With living costs and inflation soaring we’re opting for more homebrewed coffee and frappés to save money.
As 80% of coffee shop enthusiasts visit weekly and 16% get their fix daily, many need to find alternatives to avoid tiredness and lose out on the simple pleasure of a rich coffee or sweet treat.
In these tough times, chart-topping games publisher Kwalee offers a helping hand to those who’d like a convenient guide on making budget-friendly professional coffee.
It’ll take some playing around with interesting flavours, ingredients, and creative flair to pull off an Instagram-ready cuppa. Still, it’s a great opportunity for coffee enthusiasts to learn how to make their own perfect coffee.
The science of making perfect coffee
Making a fantastic brew in the best way possible boils down to three core factors: the coffee grind, the extraction method and the coffee-to-water ratio. Extra ingredients and learning the secrets behind a good cold brew can add more exciting ways to get your caffeine fix.
However, the choice of coffee is essential. You have access to two of the most popular beans: Arabica and Robusta. The first – with bitterness, high acidity, low caffeine content. The second – almost acid-free, has a high caffeine content, and guarantees a dense layer of foam on the surface of the infusion.
The taste is also influenced by the intensity of roasting. Meaning, the darker the coffee, the stronger the taste, and the more bitter and less sour it is. Also, where the coffee was grown is crucial. African beans are characterised by hints of citrus fruits and flowers, American ones by nuts and chocolate, and Asian ones by their earthy texture.
The type of bean grind decides how the coffee tastes and feels. The finer your grind, the more bitter your coffee is.
Coarse grinds are difficult to extract, but they’re the best if you want to make a cold brew. They are stronger, less bitter, and more refreshing compared to regular drip coffee.
In addition, grinding the coffee right before brewing gives it a richer taste and aroma. The finer it is ground, the longer it will brew. At home, either an automatic or a manual grinder will come in handy. It is important to use a burr grinder with two plates rather than a blade grinder – it guarantees a better taste of the brew.
Extraction is the process behind giving your coffee its flavour and caffeine content by pouring water over it and letting it sit.
Adjust the coffee’s caffeine content, flavour, and aroma by changing the extraction time and temperature.
To retain caffeine, scald the grounds and extract them for a short period. For a strong flavour and aroma, extract it for longer but use warm water. Customise these factors to get your desired coffee.
What coffee-to-water (C2W) ratio should you choose? It depends on the extraction method. For quick, high-temperature extractions, set the ratio to about 1:16.
Extraction methods like French presses can’t take the heat – literally! So lukewarm temperature brews will need higher C2W ratios; 1:8 sounds ideal.
You don't have to buy an expensive coffee machine right away to drink exquisite coffee every day like from the best coffee shop. You can stock up on budget-friendly devices that will help you easily prepare a delicious coffee drink. Here’s where the technique of brewing coffee is important.
One of the secrets to making barista-style coffee is in the modest contraption: the Moka pot. This nifty device uses pressure from heating on a stove to brew a delicious coffee. Although it may not have the layer of cream foam and flavour you expect from an espresso machine. Take care to use it safely and follow the instructions to get the best-tasting coffee possible.
It should be mentioned that properly selected coffee brewing methods and ingredients can have a positive effect on our bodies. Just two or three cups of coffee consumed every day accelerates our body's metabolism. In addition, coffee has been shown to be a good antioxidant that slows down the ageing process of the body. So could coffee be a secret super-drug? A question for another day!
What if it’s hard for you to come up with an interesting combination of ingredients and create delicious coffee at home? Well, here’s an interesting solution.
Kwalee’s latest release Perfect Coffee 3D gives players a chance to design their ideal coffee with a range of delicious and unexpected ingredients. Players get to serve VIP customers with some unexpected orders and customise their own coffee shop.
Kwalee learnt from making the game that people add all kinds of unusual ingredients to their coffee to make it perfect for drinking - and social media. So throw the sugar out and add these little extras to enjoy in your drink. Sweeten it with caramel chunks or biscuit crumbs. Spice it up with cinnamon sticks. Dunk a scoop of ice cream or boba pearls.
Of course, there’s a world of regional flavours to try. Chris Williams, Game Designer said: ‘My favourite coffee is Cypriot Coffee. It is small and strong – like an espresso. It has a thick foam on top called “Kaimaki”. The grounds stay in the cup, so you have to be careful not to drink all the way to the bottom or else you get a mouthful of dirt.’
💡 Coarse grinds are perfect for cold brews – fine grinds for almost any other daily coffee need.
💡 Time and temperature are your friends as they decide how your coffee tastes and the caffeine it’d have.
💡 Choose your extraction method before setting a coffee-to-water ratio, then measure your ingredients in grams.
💡 It's optional, but special ingredients are the key to Instagrammable beverages! Assemble your coffee drink and experiment.
Simon Platt, Head of Development at Kwalee, said: 'When we decided to make a simulation game for coffee lovers, we knew we had to become experts quickly. The coffee machine in our studio was our starting point and helped us learn the importance of a precise grind.'
The developers at Kwalee also considered all those who prefer making other beverages than coffee. Hence, they added a variety of drinks for players to use – from iced teas to hot chocolate and some fruity freestyle options.
And it seems this decision was a wise one. Simon acknowledges that not everyone likes the stuff, including himself. ‘What’s my perfect coffee? I would start by roasting my own beans, let the aroma fill the house and then throw it in the bin, flee the house to escape the smell and make a painfully milky, weak tea.’
Brewing the perfect cup of coffee on a budget
Perfect Coffee 3D developer Andrew is no coffee connoisseur, yet if he had the knowledge or time, he’d make himself a nice cappuccino. If you’re in the same shoes as he is, then don’t worry. The Moka pot serves as the perfect place to begin your brewing journey. Here’s the easy way:
- Grind some freshly roasted coffee beans till they’re neither too fine nor too coarse. Or buy a pre-ground pack of coffee powder with the same grind consistency.
- Take a clean and tidy Moka pot and place the grounds in its funnel tank. Let the grounds settle; don't tamp it.
- Pour some hot (not boiling) water into the pot's boiler, and fill it up till right below the safety valve. Place the funnel tank into the boiler, and reassemble the Moka pot. Don't seal it too tight.
- After sealing, heat the Moka pot on a stove. The coffee will start to brew and pour into the Moka pot's kettle.
- If gurgling sounds are heard, it means it's done. So take the Moka pot off the stove afterwards. Don't cool the boiler by letting it sit for a while. Instead, run some tap water on its surface. Pour the coffee from the Moka pot into a cup and enjoy!
Experiment with this approach with other ingredients and let us know what makes the perfect coffee for you.
What’s your perfect coffee?
With this guide, you can hopefully improve your coffee-making game this summer and save much-needed cash. However it’s brewed, that morning beverage still goes lovely with a nutritious breakfast and a few sessions of Perfect Coffee 3D – now available for free on Android and iOS mobile devices.
Play the game, design your perfect coffee in it, and tag Kwalee with #PerfectCoffee3D on TikTok, Twitter or Instagram (@kwalee) with a snapshot of your ideal beverage.