643gdp Senior Member Joined: 6 Aug 2002 Posts: 2 Location: Dyersburg, TN Expertise: Beginner
Posted Tue Aug 6, 2002, 2:43pm Subject: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
Everyone, I just purchased, based on several reviews here at the Geek, a KitchenAid 4-cupper that will brew at the right temp. It's not here yet, but I want to know how to take care of this baby, so it does not go the way of my Krups. . .trashed recently. What should I use to clean it, and how often? Anything to avoid besides non-filtered water? Thanks, Jay Wigley
Posted Tue Aug 6, 2002, 3:23pm Subject: Re: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
I buy cheap drip makers and they seem to last a long time. Here's what I do: 1) Use only filtered water 2) Keep a thermos or thermal carafe available that I preheat with hot tap water while the coffee is brewing. The instant the coffee is done I dump the hot water and fill the carafe/thermos with the java, then turn off the coffeemaker. Not sure if this really helps but I figure the less time it spends in the "on" position, the better off I am. I also believe that every moment that glass carafe is sitting on the warmer is more coffee integrity getting fried away. 3) Once a month (assuming the drip-maker sees daily use or close to it) run a full pot of undiluted white vinegar through it. Use the cheap stuff that comes in gallon jugs (store brand or Heinz - whatever's cheapest). Now run four or five full carafes of filtered water through after the vinegar.
I can't think of anything else and I usually break the carafe before the coffeemaker wears out. May just be lucky but these procedures do contribute to better tasting coffee anyway.
643gdp Senior Member Joined: 6 Aug 2002 Posts: 2 Location: Dyersburg, TN Expertise: Beginner
Posted Wed Aug 7, 2002, 8:26am Subject: Re: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
Thanks for the tips. The more I read around here, the more questions I have. But most of my questions come down to this one: I live in a pretty small (20,000) Southern town, miles away from even a simple Starbucks, much less a place to pick up unroasted beans or even a decent autodrip. (I ordered the 4 cupper KitchenAid from Amazon.) What are my best options for getting into more "serious" coffee pursuits? I'm thinking of vacuum pots, home roasting, and so forth. (I'm not much of an expresso fan, not yet. :) Thanks, Jay
Posted Wed Aug 7, 2002, 10:11am Subject: Re: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
There are probably as many answers as there are users on this forum. I started by getting a cheap DeLonghi espresso maker at a local discount store for $70 or $80 and using the Braun blade grinder that I'd received for X-Mas a few years previously. It's not as consistent as a burr style grinder but is better than using the little grinders where only the lenght of time it's running can be used to regulate the fineness of grind (had one of those for years before the Braun. Next... find yourself a good source for a pre-roasted whole bean espresso that you really like. Make sure it's something that's available in vacuum sealed cans (e.g. Illy which is good but pricey) or find something that is fresh roasted and then shipped to you in the bags with the one-way valve. There's lots of debate on freezing coffee but I buy 3 - 5 lbs at a time of a blend I happen to like (Perugia blend from Torrefazione Italia at www.titalia.com) and get a good price on. I then freeze all but one bag at a time. It's available in 8 oz or 12 oz bags that are presealed and have the valve. I thaw one bag at a time at room temp still selaed as I need more and then store it at room temp in a ceramic jar that has an airtight seal. It stays fresh enough for me for the 3-7 days it takes me to use that amount. Yes... I get slightly fresher flavor and better crema when it's really fresh or I bring home freshly roasted beans from a roaster but my travel, work and personal schedule just doesn't make it convenient for me to stop by a good roaster a few times each week and I lack the kitchen space and inclination to get into home roasting at this time (but will do so eventually). I'm now using a Gaggia Baby and a Solis Maestro - does a fantastic job with good crema and properly frothed milk after much practice but believe me... I got a pretty decent shot with the DeLonghi. Perhaps if I was a straight espresso drinker I would never have been content with those shots but I lean towards, latte's, mocha's and cappucino's. The DeLonghi did a serviceable job on those. If I needed to make multiple drinks for guests (almost never a concern for me), it would have be slow and inefficient with the DeLonghi but the milk based espresso drinks I make with it are generally superior to anything I can get at Starbucks. Many folks will be in favor of other methods, e.g. buying a better grinder up front (not a bad idea as you can get a Solis Maestro for about $130 with free shipping and no tax). Many will also favor traveling to or mail ordering from an independent roaster in small quantities more frequently. You can buy the one way valve zip-loc style bags by mail order (I think www.coffeewholesalers.com might have them). I love good coffee and espresso drinks but weigh available time against how good it needs to be for me to enjoy it. I've adopted a system that eliminates the need for me to spend much time shopping, roastogn ro do any of the other prep activities - everyone's needs will be different. As a person just getting into this I'll certainly encourage you to stop into a roaster in a nearby city when you're traveling. Buy small amounts of various blends and roast styles or perhaps buy a sampler online if it's easier. I'm content drinkign the same blend day in and day out but many people need variety. For many years beforte my recent foray into espresso, I used a Braun grinder, a $10 Proctor-Silex drip maker from Wal-Mart and bought two pound bags of San Franciso Bay French Roast whole bean from BJ's Wholesale Club. I also bought two pound bags of their "Decaf Gourmet Whole Bean Blend" (same roaster/distributor - the decaf is supposedly all Arabica beans as is the French Roast). I opened both bags, mixed the two so I'd get lower caf content and then paqcked it into smaller ziploc's and froze all but a half pound or so. Total cost about $5-6 per pound and believe me... I could make coffee with this setup that was consitently better than anything available to me in cafe's at that time (and still way better than anything the 'bucks serves to this day but let's nto go there!). I'm still a cheapskate at heart - just hit a special from Torrefazione Italia and got 5 pounds of Perugia in half pound bags - ended up costing me $5.40 per pound with shipping included. Don't sell yourself short in the short run though... I spent $325 on a Gaggia Baby which is a grat machine but now realize less than one year later that I should have spent the $400 and gotten a Silvia. I have never regretted spending the $80 on the DeLonghi as it was a great low-cost/low-risk intro to espresso drinks and will now still go to good use as I'm giving it to my daughter for her new apartment at college.
Posted Wed Aug 7, 2002, 12:34pm Subject: Re: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
One important thing I forgot to mention... don't waste your money on a "steam toy". These are the little espresso makers available at the low end from Krups and several other companies. They use a boiler thar produces pressure solely on th basis of heating the water in a sealed boiler. I tried one at a friend's house and found that it was
a) inconvenient to use b) didn't produce adequate pressure to do even a half-baked job on frothing the milk
I have managed to get pretty decent results on frothing with the DeLonghi as long as I accept the limitations - you cannot froth more than about 4 -5 oz of milk with it and it requires a bit of practice to get the best results.
Posted Thu Aug 8, 2002, 8:05am Subject: Re: Zen and Auto-drip maintenance?
One last thought (I can't seem to shut up!).... on the basis of personal experience I suggest that if you do decide to delve into the world of espresso drinks, starting out cheap with a minimal ivestment is a good route but if you know you're going to get serious about it.... or.... you've already taken the baby steps with a small cheap machine and are ready to step up - skip the middle level. Don't try to go to the mid-level and then up - always ends up costing more money. If you get serious then save your $$ and get a decent burr grinder and spring for a Silvia or the like ($400 US at this time). I've seen so many posts from folks who've invested in $60-$80 blade grinders or $200 espresso machines and quickly realize they need to jump to the next level to get the results they want. I learned this lesson the tough way when I got into amateur audio recording - could have saved hundreds of $$ if I'd planned more carefully and done more research about diminishing returns and how much I would really need to spend to get the results I was seeking.
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