What''s the secret to good coffee?

Blue_Jaunte

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Aug 1, 2008
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When I make coffee at home, it''s always just Ok. But when I order it at nice restaurants (not any coffee shops I''m familiar with), it has a really deep, rich flavor, almost like chocolate. Is there any way to get this quality of coffee at home?

Thanks
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
Several things separate you from that taste you love.

The easiest and by far the cheapest way to get that taste is to buy a French press. Bodum makes some pretty nice ones that won't set you back a house payment. http://www.bodumusa.com/shop/group_line ... B24LJXFWVF

2nd you need to have a good coffee grinder if your even grinding at all. Buy fresh from a coffee roaster that way you know your getting only the best. Now you need to look for a burr grinder. This is where your going to get set back a little. If you check around on the forum here you will find most people generally recommend a burr grinder that runs close to $100. Its not so much that we think the more money you spend = the better quality you'll get. But more that the higher end machines make a more consistent grind.

My little Cuisinart burr grinder was only $50 and does an okay job. 90% of the the ground coffee is of uniform size and the other 10% looks like powdered sugar. You want all of it to be the same size and the higher end models tend to do that.

One of the most important things that you will need is good water. Now you can a Britta water pitcher to filter your water or you can go a little more elaborate and buy a water filtration system that is placed under your sink. I'm not saying purchase a RO (reverse osmosis) system but a water filtration system. One that has a cartridge that can eliminate 99% of rust, dirt, chlorine, fluoride, and the more harmful stuff. I also tend to shoot for anything that can remove down to 1 micron in size. The commercial units I sale remove down to .5 microns. 1 micron should be very precise.

Then for your French press you need almost boiling hot water. I personally boil mine then slap a thermometer in it and wait to it settles down to about 206F then add it to the container.

Otherwise if you want to go drip coffee I would suggest a Technivorm coffee brewer. You can purchase one here http://www.boydscoffeestore.com/brewing/index.php. You will still need a good coffee grinder but the Technivorm will do the rest.
 
It could be for a number of reasons- but I would say that freshness of coffee, grinding from wholebean to powder just prior to making and the way the coffee is made (using a French press, a drip machine, an espresso...etc) would be the 3 key areas where you should look at to try and get a more chocolatey cup. CCafe is right, if you are not using a french press or an aeropress, these are two resonably priced methods of producing good quality coffee. Of course if you are already using one of these methods- probably its the freshnss of the coffee (maybe you are buying preground?) which would be be the biggest variable to look at.
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
Good morning Alun! :D

He made a very good point I did overlook the fact you could already being doing what I have already stated. So how do you currently make coffee at home?
 

djveed

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Jul 23, 2008
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So if I can continue this discussion a bit more here... I've got the french press and I've got a Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. It was a high rated one in its price realm of $100. I brewed it for four minutes in the French press and was definitely NOT like "chocolate" quality of restaurants. In fact it tasted more like weak coffee or hot water perhaps. What grind setting is it supposed to be at? Of 16 levels, 16 being coarsest, I probably had it at 14. Is this wrong? The beans were Peet's Coffee roasted about a month ago (unfortunately it's been that long). Is the problem beyond the grind?
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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MASS.
djveed said:
So if I can continue this discussion a bit more here... I've got the french press and I've got a Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder. It was a high rated one in its price realm of $100. I brewed it for four minutes in the French press and was definitely NOT like "chocolate" quality of restaurants. In fact it tasted more like weak coffee or hot water perhaps. What grind setting is it supposed to be at? Of 16 levels, 16 being coarsest, I probably had it at 14. Is this wrong? The beans were Peet's Coffee roasted about a month ago (unfortunately it's been that long). Is the problem beyond the grind?

A couple of thoughts come to mind from my experience with a french press.

1.) Grind size: When you say level 14 of 16 grind size wise, 14 might be a bit too coarse. I'd say try level 10-12. I prefer an even finer grind and get better flavor out of my coffee, but it leaves a bit of coffee mud in the bottom of my cup. I just pour from the top and leave the last bit in the beaker (Davec's suggestion).

2.) Use more coffee: I was disappointed when the same amount of Kenyan in my drip didn't hit me the same way in my french press. I think it was Topher that suggested I try more coffee, 1 tbsp. per 6oz of water. I started using 2 heaping tablespoons in my 16oz cup from my FP and man the Kenyan instantly became one of my faves! Before, it tasted like water, now I can taste the bold and full, yet still delicate flavors of medium roasted Kenyan.

3.) Three Minutes: After using more coffee and not so coarse grind, you can try cutting back the brew time, from four minutes to three. Good luck!
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
I've had a lot of people swear up and down to me that if you push the plunger to fast through the water you get the same problem. I've only done a French press a few times so I'm no real expert on the matter. I agree with caffe biscotto to coarse isn't going to help you either. I was going to say maybe as low a 8 heck for an experiment try 6.
 

JohnB

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May 30, 2008
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Connecticut
My first grinder was a Capresso Infinity which I used for french press brewing for a number of months before passing it on to my daughter. I used the coarse settings (14,16) & had no problems getting a nice strong, flavorful cup of coffee with a 4 minute brew time.

How much coffee are you using in what size press? I typically use 32gr of beans for 16oz of water. Figure 2 tblsp of grinds per 6oz of water. Using freshly roasted beans?
 

caffe biscotto

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Jan 18, 2008
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MASS.
JohnB said:
My first grinder was a Capresso Infinity which I used for french press brewing for a number of months before passing it on to my daughter. I used the coarse settings (14,16) & had no problems getting a nice strong, flavorful cup of coffee with a 4 minute brew time.

How much coffee are you using in what size press? I typically use 32gr of beans for 16oz of water. Figure 2 tblsp of grinds per 6oz of water. Using freshly roasted beans?

JohnB is right, I'm finding that through time, I'm using more coffee to water in my FP and it just keeps getting better. I don't measure the grams, but my scoops are turning into three heaping tablespoons now for 16oz. I'll probably get to the standard 2 tbsp per 6oz soon.

On a side note to making good coffee, last night I had a bit of milk left over from dessert and put the last bit into my Kenyan, as an experiment. Weird, but it was only a couple of tbsp of milk and it ruined my Kenyan, it tasted like hot milk! Just thought I'd mention it as it seems to fall in place with the topic. Aside from grind size and ratios, don't mask or dilute your coffee with cream or sugar (my humble opinion).

Bear with me folks, I'm still learning, with your help, thanks.
 

JohnB

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May 30, 2008
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Connecticut
caffe biscotto said:
On a side note to making good coffee, last night I had a bit of milk left over from dessert and put the last bit into my Kenyan, as an experiment. Weird, but it was only a couple of tbsp of milk and it ruined my Kenyan, it tasted like hot milk! Just thought I'd mention it as it seems to fall in place with the topic. Aside from grind size and ratios, don't mask or dilute your coffee with cream or sugar (my humble opinion).

Bear with me folks, I'm still learning, with your help, thanks.

When I was only drinking Peet's dark roasted blends I always added half & half to my coffee & didn't care for it black. Now that I save the Peet's for the Toddy & brew lightly roasted single origin coffees I've found the same as you. All those great flavors in the coffees from Kenya, Ethiopia, ect are ruined once you add milk or cream. I still like the H&H in my Iced Coffee but I drink all my hot coffee black. I'm constantly amazed at all the wonderful flavors to be found in high quality coffees & its criminal to destroy them with milk & sugar imho.
 

djveed

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Jul 23, 2008
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I think I figured out the culprit. I was using merely 7 grams ground for a full serving (about 8-10 ounces).

At lunch today I'll try about 14 grams of finer ground (about medium grind). I'll stick with the four minutes for brewing. It's all a learning phase. What would I do without you guys (besides drinking really weak FP coffee).
 

JohnB

New member
May 30, 2008
113
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Connecticut
djveed said:
I think I figured out the culprit. I was using merely 7 grams ground for a full serving (about 8-10 ounces).

At lunch today I'll try about 14 grams of finer ground (about medium grind). I'll stick with the four minutes for brewing. It's all a learning phase. What would I do without you guys (besides drinking really weak FP coffee).

Don't go too fine for the F/P or you will end up with lots of fines in your cup & a more bitter brew. A coarse grind works well with a 4 minute steep time.
 

djveed

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Jul 23, 2008
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Too late man. I didn't bring my coffee grinder to work. Boy they would hate me if I did that.

Haha in between meetings you hear "burrrrrrrrrr".
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
djveed said:
I think I figured out the culprit. I was using merely 7 grams ground for a full serving (about 8-10 ounces).

At lunch today I'll try about 14 grams of finer ground (about medium grind). I'll stick with the four minutes for brewing. It's all a learning phase. What would I do without you guys (besides drinking really weak FP coffee).
14 grams for 8 ounces of almost boiling water is about right. Grind should be coarse enough to be filtered out by the screen. If I may add, add some hot water to the glass to heat it first. Dump the hot water, add coffee grind, pure 8 ounces of hot water into the glass. Wait 15 seconds so the coffee bloomed. Stir it 2 times, plunge the screen down a bit so the coffee grind is completely submerged. After 3 or 4 minutes, plunge it down.

An alternative to french press is individual drip like Melitta and Chemex. I prefer the Chemex.
 
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