Fancy becoming a home barista? With Manchester’s artisan coffee scene buzzing with speciality micro-roasters, JLife gets Luiza Furquim from Ancoats Coffee to spill the beans on the tools you need.
The Greatest Grinders
A good grinder should be your go-to piece of kit. Flavour is a combination of taste and aroma and the aromatics in coffee are volatile. The main gases dissipate fast once the coffee is ground – and I don’t mean a week fast, I mean 15 minutes fast! If you buy pre-ground your brew won’t be as flavoursome as if you’d ground it yourself, no matter how fancy your brewing equipment.
If you have the patience to grind manually, the Comandante is the best you can get. Amazing burrs make for precise particle size distribution – if you have a mix of bigger particles and smaller particles your extraction will be uneven, leading to undesired bitterness our sourness.
If, like me, you don’t have the patience to grind manually then the Wilfa is the industry standard. It doesn’t break the bank and gives you amazing results. I have one at home and so does Jamie, the owner and Jake, our head of training.
The Height of Hand Pours
For filter brewing, I would recommend the Kalita Wave over the well-known V60. Unlike cone drippers it has three small holes in the bottom that allow for a more even extraction of the coffee. The grounds stay infused in water for longer even at coarser settings, which helps with sweetness and balance.
I would only recommend V60s if you like light and more acidic brews, as they aren’t very forgiving if you haven’t got your recipe right. If you do go for it, the plastic ones are cheaper and better at keeping your brew temperature consistent. The ceramic and metal varieties dissipate more heat and you might under extract your coffee.
The same goes for Chemex. It’s a very pretty, (it even made it into the Museum of Modern Art!) but you need to get your recipe straight.
The Aeropress is a great piece of kit to have as it’s cheap, easy to use and you can find a million recipes to play with online. It’s light and made of plastic, so it won’t break and is great for travelling. Go for the metal filter and never use really hot water – at Ancoats our recipes tend to range from 85°c to 89°c.
For the really geeky home barista, I’d recommend the Melodrip for increased consistency. Instead of wetting the coffee bed at variable rates, you have a shower screen that helps to distribute the water evenly as you pour.
Best for filter: Ancoats Coffee – Kenya Gura AB
For those who love a more acidic coffee, with notes of lemonade, apple and dried mango.
Beautiful Batch Brewing
If you need to make a larger amount of coffee, batch brews are easy to make and very consistent. For the home, the Moccamaster is a good choice. Whatever you do, don’t buy one of those coffee makers with a hot bed under the serving pot. It will burn your coffee over time, meaning your drink will probably be hot, but definitely be rank!
Best for batch: Ancoats Coffee – Brazil Warehouse City Espresso
Sweet, chocolatey, clean and easy to work with.
Personally, I’m not a fan of espresso machines for the home. Of all the drinks you can make, espresso is the least forgiving. Coffee shops train their staff long and hard to be able to dial in espresso every morning. To find the best recipe for your coffee and machine on any given day is a matter of trial and error. You need to taste some bad shots before you find the sweet spot and bad espresso is awful – why would you do that to yourself?
But if you have the money to spare, The Decent Espresso Machine is a coffee nerd’s dream. The machine is fairly new and many professionals like it because it gives you great control over variables and interesting data. You can control everything about the extraction with software that allows you to change, save and analyse your recipes.
Best for espresso: Ancoats Coffee – Brazil Graphene Espresso.
The double fermentation process produces intense dark chocolate and fruity notes with a boozy character.
Pick of the Bunch
The specialty coffee industry outside of London has really started to boom over the last five years and there are some great roasteries in Manchester. Among my favourites, Heart & Graft in Salford is up there. The team are committed to good sourcing practices and are all-round lovely people. They have a new cafe space and host some interesting events.
Grindsmith Coffee Roastery is new to the local scene, but the roastery on Bridge Street is incredible. Its machine is a Loring, which roasts in a different style to our Giesen, so you can expect quite different coffees even when (and it happens sometimes!) we buy the same beans. It is offering home brewing classes at the roastery, which is a great opportunity to see how its operation works.
Based in the Lake District, Red Bank Roasters isn’t local – but they’re great guys doing great coffee, so worth checking out, with some Manchester cafes stocking its beans from time to time. Dark Woods Coffee in Huddersfield is a good one to try too, it doesn’t have a cafe, but does pop-ups once a month.
Our local scene is really special – everyone knows and helps each other. As consumers are becoming more informed and demanding more, we’re focusing on education and improving the quality of what we do, from sourcing to roasting and packaging while striving to be active members of our community. I believe there is space for more independent roasteries and I’m sure we’ll be seeing many more to come.