Author Topic: coffee  (Read 3108 times)

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Offline djacobow

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coffee
« on: September 17, 2021, 05:47:44 am »

Who's fallen down the rabbit hole of pursuing the perfect cup?

I like espresso drinks but figured out early on that making really good espresso at home could get very, very expensive. So I tried low cost approaches like and hand grinder plus a Moka Pot or Aeropress, and, for milk drinks, frothing milk using the microwave and a handheld frother.

So far I've found the experience to be less than satisfactory, so I'm looking at the espresso machines again. But the very bottom of the non-junky appliances is like $800 and people regularly pay $8000.

That's not a lot of money compared to my electronics and photography habits, but ...
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: coffee
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2021, 07:43:00 am »
I just buy locally roasted whole beans from my local cafe and use a semi-automated coffee machine. Does a decent job.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2021, 03:26:05 pm »
I just buy locally roasted whole beans from my local cafe and use a semi-automated coffee machine. Does a decent job.

Ha ha, very reasonable. But that's about 1000 km from the coffee rabbit hole.

These are the rabbit hole:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMb0O2CdPBNi-QqPk5T3gsQ

https://www.youtube.com/c/LanceHedrick

https://www.youtube.com/c/MorganDrinksCoffee

https://www.youtube.com/user/EuropeanCoffeeTrip/featured

This is a good parody:

« Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 03:29:51 pm by djacobow »
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: coffee
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2021, 03:38:23 pm »
That YouTube was believable till he got to "vanilla coffee"

KILL THE HERETIC!
 
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Offline Halcyon

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Re: coffee
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2021, 05:56:03 am »
Drip coffee is not really a thing here, not when you have access to an abundance of freshly roasted beans. I mean sure, you can go down to your local supermarket and buy pre-ground or even worse, instant coffee, which a lot of people do, but I consider that on the borderline of what is actual coffee. You don't necessarily know how old the beans are and with instant... well... that stuff is barely coffee at all. It's like comparing instant ramen to freshly made pasta. The only time you'll see drip is generally with cold brews.

If you were to buy a coffee anywhere from McDonalds all the way through to your fanciest cafes and restaurants, it's almost always espresso. Beans ground fresh for that cup and brewed then and there.

You don't need some fancy contraption to get a good, proper coffee either. As long as you start with good quality fresh ingredients, apply the right amount of water, heat and pressure, you get a nice drop. For well under $1000, you can get results that are pretty close to the best, most expensive coffee machines available, you just need to know how to use them.

I've watched James' videos and a lot of them are quite good, however there are some where he just goes overboard. Over here in Australia, we call that "wanker coffee".


 

Offline Round_Corner

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Re: coffee
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2021, 12:55:43 pm »
I like to use pour-over method of preparing a cup of coffee. It is the cheapest way to make coffee at home for personal or small family. You just need a way to oil water, a plastic cone and a filter.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2021, 12:38:59 am »
I like to use pour-over method of preparing a cup of coffee. It is the cheapest way to make coffee at home for personal or small family. You just need a way to oil water, a plastic cone and a filter.

I think for a casual, easy cup of coffee, I'm liking the Aeropress. It's cheap and even less fuss than a pourover, I'd say.

That said, I just spent some money on an espresso machine. It gets here in a few weeks...
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: coffee
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2021, 10:54:33 pm »
I bought a decent coffee grinder Virtuoso+ (conical burr) and use a French Press, for a while now. Experimenting with water temperature, grind, amount of coffee etc.

But twice I've bought some terrible coffee beans, almost allergic to them it's weird. They taste green and bitter, sour the coffee they make, just gross. I noticed the bean's center is light beige looks unroasted sorta in the middle. So I never buy beans looking like that.
They were Costco Java Club and Kicking Horse Coffee Three Sisters blends. YUCK!

The quality of beans seems to be lower with the small players, independents doing roasting? Starbucks used to sell a few varieties of beans but no more.
 

Offline BrokenYugo

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Re: coffee
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2021, 11:49:44 pm »
I'm cheap and lazy, so I do cold brew a week's worth at a time. About 4oz/100g into something like a liter of water for 12-16 hours in the fridge, I use a kit I got cheap at Aldi that's just a glass carafe with a stainless sieve insert about as tall as the carafe and a lid to cap it off after the sieve is pulled out. Before that I just shook it all up in a pitcher and filtered it into another after the steeping, but that's a messy pain in the ass. I find pre packed ground coffee tastes fine if you cold brew it, so I just get the cheap stuff at Aldi and freeze the partial bag.
 

Offline rfclown

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Re: coffee
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2021, 03:32:13 am »
Ahh... coffee... The perfect cup. I bought a book years ago with that title. I figure that non-coffee drinkers will miss out on something about heaven... I bet God has some AWESOME coffee. We coffee drinkers will be sitting around immensely enjoying the awesome brews, and the non-coffee drinkers will just be missing out.

I used to drink primarily American coffee. I now mostly drink espresso drinks. When I was doing American coffee I started roasting beans in a hot air popcorn popper. I could duplicate the taste of any good medium (or light) roast that I could buy (but make it cheaper). What I found were the important factors:

(1) beans
(2) freshness
(3) don't add bad flavors

Everything else is WAY secondary (grind, etc). You have to have a quality bean that you like. My go to was Guatemalan Antigua. I also like some Indonesian beans like Sumatra and Java. Kona I like, but not the price. I don't care for any African I've tried. Your preference is subjective. Freshness (after roasting) is important. Green beans keep a long time. But the taste of any roasted/baked item doesn't last forever. The good flavor goes away, and the oils get rancid. Interesting thing is that coffee isn't at its best immediately after roasting. I don't know what it is. I've read about "out-gassing". Whatever it is, it needs to settle a little. For me, I'd roast what I needed for about a week. Didn't need to roast the same day or couple days. You can tell just by smelling the container of beans when you open it. The amora is there, or not (or bad). Grinding before a brew is the best, but I don't. I grind for a few days. I don't notice a difference. Again, the BIG factors are the 3 I listed (in my experience).

For (3), it can be anything. If your water tastes bad it affects the taste. I'm not a fanatic on this; I usually use tap water. But my tap water varies with time, and if I can taste chlorine, I'll use bottled water. Taste your water. If it tastes bad, use something else. I don't understand people using brown coffee filters. Just run water through one and taste it. Yuck. If your pot/cup is dirty enough, you'll taste it. Whatever method you use to make coffee, try it WITHOUT the coffee and taste the outcome. If your water/filter/hygene adds bad taste, you'll notice. Don't add bad flavors to a wonderful drink.

Several years ago I started drinking primarly espresso drinks, and I couldn't figure out how to roast, blend, whatever it takes to equal what I could buy. So I now buy Starbucks beans (Espresso, Italian, French roast. I like them all). I still grind for a few days. I always check the date on the bag. The date on the bag is 6 months after roasting and it makes a noticable difference. It is NOT the same after 6 months. I don't buy it unless the date indicates that it is fresh. I use a simple steam machine or moka pot. I had a pump machine for a while, but for my tastes, the 3 items in my list trump everything else. Fresh beans that I like with no added off flavors make a drink that I enjoy.

A few years ago I was in Rochester, NY and stumbled upon Canaltown coffee roasters. The best espresso drinks I've had. They roast their coffee and I talked to the owner/roaster. Unfortunatley it's not local to me and I'm not willing to pay the shipping costs to buy the beans. I did get a hint from talking to the owner that maybe I was over-roasting in trying for espresso. He indicated that the Guatemalan and Indonesian beans I liked should work well (I had wondered if I needed to add some robusta). I've not tried roasting again recently.

...add. When I make drip (American), I just pour a single cup using a Melita thing over a mug. I'm the only one in the house that drinks coffee.  If I have a party (not often), I'll pull out a drip coffee maker, or just call out "anyone want espresso/cappucino?" and my steam machine will do 4 shots at a time.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2021, 03:42:36 am by rfclown »
 

Offline rodpp

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Re: coffee
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2021, 04:06:47 am »
I agree with @rfclown, beans are the most important factor to have an excellent coffee. It's origin, freshness, roasting profile, and grinding, all have a direct effect in the final result.

I live in Brazil, near some coffee plantation regions in Minas Gerais (Sul de Minas, Cerrado Mineiro, Mantiqueira, etc). The coffee shops here always have some options with different characteristics, and normally they roast beans every week.

I like espresso coffe, and the age of the roasted beans plays a important role in the final espresso cup. Considering well storaged roasted beans, with minimal contact with air and light, and grinding just before the extraction, the optimal age is between 7 and 12 days from the roast date, but are very good until around 20 days and acceptable around 30 days. After that, the beans aren't suitable to produce an excellent espresso anymore, because it already lost the majority of it's volatile compounds. Some say that a good measure for storage is 30 months for raw beans, 30 days for roasted beans, and 30 seconds for ground.

Another extraction method that I use very often is pour over, using the Hario V60.





 

Online brucehoult

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Re: coffee
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2021, 05:40:44 am »
I'm not sure I'd know the "perfect cup" if I fell over it, but I'm not prepared to settle for *bad* coffee.

Yes, freshly roasted -- and VERY freshly ground -- beans are very important. For many years I was buying a few kilos of green beans at a time and then roasting about 120 g in a popcorn popper once every three or four days. I've gotten out of that habit, but at the very least you should try to buy beans roasted the previous day directly from the roasters. Buying a couple of kilos of freshly roasted beans and freezing them until just before you use them is maybe not ideal, but it given much better results than buying roasted beans that have been sitting on a supermarket shelf (and warehouse...) for who knows how long.

There are some cheaper machines that can give good results (for example the Rancilio Miss Silvia) but in general I think you're best to go for a machine with an E61 group head. New, they start at something close to US$2000 and go up a lot from there, but the most basic E61 will make just as good coffee as a high end one.

They all tend to have stainless steel bodies, copper boiler and piping, and the E61 group head itself is chrome plated brass. They're not lightweight, they're not super cheap, but they WILL last forever. They are designed for servicing. Everything comes apart, every part can be replaced at very reasonable cost -- at worst a main circuitboard or boiler costs a couple of hundred dollars, but that's a once in a decade or two thing.

Every decent city has a shop that services the commercial machines in cafes and they will happily look after your home E61 machine as well -- and many of the parts are the same.

Because of the parts and servicing situation, it's completely practical to buy a 10 or even 20 year old machine.

In about 2007 I bought a five or six year old La Scala Butterfly in New Zealand for about US$1000. I took it with me when I moved to Moscow in 2015 and sold it there when I left Russia in 2018 -- for US$1000.

In Fremont California in 2019-20 I had a coffee shop with its own roasting operation and open until midnight (?) every day 1 km from my house so I never quite got around to buying an espresso machine there.

When I returned to NZ in early 2020 I found a coffee roasting factory in the small town of Kerikeri (pop 7000) 40 km from me. Good! I went in to take a look and saw an old "Rocket E61" (NZ owned company that bought ECM's domestic machine operations) on the shelf, about 15 years old. It turned out they were selling it on behalf of a customer -- NZ$1000 (US$700) all together for the espresso machine, a Mini Macho grinder, stainless steel tamper, a couple of stainless steel milk steam jugs, and a set of four cappuchino cups and saucers. So I've been using that for nearly a year and a half and it's great.

There are other deals like that out there. Someone with more money than sense is always upgrading to the latest model and you can get their old machine cheap. If it's working when they demo it to you then it's very likely to keep working. And if it stops working then it won't cost much to fix.

Notes:

- it's much more convenient to go for at least a heat exchanger (HX) machine, or dual boiler (not single boiler) so you don't have to wait for the machine to heat up or cool down between making coffee and steaming the milk.

- vibra pump does the job, but long term it might be cheaper to have a rotary pump machine as you often need a new $50 vibra pump every 5 to 10 years depending on use fequency. Rotary is also a lot quieter, but they're also usually on machines with a plumbed-in water supply not an internal tank. I've only ever had vibra pump machines.
 

Offline Ian.M

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Re: coffee
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2021, 07:36:15 am »
Last year's Coffee thread: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/coffee/

IMHO you can go as far overboard chasing the perfect cup of coffee as a rich audiophool can go chasing 'perfect' sound.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 07:39:24 am by Ian.M »
 

Online brucehoult

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Re: coffee
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2021, 09:59:31 am »
You can -- but damn near anything is cheaper long term than paying a cafe $5 a day for a coffee with raw materials costing under $1.

For the setup using second-hand equipment I described in my previous message, I need to make about 250 flat whites (cappuchino etc) at home instead of buying them at a cafe to make back my outlay. For an all-new E61 and quality grinder setup that might be 1000 coffees instead -- from equipment that will have 20+ year lifetime. That's not even counting the time and maybe expense of walking or driving to the cafe to get it. Once the machine is warm (5-10 min) it's about three minutes to make a flat white and clean up.

That doesn't mean never again going to a cafe to meet friends or enjoy the ambience. But it does mean not buying cafe coffee when you're just going to take it straight to home or the office to drink at your desk anyway.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 10:27:11 pm by brucehoult »
 

Online LoveLaika

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Re: coffee
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2021, 06:06:42 pm »
For all the engineers here, anyone tried using complicated setups, a la Gale from Breaking Bad? I tend to just go instant. Gets the job done.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2021, 04:34:15 pm »
Well, I've had my espresso machine now for a few weeks, and it has been fun getting "dialed" and trying different coffees.

I got a Lelit PL91T "Victoria", about $1100. This is a single-boiler machine with a "standard" 58mm group size, a vibrating pump, and PID temperature control. So far, I like the machine just fine, except that I wish I hadn't cheaped out on the single boiler, as I do not like waiting to make steam, and worse, waiting to make coffee again after using steam. I do not feel bad about not getting a more expensive E61 / HX machine.

Shots so far have been a mixed bag, but there have been some very good ones. I use a bottomless portafilter so that I could watch what's going on, and my shots generally look pretty good.

One funny thing about having the new machine is realizing that I don't always want an espresso. Sometimes I want regular black coffee. Sure, I can make an Americano, but it's less fuss to use the Aeropress for that, and I think the results are actually better (for that purpose). Thing is, I look over at the $1k machine and all the associated accoutrements and feel like I'm cheating on them. Hah.

Another thing I have learned is that it is possible to buy quality, freshly roasted 3rd-wave artisanal coffee beans that, on tasting, I "just don't like." So there's going to be a lot of fun finding the coffee that I prefer the most. I'm in the SF Bay Area, so there are plenty of local roasters, even one walking distance from my house that has some nice blends.

 

Online LoveLaika

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Re: coffee
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2021, 07:29:10 pm »
Wow. That's top notch. I don't really go for espressos, but it sounds like I'm missing out on something.

What about a return to simpler tech? The last coffee innovation that I recall was the fancy Chemex.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2021, 08:23:56 pm »
Wow. That's top notch. I don't really go for espressos, but it sounds like I'm missing out on something.

What about a return to simpler tech? The last coffee innovation that I recall was the fancy Chemex.

The Chemex is a great brewer, no doubt!
 

Online LoveLaika

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Re: coffee
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2021, 03:12:35 am »
Sometimes the old ways are still the best.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2021, 04:29:09 am »
Sometimes the old ways are still the best.

Well, in that case, maybe you should try a Moka Pot, invented 1933, instead of your Chemex, invented 1941.

I do like the Moka Pot a lot. It's nothing like a pour over. It's a more syrupy, intense coffee, almost espresso-like.

Then again modern tech has its appeal. I really like the results I get from the aeropress, and it's cheap and the cleanup is a snap.
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: coffee
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2021, 06:39:26 am »
Then again modern tech has its appeal. I really like the results I get from the aeropress, and it's cheap and the cleanup is a snap.
Is that really new though? French presses have been around a long time, just because a company re-styles its appearance and slaps a TM on it does not mean it is a new invention.
 

Online LoveLaika

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Re: coffee
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2021, 01:42:56 pm »
I've definitely seen a Moka Pot before, even if I never knew what it was called until now. Are the benefits worth all of the maintenance?

It's always fascinating how people develop and innovate around something over time for better or worse (in this case, coffee).
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: coffee
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2021, 02:10:26 pm »
It bit non-electronic channel, but since we talk about mocha pots: https://youtu.be/qMrlyEreba8
 
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Offline djacobow

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Re: coffee
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2021, 02:48:59 pm »
Then again modern tech has its appeal. I really like the results I get from the aeropress, and it's cheap and the cleanup is a snap.
Is that really new though? French presses have been around a long time, just because a company re-styles its appearance and slaps a TM on it does not mean it is a new invention.

It really makes pretty different coffee from a French press. First, the aeropress uses a paper filter (unless your switch to metal). Second, French press is really an infusion coffee maker whereas aeropress is a sort of hybrid between infusion and percolation. All the water and grounds start out together, but when you "press" you force the column of almost coffee through the grounds. And cleanup really is just much less fussy.
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: coffee
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2021, 03:10:29 pm »
Quote
All the water and grounds start out together, but when you "press" you force the column of almost coffee through the grounds
So the paper instead of metal roster is a (minor) change, but how does above description differ from a description of the french press?
 


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