothed milk.
If you have whipped cream laying around the kitchen, top your espresso with it to make espresso con panna.
Finally for a dessert at your very own home cafe, pour a shot of espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to make an affogato.
Setting the ambience for your home cafe
Clear the clutter and sit on the most comfy couch in your living room. Light a scented candle if you have one, have a book ready at your side and put up some music.
There is a wide range of playlist of ‘coffee shop music’ to choose from especially on Youtube.
From ‘Korean coffee shop playlist’ to ‘Starbucks-inspired playlist’, pick your choice.
With the perfect cup of java poured into your favourite cup, you are now ready to have a cafe experience at home.