Nigella is a professional cook who has written extensively about recipes and the health benefits associated with food.
Brew a Perfect Cup
Nothing is more relaxing than having a coffee break, and instant coffees take all the hard work out of making it.
My personal favourite instant coffee is Nescafe's Alta Rica, which is an especially smooth blend of coffee granules resulting in a superb break-time drink. It's not the cheapest you can buy, but you get what you pay for, and I prefer to have the perfect cup of coffee every time.
Instant coffees are ideal for busy housewives as they are so easy to make, especially when you are only making coffee for one or two people. Percolators, espressos, and other coffee machines are better used when making coffee for several people, or for people who drink several cups throughout the day.
I just like the one cup of coffee per day, mid-morning, although I have been known to have a second if I have the time.
Making instant coffee is not as simple as putting a teaspoon of coffee granules in a cup and adding boiling water. There are some tricks of the trade to make the best coffee, every time.
Tip 1: The Water
Most people don't do this, but simply boiling freshly drawn water each time you want to make coffee makes a huge difference to the taste.
It helps if you live in a soft water area too, but there is not much you can do if you live in a hard water area apart from filtering the water to remove some of the unwanted minerals.
It has always been more economical to only fill your kettle with just enough water for your immediate needs.
A lot of people continually keep their kettle full and fill it to the high-level mark. This is totally unnecessary, and it frequently results in the re-boiling of already-boiled water. Each time you boil the water, oxygen escapes and the taste of the water changes. You get exactly the same effect if you are making tea or using the boiling water in cooking.
So, always draw off fresh water from the tap, or water filter, and set it to boil just once.
The best coffee flavor can be had when you use water that has not quite reached the boiling point.
Tip 2: The Measuring Spoon
While a teaspoon is 5 millilitres in liquid, when measuring solids in a teaspoon you will get a different amount depending on the ingredient.
A teaspoon of flour is different from a teaspoon of sugar because sugar comes in granules whereas flour is a powder. The volume of each substance that can sit on a teaspoon is different depending on its texture.
So when an instant coffee manufacturer tells you to use a teaspoon, do they mean a heaped teaspoon, a rounded teaspoon or a level teaspoon? Each measurement will offer a different taste.
What you need to do is try them all, until you find a level that is perfect for you, using the same teaspoon each time.
This is important because while teaspoons are supposed to hold a standard amount of food, liquid or medicine, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes.
How to Make Perfect Coffee With Nescafe Alta Rica
- Draw fresh cold water from the tap into the kettle.
- Put it on to boil.
- Meanwhile, take a cup or mug and place 1 teaspoon of Alta Rica inside it.
- Take the kettle off the boil just before it actually bubbles all over the place. When it is bubbling it is deoxygenating and changing the taste.
- Fill with water to the desired level (leaving room for the milk if you take it) with water that is almost boiling.
- Stir with the spoon to dissolve the coffee.
- Add milk as required.
- Add sugar or sweeteners as required.
Tip 3: The Coffee Cup
Cups and mugs come in all shapes and sizes, too. Obviously, each one can hold different amounts of water.
Just as when you use different-sized teaspoons to measure out your coffee, you will get a different taste depending on how much water you add. Ideally, you want to try different cups until you find one that holds the correct amount of water for you to drink.
Then there is the feeling of holding that cup to your lips to be considered. I love fine-bone china cups, but others prefer thick ceramic mugs. It is entirely a personal choice.
Once you have found your preferred vessel for the actual drinking of your instant coffee, you should try to stick to it, simply because once you have perfected the technique of making the absolute best-tasting coffee, you can ensure that every cup tastes just as good.
In this way, you can ensure you always make the best cup of instant coffee each and every time.
Tip 4: Storage Considerations
Once you have found your perfect combination of water, coffee and cup, the next thing you want to think about is storage.
Every time you buy new coffee jars or re-fill packets, you should ideally have a place in your kitchen to keep it. Some people prefer to buy dedicated coffee jars or containers. Others just use the coffee directly from the container it arrived in.
Everything has its place, and sometimes tall containers are too high for the cupboard or storage unit.
I have found that Nescafe's small-sized jar fits perfectly in my larder, so it gets refilled whenever I restock my household coffee supplies. All I do is transfer some of the new stuff into my coffee jar, leaving enough space for the spoon that I have found makes the perfect coffee every time.
Once you have perfected your cup of coffee, why not make some cake or fork cookies to enjoy along with it?
All photographs on this page are taken by me and belong to me.