How to get barista-quality coffee at home

Working from home may have lost its novelty value at this stage, but it looks as if we are here for the long haul. So if you haven’t done it already, now is the time to put in place practical arrangements acknowledging the new reality.

A decent desk and chair are two obvious requirements, but one of the things office workers miss most is barista-quality coffee, whether that’s the double macchiato available on site from the fancy machine provided by your employer or the flat white picked up from the specialty coffee shop around the corner. If all you have at home is one of those capsule machines, it’s a poor substitute. With the right gadgets, you can get that caffeine fix in your own kitchen, although the kit doesn’t always come cheap.

Naomi Handler and her husband have been working from home since the start of lockdown.

“My job used to be based in an office in Sandyford,” she says. “I was a Starbucks person who needed that daily venti fix. There were three of us in the office who took it in turns to get the round in, it was a ritual. In the early days of lockdown, I was missing the ritual as much as the caffeine. The coffee itself wasn’t that great – I could replicate it at home pretty easily and just add a lot of syrup to make it sweet.”

Naomi’s husband, on the other hand, had been based in an office just around the corner from a branch of 3fe, and had become hooked on specialty coffee.

“It’s much more difficult to replicate specialty coffee at home without a machine,” says Naomi. “What do you do with the beans, how do you make the milk? I didn’t know where to start.”

The couple took advice from 3fe ( and invested in the Sage Barista Pro espresso machine, costing nearly €800, as well as signing up for regular deliveries of beans.

“I’m a lazy person,” says Naomi, “but the machine makes it easy. It is automatic enough on the one hand and manual enough on the other to allow me to step into it. The machine still needs to be set up for each different coffee, as the grind needs to be correct for the size of the bean, which varies from coffee to coffee.

“Before we got it, I never understood why some coffees are softer and nicer to taste than others. Now I know which areas of the world I want my beans to come from and which flavour notes I prefer; I don’t like fruity, I do like nutty. We are always open to trying new kinds of beans. I’m a complete convert to specialty coffee.”

Naomi now has a new morning ritual – coffee, treadmill, bath – before she hits her desk, and says that the prospect of good coffee forces her to take breaks during the day. continue reading

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