Coffee connoisseur and co-founder of Artisan Coffee Co Ashley Palmer-Watts explains how to create the perfect coffee at home.
Sitting down with a good cup of coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. Whether you like yours first thing in the morning before the rest of the family wakes up, on the go on the way to the office, or shared with friends in the comfort of a coffee shop, it really does provide a few moments of calm within our otherwise hectic lives. And the rest of the UK agrees — research by Artisan Coffee Co has revealed that 63% of Brits consume coffee every single day.
We sat down with Ashley Palmer-Watts to discuss the inspiration behind Artisan Coffee Co, and how readers can craft the perfect coffee at home.
Can you tell us a bit more about your journey from Michelin-starred restaurateur to co-founder of Artisan, and what inspired this transition?
Before joining Artisan Coffee Co, I worked closely with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck group. After 20 years of leading Michelin-starred restaurants, I wanted to combine my approach to cooking with my passion for coffee. I spent a lot of time in Melbourne, learning with one of the best roasters in the city, Proud Mary. It was a natural step to use this experience to start Artisan Coffee Co. I spent hours on end meticulously tasting, experimenting with and blending different coffees to achieve a range of characters and flavours that would appeal to our target customers. I also worked hard to understand the different relationships people have with coffee. Instantly, I realised how I could bring a new perspective to the industry by drawing from my chef experience, but also making coffee accessible to everyone.
Bringing new ideas and innovating with coffee blends is what attracted me the most to the world of coffee. Artisan Coffee Co. allows me to incorporate the range of techniques I developed as a chef and gives me a broad scope to channel my creativity.
We’re a nation of coffee lovers. In your opinion, what makes the perfect cup of coffee?
At Artisan Coffee Co, we take a flavour-first approach to coffee. Our beans are roasted with care and skill. Taste is at the heart of a perfect cup of coffee, and we wanted to ensure there was a different blend and taste profile that appeals to everyone. Artisan Coffee Co has seven unique blends, each made to suit a different taste palette. We’re always keen to get more people to explore the world of coffee and try something new.
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Three favourite coffee shops around London?
Why do you think coffee is so important to people? London, in particular, has definitely seen a rise in coffee shop culture.
The UK coffee market is thriving, with more independent coffee brands opening, each serving a host of different coffees from around the world. Consumers are now being introduced to a broader range of coffees, which, in turn, helps to make better coffee more accessible to all.
Artisan Coffee Co commissioned new research this year, polling 2,000 UK adults, and the results signified that two-thirds of respondents (63%) consume coffee every single day. In fact, the results highlighted that our coffee choices are driven by emotional connections, the quality of the experience and the mood they deliver. Over half of respondents claimed that coffee has a significant impact on their mood, with this figure rising to 70% for 18- to 34-year-olds.
The research demonstrated that coffee drinkers felt tired (29%), grumpy (11%), and irritable (9%) before their morning coffee, while afterwards they felt relaxed (23%), focused (21%) and more energetic (20%). So, if you need a challenge and a morning pick-me-up, then the Big Shot provides that edge. Need a moment of escape, try the Dreamer, with its relaxed complexity — no caffeine but plenty of depth.
Occasion also plays a major role in coffee consumption, with results uncovering that on a weekday, 39% use coffee for the ultimate energy boost to get through the busy day ahead. Likewise, they may opt for a lower intensity coffee, such as Artisan Coffee Co’s Dreamer variant, to feel relaxed in the evenings or at the weekend to help experience some downtime.
Grabbing a coffee on a daily walk with a close friend or family member is a great way to catch up with people, in a more affordable way than sitting down for a full meal. There’s also been a significant rise in coffee dates, which has replaced the standard restaurant or bar dates, or those that involve alcohol. This helps to connect people on a new level.
Tips for readers wanting to make the perfect brew at home? What coffee should they use, and what equipment? Does milk matter?
Here are our top tips for those looking to make the perfect coffee from the comfort of their own home.
Freeze your coffee beans
Always buy your coffee regularly to keep it fresh and in the optimal condition for brewing. You can also maintain the freshness of your beans and keep them fresher for longer by freezing them into a perfect portion, for example 30g of beans for a 500ml cafetiere. Make sure they’re sealed, allow them to defrost fully before consuming, and once they’ve defrosted, don’t re-freeze them.
Using a coffee pod machine is a great way to reduce waste, as coffee pods keep the coffee fresh locked into a capsule. It’s consistent and easy to use, providing great tasting coffee each time. Make sure to descale your coffee machine at least once a month to keep it working as efficiently as possible.
Shake your coffee pods
If you give your coffee pods a shake before placing them into your machine, this will allow for optimal extraction and flow, making the most of the contents of your pod.
Start with a warm mug
Run your mug under hot water before making your coffee, especially when using coffee pods, to keep your coffee piping hot for longer.
The best milk to pair
When making a flat white, I prefer to use the best-quality full-fat milk available. I love the silky rich micro foam that a full-fat milk gives you. For a non-dairy coffee, I’d either use Sproud, as this allows the coffee flavour to really come through, or alternatively, I’d recommend Minor Figures’ oat milk to pair.
Make sure the coffee bed is level, if it isn’t level the water won’t run through it evenly, which will give it an uneven extraction. Tamp down firmly until you feel the grounds aren’t moving down anymore, then take your fingers and place them on the edge of the basket. Move them in a slight circle and you’ll be able to feel if the tamp is level with the rim of the basket.
Serving your coffee
Some of my friends love to have their coffee served in a cafetière as it’s so simple but brewed at a high quality. For larger groups, I tend to use a filter coffee dripper as a brewing device, to give a clean texture to the mouthfeel, with great extraction too.
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