Balance Coffee's Guide to Essential Coffee Equipment - Balance Coffee
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Balance Coffee’s Guide to Essential Coffee Equipment

Balance Coffee’s Guide to Essential Coffee Equipment

To make great coffee, you need great tools. Luckily, we don’t just sell speciality coffee, but also all of the essential coffee equipment that you’ll need to make a coffee that rivals anything you can buy in a coffee shop.

Essential coffee equipment: a coffee maker

There are so many options when it comes to coffee makers. Before buying one, we would recommend that you think about what you’re looking for in your coffee maker. Do you value convenience? Or are you happy to put a bit of time into your morning brew? Be honest with yourself: what will fit best into your lifestyle?

Cafetière

First, let’s talk about the cafetière. Also known as a French press, this is one of the most popular coffee brewing devices available for your home. With this method, coffee grounds are immersed in near-boiling water for minutes at a time before serving.

Ethical Coffee
We love the cafetière because it’s multi-functional: you can easily use it to brew filter coffee, make cold brew, and even foam milk for lattes. It’s also versatile – depending on the size of your cafetière, you can make 1-5 cups. It’s also extremely easy to clean and re-use.

In terms of flavour and mouthfeel, the cafetière produces a full-bodied cup because the immersion brewing steeps the coffee and extracts the flavour for a longer period of time, in comparison to other brewing methods. However, one thing to keep in mind is that this method produces sediment (coffee grounds) in your cup as no filter is used in the brewing process. If you really don’t like this, another coffee maker might be a better fit for you.

Cafetière:
– Ease: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
– Speed: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 
– Results in the cup: full bodied, sediment

You can see James demonstrating how to use a cafetière:

Aeropress

We also love the Aeropress coffee maker. Similar to the cafetière, it is really easy to use and clean which makes it a very convenient device. The circular shaped filter papers fit easily into the base of the unit, coffee and water is added, then pressure is applied to the top of plastic tube as you squeeze the coffee into your favourite mug.

 

The outcome is a cleaner tasting coffee with a medium body finish as a result of the pressure created by the device. The Aeropress is also very portable, making it extremely convenient method of brewing. You will need specific filters for this coffee machine, but they’re very easy to find. For example, we have them here!

Aeropress:
– Ease: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
– Speed: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
– Results in the cup: Clean taste, medium body

 

Hario V60

The V60 is our Founder James’ favourite brew method for filter coffee. He says, “It takes a little longer to make my afternoon cup but it’s a nice break from work and it really is an enjoyable ritual. It’s probably psychological but I think it has something to do with the gentle pouring in ‘concentric circles’ which is quite a relaxing experience.” This is a pour-over method of coffee brewing that allows you to have the most control, creating a bright and complex cup of coffee. It works differently to the French press or Aeropress: the V60 involves pouring hot water through coffee in a paper filter, which drips into the glass server through a large hole. You can also brew straight into your cup if you prefer less washing up.

There a few things here that sets the V60 apart. First is the funnel, which has a set of raised grooves spiralling down the inside. These grooves hold the bed of grounds away from the walls, allowing for airflow along the sides. This helps your hot water to flow quickly along the edges, leading to a more balanced extraction. The single large hole at the bottom is also important. Unlike other pour-over drippers with smaller openings, the large opening grants the user more control over their rate of water flow.

It does involve a couple of separate parts, such as the funnel and scoop, but they are included when you purchase a V60. However, a worthwhile investment is a pouring kettle, as this will give you far better control of your water flow. This will make the coffee taste better in the cup. A glass coffee server is also recommended. Much like the Aeropress, you’ll also need paper filters on-hand when you want to brew with the V60. You do need to be meticulous when brewing with the V60, but it is absolutely worth the effort.

If you want to see the V60 pour-over in action, watch our founder James here:

Hario V60:
– Ease: ⭐️ ⭐️
– Speed: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
– Results in the cup: Bright and complex, allows flavours to develop

 

Alternative: an espresso machine

If you’re looking to level up your coffee equipment even more, we suggest taking the plunge and investing in an espresso machine. This will open up a whole new world of coffee – from lattes to cappuccinos to Americanos! (And a shiny espresso machine will look amazing on your countertop.)

The Sage Espresso Dual Boiler Machine is a fantastic place to start if you want to make coffee shop quality coffee in your own home. The dual boiler system means that one boiler creates temperature-controlled espresso shots, while the second boiler produces steaming on demand. It’s incredibly easy to use, even for first-time home baristas.

And if you’re looking for an espresso machine that will take your coffee to yet another level, there’s the Sanremo Treviso Espresso Machine. This is a semi-professional espresso machine, so we’d only recommend it to experienced home baristas. This cutting edge home espresso machine includes a heat exchange boiler which makes it easy to pull a shots of coffee and steam milk at the same time. Assembled by hand in Italy by Sanremo, this espresso machine is designed to make high quality espresso drinks accessible anytime.

Here’s the Sanremo Treviso in action:

 

Essential equipment: grinder

We had to include a grinder in our list of essential coffee equipment. This is because we always recommend that you buy whole coffee beans and grind them right before you make a cup of coffee. Ground coffee starts to lose its freshness within a couple of hours, and can turn stale in just a few days. (To learn more about why you should buy whole beans, head here.)

There are two options: hand grinders and electric grinders. James says, “A hand grinder is more affordable, but if you’re making more than two coffees a day, it’ll get very tiring very quickly. Unless you’re using it as your daily workout, an electric grinder is probably the way to go! They’re more expensive, but absolutely worth it.”

There are many home coffee grinders on the market these days so you’ll have plenty to choose from based on your budget and requirement. Some great starter grinders are the Hario Encore and the Wilva Svart Grinder. Make sure that you look for a ‘burr grinder’ rather than ‘blades’ which will unevenly chop the coffee. You want something that will grind each particle evenly – this has a huge impact on the resulting flavour of the cup, trust us!

If you want something very versatile, we now sell a fantastic coffee grinder. Sage’s Smart Grinder Pro has 60 unique settings that will help you get the very most out of any coffee. You can choose between ‘cups’ for French press or filter and ‘shots’ for espresso to get the right grind and dose for the coffee you brew. It can grind directly into your machine’s portafilter, sealed bag or air tight container, too!

Our Stability blend in a coffee grinder

There are also intelligent settings which help your grinder achieve perfect results, no matter how coarse or fine you need your beans. We absolutely recommend investing in a great coffee grinder, as the quality of the grind will make an enormous difference, no matter what coffee maker you’re using. The Smart Grinder Pro is perfect for that, because it grinds coffee in exactly the right way, every time.

Optional equipment: coffee storage

One optional piece of equipment is coffee storage. If you buy high-quality coffee, you should be able to keep it into the bag. This is because it has a one-way air valve which slows the coffee’s reaction to oxygen, which in turn increases the lifespan of your coffee.

However, if your coffee does not come in a bag that’s appropriate for storage, or you simply don’t like the look of the bag on your countertop, we would recommend buying some proper storage for your coffee. Ideally, this storage will be opaque and completely airtight. Make sure the area is dry (so don’t store it right beside or above your kettle or oven!) and never store it in the fridge. You can read more about the science behind storing coffee here.

With just a few pieces of essential coffee equipment, you can make your coffee dramatically better.

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