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Making Great Coffee At Home - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 2, 2004

Making Great Coffee at Home

With David Gee and Matthew Gee

Coffee has become an entrenched part of Australian society and Australian salon culture. We’ve all become accustomed to grabbing an espresso coffee from our favourite café. Now with the growing popularity and affordability of home espresso machines, plungers and drip filters, we’re also able to enjoy a better coffee at home - or offer one to our clients.

Regardless of which method you’re using to make your coffee, getting a good tasting cup takes a bit of practice. We asked David and Matthew Gee, professional baristas and principals of Barista BasicsÔ Coffee Academy to help us out with a few tips on making the perfect cup.

French Press or Plunger

A plunger produces a long black style coffee, which you can add cold milk to if desired. Apart from the home espresso machine this is our coffee-maker of choice at home.


  • Always buy a plunger made from Pyrex glass. It will retain the heat better than non-Pyrex glass or perspex. The word ‘Pyrex’ is usually written on the exterior of the glass.
  • Store your ground coffee in an airtight container in the cupboard.
  • Keep your plunger clean. Wind off the plunger head each time you wash the glass and use a scouring pad to clean the filter mesh, otherwise you’ll end up with a build-up of oil from the coffee which becomes rancid after a while and taints the taste of the coffee.

How to

  • Boil your kettle. Pour boiling water into the plunger and leave it for a couple of minutes then empty. This will heat the glass and help you to deliver hot rather than warm coffee
  • Put the coffee into the empty plunger. A general rule is one scoop of coffee per cup. We put in one scoop less than the number of cups required, especially for larger plungers, or the coffee can be too strong for some people.
  • By now the water in the kettle will be just off boiling, which is integral to properly brewed coffee (even in a commercial espresso machine). Pour the rest of the water into the plunger, seven-eighths filling it.
  • Let the coffee stand for about four minutes before plunging downwards, being careful not to plunge at an angle.

Drip Filters

These are a good way to serve a large group of people. For best results serve it quickly. A filter coffee will be good for about 20 minutes after if has brewed. Start daydreaming and your clients might think they’re in America sipping a bottomless cup from Denny’s several hours after it was brewed – not what you want!


  • Store your ground coffee in an airtight container in the cupboard.
  • Buy the more expensive filter papers (e.g. Melitta). The cheaper ones can make your coffee taste a bit like paper.

How to

  • The golden rule: one scoop of coffee per cup should always be employed as a starter. You can go from there according to what your taste demands.
  • Don’t use distilled water. For most locations, tap water is fine as it has minerals that will add to the taste.
  • Follow the manufacturers instructions for brewing.
  • After the coffee has brewed it will be OK to drink for up to 20 minutes. It gets bitter after this time.

Next edition we look at home espresso machines and compare the various models that are on the market.

Want to learn more?

Barista BasicsÔ Coffee Academy runs regular coffee courses in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Their three-hour Barista BasicsÔ Home Espresso Machine Course runs for 3 hours. This course is designed to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about home espresso machines. To book or enquire about dates please call 1300 366 218 or log onto and book online at

As well as producing several training videos on coffee, Matthew Gee and David Gee have also written a textbook on coffee (Australia’s first) called bean there, drunk that…(the definitive guide to coffee and the world of the barista), which costs $30 and can be purchased through Dymocks, Collins, select Angus and Robertson, independent bookstores or online at



Scoop = approx. seven grams/one tablespoon/a heaped teaspoon.


Ó & Ô 2004 David Gee and Matthew Gee

No part of this article may be reproduced without the express permission of the authors

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