Do you often feel overwhelmed by the number of coffee options available today? You love the smell of freshly ground coffee; you relish Americanos, Macchiatos and Cappuccinos at the coffee shops but don’t know how to brew a similar cup at home? You are not sure which coffee maker/equipment to buy? If the answer is yes, please read on. This might prove useful.
First, let’s talk about coffee with milk. What kind of characteristics should one look for when picking coffee that goes well with milk and type of coffee maker that enhances flavour & texture of coffee that can blend well with milk?
Bitterness, sourness, sweetness – we can encounter these tastes in coffee. One might dominate the other depending on varietal, processing method, roast level and method of extraction. Coffee with too much sourness or acidity (that sharp, tangy, sparkling sensation in one’s mouth) does not go very well with milk. Might be a bit of exaggeration but imagine having juice with milk. Light roast coffees are usually high on acidity and are enjoyed best black.
Flavors such as chocolate, almond, caramel, hazelnut, honey, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg blend really well with milk. (These are not any added flavors; these are inherent notes in coffee)
Body in layman terms refers to mouth feel. How does the texture of coffee feel in your mouth? Does it feel full-bodied, thick, viscous or syrupy as opposed to watery, thin, light and flat? With milk, we don’t want the latter.
Body is influenced by again – coffee varietal, processing method, roast level and method of extraction. Which brew method has greater body? A well extracted espresso has great body (due to high coffee to water ratio & pressure used during extraction) and hence Espresso & Milk is a match made in heaven! Your cappuccino, macchiato, cortado or flat white are espresso + milk made using different espresso to milk ratios and milk frothing/steaming techniques.
Another great and highly underrated brewing technique for milk-based beverage is Moka Pot . Not everyone can afford expensive espresso machines at home and good espresso machines are expensive. This stove-top method produces strong, concentrated (high brew ratio) coffee – similar to an espresso – although pressure used in an espresso is higher (9 bar) than that in Moka Pot (1.5 bar). One can easily use Moka Pot [ Moka Pot brew guide] to make a delicious black or milk-based beverage at home. You can also make a South Indian filter coffee using Moka Pot.
Recipe by Shravan of Beanrove Coffee Roasters.
How about French Press Coffee? It has a lot more body than any other slow-brewing (Pour Over, Chemex etc.) methods but French Press coffee tastes best black due to the following reasons – It has a low coffee to water brew ratio and it often contains sediments resulting in a not so clean cup.
Another brew method called the AeroPress, with its paper filter gives one a cleaner cup and with few variations in recipe can taste great with milk. Check out the AeroPress Iced Latte Video on our Instagram page.
Black coffee lovers have more options as all coffees that go well with milk usually taste good on their own too. When drunk black, one can experience so many flavours and really taste the coffee and taste is influenced by again – varietal, processing method, roast level and method of extraction. Americano, espresso poured over hot water is popular among black coffee drinkers however lately slow brew methods are gaining back their lost popularity.
Of the five primary tastes, sourness plays a critical role in slow brew methods especially Pour Overs (V60, Chemex) as it lends the coffee vibrancy and freshness. Although the acidity should be of the right type and not overly intense and unpleasant.
Delicate flavors like peach, prune, grape, orange, lemon, jasmine, chamomile are appreciated well and accentuated in coffee made using slow brew method of extraction.
Since coffee extracted using slow brew methods are much less concentrated than espresso, the notion of body is not judged on the same scale. Weak or highly intense, it should give one a pleasant feeling.
Coffee is a journey that is unique to each individual and cannot be summed up in one blog post. However, you must start somewhere as it only gets better – the more you explore, the more it surprises you.
PS: In case you do not have or wish to buy a coffee maker, you can try brewing Drip Bags. It is an excellent and convenient way to experience something really close to fresh coffee. Just pour hot water and ta-da you get your quick cup of good coffee.