Buying coffee used to be simple. You walked down the aisle, grabbed your usual bag of beans, and went on home. There wasn’t much variation in flavour and there weren’t many things to think about.
Specialty coffee is different. You can buy beans from dozens of origin countries. You can buy coffee with tons of new and diverse flavours. You can buy organic coffee, fair trade, direct trade, bird-friendly, light roasts, arabica, washed process- and it can feel like a lot sometimes. Buying specialty coffee shouldn’t be stressful or confusing, it should be an adventure! This article is here to help you sort up all the questions you might have!
The Rich Rewards of Specialty Coffee
Coffee’s always given us a way to slow down and enjoy life, and for us at HisBrew, coffee is a way to embrace happiness in the now.
Opening that bag of freshly roasted beans and breathing in vibrant atoms. Feeling the beans give way as you grind them by hand. Watching the grounds swell and brew as you pour hot water over them. Sipping that mug of coffee with a rich, complex flavour. All of these steps give us a chance to slow down, focus on something that we care about, and reap the rewards of a mug well brewed.
1. Choose Fresh Coffee Beans…ALWAYS!
Coffee is best enjoyed fresh. On average, coffee beans are at their freshest 7 to 14 days after the roast date, when sugars, oils, acids and aromas exist together in perfect balance, and the flavour is at its peak. As time goes on, this harmony starts to fade and several things happen to your coffee that impacts flavour. Sugars will disappear, oils and aromatics will evaporate, and certain unpleasant flavours might start appearing, such as added bitterness.
While the coffee continues to be safe to drink for quite a while, the loss of flavour and its overall freshness means you’re not going to enjoy the coffee in the same way 12 months after it’s roasted, compared to a recommended 2 to 6 weeks.
The biggest tip we have is to buy coffee from local roasters rather than store-bought coffee. Always look for the ‘roasted date’ label on a coffee bag rather than the ‘expiry date’. Knowing the roasted date would allow you to more accurately tell when the coffee is roasted.
In Malaysia, we are blessed with so many awesome coffee roasters, so depending on your budget, you could choose:
Hisbrew Coffee (Genesis Blend)
The prices of coffee from these local roasters cost around RM25 to RM100 for a 200g bag, so it’s worth experimenting to find out which flavour suits you best!
2. Buy a Good Grinder
One of the often neglected, but arguably most important tools in coffee making is investing in a good grinder. Grinding your own beans before each brew ensures the freshest flavour, taste and aroma. It also allows you to easily control the grind size, a key selling point whether you opt for fine grinds for espresso machines, medium for drip coffee makers or coarse, for those who prefer using a French press or making cold brew.
If you’re just getting started dabbling in specialty coffee, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a coffee grinder. A good budget coffee grinder would serve you well, and we recommend the Timemore C2 Hand Grinder, price at RM190 as of the writing of this article.
The unique selling point on the Timemore C2 Hand Grinder is that it could grind from coarse grind suitable for french press, all the way to fine grind, suitable for espresso machines. Not many manual grinders in the market with this price point could grind such a wide range, yet being consistent.
3. Buy a Good Scale
If you take coffee brewing seriously, then you know accurate measurements are essential. Just like baking, there is little room for guesswork when it comes to making a good cup of joe. This makes the coffee scale a very important tool to have. It opens the door for consistency in every cup and provides you with the opportunity for experimentation.
What we would recommend is to get a scale with a 0.1g accuracy and with a build in timer.
To help you find the coffee scale that’s right for you, here’s what we recommend:
Timemore Black Mirror (RM~150)
Scale with Timer (RM~27)
Timemore Black Mirror
If you’re looking for a coffee scale that can do it all, look no further than the Timemore Black Mirror. With few embellishments, it boasts a clean and modern design, including an LED display that’s hidden from sight until the scale is in use. It also includes a silicone mat that lives on the scale’s surface to protect it from water damage.
In terms of measurements, this scale can precisely measure weight to 0.1 gram—ideal for espresso and pour-over coffee. Besides accurately weighing out your coffee, this electronic scale includes an integrated timer that allows you to take more control of your brew. There is also an automatic timing function that automatically starts when the scale senses a change in weight. Additionally, it has an auto-off function, which engages after three minutes of inactivity.
Scale with Timer
For a wallet-friendly option, this coffee scale comes in for the win with a number of extras for a low price. Not only does it include a timer, but this scale also measures a total of four different units. It has a max weight of 3,000 to 5,000 grams and can measure precisely to 0.1 gram.
The scale comes with a silicone mat, which protects the device from heat or spilt liquids. The mat is easily removable to clean off between uses.
4. Choose Your Weapon of Choice
These days, with so many different ways to make coffee at home, you can feel overwhelmed even before you begin. We’re here to make it simpler for you.
Pourover V60 (RM~25)
Ready to get geeky? The V60 is a pour-over brewing device with a cone-shaped dripper at a 60º angle (hence the name). A complete set has the V60 cone, filter paper, a mug or serving vessel called a decanter, and a kettle. Bring out your digital weighing scale, too, because brewing with this is all about precision, precision, precision!
Moka Pot (RM10-200)
Moka pot is of Italian origin, it’s a stovetop coffee-maker that has three main parts when disassembled: the vessel, coffee collector, and the filter basket. It utilizes pressure to make water seep from the vessel upwards to the coffee collector. Moka pot is perfect if you want your coffee strong and espresso-like.
French Press (RM~20)
We love the full-bodied coffee that comes from the French press method. The texture is heavier and denser than a pour-over. French press is an immersion brew method, meaning coffee grounds are fully immersed in water and then strained using a metal filter. Metal filters allow oils and undissolved coffee particles to pass into a cup.
5. Time to Enjoy Your Coffee
Bean (RM25) + Scale (RM27) + Grinder (RM189) + Weapon (RM25)= RM266
Once you’ve gotten your specialty coffee starter kit ready, it’s time to brew yourself a cuppa and enjoy! With all that said, if you’re just getting into specialty coffee, it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet, you can get a mug of good quality coffee for as low as RM266! Broaden your horizon and don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what suits you best, it’s most important that you enjoy your coffee journey.
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