From time to time, just like any coffee house, large and small, we try new things to test out new products. Right now, we’re giving some new coffee beans a go, introducing Blue Volcano!
An amazing roast from Black Sheep Coffee in Bankside, London. As their website invites you, why not leave the herd behind? This was an easy choice – it’s a bit different with an incredibly full flavour. If you’re not a fan of change though, don’t worry, we’re still serving our usual blend too.
Blue Volcano coffee beans take their name from where they’re sourced, in the mountains well away from civilization. That’s what gives a really unique flavour, and we hope you’ll join us soon to share in our excitement.
It’s already available and we’re planning to keep it that way for as long as possible, probably until the end of October and beyond, supplies permitting.
We should add that you can also buy Blue Volcano if you’re the proud owner of a home coffee machine, either in whole bean format if you’re a bean to cup person, or ground if you’re that way inclined. Either way, it comes highly recommended from the Finch Coffee House Team.Read More
It’s taken a while to get to the exciting bit, but having talked in general about coffee, and last time about coffee beans, now we’re on to the big purchase decision – the bean to cup coffee machine!
As kitchen appliances go, this could be the big one. It’s possible to spend a lot on coffee makers, with some rising into the thousands. Fortunately that’s something that very few people stretch too, although being able to get up towards that thousand pounds can get you a great machine.
A common concern is whether it’s worth the investment at the other end of the scale, if you’re only able to be comfortably spending two or three hundred pounds. It’s a resounding yes in response, which is hopefully great news, and you don’t need to take my word for it either.
That brings me to the best advice I can give you about where to choose your machine, a website that’s reviewed plenty and therefore should know what they’re talking about. Here’s the link to those bean to cup coffee machine reviews where you can spend hours reading, but the important point that’s relevant to us here is that they’ve consistently had a Delonghi machine in their top spot which is generally available to buy on Amazon around the £300 mark.
That tells quite an important story, and as they’re keen to point out, they recommend it based on the value of the machine for the price. In other words, it’s a great machine for the money. As I said a moment ago, being able to spend a thousand pounds will get you a great machine, but you don’t need to if you’re just after good home coffee.
We’re not here to talk about individual machines though – this is more about how the best bean to cup coffee machines take your coffee beans and create a great cup of coffee.
The beans are the perfect place to start our understanding, as they are the tangible part of the process that you physically put into the machine, along with filling a water tank. You fill the bean hopper with your chosen brand of bean, and put the lid on. It’s how the machine keeps things as fresh as possible, as the moment you open that bag of beans, the quality gradually begins to degrade. It’s not a quick process so there’s no immediate problem, but if you’re not using your machine every day, it might be a good idea to partially fill the hopper and store the rest of the bag in an airtight container.
When you make a coffee, the bean to cup machine will take some of the beans from the bottom of the hopper through the grinder. Most machines have adjustable grinders, so you’ll be able to change how coarse or smooth you like your coffee beans to be prepared, and that then gets infused with the water, which is pre-heated before reaching the ground coffee, and that process occurs under pressure, with the water effectively getting forced through the ground coffee.
If you watch the coffee emerge from the nozzles into your cup or mug, you’ll notice that it starts to emerge very dark, almost black, and gradually gets lighter until it’s nearly transparent by the time it’s fully dispensed. You’ll also notice a creamy foam on the surface of the coffee form, known as the crema. That’s a product of the oil in the beans, which is a big separating factor for people who love great coffee at home.
Once your drink is complete, you’ll hear a clunking noise as the machine finishes its cycle, which is the sound of the coffee grounds falling into a container, and that is usually something that needs emptying after five or ten coffees are made.
Other points of note include the fact that some modern bean to cup coffee machines include very good self cleaning functions. If you’ve ever had a sandwich toaster or something similar, you’ll know how much of a pain it can be to clean after use, so imagine what it would be like to try and keep a coffee maker clean if it didn’t have automatic functions to do a lot of the hard work for you.
Generally speaking, a good machine will rinse itself through after each use, clearing through its pipelines and nozzles to prevent a build-up of coffee residue. If you’ve got a really good machine, it might have a milk tank too – that’s especially important to keep clean, so will also use the water to clean itself after milk gets dispensed too.
Periodically, as we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to empty out the grounds, normally from a compartment that pulls out from the body of the machine. A good tip is to make sure you wipe out the container with a cloth after emptying the grounds into the bin – it’s naturally going to be damp in there, and coffee grounds can go mouldy over time so it’s best kept as clean as possible.
Finally, de-scaling is necessary from time to time even if you don’t live in a lime scale prone area. Typically manufacturers produce their own products for this task, and it may be an automatic or manual job to flush it through the system. In general, all that’s important is you complete de-scaling periodically – even if the process varies from machine to machine. Expect it to be something you need to do every four to six weeks, depending on how often you use your machine.
Officially, the advice is always to use the de-scaler liquid or tablets recommended by your manufacturer, but there are a lot on the market. Ideally, you should be using the recommended products, especially during the warranty period, but the chances are that if you find a cheaper alternative by a reputable brand after the guarantee expires, you’ll get similar results if you’re willing to take the risk. With that said, brands like Delonghi don’t charge a lot for their liquids, so you’ll most likely be happy to buy theirs, whereas some other brands charge a lot more.
Overall, understanding how a bean to cup coffee machine can help you to choose your machine in the first place. As we noted about, there are some great bean to cup coffee machine reviews sites on the web to help you make your choice, and plenty of help with the beans to buy too for making a really good home coffee.Read More
As we talked about last time, coffee beans can make or break your efforts as a home barista.
Starbucks are the kings of the high street when it comes to great coffee, and while Costa are in second spot, it’s a distant second for most people. Granted, some argue that they prefer the taste of the Costa beans, but the numbers don’t lie, and it’s Starbucks that reign supreme. Time will tell whether Coca Cola’s interest in the Costa brand makes up the difference, but we are where we are, so today we’re going to focus solely on Starbucks beans.
By far the most commonly bought in the UK are the Starbucks Espresso Roast coffee beans, described as a bean recipe that’s stayed the same since the day Starbucks first put it on sale. It’s a fair trade coffee, made entirely from Arabica coffee, in their dark roasted range.
As the name suggests, the full body you get from the darker roasts makes these beans perfect for espresso drinkers, along with those that like their coffee strong
Of course, your coffee machine will be able to adjust the strength, but choosing beans well gives you the maximum chance of the perfect coffee to suit your tastes.
French Roast Coffee
Next up, you’ll find another coffee in the full bodied, dark roast category, Starbucks’ French Roast. These beans have a tendency to divide people more than the Espresso roast, in general appealing more to those that enjoy a more bitter taste that’s associated with very strong coffee.
This is the darkest of dark coffees, roasted with an inch of their caffeinated lives.
This is a great choice for coffee lovers that like to enjoy a drink in the evening, or simply avoid caffeine altogether. Aimed to replicate the popular Espresso Roast above, but without the caffeine content, it’s great if coffee interrupts your sleep cycle.
If you’re looking for something a little tamer than the above choices, Columbia might appeal to you more. It’s a medium roast, meaning a less harsh experience for the beans in the roasting process, and in turn a milder coffee results. If you’re the sort of person that often finds they’re served a coffee that’s just too strong for your palate, give this a whirl.
Beans, as we’ve said before, are half the story when it comes to making great coffee. There’s the ingredients you use – coffee beans and fresh water, and the coffee machine itself. Next time, we’ll talk about those coffee machines, and how you can find out more about what they offer in great detail, or just get a quick recommendation.Read More
Home coffee is a wonderful thing – relaxing with the fresh aroma of ground beans brewed into a silky cup of coffee is something that anyone that more than mildly enjoys coffee will be drawn towards.
Everyone has different tastes, but a common ground between fans of good coffee is that freshly ground beans give the best results.
Investing in a great home coffee machine is imperative if you want to get a similar quality of drink in your kitchen that you do in cafes and restaurants, but is also something a lot of people are not aware that is possible.
Surprisingly though, you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds like Starbucks to get great results. The big chains pay so much to be able to create large volumes of different coffee types for their customers so that big queues are kept to a minimum. While buying a good machine is important, it’s just as much about the beans too.
To use the obvious example, Starbucks have their own range of beans that they sell in store, which allows you to get a very similar flavour and texture to your drinks at home. In fact they even produce ground coffee, so that you don’t even need to buy a bean to cup coffee machine to get the Starbucks taste at home.
Of course, ground coffee will never provide quite the same quality of result, and also dries out a lot quicker than grinding beans to order when you make a drink, but if you haven’t got several hundred pounds to spend on a machine, then it’s the next best thing.
Next time, we’ll talk a little more about Starbucks beans, and how they’ve got a great range to choose from if you really enjoy their flavour in store.Read More
It’s time we took a break. Time for a few minutes out of the madness of the daily routine to stop and to reflect on just what we’ve achieved.
A job, a house, a car, a family – the list goes on and on. All separate entities that we spend so much time focusing on, that we rarely consider which are the most important – which carry most weight for you?
Stopping every so often is the perfect way to unwind and reflect on the recent days that have fallen by – and what better way to do so than to enjoy a great cup of coffee in relaxing surroundings with friends?Read More