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How to make the perfect cup of coffee

A daily cup of coffee is something that many people feel like they simply couldn’t live without. For the minority of people who don’t like coffee, it’s often the case that they simply haven’t enjoyed a really good cup yet.

Everyone has their preferred way to make coffee and humans are creatures of habits so many don’t often stray from their tried and tested methods. But should we? Read on to find out about the essential components of a perfect cup of coffee.

The equipment

Coffee making equipment varies hugely. At one end of the scale you’re got the huge shiny silver contraptions you see in coffee shops. These have at least 65 different knobs and handles and I’m pretty sure that you need a qualification to be allowed anywhere near them. At the other end of the scale is the simple kettle.

Somewhere in between are home coffee machines which, despite sometimes having just one button, can make you a fantastic cup of coffee with little to no effort. Or, you can keep things simple with a cafetiere of French press, which can be a cheap, albeit time-consuming, way to make great coffee at home.

The beans

Different coffee beans have their own unique taste. There are three main types of beans – Robusta, Liberica and Arabica. Originating in different countries, the beans vary not just in taste, but also in aroma and caffeine content.

Coffee blends use beans from different origins, blended together to create a smooth, well-balanced brew.  Of course, these all taste different too, so experiment with different blends to find the one you like best.

The milk

Just because you’ve always used whole cows’ milk in your coffee doesn’t mean that you always should. In fact, as well as cows’ milk there are a whole host of plant-based milks which certainly shouldn’t be considered as reserved only for vegans and those with a dairy intolerance.

Oat milk and almond milk are two plant milks which work really well in coffee, creating a creamy drink with a thick foam and an extra layer of flavour. As well as being healthier than the dairy version, plant milks are also better for the environment. So be open to experiment – you might surprise yourself.

The water

The majority of your cup of coffee is water, and you may be surprised to learn that the right water can make all the difference.

Depending on where you live, your water may have a slight chlorine taste or other odd flavour. Serious coffee aficionados use activated charcoal filters on their taps to filter out any impurities before it goes anywhere near the coffee.

It’s important to note that standard water filters which distil water actually make for a terrible cup of coffee. These filters remove ions like magnesium and calcium which attach to the coffee and bring out the taste. Without these vital nutrients, your coffee will taste weak and bland.

The sugar

White sugar is the most common sugar that people add to coffee, but is it the best? You might want to give brown or demerara sugar a go instead. These sugars have a delicate caramel taste and are not too sweet, which can allow the flavours of your coffee to really come through.

If you’re watching your weight, you may opt to forgo the sugar altogether and might opt for a low-calorie sweetener. There are many different artificial sweeteners to choose from, and some of them may have potential health side effects.

Stevia is a natural product which is much sweeter than sugar and also lower in calories, so it may be one to try as an alternative.

The cup

Do you prefer your coffee in your favourite mug? Or perhaps you like a traditional cup and saucer? Glass coffee cups are beautiful but they don’t retain heat as well as ceramic mugs so if you’re a slow drinker you may find that your coffee goes cold towards the end of the cup. Stainless steel mugs keep coffee hot for the longest, particularly if they have a lid. If you enjoy a coffee on the go, invest in a good-quality travel mug and you can take it in the car with you. This will undoubtedly be cheaper than stopping at the drive-thru coffee shop. Just be sure to take note of the width of it. Many travel mugs are too wide to fit in standard car cup holders.