Help Me Up My Coffee Game

The last time I was here asking about Food ‘n’ Drink in the Cafe Society, I got recommendations for Gin and some mixed drinks and never looked back. The input was great. SDMB for the win. I definitely upped my game when it came to good mixed drinks and the wonders of good Gin.

I have been trying to up my coffee game, but I am getting lost in all the new/old/new ‘technology’, so to speak.

I am tired of my Keurig. I don’t fancy the quality of the brews and I’ve got pod guilt.

I drink 2-3 cups of coffee most mornings, and I do like to have 1 cup after dinner, or here and there.

I just want to brew some coffee with some coffee grounds (I also need that smell in my life). When busy, it’ll just be good ground coffee. When making a ritual of it, I might use my own grind.

I want something that I can trust to brew good coffee in 1-3 cup batches. I really enjoy coffee, and while I can go back to drip makers and all that (which were ubiquitous in the USA until Keurigs popped up), there’s got to be a better way.

Help fight my coffee brewing ignorance.

1-3 cups, that you’ll drink quickly? I’m like 99% certain the solution to your woes is a French Press.


  1. Boil some water, then let it cool slightly. Or just heat it up real hot.
  2. Put a bunch of coffee grounds in your French Press pot.
  3. Add the water and stir gently.
  4. After a minute or two, put the lid on the pot and press the plunger down.
  5. You’ve got a batch of really strong, delicious coffee.

French press is pretty much the ONLY good option for the 1-3 cup range. The alternatives are either drip coffeemaker (pretty much universally junk) or any one of a ton of fancy coffee-snob single server options (Aeropress, pourover, etc.)

I guess you could cold brew too, if you wanted, but a lot of people find it weird to then subsequently heat up their coffee in the microwave. :wink:

I don’t get it. Or… just not funny.

I occasionally use a French press and it does make good coffee, though the cleanup can be annoying.

Most of the time we use a Chemex over here … the process is not difficult, the steps are few (which is good for early in the morning), cleanup is easy, and the coffee is great!

Follow directions for best results.

The freshly brewed coffee goes from the Chemex to a vacuum carafe.

Biggest thing is your coffee. Use good fresh beans purchased in small batches, grind as you go.

Once you get into the routine it’s a snap to have great coffee. Amazingly inexpensive, considering. And so good … life is too short to drink cheap preground coffee. Treat yourself!

I do cold brew in the warmer months, when iced coffee is the order of the day. I use a mason jar, couldn’t be easier.

You can make some very cool drinks with coffee extract … vary the strength to suit your taste, add most anything to flavor. It’s also good added to most any chocolate recipe, the coffee boosts the flavor of the chocolate. Just saying.

Has anyone here ever used a siphon coffee maker? They were popular in the 40’s and 50’s, then dropped off as percolators and drip makers became more popular. Very interesting technology.

He’s not trying to be funny. Cold-brewed coffee probably has the best flavor and least acidity of any brewed coffee. Basically, the grounds just sit in cold water overnight, then are strained out next day. The resulting brew is good for days afterward and can be drunk iced or heated in the micro.

I cold-brew in a French press in the summertime and it is the best. Caveat… the foam on top tastes like ass, so I do this patent-pending innovation of stirring, skimming, and re-stirring before the 8-hour soak. A shot of syrup, a shot of half-and-half, and you’ve got a pick-me-up that won’t leave you sweat-soaked in mid-August.

I wanted to try cold brew but didn’t like the idea of microwaving it, so I made it really strong and diluted it with nearly boiling water and hot milk (I’m a latte lass). It wasn’t too bad. I should do it again.

Just for the record, I am of the school that cold-brewing coffee is for drinking cold. I don’t understand when people tell me they microwave it. Why? That boils off all the delicate stuff that gets preserved by brewing it cold. YMMV of course.

Here is another thing I like: You can buy these tiny stainless steel single-cup drip baskets. Fill them with Cafe Du Monde, add enough hot water to saturate it, wait a minute, then drip a demitasse of boiling water over it into a tablespoon of warmed sweetened condensed milk. Stir that up, pour it over ice, and you have Vietnamese iced coffee.

I know, none of this is useful for February. Here I confess I know next to nothing about hot coffee except what they dole out at Starbucks. But listen when I tell you about cold coffee.

Cold brew: Well, never heard of it. The wink at the end of Airk’s comment threw me off more.

For any method in which you heat your own water: I suspect you don’t just boil up some water, but heat water to a best brewing temp with an electric kettle?

I like the French Press idea, but not ruling out any of them.


Click on the link I posted above for easy cold brew.

And here’s something to add to your coffee that sounds really, really good:

Syrups (regular or sugar free) can be great … a little goes a long way, so measure and pour carefully, too much is bitter and awful. A touch of syrup can be wonderful.

Because sometimes I want a hot cuppa. It doesn’t boil, just heats.

Although fresh beans are awesome (I really like these guys’ products), just getting bulk beans, or “premium” grade pre-bagged beans from the grocery store or somewhere like World Market will significantly up the game.

I’d also look into brewing it stronger; to me, Keurigs make almost undrinkably weak coffee, as they’re using like a tablespoon of grounds to make 12 oz of coffee, which is about 1/4 of what is recommended.

Finally, a pinch of salt helps knock back some of the sharp bitterness that some roasts have.

Freshly ground coffee beans are good. Using freshly roasted beans, it is the ultimate!

If you are lucky enough to have a coffee roaster in your area, visit it. Buy some beans that were roasted that day or the day before. Incredible!

I’ll weigh in on the French Press side.

At home, I cadge a cup out of my wife’s or daughter’s drip machines (separate - they have different preferences), but at work I have a 3-4 cup French Press and a stock of three or four kinds. :rolleyes:

We have high heat water taps on the “kitchen” alcove sinks, and I walk to the further one to fill it, and my coffee is just right by the time I get back.

French Presses have a couple of minor down sides; the screen is coarser than a filter, so you use coarse ground coffee, which means grind it from beans. Most commercial blends are drip grind, which is finer and slips more sediment through the screen (You get a bit anyway). :dubious:

This can be avoided with a filter over the plunger, but no one seems to make an actual filter built for the purpose, that I’ve found. The actual round coffee filters are too small for my press and the basket type are way too big. I use one of those disposable tissues made for lens cleaning and get very good results. :stuck_out_tongue:

This also simplifies the cleaning, as the plunger is the part that’s hardest to clean. Take the filter off and the adhering grounds go with it. Dump the rest in the garbage and rinse the remainder out and down the drain, and you’re good. More thorough cleaning as needed, but for me that is not that often.

Or, if you’re crazy obsessed like me, start roasting your own coffee!

Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t joking, I was just sortof gently poking fun at people who are weirded out by putting cold coffee in the microwave.

For heating water for your french press, the quickest way is definitely an electric kettle, but I’ve done it with a traditional tea kettle on the stove top too. The downside is that it takes quite a while to boil. I’m not really very scientific about my brewing temperatures - I used to have a fancy kettle that would let me heat to 190, and I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t notice ANY difference in my coffee when it died and I replaced it with a simpler kettle that just boils. I just wait for all the boiling action to stop and count to ten before pouring.

My french press process is:
Grind beans (I use a heaping tablespoon per ‘cup’ measurement of the french press, which means a lot of coffee)
Deploy grounds into french press, pour hot water over (see above) and stir for 30 seconds (I use an old chopstick - they tell you not to stir with like, a metal spoon or something to avoid potentially cracking the glass.)
Put the lid on the press, and let stand for three minutes
Press, drink.

Cleanup is only a problem if I’m using pre-ground coffee, which is always ground way finer than I make mine, and therefore gets all up in the filter. Otherwise, it’s just “dump out grounds, rinse out carafe with soap and water, done.”