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Espresso vs. Coffee


hillbill
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went by zabar's in nyc yesterday & saw the bodum french press. oddly, there are no markings on the side as to # of cups???

also saw the solis maestro plus on sale - jesus!! one could use it for a blender!!! :biggrin:

went by the coffee area & asked my freshly-roasted question. the answer: "all the coffee in the barrels are freshly roasted & delivered yesterday". i then asked them if they would like to buy a bridge...

question to those who know a hell of a lot more than i:

we have a krups 12 cup drip coffee maker, a regular sized braun blade coffee bean grinder, we buy "fresh"(??) beans (mostly mocha java, vanilla, vienna), & mix together before grinding.

is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

just seems to be so much re: which burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......

thx

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is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

just seems to be so much re: which burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......

thx

From the tone of your post, I think the most likely answer is unless your unhappy with the coffee your currently making - your best bet is likely to stick to what you've got. There is without a doubt a world of better coffee out there, but unless your willing to invest some energy in sourcing fresh beans it's not worth replacing your equipment.

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is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

just seems to be so much re: which  burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......

thx

From the tone of your post, I think the most likely answer is unless your unhappy with the coffee your currently making - your best bet is likely to stick to what you've got. There is without a doubt a world of better coffee out there, but unless your willing to invest some energy in sourcing fresh beans it's not worth replacing your equipment.

did not mean to have a "tone", simply following up with additional questions. u're right it is an investment in time, & energy. but, if the results are such, then it appears if it may be well worth it; hence the questions.

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we have a krups 12 cup drip coffee maker, a regular sized braun blade coffee bean grinder, we buy "fresh"(??) beans (mostly mocha java, vanilla, vienna), & mix together before grinding.

is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

just seems to be so much re: which burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......

The bold emphasis was added by me. Melkor already made the excellent point about freshness of beans but I'll reiterate that. The importance of freshness is not to be underestimated. French Press (aka "press pot") coffee is more full bodied as more of the essential oils are present that get trapped in the paper filters of drip makes. I happen to like the coffee from auto drip makers but that's personal preference. A good intermediate solution is one of the "permanent" or reusable gold mesh style filters that can be placed in the Krups instead of the paper filter. It lets more of the oils get through but produces less sediment than one sometimes gets with French Press coffee.

If I were you I'd start by doing the following:

1) Find a good local source for truly fresh roasted beans that are available on or just after the day of roasting. The only places I know of in NYC that can definitely offer you this are Empire Coffee & Tea (I believe they're on 10th Ave at the NE corner of 42nd Street) or Gimme Coffee in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Buy only what you can use in 4 - 5 days. Store in an airtight jar or ziploc at room temp out of direct light. For many of us it's inconvenient and costly to make a special trip to buy fresh coffee every 5 - 7 days. I usually buy a pound or two at a time (sometimes I roast at home but sometimes I buy), separate it into two day portions in ziploc bags, put the ziplocs into a larger sealed bag or container and freeze. Remove one bag at a time as needed and allow it to thaw for a few hours at room temp before opening the bag and using. Do NOT just scoop beans out of one big freezer container (introduces moisture - not good) and do not grind frozen beans.

2) Try making four to five cups at a time with the Krups. Most consumer drip makers take too long to brew when doing a full pot. Ideal results come from a 4 - 6 minute brew time and this can usually be achieved by making less than a full pot.

3) Always grind just before making the coffee - not the night before and not even a few hours before - this is more imortant than you might think.

4) Unless you're wiling to invest about $100 in a Solis Maestro or the Starbucks Barista (same machine as the Solis but with the Starbucks name on it).... IMHO you should stick to the blade grinder. Cheap burr grinders are usually terrible. You can probably get a burr grinder for $60 - $80 that would do a passable job for French Press but the Solis is so much better a machine at $20 more. Also - if you ever get into making espresso the Solis is the cheapest grinder on the market suitable for use with a decent espresso machine. Blade grinders or cheap burr grinders tend to create particles that are no uniform in size. Grind coarsely if using these for French Press unless you're okay with some sediment inthe bottom of the cup.

5) Get a cheap (or expensive) thermal carafe and preheat it with hot tap water whole the coffee is brewing. No matter what kind of coffee you make (drip or press) this is important. French Press coffee continues to steep to some extent even after the plunger is pushed and drip coffee very quickly gets scorched by the glass carafe sitting on the warming plate of the coffee maker. Always transfer the coffee to the preheated carafe immediately after brewing unless you're going to pour all the coffee immediatley into mugs and cups. If you're sharper than me in the early morning you'll even remember to pour the preheating water out of the carafe before trying to pour the coffee in!)

In short - it always gets back to the freshness of the coffee, the temperature and time of the brewing, the consistency of the grind, the amount of coffee used (2 level tablespoons per 6 oz cup - that is not a typo - it's the SCAA standard coffee measure) and the way in which the coffee is stored for serving.

I think that if you get some fresh beans and a thermal carafe and follow the basic procedures outlined in various replies on this thread, you'll see a significant improvement in your coffee. To use or not use flavored beans is a hotly contested subject but as a general rule, fresh roasted beans form a good microroaster are not available in flavored versions. Bets bet is to buy some good quality flavor syrups (DaVinci or Torani are good and are availabel in small bottles) and add them to taste. I also suggest trying some varietal coffees before blending - just to get a good perspective on how they taste when properly prepared. Blending is fun and can produce tasty results but yomay find some straight varietals that will knock your socks off (if you wear socks).

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You're welcome and please do report back to let us know if you see an improvement if your coffee. Here in the office we finally opted for a small "superauto" espresso machine (which makes terrible espresso but decent coffee by the cup). Prior to that I was using a $20 Krups blade grinder, a $6 Melitta cone with paper filter, a $10 electric teakettle to heat the water, and a $6 thermal carafe. This fabulous $42 "coffee system", when coupled with fresh roasted beans, had my coworkers lined up at my desk every morning begging for a cup (oh the power). They generally advised that it was the best coffee they'd ever had but it was really just good coffee made right (the credit was certainly not due to me - I used cheap gear and simple directions).

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question to those who know a hell of a lot more than i:

we have a krups 12 cup drip coffee maker, a regular sized braun blade coffee bean grinder, we buy "fresh"(??) beans (mostly mocha java, vanilla, vienna), & mix together before grinding.

is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

just seems to be so much re: which burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......

thx

I guess the simple answer is Yes.

The difference between ordinary coffee and good coffee is similar to the difference between Coors Light and Chimay Gran Cru. Seriously.

I'm usually opposed to telling people what to do, but at least as a starting point, and to indicate how much easier this is than you seem to fear - here is what I (personally) would suggest you buy to get started:

Grinder,

French Press,

1 pound Intelligentsia House Blend whole bean coffee.

Please note that you might well be able to get these cheaper at other locations (I just did some quick research) and you might be able to find other options that you like, personally, more than these. These are just what I would tend to suggest.

Of course... as I said earlier, I really am unaware of the East Coast coffee scene, so I don't know if there is a great artisan roaster that is local to you. If there is, you should certainly buy from them. Regardless, I would tend to suggest mail-ordering coffee now and then from the other great roasters around the country - just to expand your horizons and your appreciation for flavour.

fanatic...

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  • 1 year later...

Hmm, I was always taught/have read that 17-22 seconds was the ideal time for a shot, single or double. Maybe the were not taking the pre-extraction time into account. I also always heard that a non-ristretto shot is between 1-1 1/2 oz., so a double would be b/w 2-3 oz.?

Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"
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If I recall correctly a traditional double shot is 2 to 2 1/2 oz and a ristretto double is typically 1 to 1 1/2 oz but I've seen them as short as 3/4 oz.

Most commercial machines do not do a true pre-infusion (is that what you mean by pre-extraction?) but there is a brief delay that occurs whiel presure builds up behinf the puck before espresso starts dripping into the cup. The total shot pul time is generall though tto be ideal at 22 - 28 seconds but current practice seems to indicate 26 - 28 as ideal. The Italians in general and Dr. Ernesto Illy in particular have researched this exhaustively over many many years and I trust their findings.

For home espresso production or artisan quality shots in a retail environment the actual tiem often varies from 22 to 32 seconds and the shjot is stopped when the "mousetails" of the dripping espresso begin to lose their reddish brown "tiger-striped" appearance and start showing hints of blonde (the blonde color means there are no more useful components to extract).

In a busy retail shop it's not always practical to watch the shot and stop extraction at the exact right moment. Instead, an autometric volume dosing machine is used (always delivers a preprogrammed fluid volume that does not vary). Shot pull time is maintained and tweaked by constantly monitoring pull times and adjusting grind to compensate for changes in the beans.

I work a few hours each day in a retail cafe where our beans are nearly always 3 - 5 days old and we have relatively stable humidity and temperatures. I check pull times several times during every shift but instinctively remain ware of it nearly al the time. We rarely need to change our grind setitng by more than a small amount due to the stability of our environment. But in settings with environmental variables that fluctuate more than ours it may be necessary to adjust grind many, many times every day or even more than a few times in an hour.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm a year late to this thread, but it's interesting. I used to drink only espresso, because I felt that the espresso in Berkeley was very high quality, and better than the drip coffee. Lately I've been drinking almost exclusively drip coffee because I feel it's better quality than the espresso I can get these days.

But putting aside the ironic problem that many, if not most, coffee shops make terrible espresso and lackluster drip coffee, I'm curious why it is that coffee and espresso taste so different. Phaelon's point about brandy and wine is interesting, and raises an analogous question.

My hypothesis is that espresso and brandy are "oversaturated"--in other words, they are so strong that although they contain the same basic chemicals as the lower-strength variations, our senses cannot fully process the complexities. Maybe "oversaturated" is too normative...maybe they are just different--i.e., higher intensity changes our appreciation of different aromas and flavors.

Anyway, I am convinced that drip coffee is not merely weak espresso, regardless of beans and roast. What do you guys think? Also, is anybody frustrated that Starbucks seems to be gradually decreasing the quality of its coffee. Sadly, the best coffee shop near my house is Starbucks. Yesterday I reluctantly ordered the a grande "bold" Yukon Blend. Am I wrong in thinking that this now ubiquitous Starbucks coffee lacks any character whatsoever? I could taste no fruit, no chocolate, no anything. I can't imagine how the "light note" coffee could get any lighter. When I left Boston they were serving Yukon Blend every day, and now here in DC every Starbucks has Yukon Blend. It's so frustrating--the Anniversary and Christmas blends are actually decent I think.

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Also, is anybody frustrated that Starbucks seems to be gradually decreasing the quality of its coffee.

It's quite possible that your tastes have simply changed. Starbucks was how I got hooked on coffee and I used to drink it almost exclusively five years ago.

Nowadays, I buy from good, local roasters and can barely tolerate Starbucks beans.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I think that for many of us it's a combination of things - our tastes have changed but Starbucks has also declined in quality. Their espresso has declined in part because they switched to super-auto machines but more so due ot the beans and roasting style. When you're as big as they are you can't always get the smaller more select lots of beans and not blend them. Also - the bigger you are the tougher it is to gewt beans to all your stores fresh and get the stock turned over and the inventory rotated constantly.

I had a quad shot latte (12 oz size) from a Peet's store in Walnut Creek CA a few weeks ago - just down the road from Berekely. Any good independent shop can do better but it really wasn't bad - it was a decent drink and they were using traditonal machines (Faema E71 to be specific).

I don't think properly made espresso is "oversaturated". rather, it can be or should be the "essence" of what the coffee bean is in terms of flavor components. In the words of espresso pundit/guru David Schomer - a great shot of espresso should taste the way great coffee

smells. I know so many people who love the way coffee smells but don't care for the taste...

But some coffee varietals, much like the case with grapes, are great from drip coffee and not so good with espresso and then there are those whos greatest appeal shines most brightly when brewed as espresso - or it's just very different from the way it tastes as drip coffee.

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But some coffee varietals, much like the case with grapes, are great from drip coffee and not so good with espresso and then there are those whos greatest appeal shines most brightly when brewed as espresso - or it's just very different from the way it tastes as drip coffee.

Owen, thanks for confirming what I have been thinking about coffee varietals. I love a drip cup of Guatamala Antigua, but think others work better brewed in my espresso machine.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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