Pic Annie Spratt

Coffee culture can be paradoxical. Consumers may be tribalistic but a Costa-slush-frappuccino-autumn-coolers will be instagrammed as much as a speciality coffee from a local independent roaster.

Neither is right or wrong. But when we talk about coffee, we tend to assume that ‘speciality’ coffee is on a pedestal looking down on high street chains.

This isn’t the case. The word ‘speciality’ often creates a natural barrier to entry for some people. The term actually refers to a measurable score given to the beans. And as James Guard explains, speciality is for everyone.

“We should just make it really easy for people to understand how simple great coffee is,” says James, who is co-owner of Greengate coffee roastery Heart & Graft. “Just make it easy and approachable, without being reductionist.

“I think speciality coffee has made itself somewhat impenetrable to people who are curious about coffee. If you feel you have to know loads before you even start brewing coffee at home, like there’s so much to ‘get right’, then you might well be put off.”

With this in mind, how do we make it simple and easy for people to understand making it great coffee at home?

Sean Fowler, also from Heart & Graft, will be taking part in a workshop this Thursday with Slow Brew Club at Porter & Cole in the Northern Quarter, talking about how to make great coffee – not to mention coffee-cocktails – at home.

Knowing which contraption to use is often the first hurdle. Some purchases are driven by aesthetic – a stovetop being a nice ornament to have even if it’s not used.

We asked Sean which appliance to go for and what difference it makes.

“Every brew method has its pros and cons. V60 brews beautifully delicate and balanced coffee when done right, however mess up your brew ratio [how much water to coffee] or your grind coarseness and the results don’t impress.

“French press brews heavy viscous almost syrup-like coffee, is easy to do and is relatively time efficient as you steep the coffee and leave for 3-5 minutes allowing you to do something else. It depends what taste profile you want, how much time you have and if you have the patience to stand over a brew for some time.”

Time is often the deciding factor here. A George Clooney Nespresso pod is convenient but not that great for the environment – or the taste buds, depending on your opinion. A Sunday morning brew will naturally different to a Monday morning cup, and your methods should change accordingly.

“Time is important but it doesn’t have to be,” says Sean. “The aeropress brew method changed my home brewing experience. The ability to brew a tasty cup in two minutes changed my world!

“There is, on the other hand, definitely something nice about the ritual and time spent lovingly hand crafting a perfectly extracted delicious chemex, maybe on a Sunday morning when we have more time.”

Heart and Graft live and breathe coffee but they don’t take themselves too seriously. And in holding this event with Slow Brew Club, they hope to impart meaningful and digestible advice whilst having a bit of fun, rather than making you feel you’re at a sommelier seminar.

Tickets for the event this Thursday are free and available here.

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