I want to upgrade from instant coffee


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Jan 24, 2017
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I am looking to upgrade from instant coffee. I live in an apartment and I don't have alot of space. My S.O. is not a big coffee drinker. My preferred coffee strength is American-style, weak stuff, about a tablespoon of ground coffee for every 6-8 ounces of water. Coffee (and tea) is an oral fixation for me, and I like to have it on the weaker side so I'm getting plenty of fluids.

When I lived with my parents years ago I had a Mr. Coffee espresso machine that I used to get my morning jolt of caffeine going. I rebuilt it, and it was pressurized and made real espresso. I also had a 100 dollar conical burr grinder, and I roasted my own beans. But my parents got rid of the burr grinder after I left home and it started working badly. So currently I don't have anything but a 9 dollar manual burr grinder (it is tube shaped and has a removable handle). It seems to be OK for drip but it produces a very uneven grind.

I also have some medical issues, so I don't drink much caffeine anymore (I have IBS and gastritis), but I still like the taste of coffee in the morning, so I drink decaf exclusively. I have discovered Coffee Tamer, which is good because I can't drink cream or milk (the caesin bothers me), and it greatly reduces the amount of irritation I can get from coffee. I've also tried a coffee called Puroast, unfortunately they seem to use low-quality Brazilian beans (I'm not the biggest fan of this flavor, I prefer anything else but Brazilian Rio bean flavor). Darker roasted coffees seem easier on my stomach.

I can remember years ago I used to get coffee in little 3 ounce vacuum-packed bricks. This was convenient for me to brew a small amount of coffee at a time and have it still be fresh. Since K-cups came out, I haven't seen that sort of thing being sold. So far I have just stuck with Folgers Silky Smooth, it is palatable. But I know being preground it won't last, and I'll probably end up tossing out half the coffee.

I have an Aeropress now, a Melitta pour-over, and I also recently have tried a Vietnamese phin. The Aeropress and phin produce coffee with much lower acid because I use water at a lower temperature (around 180F). I like the phin because it doesn't use paper filters, but like a French press it is picky about grinds. I can then dilute the coffee with some hot water and I get a very flavorful cup that doesn't have too much body and bitterness is low. Using a cheap burr grinder produces alot of mud in the bottom of the cup, however. I also own a Moka pot I have used a few times (I live in an Hispanic area and this is about all the coffee local grocery stores carry). It produces a bitter cup of coffee, it's not my favorite. And unless you have a gas stove, it's not so easy to get hot (but when I moved into this apartment, it was all that I took with me because it was the most convenient coffee to get).

I've tried a small French press but the Vietnamese phin produces just as good coffee and it's easier to clean up.

Basically, I'm not sure what to get, if I should bother buying a low-end electric burr grinder, if I would see better results brewing with the phin. Or if I should just stick with cheap, pre-ground coffee in the can (which seems to produce a cup of coffee with no mud at the bottom).
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Honestly, a lot of people will trash it but I think based on your situation the stuff in the can is fine.

I'm sorry to hear about your G.I. related issues. I've found that drinking that sediment or 'mud' at the bottom of the cup can upset even my stomach, and I can't imagine what the irritation would be like with some sort of IBS.
Sounds to me like your getting to many fines in your grind which can cause bitterness, at least it did for me. I couldn't believe how much better my coffee tasted when I switched from a spice mill to a burr grinder. If I had to choose between a good grinder and a good coffee maker I would choose the grinder every time. I think a lot of folks would agree that good coffee starts with a consistent grind no mater how you're making it.

I went to visit my mother and knowing she only had a Keurig and a Mr Coffee type drip machine I took my old spice mill and some beans and all I can say is the coffee was nearly undrinkable, I was so happy to get back home to my grinder. If I go again I'm taking my grinder.

For you needs I would look at Baratza Encore, the only bad reviews I've seen with this grinder are folks trying to grind really fine. I have the Baratza Virtuoso and am very happy with it.

I hope you get it figured out, there's nothing like a good cup.
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I've tried a few cheap manual grinders (I actually wore one out). Some are decent, others produce really uneven grinds. The less even grinds seem to be worse for flavor, especially if the coffee is not paper-filtered. The local Asian grocery has some Vietnamese instant coffee (Trung Nguyen) that actually tastes decent in the morning, especially with milk and sugar. It's alot better than the stuff that goes stale a few days after you open it. Another thing I tried is adding collagen to coffee, inspired by some of the health fads I've seen, it acts a bit like creamer and it's apparently healthy too (sort of like bone broth, something I am not fond of drinking on its own).

I'm thinking of sticking with the canned ground stuff and just throwing it out when it gets stale tasting, because it is so cheap. I figured out how to brew low-acid coffee now, using some test strips, and it's not that hard to produce a smooth cup of coffee, with a bit of experimentation. Not overbrewing is critical. Sometimes it's better to make it strong and dilute it with water, like an Americano. Another thing that's really helped is using alkaline water to brew coffee and tea. My gastritis has gone away with some medical treatment and the change to low-acid coffee, so now all I have is IBS. Cutting way back on caffeine also helped, I only drink one small cup of regular coffee every day, and maybe one cup of real tea, the rest is decaf.

I bought a Kallita Uno to add to my collection, and I got rid of the moka pot and the French press. The Kallita is better than the Melita pour-over because it is small and I can use cheap #1 filters, though it takes longer the results are a better cup. I also think my Aeropress is good, it just depends on what I'm in the mood for. In fact I'd say next to espresso, the Aeropress is probably the best way to make coffee, possibly even better because it is paper filtered if that's your thing (it smooths out the taste).

For my birthday I've asked for some Vietnamese Weasel coffee, basically it is like kopi luak, made from coffee a civet has eaten.