Coffee advice wanted!

I’m a tea girl myself but the mister is a coffee drinker.

I confess I do not make the best coffee, as a result.

We own a couple of drip systems, electric, and one of the, ‘just pour it over the grounds’, set up. The problem has been that the measure of coffee is not really second nature to me and it never comes out the same way twice it seems. My solution has been to let the guests do the measuring, which has worked so far, but no good for the day to day.

He has owned several French presses over the years but they always prove unsuccessful. Mostly because, I’m guessing, it requires some tweaking to get it just the way you like it. Varying the coffee, but also the amount of water, how long it sits etc. Unfortunately patience is not his strong suit. He, inevitably tries it once, it’s not quite right, and that’s that, as it were. Fine, not for him, I get that.

He had developed the habit of hitting Timmy’s or Starbuck’s at some point in his day, but lately I have lured him away from this. He’s a cheap bastard, at heart, and it irritates him. So I have been making the Melita pour it over the grounds type, stocking cream in the house, and even adding a little cinnamon or nutmeg in keeping with the season. I am doing the measuring and tweaking, and it seems to be meeting with success. I have learned to do one large cup just the way he likes it.

In looking for some silly side gift for him for Christmas I came across an old style percolator on sale, and thought I’d give it a try. It’s not an electric one, it goes on the stove top, which, while it’s a little fussier to watch over I’m certain I can manage.

Now, at last, we come to my questions.

Do I use the same coffee grounds, for this system, as I am using for the Melita pour through method? Or do I need different grounds, and if so, what should I be looking for? He likes rich, full bodied coffee, by the by.

Secondly, any idea of the measure I should use, assuming I get the correct coffee?

Thirdly, how long do I leave it boiling/percolating on the stove top before it’s done?

I greatly appreciate your help with this, I think he’d find fresh percolated coffee a nice change, but would like to make a decent shot at getting it right. Experience tells me if I leave it to him, to figure it out, he’ll grow frustrated, when it’s not right first try, and the percolator will be collecting dust in the pantry for years to come!

Well I’m a self professed coffee snob and I love my French press system. It holds 32 oz of water and I use anywhere from 36 to 40 grams of coffee per brew, with an approximate brewing time of 4 minutes. So that’s a touch over 1 g of coffee per ounce. I find this to be quite a bit lower of the recommended brew amount (somewhere around 50 grams for 32 ounces) but I’ve consistently enjoyed the quality that’s come from that amount through a variety of types of coffee.

Your questions, however, dealt with percolators and I honestly haven’t had much experience with them. I mean, other than crap coffee and crap beans brews into crap coffee and there’s no real getting around that fact. So it could be that my entire experience has been tarnished or it could be that percolators are just a terrible way to brew coffee. I couldn’t tell you. What I can say is that you’ll need to carefully watch the brewing time on a percolator because the entire point of it is to have the water constantly going over the beans to extract the coffee goodness. But having that happen too many times will make any coffee really bitter.

Hope this all helped. Good luck on your search.

It’s my understanding that percolaters rank somewhere near the bottom in coffee-making hierarchy.
The coffee boils up through the tube, drips over the grounds, and drips back into the pot, where the cycle repeats. You’re basically boiling the stuff over and over until it’s done, which can make the coffee bitter. Drip makers were a huge improvement over percolaters, IIRC, and pretty much made them obsolete. (Some people like perked coffee, so YMMV.)

Personally, I prefer French Press coffee. There’s no special tweaking, other than making sure you’re using a coarse grind. You can’t go buy pre-ground Folgers and get a good cup. You need to buy whole beans and either have them ground or grind them yourself. You need to specify that you want it ground coarse for a FP, otherwise you get coffee-ground sludge in the bottom of your cup. Mine is a bit smaller than most, and I use two heaping coffee scoops of grounds, which I think is four tablespoons’ worth. It makes about 24 ounces.
You pour boiling water over the grounds, put the top on and let it sit for 4-5 minutes. Press down the plunger, and it’s done. Very easy, and so is the clean-up.

A lot of posters have mentioned cold-brewed coffee in previous threads, but I don’t remember the exact measurements or steps. I’m sure one of them will be along eventually.

It’s something like 1:4 parts coffee to water but the great thing is you can use a closer ratio and make a really thick strong brew and dilute it out to taste. I usually use it for iced coffee so it gets diluted with milk and flavorings.

I agree with the other posters; percolators are horrible. I inevitably forget to bring a French Press or Cone when I go to our cabin, and am forced to use the percolator there, and it’s always bad.

I’m also not a big fan of French Presses, but that’s just personal preference; I don’t like sludgy coffee. A lot of people like them, though, so it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

If I were you and wanting to surprise the boyfriend with some new coffee experience, I’d start experimenting with beans. If you don’t have a grinder, that would definitely be a good gift. Or, even easier & cheaper, go find a really good roaster in your area and buy him a pound of really great beans. No matter what method you’re using to make the coffee, starting with good beans will make a huge difference. And if you’re already using high quality beans, experiment with different types. Most roasters carry a variety, and you can buy them in small quantities, so you can try a bunch and find what he likes.

Ok, not to be rude, just to be clear, I’m certain that french presses are indeed the bomb for making coffee. I am not interested in pursuing that avenue any further, been there, done that, didn’t like the results.

And perhaps you’re right that percolators are a step back in coffee culture, I’d be more than willing to bow to your more informed opinions on this, truly. I’m a tea girl, after all.

This was a, and I quote my OP, “silly side gift” which I got on sale. No, it will not replace our currently perfectly fine Melita coffee making ways, which works for us.

All that said, all I’d like to know is what kind of coffee does it take? How do I measure it? How long do I percolate it?

Yes, I understand that he may not find it a pleasing method to pursue for his daily fix, but I would like to be able to try it and brew him a reasonable cup of Joe, at least once. See I thought it might be fun to try something different. That’s all, truly.

Not to be rude, but if your french pressed coffee is sludgy, you’re doing it wrong. Try a coarser grind. Nobody who truly enjoys french press coffee likes it sludgy, either. That’d be Turkish coffee. :wink:

I’ve never made percolator coffee, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but considering the process entails dousing the grounds with boiling hot water multiple times, I would suggest a uniformly coarse ground Indonesian coffee (less acidity). Of course, you must, as always start with decent tasting water with few minerals, otherwise the brew method and quality of beans really makes no difference at all. It’s going to taste “off.” Percolator brewing is probably highly susceptible to over-extraction, which is when the bitter flavinoids in the coffee overpower the resulting beverage. It’s a pretty harsh way to brew, so start with a bold, less acidic choice. You may not get the flavor complexity a less harsh method may offer, but at least you probably won’t end up with complete swill.

Keep a good eye on your brewing and don’t let it brew for too long. My best guess is to remove the percolator from heat as soon as it starts to perc, as I think that’s the indication that the water is at full boil. Boil it longer and you’ll be drinking cowboy coffee. ::insert pukey smiley here::

Good luck and have fun.

ETA: If you really want to try a stove-top method that is arguably superior to a standard percolator, try a Moka pot.

I don’t really mean “sludge” as in like Turkish Coffee - it’s more like a suspension of coffee granules in hot water. I’ve had French Press coffee made by the masters, and it’s just not to my taste. I’ve had plenty of people tell me I’m wrong on this, and that French Press coffee is truly the best and to die for and all that, but on this one, I just much prefer my Capresso drip maker. (not just ANY drip maker - the average French Press beats out a standard Mr. Coffee any day of the week - but a decent quality drip maker like a Capresso that gets the water to the right temp before brewing.)

That’s cool. I have a Saeco drip I love that brews a wonderful cuppa. But I also love my press and I don’t get coffee with granules in it unless my grinder is in need of calibration. I use a burr grinder for a more uniform grind, but if it’s not clean or it’s out of calibration, I get exactly what you don’t like in pressed coffee. I can totally understand a lack of appreciation for bad french press coffee.

But hey, to each his own. My in-laws and mother don’t like properly made coffee (i.e., proper ratios of coffee to water) and, yet, they’ll all happily drink what is best defined, IMHO, as diner hotplate swill. I just want to put it out there that “sludge” is a misrepresentation, admittedly mild, of french press coffee.

How to Make Coffee in a Percolator.

I’m confused when you say you don’t know how to measure coffee for a drip machine. I use a teaspoon?

  1. fill coffee pot with the am ount of water corresponding to the end number of cups of coffee desired (noting that a “cup” mark on the machine is actually a 6oz teacup. 2 “cups” = 1 mug.)
  2. 1 heaping tsp per “cup line measure” of water you put in the machine, plus 1 extra. (so, if you filled it to the 4 cup mark, you use 5 heaping tsp… 4+1.
  3. press the little go button or switch
  4. enjoy

The more major differences in coffee taste arise from the kind of coffee you use, more so than the method in my experience. Factors like whether it is fresh, and whether the darkness of the roast matches your preference.

I’ve bought and used a Corning Wear percolator for several years. You set it on the stove burner on medium high until it starts to Perc. You’ll see the water bubbling into the glass cap. Turn heat down to low and let it perc three or four minutes.

The trick is finding the right amount of perc time. The longer it percs the stronger and more bitter it gets. Corning Wear can crack. I usually put it on the burner on low for a minute and then crank it up to medium high to get the water boiling. Never cracked one yet.

these pots are extremely cheap on ebay. I got mine for under $15. There’s also a plug in version of the corning ware percolator. I’ve always used the stove top ones.

@Hello Again: You mean tbsp (tablespoon), right?

That’s what I use.

I have a Cuisinart Grind and Brew, where you put in the whole beans, then, at the pre-selected time (or when you push ‘Start’), the coffee maker grinds the beans, dispenses them into the filter basket, and brews the coffee. (Some mornings, it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed!)

I bought a couple of air-tight storage containers that actually came with little 1Tbsp. scoops (they’re so cute!) and use those to store my whole beans.

At night, I:
Put a paper filter in the filter basket
Put 4 heaping Tbsp scoops of coffee beans in the grinder
Measure out 4C of water (according to the coffee pot, not according to a measuring cup!)
Pour the water in the reservoir
Make sure the timer is set for 6AM

In the morning, the sound of the grinding beginning usually wakes me (my alarm is set for 6:05, but the grinder is loud). Soon after, the aroma of brewing coffee lures me out of my warm bed. . .

Having said all that, I’ve never made coffee in a percolator. I dated a guy many years ago whose parents would host barbecues. After the meal was finished, they’d put coffee in a “camping” percolator, put it on the old fire from the barbecue, and serve very strong coffee by putting a scoop of vanilla ice cream in each big mug then filling it the rest of the way with the sludge, errr, I mean, coffee.

Coffee sludge with melting vanilla ice cream in it isn’t half-bad! :wink:

No, teaspoon - but heaping on a ordinary cutlery teaspoon (not a measuring teaspoon, which is smaller). So I bet it is similar to a level measuring Tablespoon.

Huh. Okay. Well, 2 tablespoons ground coffee per 5-6 oz of water is the recommended amount (for drip coffee) and a “heaping tablespoon” per cup was noted in your link, so I thought maybe you had typo’d.

@norinew: I have a long handled stainless steel coffee scoop that measures 2 tablespoons. I generally use five scoops for my 8-cup (40 oz) Saeco drip and four scoops coarser grind in my 32 oz french press. I would imagine that perc coffee would require similar amounts. But, of course, taste is always subjective.

Secondly, mmm…coffee ice cream.

@aceplace57: That cornflower blue pattern is exactly the percolator my grandmother used with Folgers coffee. I can’t attest to the flavor though because whenever they let me have coffee, it had at least 4 oz of milk in it along with probably a tablespoon or so of sugar. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :smiley:

The owner’s manual for my coffee machine (new last year) definitely says 1 TBSP per cup measure of water. I just checked. It also came with a scooper, which is 1 TBSP.

Your coffee maker’s manufacturer has deviated from the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s standards, which is 2 tbsp per 6 oz of water. Why it has done that, I couldn’t say. I don’t even know what manufacturer Could be it measures cups differently than the SCAA does. Could be it doesn’t know or care what standards are. Could be a translation error. Who knows?

For a little background, the SCAA recommendations were developed by measuring the density of the coffee beverage when a certain percentage of oils from the coffee has been extracted. Under measurement often results in overextracted coffee which is bitter from the extraction of bitter flavanoids.

However, as I mentioned before, taste is subjective. What is bitter to one person may not be to another. What difference does it make whether you’re preparing it to standard if you are drinking a cuppa that pleases you? I guess the point is forget about take your brewer’s instructions and what everyone else says with a grain of salt. Experiment on your own and determine what tastes best to you.

One other thing, the method of brewing coffee absolutely will make a difference in how the coffee presents and tastes. Try this experiment if you believe it. If you don’t have several different types of machines to try it, find a coffee purveyor like Starbucks or Caribou (or an independent), go in during their slow time, and ask them to brew the roast of your choice (just one) via drip, espresso and french press (they might only agree to do this with their espresso blend since they can’t always easily change the beans in automatic espresso machines). Then have a taste of each while they are fresh. You will notice a distinct difference in flavor, with the drip having probably the least nuanced flavor notes. When I was a barista, I gave a clinic demonstrating various brewing methods and used this tasting to illustrate the differences. Hopefully, you can find an interested barista to do it with you. It’s quite enlightening and fun if you are a coffee lover.

Even different drip makers will produce varied results, due to varying brewing temps and even basket shapes that effect the infusion time. Also, using paper filters as opposed to metal filters can reduce the flavor due to absorption of the coffee oils into the filter (the oils contain flavor). Some of these changes are subtle, but some can be the difference between a flavorless underextracted cup or a bitter overextracted cup. Don’t discount the method, but do consider it along with the blend, roast, and freshness of coffee, as well as the quality of the water.

I know, this is probably TLDR, but I really enjoy the subject. :slight_smile:

I buy Bustelo beans from javacabana dot com, have a french press, and a Cuisinart burr grinder I picked up for $20 be sells for $40 at retail stores.

We found 42 grams of freshly coarse ground coffee to a set amount (as eyeballed against the side of the french press) of 190 F water was the key for us. Bustelo beans seem fresher than others I have tried, and the grounds are a bit sweet and not sour. Letting it set for more than the recommended 4 minutes doesn’t really seem to make it bitter or sour like I found with some beans. We use water from a dispenser that heats it to 190 F, and so it is not fussy for us. We arrived at the 42 grams over the course of a couple of days noting how much was used for each pot and modifying it accordingly.

I use 90% indian coffee and 10% Chicory. Gets the bitterness from the beans.

French press, drip, percolator or anything else - that 10% chicory does it for me.

Hot water, boiling water - whatever.

That little addition of chicory is my nectar. Makes my coffee my true “cup of ambition” in the a.m.


Very good point. My at-home coffee machine is Hamilton Beach (not quite this one, but similar). We use Trader Joe’s Low Acid French Roast, or, if I can get there, Costa Rican French Roast from Porto Rico Import Co. We grind just before brewing in one of those little Braun grinders.

The truth is, I don’t mind if coffee is bitter – my parents make insanely strong, bitter coffee (they buy espresso grind and run it through a drip machine… really) – I hate when it is sour. My husband likes to go to this frou-frou coffee shop where they use Clover machines - I don’t know what it is but EVERY cup of coffee I have ever had there tastes sour (my husband made me try about 5 different coffee types before giving up). Clover machines are supposed to be “the last word” in coffee brewing technology and no one else seems to mind, I also really hate tannic flavors in wine, maybe its related. I also think a lot of popular whole bean coffee (Dunkin Donuts, I’m looking at you) is absolutely foul from sour/acid taste. I’ll buy Starbucks French Roast if I have to, or latino brands (Bustelo is… okay… but I can only get it pre-ground, at any rate its definitely a good value for the price).