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Old 12-08-2011, 02:13 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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Let's have a coffee thread: equipment, types of beans, anything really!

I accidentally fell in love with french press. Tried a new coffee shop near my new house and it's pretty magical. It tastes like coffee smells. I've got a simple Bodum, an electric grinder (for shame, not a burr!) and some insulated glasses. So far I've only experimented with 49th parallel (longitude) and various Whole Foods coffees.

Oh, and if you're going shopping and your WF is like mine (many run the same sales) stay the hell away from "One Village Coffee", the Artist Blend, on sale this week. I was a sucker for marketing; they hooked me with the tagline "its what Jeff Brides would be if he were a coffee (paraphrased)". Not remarkable in the slightest.

I've been wholly unsatisfied with the various decafs I've tried. Anyone have a good one?

At what point does it become necessary to purchase a burr grinder? (Amazon's proven kind of hard to find a burr grinder under $50 -- do they exist.) Is $10-20\pound going to get me decent coffee, or is there a (gulp) magical wonderland out there with $50\lb 100% Kona?
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2011, 02:25 PM
Typo Negative Typo Negative is offline
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We have a Barkley's Coffee and Tea nearby. Not all coffee beans are equal. I like Barkley's above Whole Foods or the like.

There is simply nothing like fresh ground Columbian Supremo coffee. It is a little cup of Heaven.
  #3  
Old 12-08-2011, 02:56 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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We order beans from CCM Coffee in Florida. We've tried a lot of beans and theirs, as you say, taste the most like coffee smells.

We are on our second super-automatic and we think they are totally worth the price. The first one produced 2-8 lattes every morning for six years before it went totally kaput. That erases the burr grinder issue, too.

Lord. Now I want a latte. Off to the kitchen I go...
  #4  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:17 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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My passion: Espresso. Celebrated most by me in its ristretto form. That is, all the beans, half the liquid!

Machine: Rancilio Silvia, with a post-manufacture precise temperature control added. It's about the best home machine I've found. I've worn out 4 lesser machines in under 10 years with daily use. The next step up would be a commercial unit with two boilers. Not gonna go there.

Beans: Alterra, a local roaster, their whole bean espresso roast. I go through 5 lbs of beans every month or so. At that rate of consumption, the beans stay fresh.

Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus. It is standing up to heavy use, 5-6 x a day. Only 40 grind settings. If I do upgrade, it'll probably be to something like the Baratza Precisio or the Rancilio Rocky, with more grind settings and more durable parts.

Tamper: Espro calibrated, it 'clicks' at 30 lbs of pressure, but you can feel it build up towards that, and modify the pressure you bring to bear.

Water: From my own well, but softened.

Cups: Bodum canteen, glass double wall, 3 oz. Keeps it hot a looooong time.

Frequency of consumption during the typical workweek: 1 shot at 5:45 AM, another at 4:30 PM, a final one about 6:30 PM.

Frequency of consumption on weekends/days off: Usually not more than 6 a day.

Other machine uses: Makes lattes, cappucinos of which the Mrs. consumes at least 2 a day.

About 22-28 seconds of brewing at 215-225 degrees should produce from 1/4 cup of finely ground beans tamped between 20-30 lbs of pressure nearly 1 oz. of ristretto or 1.5 to 2 oz. of espresso.

Key tips:
1) Grind beans just before brewing.
2) Grind finer, tamp lighter.
3) Make sure that not just the machine, but the portafilter is completely warmed up before brewing. The water in the boiler may be at the appropriate temperature, but if the equipment's not hot also, the brew will be inferior.
4) Heat the cups that are to receive the brew with water that's at least 170 degrees, dumping out the water just before brewing.
5) Look for tiger striping and mottling in the crema. If the crema is fine, the brew is divine!!
  #5  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:30 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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If you really want to try something fun, look for single origin coffees to really get an idea of how many different flavors a single species of coffee can turn out. It's all about the growing environment and a little about the processing types. A wet-processed Costa Rican Tarrazu is vibrant and crisp while a dry-processed Ethiopia Yergacheffe is winy and rich and Sumatran coffee tends to be dark and earthy. There are a wide variety of single origin coffees that you should try. Some highlights:

Latin America
  • Costa Rican Tarrazu
  • Guatemala Antigua Shade-Grown
  • Guatemala Bourbon -Finca San Diego Buena Vista (Estate coffee; bourbon cultivar)
  • Mexican Chiapas Shade-Grown
  • Colombia Narino

Africa/Arabia
  • Ethiopian Harar
  • Ethiopian Sidamo
  • Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
  • Kenyan AA Estate
  • Tanzania Peaberry
  • Yemen Mocha (my personal favorite)

Indonesia/Pacific
  • New Guinea Peaberry
  • Sumatra
  • Sulawesi

I've grown quite fond of African/Arabia regional coffees for their rich flavor notes ranging from citrus to spice to chocolate. My very favorite is Mocha Java which is Yemeni coffee blended with Javanese coffee. From Indo-Pacific, I like New Guinea Peaberry, but I have yet to try Kopi Luwak because it's too expensive for me. From Latin America, I like the Guatemalans and Mexican coffees.
  #6  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:34 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
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Brown Eyed Girl ,

That's quite a list! Dondra drinks Tschibo Mild which we get from Harry's Farmer's Market in Marietta.

Me? I don't drink coffee. It makes my heart race. So in Winter I drink Morning Thunder and one other Celestial Seasonings tea. I think it's called Sleepy time.

I was wondering too, if that's why you have that nickname, because you like coffee so much?

Thanks

Quasi

Last edited by Quasimodem; 12-08-2011 at 03:36 PM.
  #7  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:55 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sattua View Post
We order beans from CCM Coffee in Florida. We've tried a lot of beans and theirs, as you say, taste the most like coffee smells.

We are on our second super-automatic and we think they are totally worth the price.
*gulp* Whole Latte Love lists "super automatics" between 500 and 3k. Sounds like everyone is pretty serious about coffee here . But hey, that's what a wedding registry is for.....right?

Qadgop, that's quite an exhaustive list. I will say that Bodum double walled cups are really excellent and that my roommate taught me to fill the cup(s) you're going to use with water from the kettle to get them warmed up.

Brown Eyed Girl, thank you! Printing the list now. Do you get them from a particular store or roaster that you'd recommend?
  #8  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:01 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by Quasimodem View Post
Brown Eyed Girl ,

That's quite a list! Dondra drinks Tschibo Mild which we get from Harry's Farmer's Market in Marietta.

Me? I don't drink coffee. It makes my heart race. So in Winter I drink Morning Thunder and one other Celestial Seasonings tea. I think it's called Sleepy time.

I was wondering too, if that's why you have that nickname, because you like coffee so much?

Thanks

Quasi
Haha! I do love coffee and, although I love espresso, I think french press is absolutely the best way to explore flavor profiles. It's like traveling around the world in a coffee cup. Food pairing makes it even more fun! Once begin to identify flavor notes, you can find foods to accompany the coffee and enhance its flavor. The list is notably shallow on the Indonesian end because I'm not a huge fan of them.

I like teas, too, although I'm not as familiar with them. I used to drink a LOT of Sleepytime way back when, but I'm currently on a chai kick. I also love different types of green tea and on occassion will create a blend of green and lemon mint herbal. Yum!

My screen name is actually a reference to Van Morrison's song because when I was a little girl, I used to tell people that it was "my song" and beamed with pride whenever it came on the radio. Don't ask. I was little, self-involved and I have brown eyes. Plus, Van Morrison, ya know? But you are free to associate it with my love of coffee. I do drink a lot! Long ago, I was known to down an average of 8-10 espresso shots per day. Not anymore though; I stick to a cup or two. As an aside, I have a lot of energy but excellent blood pressure.
  #9  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:04 PM
Enderw24 Enderw24 is offline
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My experience is that the best type of brewed coffee is also the most impractical for day-to-day cups. It's the Vacuum Brewer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_coffee_maker

The basic gist is this. There are two bulbs. In one, you put filtered water. In the other, you put coffee grounds. You seal them together and heat the water to boiling. The vapor pressure will change at boiling such that the water shoots up the tube through the filter into the chamber with coffee. After a few minutes, you take the heat source away, the process reverses and you're left with a flask full of coffee on the bottom.

It's annoying to clean and can take forever to get the water to boiling, but damned if it isn't the best, smoothest cup of coffee I've tasted. It's also neat to trot out at dinner parties. People can watch it during dinner and have coffee with dessert.
  #10  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:04 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by lindsaybluth View Post
Brown Eyed Girl, thank you! Printing the list now. Do you get them from a particular store or roaster that you'd recommend?
I try different roasters and I'm no longer in a financial position to order coffee, but Sweet Maria's has a great selection and AFAIK they are pretty reputable for freshness and quality.

I would recommend sampling different roasters, local and mail order, to find one you're happiest with. If you live in a big city or an especially active coffee culture, you'll probably find some great local roasters.
  #11  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:17 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by lindsaybluth View Post
Whole Latte Love lists "super automatics" between 500 and 3k.
I'm no fan of super automatic machines.

To me, making a decent espresso is an art. I enjoy fiddling with the grind settings, the precise amount of beans, the tamp pressures, the water temperatures. Adjusting for the ambient humidity, relative temperature, and phase of the moon makes it fun. All to the end of making the espresso yet a bit better.

Super automatics remove all that from the equation. Espresso at the push of a button. Which never tastes very good to me. Heck, if I want crappy espresso, I can go to Starbuck's or any other chain and get a poorly extracted bitter crema-less shot.

When I'm not drinking espresso, I really don't pay the coffee much mind, as long as it's fresh and fairly strong.

Unless I can get french press coffee. That's tasty. But that rarely happens in the circles I travel in at present.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 12-08-2011 at 04:20 PM.
  #12  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:18 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by Enderw24 View Post
My experience is that the best type of brewed coffee is also the most impractical for day-to-day cups. It's the Vacuum Brewer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_coffee_maker

The basic gist is this. There are two bulbs. In one, you put filtered water. In the other, you put coffee grounds. You seal them together and heat the water to boiling. The vapor pressure will change at boiling such that the water shoots up the tube through the filter into the chamber with coffee. After a few minutes, you take the heat source away, the process reverses and you're left with a flask full of coffee on the bottom.

It's annoying to clean and can take forever to get the water to boiling, but damned if it isn't the best, smoothest cup of coffee I've tasted. It's also neat to trot out at dinner parties. People can watch it during dinner and have coffee with dessert.
I want one of these so bad. And an Aeropress, too! If I didn't already have one, though, I'd spend my money on a burr grinder first. I have the one one from Starbucks and it's been going strong for over ten years now. You should have a burr grinder once you've a) decided to brew coffee any other method than drip, b) start spending good money on fresh, quality whole beans, and c) are tired of overextracted (bitter) or underextracted (weak) coffee. French press requires a coarser uniform grind than blade grinders can produce. If your coffee is not uniform, you will either not extract enough of the flavor from insufficiently ground beans at the top of the grind or you will create a bitter coffee sludge from coffee powder from under the blade that seeps through the filter.
  #13  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:19 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
I'm no fan of super automatic machiness.

To me, making a decent espresso is an art. I enjoy fiddling with the grind settings, the precise amount, the tamp pressures, the water temperatures. All to make the product yet a bit better.
I wholeheartedly agree.
  #14  
Old 12-08-2011, 05:12 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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I bought a new French press but it's tiny. I think it is technically a 3 cup press, but after three tablespoons of coffee, it only fills one of my coffee cups.

I'm still getting my coffee sent to me every month from Klatch Roasting. It is, by far, the best coffee I have ever tried.

Granted, it was the first coffee I tried outside of a super market but it's so awesome I don't think I'm going to try any others in the near future.
  #15  
Old 12-08-2011, 05:22 PM
Mr. Me Mr. Me is offline
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Originally Posted by lindsaybluth View Post
Amazon's proven kind of hard to find a burr grinder under $50 -- do they exist.
I've got this one from Bed Bath and Beyond. It 's $49.99. Had it almost a year now, satisfied so far.
  #16  
Old 12-08-2011, 05:41 PM
teela brown teela brown is online now
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
. . .

When I'm not drinking espresso, I really don't pay the coffee much mind, as long as it's fresh and fairly strong.

Unless I can get french press coffee. That's tasty. But that rarely happens in the circles I travel in at present.
I second everything QtM has to say as far as espresso goes. Except I use a Mazzer Mini grinder.

[hijack]Speaking of espresso and travel, how do you handle feeding your espresso habit when traveling, Doc? I'm used to a perfect little ristretto at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, and it's rough to have to settle for Starbucks when on the road. And even then, the Starbucks are usually a drive from the hotel.

Hotels nowadays will have a laughable excuse of a coffee bar serving up espresso-like drinks, but they don't open until 7 or 8 a.m.[/end hijack]
  #17  
Old 12-08-2011, 07:25 PM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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My go-to coffee is French-roast Colombian whole beans. Run the beans through a burr mill and a single-cup Melitta cone.
  #18  
Old 12-08-2011, 07:53 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I just wanted to contribute that I am in the process of becoming a trained coffee taste panelist for major mass-market coffee company. Assuming I make it all the way through training, I will be part of a "descriptive" panel of people who will taste coffees and assign values for a set of specific flavor attributes. Right now, I'm also serving on a "discrimination" panel, in which we are given sets of three samples of coffee, two of which are the same, and we have to identify the one that's different in the set.

The descriptive panel work is really, REALLY challenging.
  #19  
Old 12-08-2011, 08:34 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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I bought the Breville semi-automatic 18 months ago and have been very happy with it. It was only about $500. I make better capuccino than Starbucks or most places, and that's using Costco Espresso beans.

Looked long and hard at the Silvia. The downsides of the Silvia for me are:
- pretty long warm up time. I'd have to get up 15-30 minutes earlier in the morning
- my wife probably would not like all the "art" that goes into getting all the different variables right
- we drink primarily capuccino's and latte's. The espresso shot isn't quite as important as a ristretto
- it was more expensive and you need a good burr grinder as well

Anyone out there done home bean roasting? I think the house we are building requires a home roasting unit. I'm starting to research and would love to hear feedback.

LindsayBluth - didn't great espresso gear and exquiste beans come with your upbringing?
  #20  
Old 12-08-2011, 08:59 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Looked long and hard at the Silvia. The downsides of the Silvia for me are:
- pretty long warm up time. I'd have to get up 15-30 minutes earlier in the morning
Electronic timer took care of that for me. It turns on at 5:10 AM, and is hot when I come into the kitchen at 5:45
  #21  
Old 12-08-2011, 09:02 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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[hijack]Speaking of espresso and travel, how do you handle feeding your espresso habit when traveling, Doc? I'm used to a perfect little ristretto at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, and it's rough to have to settle for Starbucks when on the road. And even then, the Starbucks are usually a drive from the hotel.

Hotels nowadays will have a laughable excuse of a coffee bar serving up espresso-like drinks, but they don't open until 7 or 8 a.m.[/end hijack]
I basically just skip espressos on vacation and settle for coffee. Unless I'm fortunate to discover a decent espresso place. Starbucks are not worth hunting down to me, their espresso is invariably so inferior as to be a real waste of time and money and taste buds.

Every once in a while I find a little mom and pop place that knows how to make a proper espresso, though.
  #22  
Old 12-08-2011, 09:22 PM
Pork Rind Pork Rind is online now
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Anyone out there done home bean roasting? I think the house we are building requires a home roasting unit. I'm starting to research and would love to hear feedback.
I used to roast all my own coffee. I had a Swissmar, The Alpenrost if I recall correctly. I liked the machine, but I had reliability issues and had it replaced (free, at least, under warranty) twice before I gave up on it. The HotTop had just come out and got good initial reviews, but was hard to get and my interest waned, so I have yet to get back into roasting.

My biggest complaint was that the Alpenrost was the largest roaster available before getting into pro equipment, and it would still only roast about 1/3 to 1/2 pounds at a time. My wife and I go through plenty of coffee, so it seemed like I always needed to fire up another batch.

Makes a hell of a lot of smoke too, more than a standard range hood can deal with.

Last edited by Pork Rind; 12-08-2011 at 09:22 PM.
  #23  
Old 12-08-2011, 11:08 PM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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I just wanted to contribute that I am in the process of becoming a trained coffee taste panelist for major mass-market coffee company. Assuming I make it all the way through training, I will be part of a "descriptive" panel of people who will taste coffees and assign values for a set of specific flavor attributes. Right now, I'm also serving on a "discrimination" panel, in which we are given sets of three samples of coffee, two of which are the same, and we have to identify the one that's different in the set.

The descriptive panel work is really, REALLY challenging.
I would be interested in hearing more about this, provided it is not considered proprietary info.
  #24  
Old 12-09-2011, 07:47 AM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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While we enjoy our lattes, we aren't coffee aficionados so we think our super-automatic is pretty great. Apparently it's a low end one, as it cost about $650. When you compare our rate of consumption to the going rate for the nearest good commercial latte, it pays for itself pretty quick.

My father was roasting coffee beans in an old air-pop popcorn machine for a while. He thought the resulting coffee was okay but it was too much trouble.
  #25  
Old 12-09-2011, 10:39 AM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I would be interested in hearing more about this, provided it is not considered proprietary info.
I don't want to hijack this into a "Ask the..." thread, but I'll answer what I can.
  #26  
Old 12-09-2011, 05:46 PM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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I don't want to hijack this into a "Ask the..." thread, but I'll answer what I can.
I'm just curious what the flavor attributes are that you are judging.
  #27  
Old 12-09-2011, 05:48 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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I'm not going to lie, while I've found the SDMB to be hugely influential in my enthusiasm for various foods and drinks, espresso is one case where it has intimidated me to the point of not wanting to get a machine for home use.
  #28  
Old 12-09-2011, 07:09 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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I'm not going to lie, while I've found the SDMB to be hugely influential in my enthusiasm for various foods and drinks, espresso is one case where it has intimidated me to the point of not wanting to get a machine for home use.
It's really not that tough. Decent semi-automatic home machines can be had for 2 or 3 hundred dollars, most come with video clips as to how to best use them (and more can be found on youtube), and you can be making espressos as good as or better than most chains in a few hours.

But then if one gets into it, there's so much room to fine-tune the process, and spend lots of time and money in the process, if one chooses.

Or not.

Last edited by Qadgop the Mercotan; 12-09-2011 at 07:10 PM.
  #29  
Old 12-09-2011, 07:56 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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I found a local roaster over the summer, who roasts right here in Roger's Park, at the Monday Farmer's Market around the corner from my place. He buys organic cooperative coffee from all over. Right now I'm finishing up some Ethiopian. I was sad the Market was ending, until he told me a local store called The Armadillo's Pillow carries his coffee. That store is only a couple blocks from me. Happy.

I just do the coffee press, and have a hand-grinder. I really like my mornings/afternoons in the kitchen to not be marred by loud electric motor sounds.
  #30  
Old 12-09-2011, 08:07 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I'm just curious what the flavor attributes are that you are judging.
The scorecard right now includes dark roast, nutty, woody, chocolate, wine/berry, cereal/grain, prune/molasses, burnt, ashy, papery, green/vegetative, fermented, rubbery/skunky, caramelized, as well as the basic tastes: sweet, sour, and bitter. We also score astringency and body, although those aren't really flavors.
  #31  
Old 12-09-2011, 08:16 PM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
The scorecard right now includes dark roast, nutty, woody, chocolate, wine/berry, cereal/grain, prune/molasses, burnt, ashy, papery, green/vegetative, fermented, rubbery/skunky, caramelized, as well as the basic tastes: sweet, sour, and bitter. We also score astringency and body, although those aren't really flavors.
Wow. Sounds arduous. No wonder people have to qualify and train.
  #32  
Old 12-09-2011, 10:16 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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I would love to do that, too. My tasting ability is strictly amateur, although I did learn a lot about coffee while working at Starbucks. Say what you will about them, but they've done a lot to inspire appreciation of specialty coffees.
  #33  
Old 12-10-2011, 12:11 AM
dzero dzero is offline
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I finally broke down and got a Keurig. I had used Melitta coffee with the cone-drip method for years and avoided Keurig because I was worried that there wouldn't be any k-cup varieties I would like as much. The ones that came with my machine (model B60) mostly sucked, but then I can't tolerate dark roasts. But the 2 Green Mountain varieties were very good.

I don't have a very refined palate and so don't make fine distinctions but I think I'll be happy with those 2.

I probably should go a bit out of my way to find better coffee though. I bought Don Francisco before my local store stopped selling it and liked it quite a bit more than Melitta. Oh well. It's the price I pay for being lazy.
  #34  
Old 12-10-2011, 03:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
My passion: Espresso. Celebrated most by me in its ristretto form. That is, all the beans, half the liquid!

Machine: Rancilio Silvia, with a post-manufacture precise temperature control added. It's about the best home machine I've found. I've worn out 4 lesser machines in under 10 years with daily use. The next step up would be a commercial unit with two boilers. Not gonna go there.

Beans: Alterra, a local roaster, their whole bean espresso roast. I go through 5 lbs of beans every month or so. At that rate of consumption, the beans stay fresh.

Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus. It is standing up to heavy use, 5-6 x a day. Only 40 grind settings. If I do upgrade, it'll probably be to something like the Baratza Precisio or the Rancilio Rocky, with more grind settings and more durable parts.

Tamper: Espro calibrated, it 'clicks' at 30 lbs of pressure, but you can feel it build up towards that, and modify the pressure you bring to bear.

Water: From my own well, but softened.

Cups: Bodum canteen, glass double wall, 3 oz. Keeps it hot a looooong time.

Frequency of consumption during the typical workweek: 1 shot at 5:45 AM, another at 4:30 PM, a final one about 6:30 PM.

Frequency of consumption on weekends/days off: Usually not more than 6 a day.

Other machine uses: Makes lattes, cappucinos of which the Mrs. consumes at least 2 a day.

About 22-28 seconds of brewing at 215-225 degrees should produce from 1/4 cup of finely ground beans tamped between 20-30 lbs of pressure nearly 1 oz. of ristretto or 1.5 to 2 oz. of espresso.

Key tips:
1) Grind beans just before brewing.
2) Grind finer, tamp lighter.
3) Make sure that not just the machine, but the portafilter is completely warmed up before brewing. The water in the boiler may be at the appropriate temperature, but if the equipment's not hot also, the brew will be inferior.
4) Heat the cups that are to receive the brew with water that's at least 170 degrees, dumping out the water just before brewing.
5) Look for tiger striping and mottling in the crema. If the crema is fine, the brew is divine!!
Nice setup -and good tips.
I've got
Several Bodum canteens
A Rancilio Silvia. I, too would love to have a machine with two boilers. (QtM who did the temperature control unit for you?)
Ascaso grinder (excellent, seamless grind setting).
As for beans I buy them freshly roasted, but I don't prefer anything in particular for espresso - I go with whatever my coffee roaster recommends. For the Bodum I usually drink South Indian Malabar coffee. Very little bitterness.
Water: Nothing special, though we have to filter it, since the water is quite hard around here.

Aah. Coffee!

Last edited by Panurge; 12-10-2011 at 03:20 AM.
  #35  
Old 12-10-2011, 07:54 AM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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I would love to do that, too. My tasting ability is strictly amateur, although I did learn a lot about coffee while working at Starbucks. Say what you will about them, but they've done a lot to inspire appreciation of specialty coffees.
The irony is that I don't know what I'm tasting! Everything comes to us as numbered sample without any other identifier.
  #36  
Old 12-10-2011, 09:17 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Originally Posted by Panurge View Post
A Rancilio Silvia. I, too would love to have a machine with two boilers. (QtM who did the temperature control unit for you?
Dave at http://hitechespresso1.virb.com/ did the job.
  #37  
Old 12-10-2011, 09:20 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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I did learn a lot about coffee while working at Starbucks. Say what you will about them, but they've done a lot to inspire appreciation of specialty coffees.
I like their coffee okay. But I swear, I've never gotten a decent espresso from them. Miniscule to non-existent crema, burnt and bitter. And I've tried lots of different outlets, across the country, looking for a different outcome. Now, if I go there, I get coffee.

And lately when I've been in their shops, all I see are the fully automatic espresso machines!
  #38  
Old 12-10-2011, 11:57 AM
Gray Ghost Gray Ghost is offline
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Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
I just wanted to contribute that I am in the process of becoming a trained coffee taste panelist for major mass-market coffee company. Assuming I make it all the way through training, I will be part of a "descriptive" panel of people who will taste coffees and assign values for a set of specific flavor attributes. Right now, I'm also serving on a "discrimination" panel, in which we are given sets of three samples of coffee, two of which are the same, and we have to identify the one that's different in the set.

The descriptive panel work is really, REALLY challenging.
That sounds fascinating. Do you all have an aroma wheel, like is used in wine appreciation? If so, what does it look like? Can you provide some of the metrics that your group uses for assessing coffees: scoresheets, that sort of thing? Does your group rely on reference scents at all. What are the standards that you grade against? I see that you've answered some of my questions in your reply to Oslo.

I've found triangle tasting to be fun in wine appreciation. Really forces you to pay attention and makes sure that you're tasting what's there, not what you think is supposed to be there.

For the OP: I really need a burr grinder to avoid the sludge that Brown Eyed Girl talks about. For me, it's French Press with beans from Java Coffee and Tea in Houston. Usually, it's either Mocha Sanani or one of the Sumatra/Sulawesi "dark as midnight" group. Beans from 'La Minita' Tarrazu from Costa Rica are excellent too. Their Jamaica Blue Mtn. is spendy but not as crazy expensive as I would've thought. A little too expensive for everyday though.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 12-10-2011 at 11:58 AM.
  #39  
Old 12-10-2011, 04:34 PM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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I like coffee, but it's often too harsh for my taste. I find that cold brewing really helps. I follow the instructions from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and it works great. I typically go semi-hedonistic, with sweetened condensed milk and fat free half and half. With those add-ins, Eight O'Clock coffee, pre-ground, works just fine. If I wanted to drink it straight, I'd go for something with a bit more body and caramel notes, fresh-ground.
  #40  
Old 12-11-2011, 12:19 AM
King Bobo King Bobo is offline
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You want good coffee - Indian.

Freshly roasted 90/10 coffee to chicory ratio and made in a french press-type maker.

Added to frothy full fat milk or cream (whipped, not steamed)...

Nectar of the gods.

Come to my house any morning and I will make converts of you all!
  #41  
Old 12-11-2011, 08:32 AM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
I like their coffee okay. But I swear, I've never gotten a decent espresso from them. Miniscule to non-existent crema, burnt and bitter. And I've tried lots of different outlets, across the country, looking for a different outcome. Now, if I go there, I get coffee.

And lately when I've been in their shops, all I see are the fully automatic espresso machines!
I can understand that. I started there when we had lovely, but fickle manual La Marzocco machines. With dosing and tamping done by the barista, you could achieve truly magnificent ambrosia or disgusting swill...even by the same person. As such, much espresso went down the drain or, horrifyingly to me, into a drinks and served. Hence, the move to fully automatic machines as management realized that the key to continued success was consistency. Nevermind that the machines often produce a subpar espresso and incapable of producing a ristretto. It is deemed adequate by the masses. Whatever artistry (which rarely ever rose to the Intelligentsia level) was there is long gone. As a barista who put a huge amount of pride into pulling the perfect shot (and begged for a sharp spouted steaming pitcher), a part of me died when the full autos went in. I remember having remarked to my boss that could hardly call us baristas anymore. I felt like corporate had demoted us all to fast food monkeys. Push button, push button, assemble drink, push out, push button, push button, assemble drink, push out...

You touched a nerve, my friend.

Last edited by Brown Eyed Girl; 12-11-2011 at 08:33 AM.
  #42  
Old 12-11-2011, 11:34 AM
Spud Spud is offline
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Something is very wrong with this thread.

It is a "let's post about how much we like something" and nobody has come in to thread shit yet... a full 41 posts in no less.

I HATE COFFEE!!!

There... the world is in balance again.
  #43  
Old 12-11-2011, 12:14 PM
luv2draw luv2draw is offline
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You peeps are making it all too complicated for me.

I use the electric Faberware perculator that was my mom's. It's at least 30 years old and still going strong. It looks like, you know, a coffee pot. It gets plugged in when I've got it loaded with water and coffee in the basket--so I'm not wasting electric 24/7.

I have a cheapo little grinder (what is this "burr" that you are speaking of?) and buy 1-lb. bags of coffee beans at Dunkin' Donuts because I like the taste of DD's. Now they have a sale 4 bags for the price of 3. I don't buy flavored coffee. If I want a flavor I add the spice or extract to the basket. Usually cinnamon, sometimes cocoa too.
  #44  
Old 12-11-2011, 12:57 PM
nashiitashii nashiitashii is offline
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I've got a couple of coffee tools: a French Press and a stovetop Mukka. I love my Mukka, as it makes me a nice frothy latte in the morning with little to no effort. I tend to use Cafe Bustelo or Pilon, as I'm not terrifically picky about my coffee beyond "make it dark and earthy", and I almost always drink coffee with some sort of milk or cream. It just doesn't taste right to me otherwise.
  #45  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:03 PM
nashiitashii nashiitashii is offline
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Originally Posted by luv2draw View Post
(what is this "burr" that you are speaking of?)
Grinders come in two varieties: burr and blade. Blade look like a blender/chopper blade, while burr grinders work similarly to a box grater attached to a motor.
  #46  
Old 12-11-2011, 06:55 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
That sounds fascinating. Do you all have an aroma wheel, like is used in wine appreciation? If so, what does it look like? Can you provide some of the metrics that your group uses for assessing coffees: scoresheets, that sort of thing? Does your group rely on reference scents at all.
We don't use an aroma wheel for coffee, although we used to have two in our training room from the Specialty Coffee Association of America. This blog has a link to images of both.

Our scoresheet is computerized. Basically, it's just a scale from 0 to 15 for each attribute. One of the most challenging things is that the scale is standardized. In training, we were given various metrics for the scale: the apple note in applesauce is a 5 in intensity, the grape note in grape juice is a 10, etc. We score the coffee attributes against this fixed scale. It's challenging because a particular attribute may dominate in a given sample, but that attribute has to be measured against the fixed scale, not against the other flavors in the sample, if that makes sense.

Yes, we use various scents for reference. Our reference for the green/vegetative note, for example, is the water from canned green beans. For the woody note, it's a popsicle stick.
  #47  
Old 12-11-2011, 08:07 PM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Originally Posted by nashiitashii View Post
Grinders come in two varieties: burr and blade. Blade look like a blender/chopper blade, while burr grinders work similarly to a box grater attached to a motor.
The important difference being how it grinds the bean. Blade grinders chop beans unevenly as they are spun around the chamber resulting in a grind that is a combination of fine and coarse bits. I explained the effect that inconsistency of grounds has on coffee a few posts ago.

Burr grinders have plates that crush the entire bean all at once resulting in more uniformly sized grinds. A conical burr grinder has a donut-shaped disc with grooved "teeth" along the inside edges and a cone-shaped disc with teeth that sits inside the hole of the other disc. The discs spin in opposite directions and as the beans fall into the crevice between the two discs, they are grabbed by teeth and crushed between the two discs and grounds fall in a collector. The size of the grind is selected by raising or lowering the conical disc; a larger crevice results in coarser grind and a more narrow crevice results in a finer grind.

Last edited by Brown Eyed Girl; 12-11-2011 at 08:09 PM. Reason: added image link
  #48  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:19 PM
typoink typoink is offline
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No love in this thread for moka pots? Best cup you can get outside of a $400+ espresso machine, and they cost ~$30. No crema, but complex, rich, strong coffee. Yum.
  #49  
Old 12-12-2011, 02:51 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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I've got this one from Bed Bath and Beyond. It 's $49.99. Had it almost a year now, satisfied so far.
I saw that one before, but was turned off by two things: one, some of the ratings are terrible (seems like some qualityncontrol issues) and two, ya gotta fill ip the container, doesn't seem like there's room to switch outthe beans depending on how you feel (and I like flipping between various ones day to day). So I guess I'm also looking for something with a small footprint that can grind jsust a day's worth of beans at a time.

Special thanks to QtM and Brown Eyed Girl! This is a great thread. QtM, You've inspired me to try the espresso at my coffees shop (the one that does all of its coffee French press and offers daily Aeropress specials as well) so I have high hopes .
  #50  
Old 12-12-2011, 03:06 PM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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No love in this thread for moka pots? Best cup you can get outside of a $400+ espresso machine, and they cost ~$30. No crema, but complex, rich, strong coffee. Yum.
I have a Bialetti, or whatever they're called. I found it very inconsistent and got something I didn't loathe maybe 10% of the time. A few times, I couldn't get the steam to pass through the grounds. Eventually I figured out what I was doing wrong. After that, I'd get bored waiting or get distracted and come back to have all the espresso boiled out into a super condensed sludge.
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