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Coffee for Newbies


Schielke
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Many of you have probably already seen this info on sites such as Coffeegeek, Coffeekid, and espoused by our many knowledgeable members here, but I just wanted to bring up my experience so far in the enthralling realm of coffee making.

Most helpful has been the Newbie Tutorial on Coffeekid.

Here is a summary of what I have learned:

* Get a good burr grinder. This is an expensive step, but crucial.

* Brewing temperature and grind seems to be the two major elements involved in making good coffee.

* Fresh beans are extrememly important. Homeroasting is a fantastic option for many people.

* Press Pots and Vac Pots are cool and somewhat affordable...but you still need a good grinder!

* Espresso machines are expensive for the worthwhile ones...and be sure to add about $250-$350 to your budget for a good grinder!

* There is much much more than this, but remember to buy a good grinder.

So, I have been reading a bunch of stuff here on the coffee boards as well as Coffeegeek and Coffeekid recently. I really like the idea of making much better coffee and possibly even espresso. I see the purchase of a Vac Pot or Press Pot in my nearterm future. I am, however, having trouble swallowing the high cost of a good grinder. I fully realize the need for this aparatus, but I have yet to come up with a way to qualify it for myself. I am sure that I will only need some more lusting time until I am ready to pick up a Rocky grinder and a Silvia machine, but for my bank account's sake I hope I can hold out.

:biggrin:

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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More grinder preaching here.

Coffee is a demanding thing. The bean is ready to offer you something that tastes completely out of this world, but only if you let it. Only if you use it right. The coffee grinder is your essential tool to doing this.

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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I can only add... in addition to the great advice already offered here... get a god grinder! I use a cheap whirly blade grinder in the office to make Melitta drip coffee but for press pot, vac pot and especially espresso, there simply is not subtitute for a really good quality burr grinder.

The Solis Maestro is a deservedly popular grinder that's excellent for general use and acceptable for espresso but it simply won't offer the longevity of use that a Rocky, Anfim or other higher end grinder will. If $$ is the issue and you don't mind busting a few beads of swet, the Zazzenhaus manual grinders can deliver excellent results also.

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While I hate to thow water on the burr grinder love fest, a perfectly good inexpensive solution is dedicating a an inexpensive coffee mill (I call the thing a "spice grinder" since we use another one for just grinding spices) to the task of coffee grinding. Your basic $60 Braun or Cuisinart is fine for just about every kind of coffee grinding imaginable.

Sure, you'll get better results with a top quality burr grinder, and a finer grind than what those cheaper burr blades on this thing will allow, but not exponentially better. I'd say only get a high end burr grinder if you're going to commit to an expensive espresso machine as well and are insane enough to want to produce barista-quality espresso in your house. If you are doing french press and mokas and home-quality espresso you don't need one of these things.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I have one of those Cusinart Grind and Brew machines, and I also have a Capresso burr grinder. I can't tell the difference between when I use the Cusinart to fresh grind and brew my coffee or when I use the Capresso. So now my Capresso mostly sits in my appliance pantry :biggrin: And I drink a lot of coffee :blink:

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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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...L/egulletcom-20

This is the model we use at home. If you note the review comments the only negative about it is -occassional- clogging of the grinder mechanism and the fact that the grind hopper gets staticky (meaning small amounts of grind cling to the sides of the thing) but if you only use this thing for coffee and not for spice grinding, its not a big deal.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...N/egulletcom-20

Thats the thing I referred to as a "spice grinder". We got one of those things too, but we dedicate it to grinding spices. Yeah, its a coffee grinder, but the hopper is too small to do any useful amount of coffee grinding in it.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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From the above linked article:

Burr grinders crush the beans between a moving grinding wheel and a non-moving surface. The positioning on the burr is what regulates the ground size, which allows for a more consistant grind. In the burr category, there are two different types.

Wheel Burr - The less expensive of the two burr grinders. The wheel spins very fast, and these grinders can be noisy. The higher speed rotation make these grinders more messy as well.

Conical Burr - The best grinders you can get are conical burr grinders. The burr spins slower than the wheel model, which makes them quieter and less messy. You can use a conical burr grinder for oily or flavoured coffees and it's not likely to clog, like the other kinds of grinders. These are the best type, but you will pay the price for them.

The $50 Braun is of the Wheel Burr type. Yes, its a little messy to use. Who cares.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Well I got my Freshroast Plus 8 two days ago. The coffee it produces makes me wonder if what I have been drinking all these years, is in fact, coffee.

I can taste things in the coffee, subtle undertones, that I never knew existed. Its more than astringency and burnt.

Plus its so much fun to watch the beans jump up and down, and it makes the house smell great!

Msk

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Oh, I knew the difference between a blade and a burr, but Amazon seems to have grinders that look like burr, labeled mills and not burr, so I didn't know if there was any difference in there. However, that link was valuable for explaining the difference between Wheel and Conical burr grinders. And why one is the latter is more expensive than the former.

Here are some 5-star consumer rated grinders on Amazon.com:

For $20 you can get a regular coffee grinder like these:

B00006IUZL.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg Toastmaster or

B00005REEH.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg Bosch MKM 6000

In the $50 price range there was only one 5-star:

B0000CDCMR.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg DeLonghi DCG59 Retro Burr Grinder

And, in the over $200 price range, without getting into the ridiculously overpriced strata:

B0000DJJYE.01-A3KF7T09PKPVQL.MZZZZZZZ.jpg Innova i1 Espresso Coffee Grinder

Also interesting, are some manual coffee grinders. What are people's opinions of grinders like these?

B0000TK7X6.01-A2TYCYZUO9EQ9V.MZZZZZZZ.jpg Coffee/Spice Mill, $60, Dean and Deluca or

B00005O685.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg Peugeot Costa Rica Natural Coffee Mill

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This truly is a bizarre thread. eGullet is packed with threads about expensive knives doing a better job than ginsu knives, All-Clad cookware being better than t-fal, commercial style ranges being better than electric cooktops, Egly-Ouriet making better champagne than Cooks, etc, etc, etc. So why is it that on this thread, where a case can clearly be made for conical/flat burr grinders being vastly better than either whirly blade or ball-style burr grinders this thread seems to recommend against the better option.

You simply can't use a blade grinder or a ball-burr grinder for an espresso machine with a pump. The real problem for most brew methods is that both blade and the ball-style burr grinders is that they both produce lots of dust, which is very hard to filter out. If your making press-pot coffee you're going to end up with a puddle of sludge at the bottom if you use a crappy grinder, there is far less sludge with a consistent size grind. If your using a vac-pot the issue is more black and white, with a good grinder you get sludge-free coffee, with a blade/ball-style burr grinder you get a muddy cup of coffee. The only case where a crappy grinder will produce good coffee is if you use a paper filter - manual drip, chemex, auto-drip are all fine unless you use one of those gold mesh filters.

edit: spelling...

Edited by melkor (log)
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This truly is a bizarre thread. eGullet is packed with threads about expensive knives doing a better job than ginsu knives, All-Clad cookware being better than t-fal, commercial style ranges being better than electric cooktops, Egly-Ouriet making better champagne than Cooks, etc, etc, etc. So why is it that on this thread, where a case can clearly be made for conical/flat burr grinders being vastly better than either whirly blade or ball-style burr grinders this thread seems to recommend against the better option.

You wrote what I was thinking.

Anyone have a link to the fundamentals of vacuum breweing. It isn't clear to me from the coffeekid link what it is all about.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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This truly is a bizarre thread.  eGullet is packed with threads about expensive knives doing a better job than ginsu knives, All-Clad cookware being better than t-fal, commercial style ranges being better than electric cooktops, Egly-Ouriet making better champagne than Cooks, etc, etc, etc.  So why is it that on this thread, where a case can clearly be made for conical/flat burr grinders being vastly better than either whirly blade or ball-style burr grinders this thread seems to recommend against the better option.

You wrote what I was thinking.

Anyone have a link to the fundamentals of vacuum breweing. It isn't clear to me from the coffeekid link what it is all about.

Fundamentals in what sense?

Why it is better?

or

How it works?

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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While I hate to thow water on the burr grinder love fest, a perfectly good inexpensive solution is dedicating a an inexpensive coffee mill (I call the thing a "spice grinder" since we use another one for just grinding spices)  to the task of coffee grinding. Your basic $60 Braun or Cuisinart is fine for just about every kind of coffee grinding imaginable.

Sure, you'll get better results with a top quality burr grinder, and a finer grind than what those cheaper burr blades on this thing will allow, but not exponentially better. I'd say only get a high end burr grinder if you're going to commit to an expensive espresso machine as well and are insane enough to want to produce barista-quality espresso in your house. If you are doing french press and mokas and home-quality espresso you don't need one of these things.

I suggest that you throw water on this love fest only if it's at or about 205 degrees Fahrenheit :biggrin: - the ideal brewing temp.

I had a Braun grinder just like the one pictured. It did do a significantly better job than my $20 whirly blade grinder and it was a good match for my very basic $80 pump style De Longhi espresso machine. When I jumped up to a "real" espresso machine ($200 - $300 basic entry level machine like a Gaggia).... the Braun just couldn't cut the mustard... uhhh... I mean beans... The particle size was not consistent enough.

As an espresso fantatic I still contend that the grinder is crucial and worth spending extra money on. s already pointed out, many in this forum don't hesitate to spend a few hundred $$ or more on a single knife. I can actually produce close to the same results with a $50 knife than I can with a $200 knife (apart from paper thin slicing and the obvious limitations of my inadequate knife skills) but there's just no way I can produce the particle size and consistency necessary for great espresso without a really good grinder.

My sanity has regularly been called into question by many for legitimate reasons but never because of the high end espresso machine and grinder that sits in my kitchen. Call me cheap... call me pragmatic or call me picky.... I got tired of paying $4 at a crack for average and often mediocre lattes and cappas. Forget about buying a real shot of espresso to consume in a cafe - apart from a few isolated places in Manhattan and one or two in Brooklyn, top shelf barista quality espresso is nearly impossibel to find int he NYC Metro and tri-state area.

I figure that with one cappa a day and two per day on the weekends, when all the costs are added in and amortized.... I save serious money by making espresso at home. Havign a cup or two on a wekend morning while I'm still in my bathrobe enjoying the music I pick and the breakfast I cooked? Priceless....

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If your making press-pot coffee you're going to end up with a puddle of sludge at the bottom if you use a crappy grinder, there is far less sludge with a consistent size grind.

Hey, if the Turks can take a little bit of sludge, so can I. What are you, afraid of letting a few hairs grow on your chest? :laugh:

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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If your making press-pot coffee you're going to end up with a puddle of sludge at the bottom if you use a crappy grinder, there is far less sludge with a consistent size grind.

Hey, if the Turks can take a little bit of sludge, so can I. What are you, afraid of letting a few hairs grow on your chest? :laugh:

I thank you for your cogent scientific analysis of the situation. :laugh:

I much prefer my coffee is liquid form, it might be a different story if the sludge at the bottom of the cup was like the chocolate goodness that waits at the bottom of a mug of hot chocolate.

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