The smell of freshly roasted beans. The warmth of the cup in your hands. The first sip. In a time when almost everything about our daily lives has altered, little things like drinking a coffee can be a greatly heightened sensation, as well as a comforting echo of older routines.
Maybe you make it at the same time everyday, or use walking to the local café as a way to see familiar faces. It’s that buzz and chatter of a full café that that barista Milvin Angkasa misses most.
Under normal circumstances, he spends his mornings greeting regular customers at Sydney’s L’Americano. Often he’s the first person they speak to after they leave their house. While the business is still open for takeaway – in New South Wales, cafes are now open for up to 10 people at a time – it’s not quite the same.
“What I miss most is seeing people, making them a coffee and maybe a lightly toasted croissant and doing my bit to get their day off to a good start,” he says. “A cup of coffee means a lot to people.”
Self-isolation means homemade coffee has never been more important– it can feel like a daily treat or, depending on how you make it, a small meditation. Once the domain of jars of dodgy instant coffee, homemade coffee is now a sophisticated operation for many Australians.
So can you replicate a good cafe coffee at home? Of course, says Angkasa. It just requires a bit of imagination. Whether you use an espresso machine (which uses the Oro Blend beans, also used in L’Americano), pods (“I usually make a long black [with it], there’s nothing to it ¬– you can do it without thinking, which is perfect if you’re in a rush.”), an Aeropress (“Everyone can use it, and you get a lot of engagement with the coffee because you can tailor it to suit your tastes.”), a French press or the good old stovetop Moka pot (“It has an old nonna vibe, but it gives the closest flavour to espresso that you can get”), your morning coffee can be a beacon of light in the gloom of isolation.
Each method depends on if you need that coffee quickly or want to enjoy a slower process: you might be the type to wake early and stumble to the kitchen to make a brew, before returning to bed with your cup to read the paper or scroll through the news on your phone. Or you could be more ritualised about it, opening the blinds to let the sun in as you prepare a more elaborate iteration and a proper meal. Or perhaps you’re powering up for the call of duty, scurrying to your desk to get stuck into your emails with a strong long black.
However you adapt your coffee ritual for this period of isolation, baristas such as Angkasa will be there for you when normal programming resumes, ready to serve. Until then, the cafe is open – wherever you wake up.
L’Americano uses Vittoria Coffee’s Oro Blend. This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Vittoria.