Expert Advice

Learn how to become your own barista, build a gourmet cheese board, or mix like a master.

Boston Home |
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From left, creamer with lid, $15, sugar bowl with lid, $15, and sugar tongs, $3, all Crate & Barrel; Bodum “Bistro” double-wall espresso mug, $25 for two, Sur la Table; Espro Press stainless steel coffee brewer, $120, Amazon. (Photograph by Dave Bradley. Food Styling by Rowena Day. Prop Styling by Lauren Niles.)

Become Your Own Barista

Larry Margulies has been steeped in the specialty coffee business for eight years. After buying Bagel Rising in Allston, he acquired three Espresso Royale coffee shops in Boston and then opened Pavement, a high-end concept shop. Margulies recently converted his Espresso Royale cafés into Pavements as well. Here he shares expert tips for tricking outyour own coffee station.

BEANS

Margulies seeks out single-origin beans from Counter Culture Coffee. “When you order a breakfast blend, you’re giving up the special thing about coffee,” Margulies says, pointing out the fruity flavor of Ethiopian beans or the earthy flavor of Costa Rican varieties. When brewing a cup, getting the coffee-to-water ratio just right is an art. “You can’t eyeball coffee if you’re serious about it,” Margulies says. As a general rule, 24 grams of beans produces a 12-ounce cup of coffee.

BREWING

Margulies suggests using the Baratza Vario-W Burr grinder, which weighs the coffee while grinding it. And forget those fancy brewing machines—Margulies has two Clever Coffee Drippers at home (one for him, and one for a guest). Like a French press, the Clever Dripper steeps the grinds in hot water, but unlike a French press, it delivers fresh, filtered coffee straight into the mug. He uses the Bonavita variable-temperature kettle to achieve consistent water temperatures.

ESPRESSO

The La Marzocco GS/3 is the apex for in-home espresso machines. Handmade in Italy, it features a dual boiler system: one for steaming milk, the other for creating perfect espressos every time. “It might be overkill for some, but it’s beautiful. It’d be like owning a Ferrari,” Margulies says. Regardless of which machine you choose, it’s important not to skimp on the espresso grinder. Go with an Italian brand like the Mazzer Major or the Anfim Super Caimano. An espresso tamper is also essential to achieving the perfect cup. Reg Barber Enterprises makes beautiful tampers by hand in maple, rosewood, and stainless steel.

CUPS

When it comes to serving coffee, size does matter: Two ounces for macchiatos; four ounces for cortados; six ounces for cappuccinos; and eight to 12 ounces for lattes. Margulies prefers the simple and durable porcelain cups from the Italian company Ancap.

PRO FINISH

For cappuccinos and lattes, skip the grocery-store milk cartons, says Margulies, who gets his dairy from Lee’s High Lawn Farm. Because it’s hormone-free and higher in fat, calcium, and protein, Margulies says, “the milk is sweeter, creamier, and the foam doesn’t disintegrate. It has body to it.” And be sure your steaming pitcher has straight walls—the Rattleware “Latte Art” pitcher is a good choice.

Insider Tip

The beans for a dark-roast coffee are roasted longer, which actually cooks off the caffeine. If you really want a jolt, go for the lighter roasts.

Get It!

Clever Coffee Dripper, $20, Pavement Coffeehouse.

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Photograph by Alex Gagne

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