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The grinder I have allows for different grades of grinding. For a french press I would recommend a medium grind, not too fine. If your grinder doesn't allow for that, just grind a bit extra.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Is there a trick to grinding beans for a French Press in a spice grinder?  The machine warns not to grind too small.  How much should I worry about that?

I checked our machine. It's a KitchenAid Classic Plus. About $50 at Best Buy last year. Maybe there was a $10 rebate. The major variables in good coffee seem to be the water and the coffee.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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I used to have the Black and Decker KitchenTools Thermal carafe coffee maker, and I loved the coffee. There's nothing I hate more than coffee that has been sitting on a burner too long. Naturally, Black and Decker discontinued it, at least up here.

Perked coffee is really the best, rather than a drip machine, and percolators are making comeback. Farberware actually makes a really nice cordless programmable percolator now. Even though most machines will make coffee overnight, I find the water gets stale sitting in the coffee maker that long and affects the flavor.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Those of you who are serious about coffee: Do you think a drip machine can ever make good coffee?

A huge part of making coffee is the coffee itself. Once you have found a machine that brings the water to aproximately 195 F. the biggest other factor are the beans. Fresh beans, freshly ground (at the right grind) will produce much better coffee in even the cheapest of machines than stale badly ground coffee in the most expensive machine.

I think most drip machines can produce fantastic coffee, if the coffee itself is fantastic in the first place. Focus the money on a great grinder, purchase smaller quanities of fresh coffee often, and avoid storing in the fridge.

JV

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I've had my french press for a week or so now. It's pretty good. I find the coffee to be smoother, with less sharpness to it.

I'm using a spice grinder (no settings), and although I'm grinding pretty fine, I don't have any trouble pushing down the plunger. It was a bit harder getting the right coffee/water ratio. With my drip machine, I found that heaping the beans in the grinder made enough for a full "10 cup" pot of coffee. I'm using a little less for my 32 oz FP, and it tastes pretty good.

This weekend I'm going to do a side-by-side comparison with the FP with my old drip (if it can perc out one last brew).

All the bean talk is freaking me out. I usually buy a pound or two at a time and throw it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. I don't drink a lot at home, so I keep it for at least a month. I guess I need to buy less, more often.

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In addition to bean and water quality, water temperature and extraction time also play a huge role in making good coffee. At 200 degrees (the optimum temperature for extraction), a pot of coffee (about 50 oz.) should brew in a little less than six minutes.

The problem is that very few auto-drips have the power to heat the water fast enough. You need more than 1300 watts!

I had to replace our coffee maker recently. Despite what you might think from the esoterica above, I was trying very hard not to become a coffee snob--can't afford it, and I'm a snob about more than my share of things already. However, I did want consistently decent coffee with minimum of fuss. That meant auto-drip (and yes, cringe if you must, it meant a programmable timer). I hit a lot of web sites and came up short. Many manufacturers don't post this sort of info. For those that did, 1200 watts was the most I could find. I resigned myself to a long search and headed to the local Target, which I expected to be the first of several investigatory stops.

Lo and behold, there on the red-and-white shelf, a Philips unit with a honking 1400 watts! Thirty bucks! But shouldn't I spend two or three times that for a good coffeemaker? Uh oh...look at the "flavor control" knob...those things aren't for serious cooks, are they? Can I trust a machine with--with doodads? Never mind--1400 watts! Sold!

On the "full pot/wimp--I mean light" setting, it brews a pot in six minutes and ten seconds, at about 195 degrees. When it's fresh, it's some of the best coffee I've ever had. (I've since invested in a thermal carafe.) Another victory for food science!

On weeknights, I set the thing up with coffee that has been ground no more than two weeks before and stored in an opaque, airtight container. I fill the reservoir with cold, bottled water. The coldness helps the water absorb more oxygen, and it needs it, since I let the rig sit overnight (remember, I am not a snob). This means that five days a week, I don't get the best I could out of it. But it's pretty darn good considering the minimal effort I put into it. On weekends, I set it up with the good stuff, and it's great.

This may be the best 30 dollars I've ever spent on kitchen equipment. And believe me, I've spent a lot.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I do my coffee the really old fashioned way, I bring the water just to a boil and hand pour it through a filter into the carafe. It is a little time consuming, but I really like the flavor it produces. I have a very small kitchen and don't have the space for a coffeee machine , the only counter space is taken up by my espresso machine and my food processor. I also use the french press and really like this as well. I tend to drink my coffee cold (yes even in the winter!) and the french press makes great iced coffee.

I also use frozen beans directly from the freezer in the coffee mill, I am going to try thawing them next time.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In addition to bean and water quality, water temperature and extraction time also play a huge role in making good coffee. At 200 degrees (the optimum temperature for extraction), a pot of coffee (about 50 oz.) should brew in a little less than six minutes.

The problem is that very few auto-drips have the power to heat the water fast enough. You need more than 1300 watts!

I had to replace our coffee maker recently. Despite what you might think from the esoterica above, I was trying very hard not to become a coffee snob--can't afford it, and I'm a snob about more than my share of things already. However, I did want consistently decent coffee with minimum of fuss. That meant auto-drip (and yes, cringe if you must, it meant a programmable timer). I hit a lot of web sites and came up short. Many manufacturers don't post this sort of info. For those that did, 1200 watts was the most I could find. I resigned myself to a long search and headed to the local Target, which I expected to be the first of several investigatory stops.

Lo and behold, there on the red-and-white shelf, a Philips unit with a honking 1400 watts! Thirty bucks! But shouldn't I spend two or three times that for a good coffeemaker? Uh oh...look at the "flavor control" knob...those things aren't for serious cooks, are they? Can I trust a machine with--with doodads? Never mind--1400 watts! Sold!

On the "full pot/wimp--I mean light" setting, it brews a pot in six minutes and ten seconds, at about 195 degrees. When it's fresh, it's some of the best coffee I've ever had. (I've since invested in a thermal carafe.) Another victory for food science!

On weeknights, I set the thing up with coffee that has been ground no more than two weeks before and stored in an opaque, airtight container. I fill the reservoir with cold, bottled water. The coldness helps the water absorb more oxygen, and it needs it, since I let the rig sit overnight (remember, I am not a snob). This means that five days a week, I don't get the best I could out of it. But it's pretty darn good considering the minimal effort I put into it. On weekends, I set it up with the good stuff, and it's great.

This may be the best 30 dollars I've ever spent on kitchen equipment. And  believe me, I've spent a lot.

What Phillips is this? I gotta see it!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Dave, great tip. Is this the unit?

HD7610.jpg

http://philipsonline.com/specs/Specs.cgi?Model=HD7610

Also, welcome to new user coffeeproject. If I'm not mistaken this is the gentleman behind the coffeeproject.com site, which is a resource for those who want to roast beans at home. They publish a nice newsletter too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The only problem with this unit would be the ability to clean it since it all seems to be one piece so so the coffee filter holder etc can get pretty dirty.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The Diedrich family has been in the coffee roasting business for three generations and manufactures a well known line of commercial roasting equipment. Here's their take on freezing coffee (I should mention that I still do it anyway because for me the importance of the subtle flavor components lost is outweighed by the convenience of having reasonaby fresh coffee at hand within a few hours by thawing out a package....

Martin Diedrich on the Diedrich web site:

"Freshness is probably the most misunderstood factor about coffee. It is not

the purchase date nor how it was packaged, stored or ground that determines

its freshness. The date of the roast is the key to freshness. Within two

weeks the beans lose more than half of their flavor. After six weeks the

oils become rancid. While exposure to air and moisture accelerates the

decomposition of the flavors, the process will continue even in a complete

vacuum. Freezing the beans may stop this decomposition but freezing also

destroys the delicate oils and aromatics. Never freeze a quality fresh

roasted coffee.

The indisputable truth is that coffee cannot be fresh unless it is fresh

roasted. "

Note, "the process will continue even in a complete vacuum."  These people

have spent years (and a lot of money) trying to figure out how to store

roasted coffee.  This is their conclusion.

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"Freezing the beans may stop this decomposition but freezing also

destroys the delicate oils and aromatics."

And this is the crux of one very specific issue, Owen. I wish I were aware of other sources who could independently and scientifically verify this claim--admitted experts but who are not intimately involved in selling roasted coffee and selling roasting equipment. Say a blind tasting by panelists, not solely vested in the business of selling, to determine whether the freezing process is so readily apparent to them.

As I wonder--and as I suspect you believe, too--the average, serious experienced coffee palate cannot taste--cannot quantify--this presumed loss of oils and aromatics from careful freezing.

Is it too skeptical to suspect that since freezing has been scientifically proven to stop one kind of bean deterioration--then the freezing process itself has to be questioned in order to drive the fresh roasting business and home roasting business plans?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Sometimes I indulge in an old favorite -- Peet's Major Dickason's Blend airmailed from Berkeley to London. It goes into the fridge as soon as it arrives and is ground as needed. Within a couple of weeks the complexity of the flavor has partially disappeared. It's still good coffee, but more laid back.

I'm now exploring beans from Union Coffee in the East End of London, run by two chaps who trained at Peet's. An excellent range of single estate, fair traded coffees, an espresso blend (Foundation) very close to Major Dickason's -- and shipping charges a fraction of the air mail cost from California.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I'm in agreement that from a technical and theoretical standpoint the deterioration process does occur but from a taste standpoint.... among the community of coffee enthusiasts there seems ot be mixed opion but most folks appear to agree that the change is not noticeable.

One of the hallmarks of a fresh roast is the coffee's ability to develop good crema in a properly pulled expresso. I have whole beans in vacuum packed bags that produce thick and dense crema in sufficient quantity after being frozen for months. Just as I do in many instances use frozen meat or seafood for reasons of convenience, I do so with coffee.

Refrigerating coffee is a different issue. There seems ot be universal agreement that this is a bad practice because it introduces moisture to the container and the beans or grounds every time the package is opened. If buying preroasted beans you're far better off to divide them into small ziplocs with the air squeezed out or small jars that are filled. Freeze and then take out one package at a time, allowing it to thaw and come to room temp over the course of a few hours before opening. Once open, just keep it in a cool, dry and dark place like the cipboard until it's used up. The opening, closing and reopening of a refrigerated container continues to initroduce moisture and that's the real flavor killer. I was skeptical of this but have to admit that my coffee seems a tad better when I store the beans at room temp in a selaed container and then grind just before brewing. Try using the freezer method with the Peet's or the stuff you get in London - you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Yes , the HD 7610 is the correct model. I didn't look it up before purchase because I didn't know Philips was in the caffeemaker business.

The filter basket is easily removed for cleaning--and it's dishwasher safe.

If anyone else tries the Philips, I'd be interested in hearing about the experience. I'm very happy with it, but I have been known to engage in self-delusion.

Dave

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The Diedrich family has been in the coffee roasting business for three generations and manufactures a well known line of commercial roasting equipment. Here's their take on freezing coffee
Martin Diedrich on the Diedrich web site:

"Freshness is probably the most misunderstood factor about coffee. It is not the purchase date nor how it was packaged, stored or ground that determines

its freshness. The date of the roast is the key to freshness. Within two weeks the beans lose more than half of their flavor. After six weeks the oils become rancid. While exposure to air and moisture accelerates the decomposition of the flavors, the process will continue even in a complete vacuum. Freezing the beans may stop this decomposition but freezing also

destroys the delicate oils and aromatics. Never freeze a quality fresh roasted coffee.

The indisputable truth is that coffee cannot be fresh unless it is fresh roasted. "

Note, "the process will continue even in a complete vacuum."  These people have spent years (and a lot of money) trying to figure out how to store roasted coffee.  This is their conclusion.

Not to be too cynical, but remember the ulterior motive factor. When a company whose raison d'etre is selling fresh roasted coffee, OF COURSE they are going to tell you that you should always buy fresh roasted coffee.

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Chemistry and marketing lead me to conclude that freezing probably isn't good for coffee.

My chemistry argument goes like this:

1. As has been pointed out earlier in this thread, a lot of the good stuff in coffee is based in "oils and aromatics."

2. These oils are rich in alcohols. After water, there is probably no more universal solvent on the planet than alcohol. (This alone would account for a lot of the rapid decline in coffee quality after roasting, since alcohols also tend to have low evaporation points. No doubt some flavor components are literally vanishing into thin air.)

3. Some alcohols and volatile flavor components are also light sensitive, which is why wines often come in dark bottles--to prevent the flavor components from parting with the alcoholic carrier.

3. Moisture in coffee beans is probably in solution with some or all of these alcohols. When you put it in the freezer, the water freezes before the alcohol, thus pushing the the alcohols out on their own, leaving them free to bond with just about anything--which, given alcohol's molecular promiscuity, they will. (And if you don't think there's some pretty funky stuff in your freezer, just give your icemaker a good sniff.) Even in a sealed package, these solvents are free agents. When you open the package, they're gone with the wind. Careful packaging (with minimum air) and defrosting might mitigate some of this problem, but since freezers are designed for temperature cycling (at least frost-free designs are), the longer it stays in the freezer, the worse it's going to get. The water will refreeze and lock out the alcohols.

4. Freezing ground coffee would be even worse, since the increased surface area would make the whole process that much easier.

The marketing argument goes like this: if freezing coffee were a viable route to a quality product, why hasn't anyone (General Foods, P&G, Starbuck's, etc.) brought one to market? Dessert category excepted, the only frozen coffee products I've ever seen have been brewed before freezing. It's a competitive market. If a practical freezing method were available, someone would promote it for profit. Cycnic though I usually am, I can't really fault a roasting company for the laws of physics. And in the end, they must understand that the total market for coffee is relatively inflexible. Over say, a year's time, I would not buy less coffee if I couldn't freeze it. Neither would I buy more if I were certain it would keep indefinitely in the freezer. Therefore, it is neither for nor against a roaster's interests to tell people how to best handle the product.

All of this points toward a storage protocol akin to foods with similar properties (volatile oils/alcohols, low-temperature effects). The best analogues I can think of are wine and chocolate. That means low (but not cold), stable temperature, in a dark place (or an opaque container), with minimum airspace. Having thought all this through, I don't think I'll be freezing coffee anymore.

If this doesn't make sense, please tell me where I went wrong.

Dave

Hmmm...small, opaque containers with flexible volumes--condoms would work!

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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  • 3 months later...

I have a Krups with the thermal carafe instead of a warming burner. I really like it. it makes decent coffee, but the real plus is that the carafe keeps the coffee hot without "cooking" it the way a burner does. If you keep the carafe tightly sealed you can have a cup more than an hour later that is both hot and fresh tasting.

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I have a Krups with the thermal carafe instead of a warming burner.  I really like it.  it makes decent coffee, but the real plus is that the carafe keeps the coffee hot without "cooking" it the way a burner does.  If you keep the carafe tightly sealed you can have a cup more than an hour later that is both hot and fresh tasting.

Ron, just last week I bought the Krups with the thermal carafe. Yes, it makes decent coffee and it keeps the coffee at a consistent temperature, but have you found that the coffee is rather lukewarm to start with compared to coffees made by the "burner" models? The lady at the store had warned me about this, but I guess I was lured by the attractive brushed stainless steel carafe...

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I recently saw an add for a coffeemaker that really attracted my attention. It was made by Cuisinart, I think. You placed whole beans in the top, set the grind, added water and it ground the beans and brewed the coffee into a vacuum bottle.

Anyone have any experience with this?

Edited by stefanyb (log)
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Ron, just last week I bought the Krups with the thermal carafe.  Yes, it makes decent coffee and it keeps the coffee at a consistent temperature, but have you found that the coffee is rather lukewarm to start with compared to coffees made by the "burner" models?  The lady at the store had warned me about this, but I guess I was lured by the attractive brushed stainless steel carafe...

hmmm, mine definitely does not have that problem. the coffee is very hot when first brewed, in fact it is too hot to drink. I wonder if your heating element may be defective? Also, I turn mine to the "on" position for a few minutes before I add the water so that the element is at peak temp when the water is added.

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Ron, just last week I bought the Krups with the thermal carafe.  Yes, it makes decent coffee and it keeps the coffee at a consistent temperature, but have you found that the coffee is rather lukewarm to start with compared to coffees made by the "burner" models?  The lady at the store had warned me about this, but I guess I was lured by the attractive brushed stainless steel carafe...

hmmm, mine definitely does not have that problem. the coffee is very hot when first brewed, in fact it is too hot to drink. I wonder if your heating element may be defective? Also, I turn mine to the "on" position for a few minutes before I add the water so that the element is at peak temp when the water is added.

Just checked out the consumer reviews of the coffeemaker I purchased (Krups 229-45 10-Cup Aroma Control Coffeemaker with Thermal Stainless Steel Carafe and Programmable Timer) on amazon.com. There were 72 reviews, with an average rating of 2 1/2 out of 5. There seemed to be quite a debate on the coffee temperature, with just over half the people complaining that the coffee was too cold and the rest saying it was just fine. Do personal preferences regarding coffee temperatures vary that widely, does each unit of this model have its own personality, or are some of us just inept at making coffee???

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