7 top expert tips on how to make coffee –like a barista – at home

7 top expert tips on how to make coffee –like a barista – at home

Like coffee? Imagine how good it could be if you knew how to make coffee like a barista. We’re all ears, for one.

With ongoing restrictions still in place for many our our favourite coffee shops, unless we sit in, we’re a nation who have been flexing our barista coffee making skills in an attempt to recreate the cappuccino, latte and espresso. It may seem relatively straight forward but actually getting the flavours and aromas, not to mention the appearance, down to a T is quite an art.

To help coffee lovers get to grips with their at home espresso machines, Breville’s Resident Barista, Chloe Taylor has shared her top tips for creating delicious coffee at home.  From selecting the right beans to frothing milk to perfection, these tips will make you a household barista in no time.

Keep scrolling to find out how to make the perfect coffee, and where you can get your hands on the Breville Barista Max and Breville Barista Mini: the newest Breville coffee machines.

1. Selecting the right beans

It’s all in the bean selection. Whether you’re purchasing your beans from the supermarket or from an independent roaster, make sure you check the roasting date first. Beans should always be left for seven days after roasting to ensure they have the right level of oxidation for the oils to be released. It’s these oils which create the delicious crema on the top of your coffee and give you that authentic coffee shop flavour. 

Before you change the beans in your machine, always run a small amount of the new beans through the grinder to avoid cross contamination with fresh versus old beans, as this can affect the balance of flavour.

2. Storing your beans

Light can have negative effects on your beans so it’s important to store them in a dry, dark environment. The Breville Barista Max is kitted-out with a semi-opaque 250g hopper to limit the UV rays that can penetrate the beans. Never store your beans in the fridge (even in an airtight container) as this can lead to contamination with other flavours and smells. 

Moreover, avoid storing your beans in airtight containers as removing oxygen from the beans ages them and sucks out the oils prematurely. To keep your beans fresher for longer, I’d recommend storing them in the bag they came in as these bags feature a valve which controls the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide the beans are exposed to. Make sure you use your beans within 30 days; after which they continue to oxidise further, and the flavour can become bitter. This doesn’t mean your beans cannot be used, it simply means that are no longer at their peak for flavour.

3. Tamp ground coffee

Once you’ve ground your beans, add a heaped mound of ground coffee to your café portafilter. Now you’re ready to tamp. When tamping, don’t worry too much about the amount of pressure you’re putting on the coffee, using just a light amount of pressure is sufficient. The most important consideration when tamping is to make sure the tamper is level on the coffee’s surface to ensure when the grounds come into contact with water, the water can penetrate the coffee evenly for a balanced and delicious flavour. 

4. Find the perfect balance

When it comes to extraction, it’s all about finding the perfect balance and getting the perfect pour. If the extraction is too fast this can result in an acidic tasting coffee, as the extraction has not had enough time to draw the oils and flavours from the beans. This is vital for achieving a balanced flavour and so it’s important to find that sweet spot. In terms of the pour, you want to make sure the coffee runs through the machine slowly to ensure the oils are transferred into your cup. Baristas often refer to this ‘perfect pour’ as resembling a ‘rat’s tail’. 

When creating longer drinks, avoid free pouring, as this means the machine will over extract the ground beans and your coffee will taste bitter. Instead, add hot water to your mug before you add the coffee. Then, hold the cup at an angle and extract the coffee directly on top of the hot water to create the crema.

Product shot of the Barista Mini with milk frother

(Image credit: Breville)

5. Which milk is best; dairy or plant-based?

If you’re looking for that professional latte microfoam or cappuccino froth, you need to make sure you’re using the right milk. It’s easier to stretch the proteins of milk by using one with a higher fat and protein content (such as jersey/full fat milk). This helps create a good microfoam by binding the proteins as opposed to sticking them together. 

Plant-based milks, such as oat and almond, are harder to work with as they contain less fats and proteins, but practice is key. Barista plant-based milks are becoming more readily available for in home use too and can help you achieve better results. Regardless of your preference, I’d always recommend using milk straight from the fridge (4 degrees centigrade) as the proteins stretch more easily at this temperature. To be even more efficient why not store your milk jug in the fridge so you can whip it out whenever you need it.

6. Frothing your milk like a pro

If your Espresso machine comes with a milk wand, there are some handy hacks to ensure you’re creating perfect microfoam every time. Ensure you purge the steam wand before you put it into your milk as this ensures there is no water in the wand which could contaminate the milk. It also helps clear the wand prior to use. To help you get the perfect coffee to milk ratio, use the bottom of the spout on your milk jug as a rough guide. 

Having the wand on the milk’s surface will create a microfoam, however if the wand is higher than the surface it makes the foam more aerated.  When your milk is almost ready, plunge the wand fully into the jug and turn the wand off. This prevents larger bubbles forming on the surface and ruining the smooth microfoam you’ve created. 

You’ll know the milk is ready when you can’t keep your hand on the jug for more than (roughly) three seconds. Your milk should now look like fresh emulsion paint and have a perfect glossy finish. Always tap the milk jug on your work surface to remove any larger bubbles which have appeared on the surface of the milk. Plant-based milks can still create a glossy microfoam, they just require a little more time and effort to get the perfect consistency. Finally, always remember to purge and wipe down the wand straight away. 

7. Heat up your mug

To keep my coffee hotter for longer, I use the Breville Barista Max’s steam wand to heat my empty cup. If your espresso machine doesn’t have this function, simply do the same with boiling water from the kettle.

Breville Barista Mini Coffee Machine | was £299, now £249 at Currys PC World
Perfect for smaller kitchens, this mini coffee machine will recreate your favourite barista coffee for you. The best it? It’s on offer at Currys right now, and free delivery is available.View Deal

Breville Barista Max Coffee Machine | was £449, now £399 at Currys PC World
If you’ve got a little more space in your kitchen then this max coffee machine would work a treat. Also on offer at Currys and can delivered to your door, for free.View Deal

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