I Asked A Barista How To Make The Perfect Coffee At Home

Turns out I was doing it all wrong.

When 2020 saw many of us embracing the work-from-home lifestyle for the first time in our careers, I was also learning about the art of an at-home coffee. As someone who had formed an unbreakable bond with my favourite baristas in the coffee shop near work, this was a challenge.

I have to say that, as we continue with flexible working in 2021, I still hadn’t nailed brewing my own coffee each morning. Sure, I’d invested in the right stuff – quality beans, a machine that was fancier than the $19.99 one I bought in some online sale, all of that – but I didn’t realise creating a good coffee involved more than just having the right equipment.

I spoke to Shaun Kumar, coffee ambassador for Moccona and all-round barista genius, to level up my game.

1. Make Sure Your Cup Is Hot

“I always fill the cup with 1cm of hot water from the coffee machine,” says Kumar. “When the hot espresso hits the cold ceramic cup the flavour of the coffee changes.”

I have to say I had never thought of this step before. While I wouldn’t say I noticed a significant difference in the taste of my coffee, I certainly noticed the warmth lasted far longer, meaning I could savour my brew and enjoy it. 

2. Purge Your Steam Wand

You know how baristas blast the steam wand before they put the milk jug underneath? There’s an actual reason for that. “This gets rid of the moisture in the steam wand,” explains Kumar. “You only want the steam in your milk.”

This was a game-changer for me. I found the milk frothed quicker and definitely felt creamier.

Mel Mason whipping up a coffee
Or you could cheat and pop a capsule for barista-level coffee in a flash…

Cheat tip: As a side note, if you (ahem) slept in but still want a great coffee, minus figuring out which cupboard you put your beans in yesterday, grinding those beans and going through that whole process, Moccona have 100% ground coffee encapsulated in aluminium coffee pods that perfectly fit your Nespresso® machine. It definitely makes for more time to perfect your milk froth.

3. Know Your Ratios

I was totally just guessing how much froth to add to my cappuccino (my coffee of choice) and constantly felt like it was either too frothy, or not frothy enough. “A perfect cappuccino should be 1/3 Espresso, 1/3 Milk, and 1/3 Froth,” says Kumar.

I measured this out more consistently and found my coffee tasted and felt way more like a professionally-made one than it did before. More of a latte fan? “A latte has ⅓ Espresso, 2/3 steamed milk and 1 cm of froth.”

4. Get Your Milk At The Right Temperature

Did you know there is a perfect temp for dairy that is different to alternative milks? With so many of us opting for plant-based milks these days (I’m personally an oat milk fan) this is good intel when it comes to making the perfect coffee.

According to Kumar, the right temperature for cow’s milk is 60-65 degrees, while milk alternatives should be heated to 55-60 degrees. Buy a temperature gauge to go in your milk jug so you can steam until you reach the optimal temp.

5. Mix Your Milk Before Pouring

While I used to pour my milk and try to have the foam pre-separated, Kumar says the best way is to have it blended together while pouring.

“Before pouring the milk, mix the milk in the jug. Once you stop steaming the milk, it will separate from the foam, with milk settling at the bottom and foam on top. By giving this a good mix you are combining the milk and foam together to give you a creamy milk taste in cup.” 

Perfection. I now had a lovely foam/milk ratio and the delicious, creamy taste baristas seem to nail, all the time.

*Sponsored by Moccona. Reserve a little me-time. 

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