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  #1  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:39 PM
Gestalt Gestalt is offline
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I can't make good coffee

Warning: Very mundane and pointless. Also whiny.

I don't know why I can't brew a good cuppa. I'm fairly decent at most kitchen-y tasks, but for some reason brewing a decent cup of coffee is beyond me. I've never been able to do it, although it seems pretty idiot-proof, right? With a coffee maker, put some ground coffee in filter, put filter in filter basket, measure out water, pour water into special carafe -thing, sit back and wait for caffeinated goodness!

But I think it's more complicated than people let on. How much water to add? I know there are directions on the coffee package that say 1 tbsp/4 fl oz. of water or whatever, but I never see other people carefully meting out coffee with measuring spoons . . . they just seem to mystically divine the correct amount from whatever coffee gods are ignoring me.

Also, does anyone else get those nasty coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot? Blech. How do you avoid them? I always gag on those things . . . *shudder*

Why is it that the library, coffee kiosk, and gas station all have such better than coffee than what I make? Is it cause I use half-and-half in those places and skim milk when I make it a home? Also how come they never have nasty-ass coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup?

I feel very inadequate. Does anyone else have this problem?

Oh, and as an aside . . . I'm sure someone is going to jump in with something like my problem is that I use an automatic-drip coffee maker instead of a french press. I doubt that's the whole problem, cause the coffee kiosk uses auto-drip and their coffee is like manna from heaven itself.

Le sigh.
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:43 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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I don't make coffee, I don't drink coffee, in fact I hate the stuff. But, what I can say is that you have coffee grounds in the bottom of the pot, you're doing something wrong. For some reason (WAG ahead) your basket isn't draining fast enough, when that happens the water fills up in the basket and the grounds can flow up and around the filter...check on that.

Last edited by Joey P; 11-29-2009 at 03:43 PM..
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  #3  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:45 PM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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Use more coffee. Keep the equipment squeaky clean. Use filtered/spring/distilled water. It's also possible that the coffee maker that you are using is not getting the water hot enough. Have you cleaned it using vinegar or one of the pot cleaners?

Also, I don't understand why you're getting grounds in the pot - you did say you were using a filter. Maybe the filter basket is clogged and allowing coffee to overflow the top of the basket into the pot...?

What's wrong with the coffee you make now - is it too weak or does it just taste bad?

Last edited by Fritz; 11-29-2009 at 03:47 PM..
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  #4  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:47 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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It could be psychological...

Other people Make better coffee than I make for myself. Other people make better tea than I make for myself. Other people take better pictures than I do.

Some people are their own worst critics of the things they do. Even the mundane things.


ETA: What the others said - if you're getting bits of coffee in the pot you're doing something wrong, or you're using really rubbish filters.

I doubt it will make any diference - but usually I'd put the coffee in the filter after you've put the filter in its holder.

Last edited by Lobsang; 11-29-2009 at 03:50 PM..
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:54 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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...

Or you could try using a caffetiere (s-bloody-p!)

(one of those things you put the coffee in the bottom of a tall straight-sided pot, pour in the hot water, let it brew, then push down a filtery thing to near the bottom, and pour.)

Unless you have a really cheap nasty one you can avoid getting bits of coffee from those.... and they are less complicated to use than an electric coffee maker thing.


Or even easier - buy instant. Not as good, but done right you can make a tolerable cup of coffee.

And the bit of advice that seems to be universal - never let boiling water meet coffee. the water needs to be off the boil.

The opposite is true of tea. For good tea the water needs to be boiling.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2009, 03:57 PM
Fritz Fritz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobsang View Post
...

Or you could try using a caffetiere (s-bloody-p!)

(one of those things you put the coffee in the bottom of a tall straight-sided pot, pour in the hot water, let it brew, then push down a filtery thing to near the bottom, and pour.)

Unless you have a really cheap nasty one you can avoid getting bits of coffee from those.... and they are less complicated to use than an electric coffee maker thing.
This sounds like a French Press?
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  #7  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:00 PM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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The usual problem with bad coffee is starting with bad coffee! Are you using fresh, quality coffee beans? Or months old Folgers?

Grounds in the bottom means the filter is somehow folding over or overflowing during brew. Either the filter basket is not seated properly or there is something wrong with the water flow. I've also seen it happen that when you slide the filter basket in, the corner of the filter gets snagged.
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  #8  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:08 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fritz View Post
This sounds like a French Press?

I guess that's another name for it.

http://www.johnlewis.com/jl_assets/p.../230134070.jpg
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  #9  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:11 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Clean the coffee pot and machine thoroughly, using soap and water, and rinsing thoroughly afterwards. Add cold water to the machine. Insert filter, making sure it adheres to the sides of the filter basket (get it a little damp if necessary). Measure out your coffee grounds according to the instructions on the bag. Take note of how full the filter is. Make coffee. Taste. If good, huzzah! When you make coffee in the future, fill the filter about as full as you did this time. If not good, decide if it is too strong or too weak, and adjust accordingly the next time you make coffee, until you get a good pot. Then make it that way from then on. I don't have to measure my coffee anymore because I know from experience about how full the filter has to be in order to make a good pot. I used to measure, though.

Good luck!
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  #10  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:29 PM
Lobsang Lobsang is offline
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If you happen to be over-critical of your own coffee, then you might benefit from using other people as judges of your coffee. Even without their knowledge (in fact - especially without their knowledge - because people are notoriously dishonest when it comes to complementing other people)

I know that my tea and coffee making skills are ok because when I do a round at work, everyone wants one. And everyone finishes it. In my office, when a bad coffee maker does a round he'll get more refusals, and more people will half drink, or even barely touch the coffee.

The people you make coffee for are your best indication of how good your coffee is.

My brother once 'confessed' (I say that in quotes because he might have been lying to cover his inadequacy) that as a kid he'd deliberately make bad coffee so as not to be asked to make it too often. He said I 'fell for his trick' by making good coffee, and therefore being asked to do it most often.
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  #11  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:38 PM
luv2draw luv2draw is offline
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I perk my coffee. Mmmmmmmmmmm.......
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  #12  
Old 11-29-2009, 04:59 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Moved MPSIMS --> Cafe Society.
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  #13  
Old 11-29-2009, 10:26 PM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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Another vote for a French press and make sure your using good beans. Try different types from different vendors until you find beans you like.
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  #14  
Old 11-30-2009, 02:16 AM
Satellite^Guy Satellite^Guy is offline
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first off; what kind of filter does your coffee maker use? these or these? whichever it takes, make sure you're using the right one.
If you use the first kind (pleated), I find that they can very easily fold an edge, and the water and grinds can run over the edge. Make sure it's in evenly.
If you use the second kind (cone), you need to fold the seams before you place it into the basket.

Now, this is how I make my coffee. It may not be the best way, or the way others do it, but it works for me.
I start with a regular tablespoon (the eating kind, not the measuring kind.) take a heaping spoonful, then tap it, so it's about half-heaping. For the amount of coffee I make, I take two of these.
Incidentally, I use fine-grind Tim Horton's coffee, for what it's worth.
Now, I take the pot, and fill it to about the 6-cup mark. This will yield me 2 large mugs, with a tiny bit left. Use COLD water. Not hot water. In my experience, sometimes hot water will heat up too quick in the coffee maker, and thus fill the filter too quickly, resulting in crunchy coffee.
I find that the cream/milk used will affect the quality of your coffee experience, too. I don't like half&half, and am disappointed when this is what's served to me at a restaurant. I like actual cream. anything else is too thin, and takes too many to reach the desired creaminess, which means I get cold, watered-down coffee.maybe that, to a differing degree, is what you're noticing with your half&half vs. milk situation. Maybe you should pick up a carton of half&half to try at home, if the skim milk just isn't cutting it.

If you try this technique, please report back with results!
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  #15  
Old 11-30-2009, 04:42 AM
Caprese Caprese is offline
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We used to have a fancy machine--but no more.
I still have my mom's drip stovetop coffee pot, and occassionally use it.

But I agree about fresh water and more coffee, and every morning we use this:

Aeropress

It makes the best coffee I've ever had. Very low-tech, and easy.
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  #16  
Old 11-30-2009, 06:11 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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What kind of coffee do you use? I've brew mine in a Mr Coffee knockoff & grind my beans in a $20 grinder--there's a more expensive type that true coffee experts recommend.

But I do buy good, fresh beans roasted locally. When I run out & buy a can of something from the convenience store, the difference is obvious. Luckily, there's now a coffee house next door to the convenience store. And they'll gladly sell me some of their beans.

One thing: When cheapo coffee makers die, they usually just stop heating the water sufficiently. So the water goes through the grounds, but the result tastes like dishwater. Time to get a new cheapo coffee maker! (I only brew my own on weekends, so I don't wear them out quickly.)
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  #17  
Old 11-30-2009, 06:53 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fritz View Post
Keep the equipment squeaky clean. Use filtered/spring/distilled water. It's also possible that the coffee maker that you are using is not getting the water hot enough. Have you cleaned it using vinegar or one of the pot cleaners?
I've often seen this written but it fails to explain how someone with the same coffee, same water and same coffee can make it taste different. So while I agree clean pots and clean maker is best, it can't account for the difference when two people use the exact same equipment
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  #18  
Old 11-30-2009, 07:15 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
I've often seen this written but it fails to explain how someone with the same coffee, same water and same coffee can make it taste different. So while I agree clean pots and clean maker is best, it can't account for the difference when two people use the exact same equipment
If two people have the exact same equipment but one is using a pot that does not heat, their coffee will be notably dreadful.
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  #19  
Old 11-30-2009, 08:36 AM
Swords to Plowshares Swords to Plowshares is offline
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The Keurig single cup coffee makers make delicious coffee very easily, though they may not be the best option if you drink multiple cups per day.

Last edited by Swords to Plowshares; 11-30-2009 at 08:36 AM.. Reason: missed a period
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  #20  
Old 11-30-2009, 08:48 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swords to Plowshares View Post
The Keurig single cup coffee makers make delicious coffee very easily, though they may not be the best option if you drink multiple cups per day.
Depends, you can go to coffee icon and get a pod maker, and a pod adapter - I use mine to make custom coffee and tea pods. Currenty drinking a stash che sen lotus tea made in my melitta 1:1 pod brewer. Makes it economical to use a pod brewer or keurig without spending for the single pods/cups
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  #21  
Old 11-30-2009, 09:07 AM
norinew norinew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swords to Plowshares View Post
The Keurig single cup coffee makers make delicious coffee very easily, though they may not be the best option if you drink multiple cups per day.
Flavia coffee makers are a good choice, too, if you're gonna go the "one cup at a time" route. My sister has one, and I love getting coffee at her house!

Me? I use a Cuisinart Grind and Brew, and like it a lot. I have air-tight containers I keep my whole beans in (what doesn't fit in the the container goes in the freezer) that has a 1TBSP scoop with it (the container); I use 4 scoops of beans, fill the pot to the "4 cup" mark with cold water, pour the water in the reservoir, assemble everything else (there's a lot of 'assembly' with the Grind and Brew. . .) and set the timer for 6AM.

Makes a nice cup of coffee.

Oh, in case you were wondering. . .if you fill the coffee pot to the "four-cup" mark, it doesn't actually make four cups of coffee, unless you use wimpy coffee cups. It makes about two decent mugs of coffee.
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  #22  
Old 11-30-2009, 09:21 AM
Stormcrow Stormcrow is offline
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Yeah, we need more info before solid advice can be given. Keep in mind that I am not a super coffee snob, and not a pro at making coffee, but I do OK.

What's not right with your coffee? Is it too strong? Too weak? Bitter?

What kind of machine do you use?
(I have a drip Cuisinart machine - if your machine isn't a super cheap one, or old an never been cleaned its probably not the issue, although I'm sure getting a better machine could get you marginally better coffee).

What kind of beans do you use? Do you get them pre-ground, or whole bean and grind them yourself?
(ideally, you'd get fresh, whole beans and grind them yourself right before use, using a burr grinder. But you're enjoying coffee that's coming from places that almost certainly aren't doing that, so that's probably not the issue. Getting the best coffee, ground or not, is one of the biggest issues that could be affecting your coffee, once you eliminate the basic water-to-grounds ratio issue. Side note: I have a burr grinder that has a preset for how much it grinds; I almost always make the same amount of coffee, so hitting the grinder button and filling up the pot to the same mark lets me make my coffee fast without needing to measure).

What kind of water do you use? Straight from the tap? Filtered?
(this is actually more important than you might think, especially if your tap water isn't all that great. I use Brita-filtered water, I've used bottled water in the past. Oddly, I've been told that distilled water doesn't work well, as it's too pure).
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  #23  
Old 11-30-2009, 02:40 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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I'll second the Keurig as a single cup maker. I had one in my office for a couple of years and it worked just fine. I also bought the adapter that allows you save some money on the pods. Now the whole thing is sitting in the garage whimpering, as I don't use it anymore.
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  #24  
Old 11-30-2009, 02:48 PM
bup bup is offline
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Originally Posted by Gestalt View Post
Also, does anyone else get those nasty coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot? Blech. How do you avoid them? I always gag on those things . . . *shudder*
Like others have said, it could be the filter folding over while it brews. You'd be able to tell if the filter is folded over when you open it to take it out afterward.

The other possibility is that your coffee pot isn't inserted correctly. The bottom of the drip thingy (the spout that meets the top hole in the pot) has a spring mechanism that's supposed to keep it from dripping when the pot's not in. However, during the initial brewing, if the pot isn't all the way in to push the spring mechanism in, water will flood over the filter (because it's not dripping through the bottom), and carry grounds with it. Then it drips down into the pot anyway.
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