How to make the perfect home-brewed coffee

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Mitre 10 MEGA
How to make the perfect home-brewed coffee (Thinkstock)
From Mitre 10 Mega
Bernie Rolfe receives his award from Graham Tait
Bernie Rolfe (left) receives his award from Graham Tait at the Columbus Coffee Barista Championships
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We asked coffee aficionado Bernie Rolfe for his top tips for making a great cup of coffee at home using a manual coffee machine.

Flat white, cappuccino, latté or even mochachino or caffè macchiato, coffee now comes in all varieties. Whether it's a necessity to get you going in the morning or an enjoyable afternoon treat, coffee is undoubtedly a regular part of many New Zealanders' every day routines.

Most people know how to make a coffee but the question is, do you know how to make a good coffee?

In February, Bernie Rolfe, 22, a barista from MEGA Café by Columbus Coffee in Napier was awarded third place at the annual Columbus Coffee Barista Championships ahead of more than 30 entrants from across the country. He is also set to compete in the New Zealand Barista Championships in March.

Bernie, who has been working as a barista for three years, is passionate about good coffee. Here are his top tips for making a great cup of coffee from your manual coffee machine at home.


• There are lots of coffee beans to choose from, so shop around to find something you like.

• Before using your machine run water through it to purge any traces of old coffee that will taint the flavour. Many coffee machines, such as the Breville Barvista Espresso Machine (available to purchase online from Mitre 10 MEGA), will do this automatically making this step unnecessary.

• Store coffee beans away from direct sunlight in an airtight container and do not open until you are ready to use. Once open, keep the bag sealed with a peg or sellotape. Remember the fresher the ground coffee the better the taste. Coffee beans will stay fresher longer than ground coffee so if you don't have a grinder, just buy what you need for the week.

• Make sure the water you use is clean and fresh. If your machine has a water filter remember to change it regularly.


• Before frothing milk, purge the wand to ensure that pure steam comes from the frothing wand. If not, the water is not hot enough and the wand may suck up milk.

• Once you have purged, move your milk jug so the wand is nearly touching the milk. Almost immediately after starting the wand, move it so it is just under the surface as this is where the frothing happens. Once the milk is frothy enough for you, push the nozzle in further. The milk is ready when it is around 60-65 degrees Celsius; use a small thermometer to monitor the temperature.

• Be careful not to overheat your milk. If you overheat it, it will separate which will make it lose its sweetness.

• Once you've finished frothing be sure to purge the wand again to remove any milk caught inside. Left over traces of milk may sour and squirt out into your fresh milk on next use.

• When pouring milk, pour gently into the middle so that a brown ring of espresso forms around the cup. This helps maximise the taste of your coffee. Pouring too fast mixes the coffee and milk together diluting the flavour.

• Re-steamed or re-heated milk is not as good as fresh milk. Re-heating can cause burning or create a bitter taste.


• Pour your coffee shots for 20-25 seconds. Any longer and your coffee will become over extracted and taste bitter and any less it will taste watery. If you are buying pre-ground coffee and are finding you are pouring for too long or too less, try buying a finer (if too short) or coarser (if too long) grind.

• A single shot should be 30ml, and a double shot should be 60ml. This ensures you get the full flavour of the coffee. Less millilitres will give you a sweeter, low caffeine shot called a ristretto, but any more and it will start pouring watery and bitter.

• Purge the water in your coffee machine and leave it running until the sound of hot bubbling water stops. This prevents the water from being too hot and burning your coffee.

• Be sure to properly compact your ground coffee. The better you compact it the more flavour your coffee will have.

To get going with coffee see Mitre 10 MEGA's homeware section to get what you need to brew your own perfect pick me up.

If your coffee really hits the spot you might even have enough energy to have a go at creating your own coffee table. Check out Mitre 10 MEGA's how to guide.



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