27 August 2020
At-Home Coffee Tips from Coffee Masters Winners, Judges and MCs
Tips and tricks from the pros.
If you're missing your daily visits to your local café, first of all, we're with you, and second of all, you can still create coffee shop-worthy coffee from the comfort of your home. Want to know how? We caught up with our Coffee Masters, as well as the outstanding competition judges and MC's you'll see at LCF this year, on what their home brewing routine looks like.

For some intel on what the best-of-the-best are using and drinking, how to support the industry and your local coffee shop from home, as well as some tips for the new at-home barista, we've got all the details below.

Psst... don't forget to check out our round-up of UK roasters who can deliver coffee straight to you door!

Rob Clarijs, Netherlands

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London Coffee Masters Winner 2019, Coffee Professional
& Co-Founder of Penrose Coffee Co.


Tell us about your at-home coffee routine. 

I love brewing pour over at home, I have an EK43 in my kitchen, Fellow Stagg EGK kettle, a couple of ACAIA scales and the choice of about 10 brewing methods. My favourite at the moment is the Origami dripper. I also have a Slayer Espresso single group on the counter that I usually use at events, but I prefer having espresso at local cafes and filter at home. 

I always use different beans, most of the time I have some crazy coffees on the shelf, either from friends who competed that gave me a bag, some of my own coffee like Oostenwind from De Zeeuwse Branding or the Slurp subscription. 

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista?  

Just start. Use YouTube, Instagram and other media to learn and practise. Also, don't be scared to fail, you'll only learn from your mistakes and then you know how it's not done.  

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

I really enjoy Socratic Coffee. I love their way of being objective and their scientific approach in all of their experiments. I've heard great stories about the Barista Hustle education, but haven't tried that myself.

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

As a cafe, or roastery that usually supplies to wholesale, these times are extremely difficult. Supporting a local coffee business can be as easy ordering their coffee beans or other products online. Also, give them a shout-out every now and then, it's hard to stay relevant as a company when most of your customers are forced to be closed. And when times get better and they can open their doors, make sure you visit them even more than you used to so they can catch up their losses! 

When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit? 

I hope this will be my own shop Penrose Coffee Co in Rotterdam which two good friends and I were in the middle of opening. We had everything ready and were supposed to open next month, but we've had to put our plans on hold. My fingers crossed that we will be able to open the doors of our shop when this is all over and I can have my first coffee there!

Agnieszka Rojewska, Poland

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World Barista Champion 2018, London Coffee Masters Winner 2018

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine. 

I'm not very well equipped as all my coffee gear stays in Italy, but I'm using a clever dripper, the only brewing method I have, and I was lucky enough to keep one of my comandante grinders in my parents' house. 

It's very common for coffee people to just stick to methods we all know and are more confident to use, especially in times where we try not to waste a lot of coffee — every bean might be very valuable.

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista?

Don't buy all the coffee gear possible. Just choose one method, preferably a very easy immersion method like clever or even french press, and a grinder. At the beginning, you don't need to invest in the most expensive equipment, either. The internet is full of brewing guides for different methods, so choose one and master it.

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

James Hoffman's YouTube channel or Barista Hustle trainings.

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

I saw that some of the shops have started to raise money or some are selling vouchers to use once they're reopened. I like to see shops that take care of their baristas in various ways.

When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit?

The funny thing is that I don't go to coffee shops very often, so I have no idea. It will be totally spontaneous move!

Erika Vonie, USA

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New York Coffee Masters Winner 2017,  Independent Consultant

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine. 

Right now my go-to coffee maker is my trusty Moccamaster, a Baratza Sette 270 grinder and an Acaia scale. I gave up on making pourovers for myself when I retired from bar shifts. For me, it's all about ease and consistency! I'm currently drinking some Black White Anaerobic coffee, and have some from Greenway, Ultimo, Roundhill Roasters and Monsieur Clause to crack into. I generally rotate my selection of coffees fairly often, and we've currently got more coffee in the house than we truly need! 

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista? 

Get a notebook and track your recipes and progress. Most professional baristas receive on-the-job training to help them hone their palate and skills, but home baristas don't have the luxury of a trainer. However, by keeping very good notes, you can sort of create your own training guide, that will help you understand what you did that worked and what didn't. It's also nice to flip back to old entries and reminisce when different coffees are familiar or taste similarly

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

You kind of can't do better than spending a few hours exploring on James Hoffman's YouTube page. His videos are easy to follow, very informative and cover a wide range of topics for the home barista to engage with, from recipes to product reviews. His book World Atlas of Coffee is also my #1 recommendation for those looking to further their coffee education at home. 

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

There are many different initiatives out there right now for people to support their local coffee shop and baristas, and the best place you can check is on their social media pages, where many companies are keeping their patrons informed on their status. Go Fund Bean on Instagram has done an incredible job aggregating many virtual tip jars and donations for roasteries. Sprudge is always a good resources as well to check out #stillroasting, a comprehensive and live document showing which roasters are still in business. 

When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit?

My beloved neighbourhood coffee shop that's just around the corner from my house and run by my best friend, Trash Island.

Anne Lunell, Sweden

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Co-founder of Koppi Coffee Roasters

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine.

My preferred go-to method is Hario's V60. I love filter coffee and this method highlights the acidity and complexity in the coffee. Normally I brew one of our own coffees since I always have that at hand. 

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista? 

My advice would be to invest in a good grinder. With a quality grinder, any brew method you choose will have potential to taste great. And don’t be scared to play around and experiment with the brewing. Watch brew guides as inspiration but don’t see it as something you have to follow. Find what works best for you. 

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

On Barista Hustle you can dive deep into whatever topic you are most interested in. I think they're offering some free online courses right now. 

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

Buy coffee and cakes from the cafés that are still open. And for roasteries – support them by buying your coffee for home through their web shop or potentially if they have open locations. If we don’t support the specialty roasters, we don’t support small-scale producers and the whole supply chain will suffer greatly. 

When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit? 

We live close to Copenhagen and I really miss seeing our customers there. The border between Denmark and Sweden has been closed for a month or so now. Normally we do a full day visiting the people we work with and it is something I really love.
 
Kris Schackman, Germany

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Co-founder and CEO of Five Elephant

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine.
 
At home I'm currently brewing with a v60 and grinding with a Comandante Nitro Blade hand grinder to keep things fresh. On my shelf this past week has been our Maracaturra variety from El Socorro in Guatemala and Kamagogo AA from Kenya. I like some variety in my coffee and usually brew just once per day, but if I want a second cup of coffee, I generally will try to brew something different to contrast what I drink. 

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista?  

Don't Fu@K It Up! No seriously, using the right water for your brews and grinding fresh are probably the two biggest factors affecting your coffee taste. If you don't know what your water specifications are, you can always buy a water like Ashbeck or similar and compare a brew with that and your house water. It can be fun to try out different waters and see how it affects the taste.  As we do not recommend buying bottled water on a permanent basis, a decent alternative is the BWT Penguin filter, which remineralized the carbonates in your tap water with Magnesium and reduces limescale and chlorine.  

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

Barista Hustle is always a good resource and you can always check out our brewing tips and current parameters at fiveelephant.com.

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

Order online! For example, we offer a few special discounts from time to time (check us on Instagram) and it's a great way to get fresh coffee and brewing gear delivered to your door.  Engage with your local roaster on social media!  Many of these businesses have time to answer questions and communicate about what they do.  Post some photos of your brews and coffee bags, they/we would love to hear from you! 
  
When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit? 

Well our Kreuzberg cafe is still open for window, single-serve takeaway and we will probably re-open our Mitte Shop with a window service soon as well.  Since I live three blocks from our Kreuzberg Shop/Roastery/Office, I am there every day for my fix. I hope the first shop I visit, when normal service is up and running again, is our new café which we plan to open still as soon as this is all over. More on that coming soon! 

Freda Yuan, United Kingdom

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Head of Coffee, Origin Coffee Roasters

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine.
 
Brewing coffee is like baking bread. In order to get the best results, each aspect must be carefully considered. In particular, getting right ratio of coffee to water is crucial. The equipment I use provides me with a solid platform, on which I can experiment with different ratios or grind sizes, to showcase the profile of the coffee.
 
When I’m at home I use the Comandante hand grinder, Kalita wave 185 + filter papers, and digital scales. I also take this equipment with me when travelling to different coffee producing countries, to share Origin’s coffee with different producers. 
 
People might think using a coffee dripper is hard and intimidating, however, I find that the Kalita 185 is really forgiving because of its flatbed surface — it’s actually easy to use. There are some elements to focus on, such as coffee grind size, coffee to water ratio, contact time, etc. But once you get the hang of it, you can brew a very professional cup of coffee at home! 
 
I’m currently brewing Origin Coffee Roasters Magwila from Tanzania. I sourced this coffee for Origin because I’m a big fan of Tanzanian coffee! It has cane sugar sweetness and is very transparent. The flavour profile is different when compared with other East African coffees. In addition, the coffee industry in Tanzania isn’t as developed as other African countries which adds an extra layer of rarity to an already great coffee.
 
Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista? 
 
There are plenty of brewing methods for you to choose from. Don’t be scared of trying new ways to brew coffee — it's a trial and error process. Find the best method that works for you and champion it! There is no right way to make a cup of coffee, the best coffee is the coffee that you enjoy!
 
Side note: Invest in a good grinder. Understanding how grind size affects the final profile of coffee will make you a better coffee brewer in the long run.
 
Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 
 
I would suggest looking into flavour profiles depending on what country the coffee is produced in. Certain coffee regions have a typical flavour profile. For example, African coffee in general is brighter in acidity, floral and with more fruit notes. Whereas the acidity in Central American and South American coffee are mellower with some fruity attributes, more chocolatey and nutty notes.
 
However, within the different regions of each country, flavour profiles can be hugely different too. This is, of course, because of the diverse microclimate conditions in each region. For example, there are more than 10 coffee producing regions in Colombia and the growing conditions and flavour profiles in each region be hugely contrasting!
 
Try to identify what the typical flavour attributes are from a country. Knowing what to expect and adjusting the brew variables to taste will not only improve your sensory skills, but also take your brewing skills to another level! 
 
How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  
 
Cash injection is the best and most direct way to support our local cafés and roasteries at the moment, since most are closed so they don’t have any revenue stream. Check out cafés and roasteries on social media and visit their websites — some of them offer deliveries not just for coffee but also other items. 
 
When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit?
 
The first shop I will visit will be my local café Browns of Brockley in Brockley. It is one of the key cafés in local area where I hang out with friends and family. 

Klaus Thomsen, Denmark

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Co-founder of Coffee COllective

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine.

I’m brewing 95% of my coffee at home on the brilliant Kalita Wave glass brewer. I use a Hario drip scale and grind either on my Mahlkönig Vario with steel burr set or by hand on my Feldgrinder. I use a Hario pouring kettle and clean RO (Reverse Osmosis) water. I prefer washed coffees, like our Buku from Ethiopia or Jaime Casallas from Colombia. Lately I’ve also been driking some full immersion brews of a Bolivian Coco Natural from the Los Rodrigues family’s mill called Buena Vista. That works really well as Cowboy Coffee brewed on my Tias Kettle from Norway.

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista? 

Get a scale and start measuring beans and water. Grind fresh for each brew. Experiment with your grind size to get the optimal extraction. Use clean water with low mineral content. And don’t skimp on beans... your cup of coffee will never be better than your raw material.

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

There’s a ton of great information out there with brew guides from numerous roasteries and coffee enthusiasts, that are worth checking out. Barista Hustle and James Hoffmann’s YouTube channel are two great places to geek out. 

I’ve also definitely learned a lot using the VST CoffeeTools app and the (expensive) refractometer from the same company. It’s a huge investment mostly reserved for professionals, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to bring it home occasionally. But honestly, I think brewing at home you get a long way without any online tools, and focusing on getting in touch with your sensory apparatus is fun and doesn’t cost much. Set up a small coffee tasting for yourself and have your partner/friend and switch the coffees around so you can blind taste them and write down notes. Even for professionals it’s fun to blind taste as you leave all your preconceptions behind.

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

Sign up for subscriptions, buy beans for home brewing and buy gift cards for yourself and your loved ones. Send a coffee gift to your family members (most roasteries have a webshop so you can order and have it sent directly to the recipient). And once shops open up again, make sure to go support.

When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit?
 
All of our own shops! I’ve not been able to go to them as we’ve split us into teams. I am dying to go visit our shop on Jægersborggade and see my staff there face-to-face again. I’ve never ever been away from any of our shops for this long.

Gwilym Davies, United Kingdom

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Barista & founder of prufrock coffee

Tell us about your at-home coffee routine.

I have used many methods but always return to the Hario V60, it takes a little more technique than other paper filter methods but I like the clean bright coffee it makes.  
Making coffee at home can be as difficult or easy as you like, when I travel I often just put ground coffee in a cup, pour hot water on it, leave it for 15 minutes (while I shower) then drink it. 

I have a roasting project called The Naughty Dog, so I'm often drinking coffee I have roasted to test it but I also like to see how other local roasters are doing. For international roasters, Coffee Vine do a carefully curated subscription or for something more rare, the Slurp subscription from Standout Coffee always provides something interesting and different.

Do you have a piece of advice for the new at-home barista?  

Don't get too focused on the brewing device, no brewing device can make bad coffee beans taste good. Getting a good quality grinder is a great foundation for brewing at home. Also, hard water in places like London can hide many of the flavours in a coffee making everything taste the same, so filtering the water can help bring the coffee to life. 

Do you recommend any online tools for barista training and coffee knowledge? 

Barista Hustle have an online library of courses and tools for home users and professionals available for a very reasonable subscription. The European Coffee Trip is also a good resource for free information.

How can people support their favourite coffee shop or the coffee industry as a whole right now?  

We can still support some companies as they're altering their business model to comply with the restrictions or diversifying into deliveries or alternative products. Other businesses have closed and maybe they would be open to suggestions from their customers such as a buy-in-advance scheme.  
 
When this is all over, what's the first coffee shop you're going to visit? 

This is a difficult question! Prague has so many great cafés so where I go depends on where I am in the city. There is also a close community so I want to see how everyone is, especially the cafés that that had not been open very long before the lockdown such as Longin, EDM and Maze.


This article was originally published on The London Coffee Festival's website.
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