Please help me make good coffee at home
Posted 24 November 2011 - 11:45 AM
Posted 24 November 2011 - 12:08 PM
Filtered water, from something as basic as a water pitcher filter will also result in a tangible improvement.
A pourover commercial / semi-commercial coffee machine, like units made by Bunn, heat water to a temperature well below boiling, which prevents most of the unpleasent compounds from being extracted from the beans.
I'm been an avid coffee drinker for 25 years, and freshly ground coffee brewed with a Bunn A10 makes the best coffee I've had anywhere.
Unlike espresso, making an excellent cup of ordinary coffee is neither expensive nor complicated. Bunn machines are available in Australia, and I believe the A10 can be had for under $250 US.
Posted 24 November 2011 - 02:51 PM
Edited by nickrey, 24 November 2011 - 02:52 PM.
Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"
"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog
Posted 24 November 2011 - 03:04 PM
I have a nice hand burr grinder I got from amazon for ~$20.
I have absolutely fallen in love with the coffee from red bird coffee (redbirdcoffee.com). They only roast and ship WHEN you order, you'll get an email telling you which day it roasts/ships - and the price is killer: at 5lbs it's $10/lb - and superiorly tasty!
"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."
"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father
My eG Food Blog (2011)
Posted 24 November 2011 - 03:09 PM
Melbourne water is fine for coffee making.
An aeropress would be perfect for what you want. $55 and it makes a beautiful long black.
As has been said above freshly roasted beans are essential (maximum age from roasting 2-3 weeks, also don't buy beans which have no roasting date on them or beans from a supermarket)
Coffee starts to stale the instant it is ground. So to get good coffee in the cup the beans must be ground immediately before brewing.
The link above ( no connection to me ) has the Aeropress packaged with a Hario hand grinder for $110. This combination will make you really good coffee ( not espresso ).
There are plenty of other retailers who sell the Aeropress.
If you don't want the exercise of hand grinding in the morning, the least expensive electric grinder I can recommend is the Breville Smart Grinder.
They are sold in the big stores so with astute haggling are a bargain considering the quality of grind they give.
I'm in Melbourne and restore old coffee machines for a living. If you need any extra advice you can get me on 0416 107 253.
Edited by johnmc, 24 November 2011 - 03:10 PM.
Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:09 AM
Not eG's finest moment, I'm afraid.
Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:08 AM
A digital scale, accurate to 1g. For measuring your coffee, and your water. Use a 1:16 to 1:17 ratio.
The cheapest burr grinder will give you vastly superior results than blades. The purpose here is to get a uniform particle size, so that you get a nice even extraction. Same reason you cut potatoes into similar sized pieces before you throw them in the pot.
Electricity is awesome. Hand grinding sucks - unless you're traveling, then hand grinding is better than traipsing around the city trying to find something non-digusting to drink.
A brewing device.
French Press: cheap, cheerful, a PITA to clean, and the cup, while having a lot of body, is not clean - there's a lot of silt in there. I find that unappealing.
Aeropress: they're alright. I've got some Aus friends that use one of these with a mini-porlex hand grinder for traveling. The grinder fits right in the aeropress. Despite the inventors assertions, it doesn't make espresso, but it makes a decent cup.
Pourover: they're usually over extracted, due to poor technique.
Pourovers with valves in the bottom (I use Brewt) - like the above, but with a valve, so you can use a coarser grind, still get body, but have it drain in all day, and not horribly over-extract.
Drip: for the few times I actually make coffee at home, the Technivorm is pretty nice. They go for around $300 here. Pop it on, and it's quick. I get a little bit of over-extraction, but that's probably due to the cheapy grinder I've got there.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:36 AM
I taught myself to make coffee I like. I won't claim it is gourmet, but it is as good to my palate as a coffee shop.
My first step was to start using a french press. The advantage to it over the cheap machines I had was that I could add really hot water, which to my understanding releases some desired flavors.
My next step was to accurately measure the coffee, water and brewing time. I haven't found a need to be accurate to the gram. I satisfy myself with measuring my water in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (I use 2 cups), and my coffee on a scale that measures to the .05 oz. (I use 1.75 ounces of coffee). I boil the water in the microwave, wait for it to stop bubbling, add it to the grounds in the french press and let it steep for 4 minutes, then press and pour into a cup.
If you can produce the same cup every day, then you can start to experiment with different roasts or sources of beans. You can add a grinder (I have the Cuisinart burr grinder). You can decide how you want to store your beans (I freeze mine, in part because frozen beans don't dirty the grinder near as much as room temperature ones). Once you can make a baseline consistent cup of coffee, you can modify your process to produce the cup you really love.
A couple words of caution. If you have a glass French Press, you will break it. The standard one I buy costs 40 dollars US. However, they also sell the glass replacement carafe for 20 dollars, so when you break it, don't replace the whole thing, just the glass. If you choose to grind coffee, and choose to not freeze your beans, you must clean the grinder often. I burnt one out by not cleaning it; the powder from the grinding built up so much it jammed the motor. Now I freeze my beans, and haven't had to clean the grinder in months. You have to decide if you can taste the difference, but my palate cannot.
I hope you can find a process that makes a cup you can enjoy every day.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:55 AM
Gets my vote, too. Use an espresso roast to get something resembling a flat black.
Can't beat filter cone, paper filter, electric kettle in my book.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:06 AM
A couple words of caution. If you have a glass French Press, you will break it. The standard one I buy costs 40 dollars US. However, they also sell the glass replacement carafe for 20 dollars, so when you break it, don't replace the whole thing, just the glass.
Two years ago we gave relatives a double-walled glass French press. They dropped it on the tiles taking it out of the box. Last year we gave them a double-walled stainless press. No accidents yet, and it's only likely to get a dent anyway. On the other hand, as I pulled mine off the shelf the other day, I realised I've had it for nearly 20 years. It has survived 5 moves, including one international move, and gets used several times a week by a very clumsy Snadra.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:19 AM
I'm lazy as hell, but don't find cleaning it that big of a nuisance, and nothing catastrophic will happen, even if you leave cleanup of the machine for the evening, when you get home from work. If you want to brew another pot straightaway, there's no real need to dismantle the whole damn thing, either: dump, scrape, rinse, and you're good to go for another round.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 05:43 AM
Since it hasn't been mentioned yet...if you're going to brew using any method other than a coffee machine, please buy a thermometer. They're cheap, useful throughout the kitchen, and important in coffee brewing since missing your target temp by 5-10F can result in lousy coffee. Good luck trying to hit 93C +/- 2C without one...
With some good beans and mediocre technique, you'll be able to at least match your local coffeehouse. With some practice and maybe a small upgrade in equipment (better grinder, scales and thermometers, etc), you'll beat their pants off.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 11:11 AM
I know they have tried many different ones over the past few years and prefer this one, the 28 ounce as that gives them exactly enough for two 12 ounce mugs.
They heat the water in a small Adagio Teas 30 ounce electric kettle.
As for me, I do have a French press but the coffee has never been a favorite with me. I much prefer coffee made in a Silex-type vacuum pot. I think the vac pots produce a superior brew.
Edited by andiesenji, 29 November 2011 - 11:14 AM.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 12:16 PM
The real secret is finding the right fineness of ground & hitting the perfect temperature range for the water (about 188 F)...
Too Coarse = Weak Coffee
Too Fine = Too Much Bitterness & Soot in the Cup
Too Cool = Weak Coffee
Too Hot = Too Much Bitterness
Control those elements, choose a decent coffee bean & everything else is pretty forgiving. I go with Cafe Pajaro from Trader Joe's... its organic, fair trade & cheap (about $6 / pound), its a moderately dark roast with good balance.
I have one of those instant hot water spouts and with a the help of a thermometer I determined that nuking the water from the water spot for an additional 35 seconds in my particular microwave gets it up to 188F pretty consistently... I grind the beans in my entry level Bodum, run through in Melita or store brand paper filter... voila great coffee every time... once you develop a flow... the whole process through clean up is really quite effortless & quick.
I like French Press coffee but the dramatic increase in cancer risk from the soot sitting in the digestive system doesn't justify the additional flavor boosting oils in the French Press coffee.
Edited by EatNopales, 29 November 2011 - 12:21 PM.
Posted 30 November 2011 - 01:49 AM
I set up the pot in a pan of hot water on the stovetop to keep the coffee very hot, the way I like it. Yes, this is a low-tech way to go, and my friends have given me funny looks until they taste my coffee and like it. I do spend money on high-quality coffee, Peet's Arabian Mocha Java and Major Dickinson blends, and that makes a difference, too.
I set up this system a long time ago and haven't revisited my decision since. Way back when I tried a French press, I cracked it within three days. I was told to avoid electric drip makers because they require more water for a good extraction (in fact, the bigger the pot the better). With a manual maker, you can first soak the grounds, then pour in the rest of the water for a good brew in small amounts.
I used to grind my coffee fresh every AM in a burr grinder. I did this for years. Then one day I said the h--l with it, it's too much work first thing in the morning, and I hate the sound of that grinder when I'm half asleep. So now I use pre-ground coffee. To be honest, I'm such a zombie in the AM that anything hot, strong, and coffee-like will do it for me. You may be more discriminating. good luck with your coffee quest!
Edited by djyee100, 30 November 2011 - 01:53 AM.
Posted 30 November 2011 - 09:57 AM
- I don't want to have to piss fart around too much in the morning--I'm prepared to downgrade from awesome coffee to very good coffee if it saves a whole lot of work. This applies to the cleaning regime, too. Having to disasseble and cleanse a Meccano kit on a regular basis isn't my idea of fun.
- I'll be buying freshly ground coffee once or twice a week from a good, local shop (I may look into grinding my own in the future ... but baby steps).
- I don't have a set budget in mind as, tbh, I don't know how much things cost--keep it in the double or triple figures, tho'.
- A stove top device, while I've consumed excellent coffee made in such a thing, isn't ideal--my stove is just too angry and I'd rather not start the morning burning the ever living shit out of myself or melting a plastic handle.
Going from a whirly blade grinder to a burr mill made the biggest improvement of all the changes I made. I don't know what's available in Australia, but buy a decent mill for around $75-100 and either go French press or get a decent drip maker with auto shutoff for $30-100. Buy whole bean coffee by the pound, even from the supermarket, grind right before brewing and you'll be drinking very good stuff. There may be a learning curve figuring the right amount of coffee for water.
My setup is a $275 Technovorm (nothing automatic about it) and a $200 grinder and I'm certain I wouldn't be able to tell the difference in taste with a setup at half that cost.
FWIW, the three other people I converted to burr grinders agree with me.
Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:28 PM
Posted 01 December 2011 - 06:53 AM
Edited by emannths, 01 December 2011 - 07:01 AM.
Posted 01 December 2011 - 07:44 AM
What make of burr grinders to people use? I'm in the market to replace my bodum blade grinder.
Got my boyfriend a Mahlkönig Vario model for his birthday last spring, and it works like a dream, and is also remarkably quiet (it makes less noise than the Silvia I got him at the same time): I definitely recommend it (it was one of the models that was most frequently recommended, when I was researching burr grinders).
Posted 01 December 2011 - 08:31 AM
while I thoroughly enjoy using my Technivorm, I do love a nice pour over occasionally, the entire process is very therapeutic for me haha
Edited by Dan C., 01 December 2011 - 08:31 AM.
Posted 01 December 2011 - 12:06 PM
Posted 01 December 2011 - 09:22 PM
Posted 01 December 2011 - 10:02 PM
Chris, I am after a similar goal. Yesterday I picked up an Isomac Granmacinino that I bought off eBay for $149. I've made two pots of French press and one pourover since then and the quality difference over the Melitta ground coffee I've been using (which was passable as long as i was still getting good coffee in the city) was incredible. And that's just with the random beans i picked up from Pine Coffee. The only extra work I had to do was stand for the 30 or so seconds it took to grind the coffee. The seller told me it's basically maintenance free (as opposed to the coffee machine he also showed me). My mother uses a blade grinder, and I find it rather painful.
I don't know what your price point is, but a number of people on Coffee Snobs seem to use the breville or sunbeam as an intro machine - there are a fair few available on eBay.
So, joining the chorus based on my recent experience: For maximum return with minimum effort, you could go the pourover route with disposable filters (easy to deal with), and fresh ground coffee. Especially if you're only after 1 cup in the morning. I have a Melita pourover cup, and buy the Harris Coffee filters from Woolies - works great for a quick morning cup and is nearly as quick as instant.
Posted 05 December 2011 - 03:38 PM
If you're doing a press, pour over or similar, take a fresh brewed kettle and go for it. Even after preheating everything, there is substantial heat loss, that will get you down to that 200F/93C mark. Remember too that the coffee isn't preheated, so no matter how much you preheat, you've got coffee that's going to suck heat out of the water.
If you're doing a pour over, and pulse-pouring, little bits at a time, awesome. That's good technique. Much better than dumping all the water in and developing a 'high and dry' problem. When you're doing this though, the water will cool a lot, so it's best to pop it back on the heat. We use an induction heater to keep it right hot. Remember most pour overs don't have a lid, so you're losing a lot of heat through the top of the thing.
If you're in a testing mood and want to replicate, we did all our testing with a Fluke thermometer, and a bead thermometer in the coffee slurry.
Posted 05 December 2011 - 05:42 PM
I would *love* to see a graph of ground coffee mass vs. delta Temperature if you have one lying around.
Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:53 PM
Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:52 PM
Sorry if I wasn't clear. The ground coffee sucks some of the heat out of the water as it hits the grounds. So starting with 202 water in the kettle might mean 198 if you have 42 grams of coffee in the V60. Is there data that says a mass of coffee X changes the temperature of the water Y degrees for many common values of X?
Posted 15 December 2011 - 04:18 PM
Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:11 PM
At home we just use a standard Mr. Coffee drip machine. The water comes through the filter in our fridge. I do take the time to heat water for coffee in a tea kettle every day. Once it steams good (but not quite boils) I pour a little over the grounds to bloom them. The rest of the hot water goes into the reservoir. On a non-rush day I will wait about a minute for the grounds to bloom then just turn it on, most days it just goes on. The Mr. Coffee has a thermal carafe, which is great. It's not an absolutely perfect world solution, but is economical, simple and does make darn good coffee.
Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:49 PM
I'm assuming that you are used to high quality coffee so will not be opting for your Foldgers of the world, but there are a variety of online sources available as well as some useful tips above.
As far as the coffee maker goes I would opt for something in the 30-70 range as there are a variety of models that don't require a water pot and can ration out exactly a cup. This might help to get your percentages right.
I've been told to simply buy beans at the store and grind them yourself as it is much cheaper than buying pre-ground beans. Or of course you could invest in your own grinder also as listed above.
If you find this to be taxing there are some machines out there that cost a pretty penny and pretty much do all the work for you. This may seem expensive but considering how much you likely spent on coffee outside the home, it could be paying for itself in no time.