Australians are now known internationally as coffee-connoisseurs. We’re such coffee snobs that Starbucks failed to get a toe-hold in our market. But what makes a good coffee, exactly? What do we look for in our morning brew? And what are the options for making coffee at home these days?
When assessing whether the coffee in front of you is good, you should start my smelling it. Apparently a burnt or oniony smell is a bad sign. But it should smell pleasant and a touch sweet. Lots of people who don’t even drink coffee love the smell of it.
If you’re having a latte or cappuccino it can be hard to judge the coffee because it’s masked in milk, chocolate and possibly sugar. (Unless the steamed milk has been burned, which would be a real bummer). But if you like an espresso or a long black it’s easier to judge your coffee. A black coffee should taste a little sweet, never too bitter, not have a burnt skin on top, and have a certain body to it. Coffee can be a little bitter but shouldn’t make you grimace. Be worried if it tastes too sharp or a little salty.
Coffee pod machines gained popularity over the last five years for their ability to help us create a standard flavour and richness, but not everyone is sold. (It’s also arguably a little wasteful, although there are a lot of recycling options now for the pods). I’m still a fan of the old-fashioned coffee-plunger (known overseas as a French press). And I’ve got to tell you that I’m not averse to drinking instant coffee with milk and sugar when I’m at home. There’s something nostalgic and comforting about it. There’s the traditional stove-top espresso maker and I’ve recently heard people raving about the aeropress, which I’m yet to try but sounds intriguing.
And the best place to store your coffee is in an airtight container in a cool place, but not the fridge, where it can be exposed to moisture thanks to condensation or temperature fluctuations.