Perked Senior Member Joined: 24 Sep 2012 Posts: 30 Location: Ohio Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Thu Oct 11, 2012, 8:57pm Subject: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
I thought I LOVED coffee, until I came here. Now I realize just how much I really have to learn. The technical stuff, the different apparatus. It's a lot to soak in. One thing is for, I do share the same love for coffee as everyone else here and now I wish to start my journey on becoming a true expert by increasing my knowledge first and then learning how to make a perfect cup of coffee. I guessed right away it's not as simple as going to a big box store, buying a cheap coffee maker and throwing in some grinds.
My history has so far been getting a grinder after someone at work said they grind their own beans. I tried it and LOVE it. I picked up a $20 grinder from amazon. It's a small thing. Push button. Simple. The grinds stick to the sides and you have to shake it around while grinding to get a good grind, but going from ground coffee (which I guess is actually really stale and if that's the case then most people don't know what good coffee tastes like, AM I RIGHT?) to grinding whole bean was like going to heaven for the first time.
But now I want MORE. But it seems like I may have taken a step back by getting a kcup brewer. After realizing how expensive it really is to get new kcups.... I told her I want to go back to making coffee the regular way and use our grinder. The kcups just don't have a lot of caffeine but oddly enough, I enjoy them.
I also have the single cup filter for putting your own grinds in, but the water seems to come out too fast so I feel like I'm wasting the coffee that I put in there.
So about the schooling - can anyone reference me to a good place to start on what makes a good cup of coffee? Like temperature regulation. Drip and flow (i.e how slow should the drip be and at what temperature?).
And then from there, the lessons on where to get good whole bean. I read here that 2 weeks after a roast is considered stale. Well I guess I can bet that the whole beans from the stores are older than 2 weeks. I'll google to see if a roaster is in my area but what can I expect to pay? We don't have a big budget yet and since I'm trying to reduce costs by dumping my kcups I would like to know if it's possible to get truly fresh roasted beans at a decent rate. If not, I can live with that as I think the experience will be 10 times better than kcups.
now, onto the equipment. I know from reading here that you are best to start off with maybe a commercial brand or something truly worthy of a budget, but I just don't have that kind of cash. Is there ANYTHING worth considering on the low end ($50?) for coffee makers? Or are they just all the same? Do ANY stand out at all? What should I look for and what should I pass on? We aren't sure if we want a 12 cup or 5 cup yet. I've noticed a 5 cup isn't really 5 cups.... it seems more like 2 good "cups", but I digress....
Anyway, so we covered the temp, the drip, the coffee maker, and now the grinder. I would like to use the grinder I have now, but what about the process? I heard/read somewhere that if you grind it for too long at a time it heats up the grounds and the quality is lowered as a result. Is this true? So, like 15 seconds of grinding, the pause. That's what I heard anyway. I could probably dig up a pic of the grinder or maybe take a picture myself.
Anyway, sorry for all of the questions - yes, I DO know how to use google :) , but I want to get myself comfortable with how this community does things and go from there.
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 5:32am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
You have just stepped onto a slippery slope. As you can learn from my website, I have been sliding down the same path for nearly 12 years. here I am, replying at 5AM. What does that tell you!
You do not have a true grinder. I believe that this is a Whirley Blade device with one spinning razor blade sort of thing. These create a lot of dust which adds to the bitterness of the coffee. I suggest that your first investment would be in a "real" grinder. Check baratza.com for their offerings. If you do not intend on making espresso, even their least expensive grinder will be a step up.
Great coffee can come from something as simple as a pour-over cone. All that takes is a decent grinder and great coffee. As you stated, look for a local roaster.
The next step is the Aeropress. While its volume is limited, it does create a nice coffee, but in spite of the claims, IMO, it does not make espresso.
My favorite "low tech" method is the Espro press, but that is about $75,
None of the "economy" drip machines are worth the box they come in.
Read my website (URL below in the sig). It will keep you buy for a month or so... ;-)
diggi Senior Member Joined: 28 Nov 2011 Posts: 383 Location: Halifax, NS Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2 Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,... Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 5:50am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
Here is a great website to introduce you to a broad array of brew methods. Cheapest are hario drip, french press, aeorpress, chemex (little more pricy). Good electric grinders start around $125. You can get a $40 good cheap hand grinder (like hario mini or skerton), but hard to do large volumes (tiresome and little too much effort, nusance day after day). Start reading articles on this site and ask more questions that you come across.
oldgearhead Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2010 Posts: 396 Location: Go Colts! Expertise: I like coffee
Grinder: Virtuoso by Baratza Drip: Chemex,Dilongi DCM900 Roaster: 1/2K Fluid-bed
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 5:59am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
Yes, a good grinder is always the best place to start. However, I've found that the 'whole bean' coffee found in the grocery and discouint stores can be every bit as stale as what comes in the can. Therefore, you will need to get a roaster in order to have complete control of the process.
Brewing - I would suggest the Chemex method as a great place to start learning how to make drip coffee.
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 6:31am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
To recommend roasting to someone who can't (or doesn't want to) spend more than $50 for a brewer and is just starting out is quite a jump. I think for now, the money would be better spent finding a local roaster or other source of fresh, whole beans, and spending the money on a quality grinder.
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 8:11am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
Lots of good roasters do online/mail order sales and ship so you get the coffee within 3 days or so of roasting. So you can have access to great coffee without having to take up roasting for yourself (I roast, but occasionally pick up a bag of somebody else's roast just to check myself against a pro).
Another option for coffee course can be Costco. Not the world's greatest coffee, but a number of the larger Costcos roast coffee on premises and you can get very freshly roasted coffee from them. If you're lucky enough to be near one of these, the trick is to find out what their roasting schedule is and go there on the days they roast, as they store the coffee after roasting in open bins that don't help so much with keeping it fresh.
Many folks who aren't near a roaster will buy 5-10 lbs of coffee at a time from any of the above sources, divide it up into the amounts that they'd use over a 2-3 day period and then freeze in individual vacuum sealed bags. This not only gets you fresh coffee, but buying in larger amounts can save a lot of money. Freezing and vacuum help keep the coffee fresh, but you want to make sure that you're not constantly taking coffee in and out of the freezer to remove just a little bit at a time, hence the division into smaller portions. If you do this, just take the coffee our the night before (or several hours before if you suddenly need coffee in the middle of the day) to let it come to room temperature while still sealed to avoid condensation on the beans.
The least expensive way, but perhaps most troublesome, to get fresh coffee is to find out different big companies figure their "Best by:" or "Sell by:" dates. If you have to code, you can figure out when it was roasted (some companies, for example, use a 1-year offset for "Best by:" date, so just take that and subtrace 12 months to let you know when it was roasted). Once you're in possession of that knowledge, you can get, if not the best coffee, at least the freshest available at your local mega-mart. It does, though, turn you into one of those obsessive label readers in the store aisle.
JavaGator Senior Member Joined: 27 Sep 2012 Posts: 35 Location: Orlando FL Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Oct 12, 2012, 11:13am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
You sound like a novice like me when I found this site a few weeks ago when I was looking to get a new coffee maker. I had the standard department store Cuisinart. I used canned coffee mostly, and used a blade grinder when I wanted fresh ground coffee. When I found this site I was immediately interested in the new Brazen brewer. I purchased the Brazen, and quickly found that while it brewed the canned coffee well, I wasn't getting the benefit of the brewer's capability. So, I started grinding whole beans in my Magic Bullet blade grinder to brew in the Brazen. Huge improvement in the qulaity of the coffee. Further reading on this site, it was clear that grinding with the blade was not thought to give you the full flavor of the whole bean. That required a burr grinder. While I was considering paying over $100 for a grinder, I decided to start with a $35 Mr Coffee burr grinder. Wow, even the cheap burr grinder totally changed the quality of the brewed coffee. Other posters advise that a higher quality burr grinder will take the quiality of the brew to an even higher level, and while I'm sure that is the case, I wanted to play around with some diferent beans before looking for a more expensive grinder. So in all I spent $240 to have what I think is a good platform to enjoy whole bean coffee. I'm sure I could have gone cheaper on the brewer and been fine, but I really wanted the option of tinkering with water temperature and pre-soak time to improve my morning cups of joe. Good luck figuring out what equipment to get.
Perked Senior Member Joined: 24 Sep 2012 Posts: 30 Location: Ohio Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sat Oct 13, 2012, 10:26am Subject: Re: Looking to get schooled on the art and science of great coffee
so, it appears that the significant investments will be a grinder and then getting fresh roasted whole beans (as the constant expense). I think I will get a cheap maker for now, while saving up for a better grinder and maker. I have GOT to get rid of my kcups. The price does NOT warrant the quality and the amount you get.
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