Getting Started at Home

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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This is my first post and am in the hunt for good coffee at home. My first cup in the morning since Starbucks opened, is a Venti Dark Roast, but I'd like a couple more during the day. Last month I bought a Breville Grind and Brew drip coffee maker, but could get nothing reasonably close to a strong coffee. I returned it. Since then, I've been all over the web and now am really confused. I'm not on a budget, but I'm not open ended either. Any help would be appreciated.
 

JeffD

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Jan 27, 2022
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Do you have a scale. A small digital scale costs under $25, and often a lot under. It allows you to get the ratio right between water and coffee. Without it one tends eyeball the amount of water with the marks on the brewer. Which are wildly inaccurate in every machine i have measured.

With the new digital sales you can switch from oz to grams easily. I use as a starting point:

6 ounces of water for 10 grams of beans. So for my drip machine I use 30 oz of water and 50 g of beans. Starbucks Veranda Blend is my favorite right now.

The very next thing to fiddle with is how coarse your grind is. Pick something in the middle or medium for starters.

That might get things going for you.
 

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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Laguna Niguel CA
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Do you have a scale. A small digital scale costs under $25, and often a lot under. It allows you to get the ratio right between water and coffee. Without it one tends eyeball the amount of water with the marks on the brewer. Which are wildly inaccurate in every machine i have measured.

With the new digital sales you can switch from oz to grams easily. I use as a starting point:

6 ounces of water for 10 grams of beans. So for my drip machine I use 30 oz of water and 50 g of beans. Starbucks Veranda Blend is my favorite right now.

The very next thing to fiddle with is how coarse your grind is. Pick something in the middle or medium for starters.

That might get things going for you.
I have the scale but I'm trying to figure out what I should buy to brew the coffee. I'll need a burr grinder, a drip machine and something like a mocha pot. Any recommendations on these items would be appreciated.
 

JeffD

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Jan 27, 2022
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Upstate New York
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I have the scale but I'm trying to figure out what I should buy to brew the coffee. I'll need a burr grinder, a drip machine and something like a mocha pot. Any recommendations on these items would be appreciated.
Great. With a burr grinder and using a scale, the kind of drip machine you purchase is not so important. Lots of inexpensive drip machines out there. They all do the same thing. And if you ignore the graduations on water reservoir and measure your water and beans with the scale, you can get really excellent results. Even a very basic inexpensive one will make fantastic coffee

A burr grinder is important. But need not break the bank. I quite like my Baratza Encore conical burr grinder. Not extremely expensive. (Significantly under $200.00) Not the best, but does everything I want. I mostly make drip coffee or pour over. Espresso is far too fiddly for me.

If you like moka pot coffee don't hesitate to get a moka pot. Many types available. You can get a good one for under $50. In some cases way under. I like my Bialetti. It does everything you expect from a moka pot.

Moka pot coffee making is kind of fiddly. Not my first choice.

Hope that helps.

Warning - once you get used to flavorful coffee, you will become spoiled, and prefer your own coffee to just about any other. :)
 

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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Thanks. Interesting. Can you recommend a proportion of water to bean weight for a strong cup of coffee, like the Starbucks dark roast?. What do you consider a cup – 5oz, 8oz, …? I realize that I’ll have to do some experimenting, but jumping in at a reasonable ratio would surely help. Also, what drip machine do you have and do you have a preferred source for your roasted beans?

Really appreciate your help. Thanks again.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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A quality grinder is the chef knife of the coffee world. The more consistent the grind size, the more consistent your coffee will brew. A comparison is cooking potatoes; if you have some pieces that are 1/4" and some are 1" pieces, they will cook at different rates, the same as coffee. So your choices in grinders are pretty limited to under $200. I'm also a fan of the Baratza Encores, great intro electric grinders. There are hand grinders out there that can do a much better job at less price, but you have to turn them (not my thing) manually. Shadow is our resident hand grinder expert if you want to go that way. I, too, am not a big Moka pot fan... so I can't help much there. My personal favorite brewer to recommend to newbies is the Clever Brewer. It's a cone-shaped single-cup brewer, you simply add the filter, coffee, and hot water. Let it sit for four minutes and place over your mug, and it will drain out. You get the body of a French press but the crispness of a filter brew. If you want to go with a auto-drip machine, I recommend Bonavita or Simply Good Coffee's new brewer (although I prefer the insulated crafe of the Bonavitas). Regarding how much to use, etc... check out this blog i wrote:

 

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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A quality grinder is the chef knife of the coffee world. The more consistent the grind size, the more consistent your coffee will brew. A comparison is cooking potatoes; if you have some pieces that are 1/4" and some are 1" pieces, they will cook at different rates, the same as coffee. So your choices in grinders are pretty limited to under $200. I'm also a fan of the Baratza Encores, great intro electric grinders. There are hand grinders out there that can do a much better job at less price, but you have to turn them (not my thing) manually. Shadow is our resident hand grinder expert if you want to go that way. I, too, am not a big Moka pot fan... so I can't help much there. My personal favorite brewer to recommend to newbies is the Clever Brewer. It's a cone-shaped single-cup brewer, you simply add the filter, coffee, and hot water. Let it sit for four minutes and place over your mug, and it will drain out. You get the body of a French press but the crispness of a filter brew. If you want to go with a auto-drip machine, I recommend Bonavita or Simply Good Coffee's new brewer (although I prefer the insulated crafe of the Bonavitas). Regarding how much to use, etc... check out this blog i wrote:

 

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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Laguna Niguel CA
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A quality grinder is the chef knife of the coffee world. The more consistent the grind size, the more consistent your coffee will brew. A comparison is cooking potatoes; if you have some pieces that are 1/4" and some are 1" pieces, they will cook at different rates, the same as coffee. So your choices in grinders are pretty limited to under $200. I'm also a fan of the Baratza Encores, great intro electric grinders. There are hand grinders out there that can do a much better job at less price, but you have to turn them (not my thing) manually. Shadow is our resident hand grinder expert if you want to go that way. I, too, am not a big Moka pot fan... so I can't help much there. My personal favorite brewer to recommend to newbies is the Clever Brewer. It's a cone-shaped single-cup brewer, you simply add the filter, coffee, and hot water. Let it sit for four minutes and place over your mug, and it will drain out. You get the body of a French press but the crispness of a filter brew. If you want to go with a auto-drip machine, I recommend Bonavita or Simply Good Coffee's new brewer (although I prefer the insulated crafe of the Bonavitas). Regarding how much to use, etc... check out this blog i wrote:

Thanks. I'll be buying the Baratza grinder and the Clever brewer to start with.

I'll hold off on buying a drip machine. The Bonavita sounds like an adequate brewer, but an article I read indicates they're having problems. Do you know anything about Bonavita's Chinese owner in lawsuits with the brewer's designer and the US distributor? The Chinese company, itself, has taken over US distribution and reviews I've seen indicate poor quality and poor customer service.

Also, thanks for the link to your blog. Very helpful.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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Kansas City
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Thanks. I'll be buying the Baratza grinder and the Clever brewer to start with.

I'll hold off on buying a drip machine. The Bonavita sounds like an adequate brewer, but an article I read indicates they're having problems. Do you know anything about Bonavita's Chinese owner in lawsuits with the brewer's designer and the US distributor? The Chinese company, itself, has taken over US distribution and reviews I've seen indicate poor quality and poor customer service.

Also, thanks for the link to your blog. Very helpful.
I hadn't ... and I'm a (tiny) reseller of Bonavita but haven't bought much post-COVID. It does look like there is a significant lawsuit. That's unfortunate because they were great machines. And also explains some supply chain issues I ran into when I was going to repurchase. I currently only sell the Simply Good Coffee brewers... they are style like the Technoverm but lack the stainless carafes, which I'm a huge fan of. It kinda leaves a gap in the market for a quality brewer at the price point.
 

baristaraimo

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Jan 20, 2023
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Millburn, NJ
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What is your preferred coffee-water ratio when brewing coffee at home? I usually like my coffee strong, so I tend to add more coffee grounds and less water to achieve the desired taste. Also, if you are in the market for a coffee maker that can make a strong coffee, I would recommend choosing one with a "bold" setting. This setting will help you achieve a bolder and more robust flavor that is perfect for those who love their coffee stronger.
 

BaldEagle

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Another question, please. I tried the grind and brew Breville and liked its operation. Just couldn't get the coffee I wanted out of it. Sent it back. They have a grinder that allows the choice of the number of cups, grind size and grind time. If the ounces per cup and the number of cups are known, why is the timer needed?

I'm pretty Googled out and am thinking about the Technivorm with the insulated carafe. Haven't decided about a grinder, but I like the reviews of the Breville Pro and its display is pretty easy to use. Otherwise, it'll probably be the Elite. And, of course, the Clever.

BTW, here's the link to the article on Bonavita..


You've been a big help and I thank you. Mind telling me where you're located? Do you have a retail store?
 

BaldEagle

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May 3, 2023
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Laguna Niguel CA
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What is your preferred coffee-water ratio when brewing coffee at home? I usually like my coffee strong, so I tend to add more coffee grounds and less water to achieve the desired taste. Also, if you are in the market for a coffee maker that can make a strong coffee, I would recommend choosing one with a "bold" setting. This setting will help you achieve a bolder and more robust flavor that is perfect for those who love their coffee stronger.
I've not seen coffee makers with Strength selection other than the Grind and Brew machines. Can you please recommend a few?
Thanks
 

JeffD

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Jan 27, 2022
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Upstate New York
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Thanks. Interesting. Can you recommend a proportion of water to bean weight for a strong cup of coffee, like the Starbucks dark roast?. What do you consider a cup – 5oz, 8oz, …? I realize that I’ll have to do some experimenting, but jumping in at a reasonable ratio would surely help. Also, what drip machine do you have and do you have a preferred source for your roasted beans?

Really appreciate your help. Thanks again.
Yes. I am a fan of 16 to 17 weight of water for every 1 weight of beans, for pour overs and drip machines.

And what is a cup is hotly debated. Officially a cup is 8 oz, but a cup of coffee is 6 oz (why?), and the cup graduations on most trip machines are usually less, around 5.5 oz.

So I ignore cups as a measure all together. My mug holds 12 oz of liquid. So if you do it all in grams, there are 28.35 grams per oz, my mug holds a coffee made from 340 grams of water, and about 20 grams of coffee neams. There are any number of ways of remembering this, which are arithmetically equivalent. I would tell you mine but I think it better for everyone to figure out their own way to remember. Or make a chart for the wall. (A great idea).

I make the coffee at about 17 to 1, and then pour it in the cup I want to drink it in.

There are various reasons the ratio may to be adjusted. PLay with it and see what you like. For example, I prefer lighter roasted coffee. Just a taste preference. If the coffee is a darker roast, I grind it a little coarser and use a little more coffee - 16 or 15 to one. Gives me a better taste. Lots of science to this, but really, it is the joy of experimenting that helps one to figure this out.

Sticking to pour overs and drip machines, I can ignore the time variably, how long the coffee is in contact with the grounds. French press and other brew methods, this time thing is something to pay attention to.

So the cool thing here is that I can use these ratios on any drip machine and they work. No special or expensive machines required. I never adjust for bold or not bold. I just use the ratio and make the coffee. :)

I adore Starbucks Veranda Blonde coffee, and I always have it on hand whole bean.
 
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JeffD

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Jan 27, 2022
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Upstate New York
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Yes everything matters. There are fancy machines and fancy techniques that control brew time, and water temperature and all that. But how much? My view is that it is a waste of time to worry about brew time and water temperature if you are not grinding your beans with a burr grinder or don't even have the water to coffee ratio right. Get those two right, spend time playing around to get consistency and find out what you like. Whose coffee beans you prefer etc. My opinion, with experience you will be able to tell how much difference these other things like time and temperature make, and at that point, if you think it matters, get a higher end drip machine.

I use a Cuisinart cafeteria style (no carafe) drip brewer. Nothing special to it, I just like cafeteria style.
 

AnotherADDiction

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Mar 26, 2023
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I started a new job and don't have time now to look at everything. As a new coffee hobbies (I have enjoyed coffee for over 45 years though) I will say-
-Get a scale. Can be cheap, but 60 bucks will get all you need and look good.
-get a v60 Mugen dripper and abaca (Cafec) filter paper. Again, cheap. You'll now have spent another $25 bucks. I say Mugen because for $14 bucks you will get a dripper where you don't have to go crazy with multiple pours. You will get a good cup, although smaller than you're probably used too (300 grams water)
-order some sample sizes of preground coffee. You will start to learn the coffees and the grinders you like.
-check out https://www.home-barista.com - great info too.
-most of all, enjoy!
 
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