Coffee Beginner


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May 28, 2008
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Here in northern New Jersey I find myself never really stretching farther than Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts for a good cup of coffee. I have no qualms with either establishments or their coffee but I am now looking to dive a bit deeper and perhaps develop a finer taste for the drink. The problem is, I have next to no experience in the field... I was hoping you guys could help. I have a few beginner level questions:

Are fresh roasted green coffee beans actually that much better and does roasting them in a whirly-pop popcorn pan actually work?

What is the best place to get a bag of coffee beans? Are there any websites to order from? Is there a place in New York I can head over to so I can purchase top quality coffee?

When faced with a load of various bean choices from different countries, which ones should I be looking for? I tend to prefer a sweeter coffee with a less burnt and nutty taste.

Any help would be greatly appreciated and I''m really looking forward to exploring the finer side of coffee. Thanks!
Re: Home Roasting

jlyon10 said:
I agree home roasting is the way to go.

I think it depends on what you are drinking & what you are buying for beans. From reading the various forums it seems most home roasters are happy with what they roast for press pot or drip but they admit that their h/r Espresso is never quite as good as the pro roasted stuff from Intelli, Pt's, ect.

I also have to wonder if we can buy the same quality green beans that roasters like George Howell, Counter Culture, ect buy. It may be the same variety but is it the same quality?

Using Priority Mail I can receive fresh roasted beans from most of the high end roasters within 2 days of roast. From Terrior its here the next day. I may get into home roasting eventually; one of the Hottop models would be nice, but its not required to have fresh roasted beans on hand.
green beans

I get some really great green beans from various places even have had some COE. The whole thing about home roasting is you get to roast your beans the way you like them and not from someone who determines the roast you should like.
Although roasting your coffee beans as you use them is ideal, not everyone wants to home roast. If that is the case, you can find a huge variety of coffees online, just be sure to order from a place that roasts your order when you place it and not in advance-then at least your coffee is fresh roasted, vaccum sealed, and only as old as it takes to get to you.
if you''re interested in home roasting

just thought this could be a little help if you decide to actually do some home roasting. I work in a coffee shop that roasts its own beans and do some of the roasting myself and can vouch for the difference in the taste of the freshness, with whatever my vouching would be worth. :-D
Very Caffeinated
Either way I thought you might like this link, it''s a way to roast coffee at home with a popcorn popper. I haven''t done but I plan on it and thought I''d throw it out there, for debate and incentive:
hope this helps.
btw I''m new to this so any suggestions on good forums will be gladly accepted.
Key Steps

If I can just chime in here, as I'm a beginner as well. I've found that it's way too easy to dive in head first and buy hundreds of dollars of stuff, only to realize that a dunkin donuts coffee is all you wanted. So here's some slow careful steps for you to take. Phases, I suppose.

1 - Dunkin' Donuts Phase (exit this phase now)
2 - Buy a home grinder (I am picking up the Capresso 560 - there's loads of them out there. Try not to spend too much on your first one as if this hobby is really for you, then you'll upgrade later on).
3 - Buying specialty fresh roasted beans (any place will do as long as its fresh roasted. You're slowly moving up on your taste pallette).
4 - Grind the beans right before brewing.
5 - Purchase an espresso maker (now you're making the switch from drip coffee into different types of coffee.
6 - Master the art of making espresso and espresso drinks in addition to your drip coffee. Be sure to grind soon before brewing. Your roasted beans shouldn't keep more than a week or so.
7 - Eventually you'll look at buying a home roaster. I personally think you shouldn't dive into this step right away. Take your time and develop the taste.

Enjoy the journey!
Djveed, I certainly appreciate the time you put into explaining the phases of coffee steps. So, where does my french press fit in? Maybe between steps 4 and 5?

I'm far from the level of an espresso machine purchase, but I'll get there.

Also, to write that "any place will do as long as its fresh roasted" might be misleading to some, because already in my experience, one roasters Kenyan could be far more superior in flavor and quality than another roasters' Kenyan. It might be a better suggestion to try a variety of roasters first until you find the right coffee and roaster for your taste.

I'm not bashing, just buggin', as usual. :D

Home roasting

I don't think you need to be an expert to roast at home. I tried it because it looked interesting. You decide what you want the roast to taste like by trial and error. I love it. It's a blast and I learn something new everyday.
Jim, do you use an espresso machine?

I've noticed you use a cold brewing toddy system for concentrated coffees
and I think you use a french press too right?

Above all, which brewing method gives you the best results from your home
roasted beans?
Re: french press

jlyon10 said:
I only use a french press when camping. The Toddy is cool. I really like it, the concentrate can be made hot for hot coffee too.

Sounds great Jim! :D

Otherwise, have you tried your home roasted beans in an espresso machine yet? AWESOME OR WHAT???????
C'mon, make me wanna buy an espresso machine and home roast my own beans already.... :D