No fuss, no skill, lockdown coffee is easy
There might be light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. But life at Alert Level 3 might not be radically different to what we have been experiencing over the last four weeks or so.
We might be able to get a contactless flat white from our favorite barista, but for the most part we'll be encouraged to stay home, save lives, drink good coffee (definitely an important part of the message that seems to have dropped off somehow...).
Whether we're working from home (or trying to work from home during the middle of a crisis) or just not venturing out for the next wee while, we can still have excellent coffee.
Welcome to the Clever-swissy-plunge challenge.
But first - disclaimers
Just to get this out of the way... yes, instant coffee and coffee pods are an easy way to make coffee. But this post is about making great coffee. The coffee that fills the void left by not being able to get to your local cafe.
Instant coffee is poos. Sure, you can get specialty instant coffee now, which is yummy, BUT, per cup, is more expensive than normal instant, AND more expensive than the methods detailed here.
Coffee pods aren't much better. The waste, the cost per cup, the coffee taste - it all adds up to just an okay cup with a lot of guilt. We're looking for a great, easy, guilt free cup.
No matter how you're brewing your coffee, you should always be using scales. But you knew that already right? Check out our last post for more on this.
Freshly ground coffee is best, but...
...It doesn't matter in these troubling times.
If you don't have a grinder at home, it's okay. Order coffee online, or get it from the supermarket, in the grind you want. Most online suppliers will be able to grind to the specific method you're using, so let them know how you're brewing.
And fresh is best - so order small, order often. Don't go buying a kilo of ground coffee - you won't get through it all that fast, and it'll start to go stale. Get a smaller size and order more often, and you'll be set.
The four coffee brewers taking up the challenge are:
Plunger aka French Press
A pyrex jug and a sieve
The humble Plunger/pyrex jug
Cost - super cheap or free | Ease - easy as | Time - 8 minutes | Taste - yum yum yum with extra yum| Sharing - the best
We're starting with the plunger, because almost everyone either has one in their house, has used one, or can replicate one using a jug and a sieve.
Like, seriously, you can just use a jug and a sieve.
A plunger lets coffee and water hang out for a while and brew magic, and then the plunger mesh thing stops the coffee grinds getting into your cup. A plunger can easily be replaced by any old jug, and a sieve. If you don't have a plunger at home, you'll definitely have a jug and a sieve. The method is the same, and the coffee is amazing.
The only special skills you need to work a plunger/jug, is the ability to use scales, use a timer, use a spoon, and safely boil water without supervision.
And sure, everyone has tales of terrible plunger coffee that tasted burnt, or gritty, or just totally average. But if you take some time and a bit of care the results can be incredible.
Plunger/jug coffee has incredible body and mouthfeel but it can also have an amazing clarity of taste if done well.
The bonus thing about a plunger, or a jug and a sieve, is that you can bulk brew coffee for your lockdown bubble.
Check out this video from the king of coffee, and world barista champion, James Hoffman - his method is easy to follow, easy to replicate, and delicious.
The Swiss Gold
Cost - $42 | Ease - the easiest| Time - 2-3 minutes | Taste - yum yum yum| Sharing - not the best
The Swiss Gold is hands down the simplest way to make incredible filter coffee, for one.
The Swiss Gold gets its name from the 23-carat gold filter that it uses to make the coffee. Sounds fancy, but the use of the gold filter means there is no filter taste you have to contend with - so you just get no fuss, easy as coffee.
The coffee the Swiss Gold makes is really tasty. You get a nice clean cup of coffee with less body than the plunger (due to it being a filter brew) while letter the great tasty bits shine through.
It's so easy, even my 6-year old can do it. Just put coffee in, pop water in, and it brews straight into your cup, or mug, or mouth (watch out, it'll burn).
The brilliant thing about the Swissy is that it's dishwasher safe so cleaning is a cinch, and its pretty well indestructible. The drawback is that you can really only make one cup at a time. But because it's so easy, it won't take much to brew another cup for a frem.
Here's a tutorial video I did seven years ago. I didn't use scales back then because I was an animal - don't be like me, Use scales.
The Clever Dipper
Cost - $39 | Ease - easy peasy| Time - 3-4 minutes | Taste - yum yum yummy in the tummy| Sharing - yeah, sure
The Clever Dripper is off the hook awesome. And easy. And tasty.
The Clever Dripper combines the best parts of the plunger (where the coffee sits with the water for a good time) and the Swiss Gold (where the filter keeps out all the sediment) into one.
The Clever is pretty clever. You pop a paper filter in, chuck in your coffee and then smash in all your water. The water sits with the coffee for a while, doing it's thang, extracting all the good stuff, having a great time. And then, after 3 or 4 minutes, you give it a quick stir, pop it on top of a cup, and it drains all the coffee through the filter into happiness.
Most other filter methods, like the Chemex or V60, take a lot of care and effort. You need to be careful with how you pour your water, how much you stir, how quickly it brews, the water temperature and everything else. This level of effort isn't required for the Clever Dripper, and the results are up there with the best.
The Clever is super consistent. You don't have to be in love with the process to make it great - just smash in the water and coffee, wait and then go for it.
Head-to-head - what tastes the best
What is the best? How do you define best? Taste? Ease? Cost?
The video below, featuring my wee girl, shows how easy it all was to brew four coffees in 30 seconds.
Well, head-to-head, they were all very good. Such a cop out. Actually though, they all tasted great, albeit slightly different. And I have to say I liked them all otherwise I'd be forced to get some coffee clutter out of my life. And I'm not doing that.
For this experiment, the plunger/jug and sieve came out on top as The Magic Roast's recommended easy as lockdown coffee brewer of choice.
The plunger was easy to do, required no skill, tasted amazballs, I made enough for everyone, and I was able to get the VERY SAME RESULTS with the jug, as I did using an actual plunger.
The moral of the story
Home coffee doesn't have to suck. With some care and time, but no skill or no equipment (other than scales) you can smash excellent lockdown coffee, easy as.