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BeJam

My Parents Coffee.

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There's a long tradition of good cooks in my family. Stories of and recipies from my great Grandmother, Grandmother, Great Aunts, Aunts, and a couple of cousins fill holidays and weddings. Unfortunately coffee has never been significantly considered. True, my parents like most had a perculator until drip machines came about and made the process easier. However, their coffee is terrible and I finally had to say something. Granted, my sister and I decided that a first measure without saying anything would be a thermal carafe which was a Christmas present this year. But after dinner on Sunday, I realized that didn't really help much.

My question is: What can I do/tell them to do to improve the taste of their coffee. There are a few constraints:

1. Convenience/cost is more important than taste.

2. They will not grind their own beans or buy whole beans.

3. They store coffee in the cupboard.

4. They will not use filtered water.

5. They clean the machine regularly.

Any thoughts?


Bode

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A different brand of ground coffee would probably be the easiest improvement.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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I'd go for the Senseo pod machines. There's very few variables that can go wrong. Get one of the units that can do 2 servings at a time:

Senseo Pod Machine at Amazon

and here:

The Senseo Coffee Pod System (eG)

As to filtered water... what's the problem? How hard is it for them to install a sink fliter, like a cheap PUR faucet unit? Or to buy a Brita pitcher? Or pick up a gallon of Poland Spring?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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Nothing wrong with #3 and #5 but unfortunately, some people can't be convinced. I've given plenty of specialty whole bean coffee to my stepfather and it'll sit in the cabinet unopened for years.

He seems to have the idea that robusta coffee is the good stuff.

Whaddya gonna do?

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. . .As to filtered water... what's the problem? How hard is it for them to install a sink fliter, like a cheap PUR faucet unit? Or to buy a Brita pitcher? Or pick up a gallon of Poland Spring?

My parents wouldn't bother to do this. Fortunately, their coffee is drinkable. But people often get into ruts, and they're usually quite happy to be there.

My advice, BeJam: invest in a high-quality, large thermos, and bring your own. It's the only way you're gonna get a decent cuppa at their house.

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There's a long tradition of good cooks in my family.  Stories of and recipies from my great Grandmother, Grandmother, Great Aunts, Aunts, and a couple of cousins fill holidays and weddings.  Unfortunately coffee has never been significantly considered.  True, my parents like most had a perculator until drip machines came about and made the process easier.  However, their coffee is terrible and I finally had to say something.  Granted, my sister and I decided that a first measure without saying anything would be a thermal carafe which was a Christmas present this year.  But after dinner on Sunday, I realized that didn't really help much. 

My question is:  What can I do/tell them to do to improve the taste of their coffee.  There are a few constraints:

1.  Convenience/cost is more important than taste.

2.  They will not grind their own beans or buy whole beans.

3.  They store coffee in the cupboard.

4.  They will not use filtered water.

5.  They clean the machine regularly.

Any thoughts?

Have you brought them out for really excellent coffee or made them some? Perhaps they just don't know what they're missing.


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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. . .As to filtered water... what's the problem? How hard is it for them to install a sink fliter, like a cheap PUR faucet unit? Or to buy a Brita pitcher? Or pick up a gallon of Poland Spring?

My parents wouldn't bother to do this. Fortunately, their coffee is drinkable. But people often get into ruts, and they're usually quite happy to be there.

My advice, BeJam: invest in a high-quality, large thermos, and bring your own. It's the only way you're gonna get a decent cuppa at their house.

My in-laws have the same "yucky water" problem -- specifically it has to do with the fact they never change the filter on their refrigerator/freezer and all the ice cubes come out tasting like onions... very nasty. Whenever we have a family get together at their house, I always go and buy a bag of ice first.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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My grandmother has been using regular canned coffee through a cold press for about 40 years now. It actually tastes pretty decent (mellow, nutty), and if you want a strong cup you just put in more of the concentrate. My yuppie grind-my-own-espresso self is a little embarassed to admit it, but how many people actually enjoy their 95 year old grandma's coffee? (Having said that, I use about twice as much concentrate as she does....)

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My in-laws have the same "yucky water" problem -- specifically it has to do with the fact they never change the filter on their refrigerator/freezer and all the ice cubes come out tasting like onions... very nasty. Whenever we have a family get together at their house, I always go and buy a bag of ice first.

Don't they notice? Do they never use ice?

I find it funny that they're fine with onion tasting ice. :laugh:

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True, my parents like most had a perculator until drip machines came about and made the process easier.  However, their coffee is terrible and I finally had to say something...

Any thoughts?

Maybe you should just leave them be and consider yourself ahead of the game. My parents also started with a percolator, and then in the late 50's or early 60's switched to Instant, and then Freeze Dried coffee (which they thought was one of the greatest scientific inventions of all time). Of course it was hideous, and after many years, my dad decided to work on the problem. At one point we were over for dinner, and he showed us that the "secret" was to make it not by the cup, but by the pot, and to use a good two or three spoons of the freeze dried granules per cup of water, and then a good few extra spoonsful "for the pot" as well.

Of course, he was making and drinking mud, but there was no way in the world my mother was going to have anything as messy as coffee-grinds and a percolator to wash in her kitchen, and you just had to pretend you were watching a Seinfeld episode.

So if you're getting drip coffee instead of instant, maybe just consider yourself ahead of the game and leave it?


Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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just to ask....

is there no room to say in a diplomatic fashion...."beloved family members, we cherish you but must let you know that your coffee is, well, not good/unpotable/awful. i feel somewhat responsible to let you know, as i think guests and others might not feel up to the task. can i prepare you a great cuppa for comparison's sake? can i show you how you can, with relative ease, have and serve decent coffee? if not for your own sakes, perhaps for the sakes of your guests?"

any variation on that, to tweak for personal ettiquette idioms.......

cheers :)

hc

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just to ask....

is there no room to say in a diplomatic fashion...."beloved family members, we cherish you but must let you know that your coffee is, well, not good/unpotable/awful.  i feel somewhat responsible to let you know, as i think guests and others might not feel up to the task.  can i prepare you a great cuppa for comparison's sake?  can i show you how you can, with relative ease, have and serve decent coffee?  if not for your own sakes, perhaps for the sakes of your guests?"

any variation on that, to tweak for personal ettiquette idioms.......

Thanks for the suggestions. Yes we've been through that step of showing them good coffee. They love coming to dinner at my house and love the coffee. The difficulty is that they don't think their coffee is bad (which may be the real problem) and I'm the only one who ever says anything (which really may be the real problem). markk may have the right idea.

The thermal pot helped a little because for big dinners because Mom always made the coffee hours before dinner and let it sit on the burner while complaining that the burner automatically shut-off after two hours. And we couldn't buy just a 10 cup for Christmas, it had to be 12.

Another problem is that any "new" trick has to be easy to remember and not need special equipment. Case in point: according to my Father, my Mother is still buying half and half for my coffee when I come for a visit eventhough I haven't used half/half in 20 years and have been reminiding them so for 20 years. Certain grocery-store habits are probably hard to break.

I guess I was looking for tips. Like a good and accessible canned alternative to Folgers/MaxHouse or a trick like adding a dash of salt to the grounds before brewing. I've had the Costco brand on vacation and while staying at other peoples houses and it wasn't bad. However, it doesn't taste good at my house. (Maybe because coffee always tastes better on vacation or because I can't portion canned coffee right.) Come to think of it, they may not either.

I suppose we could suggest spicing like adding cinnamon/nutmeg.


Bode

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You're upset that your parents aren't making coffee the way you like it?

The next time you visit:

Bring your own tools.

Bring your own water.

Bring your own beans.

Volunteer to take on the coffee-making duty for the family meals.

How's that for easy?


Edited by Susan G (log)

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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My in-laws have the same "yucky water" problem -- specifically it has to do with the fact they never change the filter on their refrigerator/freezer and all the ice cubes come out tasting like onions... very nasty. Whenever we have a family get together at their house, I always go and buy a bag of ice first.

Don't they notice? Do they never use ice?

I find it funny that they're fine with onion tasting ice. :laugh:

Oh they notice. In fact, a whole "situation" gets created, when we go out and buy ice, because there's some passive/aggressive thing going on between my father-in-law and mother-in-law with the whole not-changing-the-filter thing. Its a very "Everybody Loves Raymond" type of situation.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

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The ice thing was mine and my brother's idea. One time we got there and it was so bad, we sent Jason out for ice while we took out their ice maker container and cleaned it. We refilled it with the bagged ice.

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Oh they notice. In fact, a whole "situation" gets created, when we go out and buy ice, because there's some passive/aggressive thing going on between my father-in-law and mother-in-law with the whole not-changing-the-filter thing. Its a very "Everybody Loves Raymond" type of situation.

This just makes me laugh! But I have an idea. In many refrigerators, the filter is fairly quick and easy to change. So could someone keep Mom and Pop busy in another part of the house while you do a quick filter swap-out?

Something tells me you've already thought of that, and have found that changing the filter is a 45-minute operation that includes dismantling the entire freezer compartment, or some other such hideous operation.

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1. Convenience/cost is more important than taste.

2. They will not grind their own beans or buy whole beans.

3. They store coffee in the cupboard.

4. They will not use filtered water.

5. They clean the machine regularly.

A subject close to my own heart as my 82 year old mother will buy nothing but Folger's or Maxwell House (whatever is cheapest) and it must be decaf (osteoporosis concerns - valid or not - she is concerned).

1. If they won't spend more there's little room for improvement. But if you can get them to try the 8 O'Clock brand French Roast, which is available in many supermarkets, they'll find it to be a trifle more expensive than the cheap stuff but far superior in flavor. And it's far less costly than "gourmet" or "specialty" coffee.

2. See #3

3. Just make sure they have a decent airtight container for storage and encourage them to buy in 12 oz or 16 oz packs instead of the giant 2 lb cans so it gets consumed a bit more quickly before the next batch is purchased.

4. Buy them a Britta pitcher and stash it somewhere. Pull it out when you arrive and offer to make the coffee (I'm lucky that my parents live in a place where ordinary tap water actually tastes pretty good).

5. You're lucky - a clean machine helps.

Finally.... clench your teeth and just tolerate it. I made coffee after Thanksgiving dinner this year - freshly roasted and freshly ground high quality decaf blend - brewed in a vacuum pot. It was the best cup of decaf I've ever consumed. They definitely appreciated it and could tell the difference but they happily went right back to drinking swill at home the following morning :angry::rolleyes:

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My question is:  What can I do/tell them to do to improve the taste of their coffee.  There are a few constraints:

1.  Convenience/cost is more important than taste.

2.  They will not grind their own beans or buy whole beans.

3.  They store coffee in the cupboard.

4.  They will not use filtered water.

5.  They clean the machine regularly.

Any thoughts?

Given those constraints, I'm afraid you're really not going to win this one--especially given constraint #1.

Above all, it's like they say about therapy: the person has to *want* to change. If your folks don't see the coffee as a problem in the first place, they're just not gonna do anything about it, no matter how many suggestions and even gifts of good coffee that you give them. Family--ya gotta love 'em ... :rolleyes::laugh:

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You're upset that your parents aren't making coffee the way you like it?

The next time you visit:

Bring your own tools. 

Bring your own water. 

Bring your own beans. 

Volunteer to take on the coffee-making duty for the family meals.

How's that for easy?

FINALLY! Common sense prevails!

My FIL is a Tim Horton's fan. Bottom line ... crappy coffee. No watter, no machine, no French Press in the world is going to save Timmy Ho's coffee from it's crappiness.

So we bring our own coffee, use his machine (washed? what's that?), and try to wake up before he does! Failing that, heavy up on the cream, and deal with it until we can go out for better coffee.

It's not like he's trying to serve us boxed wine! :shock::shock::shock:

A.

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Volunteer to take on the coffee-making duty for the family meals.

I guess it is OK, unless you have a complete kitchen control freak for a mother like I do.

Her problem is that she puts about two tablespoons of coarsly ground coffee per 10 cup pot.

Last Christmas, after two days of pounding caffeine withdrawal headaches, I tried to make coffee and she removed the pot from my hands and told me to go sit down. Then she scolded me for not using a paper filter inside the gold filter in her coffee machine.

The next day she increased the amount of coffee slightly; but, decided to surprise us with delicious hazlenut flavored "gourmet" beans.

Ugh.

This year, I'm bringing one of those travel french presses, my own beans and an electric kettle.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I have much the same issue at home. My family makes awful coffee. Truly, monumentally bad coffee. But, they don't mind it. I am the only one in my family who takes his coffee black. So, I bring my own filters, cone, coffee, grinder, etc. I use the teapot and make my own one cup at a time.

The kicker is, one of my aunts reuses my grounds! Gah!

But, they're family :wub:


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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You're upset that your parents aren't making coffee the way you like it?

The next time you visit:

Bring your own tools. 

Bring your own water. 

Bring your own beans. 

Volunteer to take on the coffee-making duty for the family meals.

How's that for easy?

Exactly, amaze them all and give them pleasure.


Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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I hate to tell you this, but I would advise you to appreciate these days, when crappy coffee is the major problem. With aging parents, it just goes from bad to worse, it seems. We went through the crappy coffee stage, too, without managing to improve the situation any.

Then a couple of years ago, my mother was at wit's end because my dad kept forgetting to put the carafe under the filter holder, and the coffee would drip all over the counter and onto the floor. To make it even more frustrating, all suggestions of possible solutions that would at least mitigate the damage, were nothing she was willing to do.

Last fall, they cleaned up 1 1/2 inches of water from the basement, after my father didn't mentally connect that a leaking washer hose meant the faucet it was connected to, needed to be turned off. The water spewed all night long, until my mother discovered it the next morning. Total cleanup bill: $3,500.

Ahhhhhhh the good old days of crappy coffee!

We won't even go into the joys of trying to get the car keys away from them.

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I have no advice as to how to make bad parent/parent-in-law coffee better, since I have not been successful at persuading my mother-in-law not to re-use coffee grounds for several days in a row. Yes, that's right, several days of recycled coffee grounds, and leftover coffee is stored and reheated with the "new" coffee.

After this feat was attempted with my own personal home coffee machine, I and my husband found a way to tactfully teach them how "we" make coffee. It took some reinforcement, but now we can all drink coffee at my house, while I don't really drink it at thiers. The tea is better. I learned that there are some things you can't change.

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