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Desperately Seeking "European" Coffee


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Well, it has happened again. We went to Amsterdam, had amazing coffee everyday, even good on the plane and now I'm back again and my coffee is just not as good. :angry: I love the coffee we had in Amsterdam. I've also had really good coffee in Provence, Italy (of course), and Switzerland. Although the styles were all different, they were all similar in terms of not being bitter, overroasted, and too hot. They were instead rich, flavorful, and incredibably aromatic. Why, oh why, can't I get this effect at home? :sad:

At home I have a Grind and Brew, a percolater, and a Krups espresso maker. Should I pick up a French press? I use filtered water. I buy quality beans of medium roast and store them in airtight containers, purchasing only what I can use in a week. My espresso maker by far makes the best coffee but it is still not exactly what I am searching for. I live near Boston and am willing to travel into the city for beans. I've tried Peets, Polcari's (better), Star-yucks, and a bunch of other types from Whole Foods. We've dumped so many bags, I think my husband is going to clobber me!

What do I need to do to get a great cup of coffee at home?

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What do I need to do to get a great cup of coffee at home?

I would be looking in the ethnic grocery stores for different brands. You may find what you are looking for at a German pork store or Italian place. Try some of the darker roasts, as they tend to have more body. Your guy may even be able to roast what you are looking for if you can describe it to him.

The basics of coffee and tea making are easy enough but it is still a personal preference. I have had wonderfully made coffee out of a $20 Mr. Coffee type maker and some undrinkable sludge from a French press. Though you may want to get a press and experiment to see what you like better. Time and temp have a lot to do with the outcome as well as grind. It depends on the characteristic of the bean and how it is ground. There become points of overlap like lower temp and finer grind Vs larger grind and higher heat, you want it hot enough to extract the proper flavor but not destroy the oils and other flavor compounds.

Living hard will take its toll...
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Well, it has happened again.  We went to Amsterdam, had amazing coffee everyday, even good on the plane and now I'm back again and my coffee is just not as good. What do I need to do to get a great cup of coffee at home?

I had this same problem ten years ago. After coming back from Europe I could not get near the same quality of coffee at home although now I can get pretty close. Then a few years back I noticed that the coffee in San Francisco was pretty good, then DC, then New Orleans, then the costco brand ground coffee I was served in Big Sky and I came to the conclusion that coffee just tastes better when you're on vacation.

Bode

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Well, it has happened again.  We went to Amsterdam, had amazing coffee everyday, even good on the plane and now I'm back again and my coffee is just not as good. :angry: I love the coffee we had in Amsterdam.  I've also had really good coffee in Provence, Italy (of course), and Switzerland.  Although the styles were all different, they were all similar in terms of not being bitter, overroasted, and too hot.  They were instead rich, flavorful, and incredibably aromatic. Why, oh why, can't I get this effect at home? :sad:

At home I have a Grind and Brew, a percolater, and a Krups espresso maker.  Should I pick up a French press?  I use filtered water.  I buy quality beans of medium roast and store them in airtight containers, purchasing only what I can use in a week.  My espresso maker by far makes the best coffee but it is still not exactly what I am searching for.  I live near Boston and am willing to travel into the city for beans.  I've tried Peets, Polcari's (better), Star-yucks, and a bunch of other types from Whole Foods.  We've dumped so many bags, I think my husband is going to clobber me!

What do I need to do to get a great cup of coffee at home?

Try making an Americano. After giving up on every other method we make espresso every morning and add hot water to taste. My husband likes 50-50 and I prefer 60% espresso. Buy a "full city" roast which is dark but not black. Do not buy beans that are oily on the surface and, if you can find them, buy Brazilian beans.

Ruth Friedman

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Should I pick up a French press?  I use filtered water.  I buy quality beans of medium roast and store them in airtight containers, purchasing only what I can use in a week.

If you're in the Boston area, I recommend getting your beans from Terroir Coffee. You can go there and pick up or have them shipped to you.

French press will give you a richer flavor than regular drip, and is not too difficult to get a good result.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Just remembered, another good roaster in your area is Jessica's Biscuit. They're not quite at Terroir's level (but few are), but I've gotten some very good beans from them--the Brazilian Vargem Grande and the PNG are nice.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Thank you all so much for your replies. eGullet is such a goldmine of information.

I did pick up a French press yesterday. I think I'll need to fool around more with the grind, but it was a definite improvement. I purchased Illy beans which were good, but not great. I drank it black so I could get the full feel for the cup but noticed the aroma dissipated pretty quickly and the end of the cup was a bit bitter. I think a trip out to Terrior is in order. I found their site to be very accessible and the descriptions are great.

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The French press is a great start. Make sure you either get a high-end burr grinder, or ask the store to grind for the French press. The key is a coarse grind with a minimum of fine particles (which is impossible with most consumer grinders).

Some other tips:

-Spring water instead of tap

-After boiling, let the kettle sit a minute before pouring into the press so the water is more like 200 degrees rather than boiling

-Give about 3-5 minutes before plunging

Good luck!

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Seriously.... you're in the Boston area or alternatively can do mail-order?

I have three suggestions:

Terroir, Terroir and Terroir

They are really that good. If by chance you don't care for the bit of sludge or the slight oiliness of French Press coffee (some of us don't) - then pick up a Melitta cone and some unbleached cone filters. Brew directly into any preheated thermal carafe (the Melitta will fit on most carafe brands). Best drip coffee you can make bar none.

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Check this out- my market carries Terrior!!! They only had the Karaba, but I think I would have bought that one to start anyway. Can't wait until tomorrow!

:smile:

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My two cents -

if you have a scale, I'd say 7 grams of coffee for every 5-6 oz. of (good) water is pretty important too. phaelon56 will probably back me on this one - i think that's about 1 standard coffee measure - so if you're drinking a 10 oz. mug, you gotta use 2 measures or 14 grams.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Yes - filtered water or good quality bottled spring water (I use tap water thtough a Britta Filter and it's fine). If you're grinding by the pot or cup just fill the standard coffee scoop slight rounded with beans and you'll be close enough. And don't skimp - Mitch is correct - one full or slightly rounded scoop per 5 - 6 oz of water.

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If you still don't get the taste you're looking for, maybe the following fact might help:

The water in many parts of Europe contains a lot of calcium, and I'm fairly sure (well, relatively sure) that many coffee shops here are using plain tap water for making their coffee.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that hard water will make good coffee! :rolleyes:

I'm just suggesting that water quality might be one of the elusive factors that contributed to the 'European' taste.

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In the US coffee tends to be made much weaker than in Europe.

Coffee varieties may also be different. Currently I'm drinking an Java/Mysore mix. 3 Tbs to a medium size french press.

Main difference I've found is in the milk. European milk (especially UK) is different to US: different fat content, different grazing, diiferent pastaurisation.

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