How to make barista coffee at home

Get ready to become your very own barista with expert tips on how to make the perfect takeaway coffee at home 

With the average Brit buying three takeaway coffees a week, making your own at home is the perfect cost-cutting exercise.

Even though there are many different types of coffee makers that exist to help you with this, can you ever really get that barista coffee taste at home?   

We asked the coffee experts to share their tips on how to make your home-brewed coffee taste just like it came from your favourite coffee shop. 

Close up shot of professional barista holding cup of fresh cappuccino with beautiful rosetta flower while working at the bar counter in cafe, coffee shop worker making barista coffee with latte artCredit: Shutterstock/ImYanis
With a few simple tips and a little bit of practice, you’ll soon be producing barista-worthy coffee at home

Having worked in food and drinks marketing, journalism and PR, coffee connoisseur Lex Thornely went on to co-found ethical coffee brand Blue Goose Coffee.

He says recreating your favourite barista-made coffee may seem daunting but with practice and some expert tips, you’ll soon be able to brew delicious coffee at home. 


Buy good quality beans

Ditch the instant coffee

While 80% of households use instant coffee, the way to get true barista coffee favour is ditching this for something a bit tastier.  

“Great coffee starts with great beans so make sure to invest in high quality, ethically-sourced coffee beans to ensure freshness and flavour,” advises Thornley.

“Most large and even independent coffee shops now allow you to buy the beans they use in-store, so if you have a particular brand or roast you like I recommend seeing if you can buy some to ensure you get the flavour you love.” 

Buying from a local-to-you roaster is a great idea, especially as there are hundreds of small batch roasters cropping up all the time. You’ll probably pay a bit more for the coffee than if you purchased from a supermarket, however you know it’s been freshly roasted and not sat in storage for months. 

North Star roasted coffee beansCredit: North Star
North Star are based in Leeds, one of many independent roasteries that have popped up in recent years

Grind the beans yourself

Invest in a coffee grinder

While many coffee shops will offer to grind the beans for you, Thornley says you’ll get the best-tasting coffee if you do it yourself.    

“For the best flavour, always grind your coffee beans fresh just before brewing,” he says.

“This ensures that the coffee is as fresh and flavourful as possible. Invest in a small coffee grinder and keep your beans in an airtight container away from direct sunlight to keep all those rich flavours and aromas locked in.”  

If you don’t want to fork out for a grinder, the best place to keep your grounds are in the freezer, just taking out portions as you need them. Thornley recommends keeping them in an airtight container and using within three months to prevent freezer burn.   

If you’re concerned about your health, the best coffee beans to choose are robusta or blonde beans, both of which have a high antioxidant content, which can help your body deal with harmful free radicals.

What are the main types of coffee?

This is a concentrated form of coffee, served in shots. Made of just two ingredients, coffee and hot water, it often forms the base of other coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes. 

This is made by pouring hot water onto ground coffee beans, then allowing to brew, whether using a drip coffee machine, V60 drip, cafetiere or AeroPress.

One of the most popular coffee drinks, this is made from a mixture of espresso and steamed milk. It’s generally a single shot of espresso topped with equal parts of milk and forth. Sometimes it can be finished off with a sprinkle of chocolate powder. 

A milky coffee drink, a latte is of one shot of espresso with steamed milk poured over, finished with a final, thin layer of frothed milk on top.

A flat white is a blend of foamed/textured milk poured over a double shot of espresso

This is simply just hot water added to espresso.  

This is brewed coffee (using filter) and steamed milk, in a ratio of one part coffee to one part steamed milk with no froth on top.

Choose your brewing method

What type of coffee do you want to make?

“The brewing method you use can drastically enhance your coffee, giving you a different flavour profile or texture every time, so experiment with different methods until you find the one that you like best,” says Thornley.   

Not all coffee makers, especially automated machines, will allow you to make adjustments but some favoured by Thornley include a French press, also known as a cafetiere, or an espresso machine.   

You don’t necessarily need an expensive coffee maker either. He says many baristas are now brewing using a Moka pot (try the Bialetti Moka Express Coffee Maker, £24, John Lewis) or an AeroPress (£34,Amazon). Both are great options if you’re on a budget but still want a great-tasting brew – the Moka pot is perfect for espresso, while an AeroPress can make either espresso-style or filter coffee.   

Woman making coffee in a moka pot to illustrate how to make barista coffee at homeCredit: Shutterstock/Masson
You don’t need a fancy machine to make barista-style coffee – a Moka pot is a great alternative

Get the temperature right

Avoid boiling water

The flavours and aromas of your coffee can change depending at what temperature it’s been brewed. The ratio of water to coffee can also affect the taste.    

“The temperature and ratio of your water are key to getting the most flavour out of your coffee,” says Thornley. “Getting it wrong could leave you with a burnt and bitter-tasting brew, or one that’s watered down.”  


Water tips

The exact temperature you need will depend on the beans and grounds you use, but generally, a temperature around 90-96°C (194-204.8°F) is good.

The coffee-to-water ratio should be about one part coffee to 15 parts water, which will help you extract the most flavour. If you’re making an espresso, use a ratio of 1 part coffee to 2 parts of water because it is a concentrate that is typically diluted in water or milk. 

Prepare the milk

Time to get frothing

If you want to recreate your favourite store-bought cappuccino or latte, you’re going to need to froth up that milk.   

“The best way to get frothed milk is by buying a machine with a steam wand, as they are much better than products that just aerate,” says James Gray, founder and director of Dorset-based roasters Barista & Co.   

Steam wands can be tricky to master, but Andy Cross, head roaster at Two Chimps Coffee, says practice will make perfect – eventually!  

“Keep practising with milk steaming,” he says. “It’s a tricky skill to master, but getting a lovely froth on your drinks will truly upgrade your coffee game. It’s also important to understand the drink you are making and learn how to steam milk for that specific drink. The froth on a latte is different from the froth on a flat white, for example.”  

Don’t have a machine with a steam wand? You can buy a battery operated foamer like the NanoFoamer (£39.99, Amazon). Alternatively, Gray says there are other ways to get that perfect frothy coffee.   

“You can also use a cafetiere”, explains Gray. “Just use the filter to froth a small amount of milk and then put in the microwave to heat for 30 seconds. It is best to use a small cafetiere and ensure you don’t put any metal components in the microwave, only the glass beaker.”  

French press with whipped milk to illustrate how to make barista coffee at home
If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can create frothy milk by using a cafetiere

The finishing touches

Finish it off like a pro

That beautiful coffee art that your local barista adds can be done at home, but it might take some practice.   

“Making latte art can be a bit difficult, but with practice you can get more creative,” advises Mika Tomada from Pearl Lemon Café in London.   

She continues: “To begin making latte art, opt for a 1:3 proportion of espresso to milk when carefully adding the milk. Add this into the espresso’s centre and then move the container of steamed milk in a circular pattern to make a white dot just on top.

“In order to make patterns like crosses, hearts or roses, drag a toothpick or similar object through the dot next.” 

Woman doing latte art to illustrate how to make barista coffee at homeCredit: Shutterstock/Roko Photography

To make latte art easier, make sure you get the right type of jug or pitcher. The spout shape makes a difference to how the milk pours. For beginners, a classic spout like the one on the Clumsy Goat Coffee foaming jug (£12.90) is perfect. 

If that seems too difficult, a shake of hot chocolate or cocoa powder will add a delicious finishing touch. And if you want to get fancy, try a stencil (Amazon, £6.99) – no-one will know you cheated!  

The essential accessories you need for barista coffee at home

Gray advises avoiding blade grinders and choose a burr grinder instead. They use pressure rather than chopping and this results in fewer tiny fragments. 

“If you have a decent grinder, you can also grind for the type of coffee you are making,” he says. “Cafetiere would be a coarser grind compared to pour-over coffee.”  

 A good choice for beginnings is a hand grinder. The slow rotational speed produces a more consistent grind and they’re also fully portable so perfect when travelling or on holiday. Cross recommends the Hario Hand Grinder (£40) as a great starter grinder.  

Some coffee makers come with a frother, but if yours doesn’t and you love a milky coffee, this is an essential.   

“There are different models available, such as small handheld whisks that you simply dunk in heated milk, or more fancy models that heat and froth the milk for you,” says Thornley.

“Choose the one that best fits your budget and usage, as there’s no point splurging if you only have a latte once in a blue moon!”  

Weighing out your coffee will help you make the perfect brew. Amazon have some for under £20. 

“Coffee is a bit like baking,” says Gray. “You want to ensure you know exactly how much coffee is going in so you can replicate it again and again.”  

“The size and shape of the cup make a huge difference when it comes to being able to pour a rosetta (the pretty pattern baristas often do) in the top of your latte,” says Tom Saxon, co-founder of Batch Coffee.

He rates these incredible handmade ceramic coffee cups from Woven Rosa (£12.50) as his favourites. 

Thornley says dirty equipment will only result in nasty tasting coffee.  

“Cleaning stops the build-up of old coffee oils and residue that can end up going rancid and making your coffee taste horrible,” he says. “I suggest buying a cleaning kit that has a descaling solution or tablets, suitable brushes and some microfibre clothes to keep everything squeaky clean.” 

For espresso machines, try Cafiza powder (Amazon, £12.99), which really cuts through old coffee oils. 

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

  • twitter
  • linkedin
  • Email