It’s not a secret that both my husband and I love having breakfast at home with a cup of really good coffee. Whether it’s on a week day before going to work or during the weekend, we always take the time to freshly grind some specialty coffee beans, prepare the coffee and sit down to enjoy.
We usually make filter coffee on the AeroPress machine and eat a slice of bread with peanut butter on a working day, but when we have more time during the weekend we make a Chemex and maybe cook Shakshuka baked eggs.
Now our home brewing set-up has received a major upgrade thanks to the Barista Express machine.
Developed by Sage Appliances by Heston Blumenthal, the Barista Express is the best espresso machine you could get for your home. It’s elegant, simple to use and fully configurable. It performs like a commercial machine, but it’s small enough to fit on a kitchen counter.
My favourite feature of the Barista Express is the in-built grinder. You can spend money on really expensive and good coffee, but if it’s already ground then you wouldn’t get any of its distinctive flavours. To get the full flavour out of it you must freshly grind the beans right before preparing your coffee. The coffee aroma is lost within minutes of it being ground, so it’s important to buy always whole beans and grind them at home.
We have a hand-grinder, but with the Barista Express grinder it’s easier to adjust settings (from fine to coarse) and therefore control the extraction (slower to faster).
Coffee roasted Climpson & Sons and delivered by a new coffee subscription service called Bottle & Bean.
What makes the Barista Express the perfect coffee machine for me is that the whole process, from bean to coffee, takes two minutes.
My husband on the other hand loves playing around with the machine and all its settings, using scales and apps to control the coffee’s weight and extraction. He spent half a day on Saturday making tests to make the perfect espresso cup.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a geek to use this machine (the proof is that even I can use it!). To make an espresso using the Barista Express machine is incredibly easy.
Add the beans to the hopper, grind the coffee directly into the portafilter, lock the handle into the espresso machine, and press the button for single or double espresso. Don’t forget to place your cup underneath the portafilter! ;)
If you like your coffee with milk, the Barista Express has a high power milk frothing arm to perfectly steam the milk for latte art.
Despite attending a latte art class at Artisan Coffee school in January, my pouring skills are still quite bad. I am looking forward to practicing every day with my Barista Express and drawing a rosetta one day!
You know what goes really well with a good cup of coffee? Freshly baked croissants!
Last weekend I made an attempt to make some for the first time. I prefer Italian-style brioches to the buttery French croissants, so what I made resembles more a sweet bread than a flaky pastry.
Maybe I should have added extra Nutella filling! ;)
Recipe adapted from Chilly Frosting.
- 5g dry yeast
- 250ml full-fat milk
- 600g plain flour, sifted
- 100g granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 eggs (use the remaining 1/2 for brushing the dough)
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 10g salt
- 50g butter, softened
- 2 tbsp milk for brushing
- Nutella for the filling
Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Let it rest for 45 minutes.
In your stand mixer bowl, put the remaining flour, sugar, oil, eggs, flavoring and start mixing.When the milk is absorbed, add the salt and keep mixing until the dough is smooth with an elastic texture. Place it on a floured kitchen counter and knead by hand, adding flour if necessary.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl covered with cling film and let it rise for three hours or until it’s doubled (I left it overnight).
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls and use a rolling pin to roll out the balls. Spread the softened butter on top of each layer (except for the last one) and stack them on top of each other. Flatten the stacked-up layers of dough into a rectangular shape.
Slice the rectangle into 16 triangles.
Add a heaping teaspoon of Nutella at the wide end of each wedge.
Start from this end to roll each croissant up. Place the croissants on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover them with cling film and let them rise for 2 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Brush the surface of the croissants with the half egg remaining and the 2 tablespoons of milk (mixed together). Bake for 16 minutes or until golden.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Barista Express machine from Sage Appliances. All opinions are my own.