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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:25 PM

Coffee 101: Brewing devices

I'm pretty passionate about coffee and since there seems to be quite a few questions about coffee on DU from time to time I figured it might not be a bad idea to post my thoughts regarding coffee. I thought about posting this in Cooking and Baking, but there's not really a lot of traffic over there and most of the coffee questions and comments seem to be here. Since coffee is very much a social drink, perhaps it's better over here anyway. If there's enough interest I can expand on this topic and cover all sorts of other coffee related subjects. If you like this and want to see more, rec this thread and/or comment on it. I see coffee as a culinary art, much like wine, beer, spirits, or good food. Anyone who owns a $5 yard sale Mr. Coffee and buys a can of Folgers can make coffee, but most people can tell the difference between that and a higher end coffee shop cup. The basic raw materials and methods are the same, the difference is in the quality of those materials and the attention to detail in the methods. Certainly the hardware used can be different, but you don't need a $10,000 coffee maker to make good coffee and actually some of the best coffee can be made with hardware that is very cheap and basic. In this post I'm going to expand on some of the coffee brewing devices that I like and explain the differences between them.

A coffee brewing device does basically one thing. It transforms the coffee grounds into drinkable coffee by using hot water to extract hundreds of flavor compounds from the water soluble solids. Different brewing devices employ different methods and each will impart a different character in the final product. If someone wants specific advice on how to get the most out of each one of these devices you can ask and I'll tell you what I think works best. There are several different methods I'm leaving out like Turkish coffee, moka pots, etc. I can answer questions about those as well if anyone is interested.

Cowboy Coffee:
As I mentioned before, you don't necessarily need an expensive coffee making device. My grandmother's method was cowboy coffee. All you need is a pot to heat water in, preferably a tall cylindrical one with a lid, handle, and spout. The water is heated usually in the pot, the grounds go in and are stirred, the coffee is steeped, and then it's poured into the cup. My grandmother always broke an egg in the pot to help keep the grounds down. You always wind up with some grounds in the cup, but they settle to the bottom and most people throw out the last bit once the coffee from the cup is drank. It's actually a pretty good method for making coffee. There are a number of benefits to this method. One is it's a full immersion method, which I like. Since there is no filter, there is nothing to block or absorb the essential oils from the coffee, so you get everything the bean has to offer. There's a few down sides as well. Naturally you're going to get some of the grounds along with the coffee. This freaks some people out because they are used to filtered coffee. It's not a big deal for me. Another down side is that ideally the coffee should be consumed as soon as possible. The grounds will continue to extract the longer they remain in contact with the water and off flavors will start to develop if the coffee is allowed to extract for too long.

French Press:
IMO everyone who loves coffee should own a French press. They are a simple coffee making device that's very easy to use an maintain. It's very much like cowboy coffee with a mesh filter which holds the grounds down. The down side to them is you will get some grounds in the cup (they settle to the bottom and aren't a big deal). Like cowboy coffee you should consume the prepared coffee right away for best results. They are also great for steeping tea. You'll need a kettle to go with it naturally or some other way to heat the water.

Electric Drip Coffee Maker:
This is unquestionably the most popular method in America for making coffee. It's also one of my least favorite methods. I have no idea how many different coffee making contraptions I own. I know it's more than a dozen. I don't own an electric drip coffee maker. That's not to say that all electric drip coffee makers are bad. I just think there's better ways to do it. The biggest problem with the vast majority of these is they don't brew at the correct temperature. Most brew at around 180-185 degrees F which is at least 10 degrees less than the starting point where optimum extraction begins. At lower temperatures the coffee will taste sour and underextracted (watery). There are a few machines that do brew at the correct temperature, and if someone is interested I can point them to the right ones, but even if you do get a good one, most of them still do not employ a full immersion method and they are notoriously hard to clean and descale which is very important if you want to enjoy really good coffee. Most employ a burner and a glass carafe, which is one of the absolute worst ways to store prepared coffee.

Keurig:
The Keurig is really just an electric drip coffee maker. I have an aversion to pre-ground coffee, but if you must use it, the Keurig is probably one of the best ways. The ground coffee remains sealed in an individual pod until ready for brewing. You can also get tea and hot chocolate pods for them. They are good for office environments where everyone can buy their own pods to suit their own tastes.

Pour Over Coffee Maker:
This is actually a very simple and cheap alternative to the electric drip coffee maker. At high end coffee shops, you will see these being used. There are several different types. I have a few of them. Most of them are nothing more than a filter holder placed over a pot, carafe, decanter, thermos or some other storage device. Smaller ones like the V60 are made to fit over a coffee mug and brew directly into it. Others like the Chemex have the carafe incorporated into the filter holder. Brew methods differ somewhat depending on what type you have. The usual method involves rinsing the filter and preheating everything, depositing the grounds in the filter, and slowly pouring over 195-205 degree water(always the correct brewing temperature) from a kettle over a ~4 minute period.

Percolator:
I don't own one of these either. I know some people swear by them, but IMO they are a horrible coffee making device. The water nears or reaches boiling temperatures as the water percolates through the grounds. The result is overextracted, sour coffee which is pretty much the opposite of a cheap Mr. Coffee type coffee maker.

Vacuum Pot:
Vac pots were very popular in the 50's and for good reason. They are a very good coffee making device. They are still popular in Japan and thanks to them you can still buy very high quality ones. Occasionally I see them on the 2nd hand market in garage/estate sales and thrift shops. You can still get replacement parts and supplies for certain ones. Some look like strange Rube Goldberg contraptions that are very expensive conversation pieces. Some are fairly simple. If you really want to impress your friends, buy one. They make great coffee and some employ open flame heaters which can be used on your table for after dinner coffee for guests. They are fun to watch if you have a glass one. The bottom part holds the water and the grounds go in the top. Between the two is a filter. As the water is heated it travels through a tube into the top portion where it fully immerses with the grounds. When all or most of the water flows into the top section, you turn the heat off and the vacuum in the bottom section sucks the prepared coffee through the filter. They fell out of favor in America once percolators became widely available which is a shame really.

Aeropress:
This is one little brewing device that is slowly gaining popularity. Most coffee geeks like me know all about it. I own two of them and think they are wonderful. For about $25 you can get one shipped to your house complete with a generous supply of filters. I use one at work and people say it's looks like some kind of science project. They are more correct than they know. It was designed by an engineer. It's billed as an espresso maker, but it doesn't really make espresso. It makes coffee that's somewhere in between espresso and brewed coffee in character. You thin the final product down with hot water to get your desired strength, much like you'd do with espresso if you wanted an americano. The grounds and hot water go in the top section and are stirred. They are allowed to steep for a short period of time and then the prepared coffee is forced under pressure through a paper filter directly into your cup. If you want to make cappuccinos and/or lattes at home you can pair one of these with a milk frother and get decent results. It's not as good as the real thing, but if you have to have your Starbucks fix and you don't want to pay north of $3 a cup, it's not a bad way to go. You need a kettle or some other method to heat the water. I like using mine at work because the commercial coffee maker in our break room has a hot water tap.

Espresso Machine:
This is unquestionably the king daddy of coffee making devices. It's not for the faint of heart. They are hard to learn to use, require a decent grinder, are notoriously hard to clean and maintain, very expensive (I do NOT recommend getting a cheap one), they break down with predictable regularity, take up a lot of room, and they are noisy as hell. If you can live with all that and are willing to empty your bank account and spend years perusing the ultimate espresso shot, you may be rewarded with the best coffee has to offer (or you may give up in frustration).

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Arrow 57 replies Author Time Post
Reply Coffee 101: Brewing devices (Original post)
Major Nikon Jan 2013 OP
NRaleighLiberal Jan 2013 #1
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #2
NRaleighLiberal Jan 2013 #3
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #4
Kali Jan 2013 #5
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #7
Kali Jan 2013 #10
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #12
Spike89 Jan 2013 #18
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #19
Spike89 Jan 2013 #22
ismnotwasm Jan 2013 #6
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #8
MiddleFingerMom Jan 2013 #9
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #13
CanSocDem Jan 2013 #46
IcyPeas Jan 2013 #11
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #14
pipi_k Jan 2013 #15
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #16
harmonicon Jan 2013 #34
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #37
harmonicon Jan 2013 #38
seaglass Jan 2013 #49
harmonicon Jan 2013 #50
Taverner Jan 2013 #17
kcass1954 Jan 2013 #20
bettyellen Jan 2013 #21
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #26
bettyellen Jan 2013 #33
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #42
bettyellen Jan 2013 #53
Lex Jan 2013 #23
Kaleva Jan 2013 #24
Kingofalldems Jan 2013 #25
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #27
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2013 #31
pokerfan Jan 2013 #28
oregonjen Jan 2013 #29
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #32
A Simple Game Jan 2013 #30
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #41
A Simple Game Jan 2013 #51
harmonicon Jan 2013 #35
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #40
harmonicon Jan 2013 #44
harmonicon Jan 2013 #45
seaglass Jan 2013 #36
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #39
GoCubsGo Jan 2013 #43
Fortinbras Armstrong Jan 2013 #47
pink-o Jan 2013 #48
vanlassie Jan 2013 #52
tabbycat31 Jan 2014 #54
Major Nikon Jan 2014 #55
tabbycat31 Jan 2014 #56
Major Nikon Jan 2014 #57

Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:28 PM

1. Great post from an equally passionate coffee person!

French Press all the way for us....and has been for the past 10 years. 2 tbsp beans per 6 oz water - 4-6 min steep. Yum!

We take it a step further - I home roast all of our coffee (Sweet Maria - personal favorites are Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda...and going Out of Africa...Guatemala (esp Huehuetenago), Panama, El Salvador. Once I got deprogrammed from the burned stuff Starbucks roasts and sells, I usually head for a City plus to Full City roast - dark, but not oily - to taste the origin.

Let's talk coffee!

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:43 PM

2. I'm currently enjoying a Costa Rican single origin

...from Dodd Coffee in Houston Texas, roasted to about City+ on Dec 28th and brewed in my Clever Coffee Dripper from Sweet Maria's. I tend to prefer mostly high altitude coffees which is why I love African varieties, but this time I was looking for something that does well brewed and has more of a chocolate flavor. This one didn't disappoint.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:47 PM

3. cool...when I get time, I will jot down my current green bean holdings...

I stock up on the 90+ point lots when they appear and the price is right - buy in 2 lb bags, have approx 16 different lots in hand. I roast 10-12 oz beans each week using a whirly pop over a coleman stove - works great!

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:51 PM

4. I roasted my own coffee for a while

I started with just a heat gun, did the popcorn popper thing for a while, and eventually settled in with a BBQ roaster homemade contraption. It's been a couple of years since I've last done it.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:01 PM

5. well I am a low class folgers/yard sale drip bum

but I do like using the french press when I am alone. 4 drinkers and me paying for it means they get what I buy and since I have no taste that is what we do.

however, I learned to settle the cowboy coffee grounds (and isn't it best in a RUSTY pot?) with just a cup of cold water, never put egg in there.

learned from Grandma, wife of a real cowboy.

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Response to Kali (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:12 PM

7. Even Folgers is getting expensive

The coffee club at work uses Folgers and even buying in bulk they have to charge everyone $10 per month just to break even. There are ways to buy green coffee in bulk and roast your own cheaper, but it takes an investment of time and energy.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:30 PM

10. Safeway had it for $8 or 9 for the hair over 2 lb "can" the last month or so off and on

so I have a few in the freezer. do not like paying 13 for the morning drug.

time and energy, well at least energy - I seem to have very little of. maybe I need some better coffee

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Response to Kali (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:33 PM

12. Better coffee doesn't get you more caffeine

It just improves the experience of the low level drug trip.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 06:26 PM

18. In fact, "cheap" coffee is usually much higher in caffiene

The difference is in the bean varieties...robusto beans are much easier to grow and are the staple variety used in "canned ground" coffee (Folgers, Yuban, Maxwell House, etc.). Almost all whole bean coffees sold in the US are arabica varieties. They have significantly less caffiene, are less acidic, and also have the best taste but are a bit harder to grow.

Of course, there is considerable variations within those two broad classes. A very good robusto bean grown at altitude can match the flavor of a poor arabica. However, for just a pure jolt of caffiene, cheaper is actually the best way to go.

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Response to Spike89 (Reply #18)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 06:36 PM

19. Believe it or not, many roasted blends made especially for espresso will include some robusta beans

The biggest reason is because the addition of robusta will increase the crema (the foam on top of an espresso shot). Personally I don't like espresso blends with robusta, but a lot of coffee aficionados do.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #19)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:37 PM

22. Yeah, I drink enough that robusta beans aren't an option

I've heard that robusta is blended into a lot of espresso grinds, but I prefer strongly brewed lighter roasts hot and black and it isn't hard to find good beans in the Northwest that are labelled 100% arabica (I was, long ago, a bean wholesaler). When I do drink espresso, I don't mind a bit of extra jolt because I almost always have a breve' and it cuts the acid way back and I simply don't drink espresso-based drinks all day.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:11 PM

6. I'm a French press fan

It started to save money (Starbucks, evil I know), since I like strong full flavored coffee. I got myself a couple presses, good beans and never looked back.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:17 PM

8. That's an excellent way to do it

I like using my French press with guests because it's very easy and fast to get great results. Any paper filter is going to absorb some of the essential oils which removes some of the flavor.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:25 PM

9. How about ultra-simple stovetop espresso makers -- are they just espresso percolators?

.
.
.
And is there a way of maximizing caffeine extraction while maintaining a reasonably similar taste quality
(for coffee and/or espresso)?
.
.
.

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Response to MiddleFingerMom (Reply #9)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:44 PM

13. Ah yes, Moka pots

Caffeine is one of hundreds of compounds found in coffee and it's fairly easy to extract and doesn't loose much potency over time if the grounds are old. You can steep coffee grounds in a gym sock pretty effectively if that's all you're after. I'm not recommending that, but just sayin'

The Moka pot method is somewhat different than a percolator. I don't like the character of coffee produced by them, but some do. If you buy one, be sure to get one made out of stainless steel because the aluminum ones never really clean up that well (maybe that's why some like them). Be sure to get one with a relief valve. I think most of them have one nowdays, but if you find one at a garage sale it might not.

If you want a cheap and easy way to make super strong coffee, get an Aeropress. The prepared coffee it makes is quite strong and most people will want to thin it down with hot water or milk prior to drinking.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:06 PM

46. Great thread.

 



I was hoping my personal caffeine 'delivery system' would come up. Now I know what to call it other than "stovetop expresso maker". Moka pot.

Got one for christmas 6 years ago and it is still doing the job. A double in the morning and a couple of hits from my bowl.....well, "ask me anything."


.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:32 PM

11. My favorite brewing device is this:

[IMG][/IMG]

It's called a Clever Coffee Dripper (easily found online). Sort of a cross between a french press and a drip cone. You put the filter in, coffee, boiling water and let it sit about 4 minutes (it comes with a cover for the top so you don't lose heat). Then you place it on top of a cup and a valve releases the coffee into your cup.

I swear by it. I swear!!

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Response to IcyPeas (Reply #11)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:44 PM

14. I have one and love it

I'm drinking coffee made from one today.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:44 PM

15. Another "low class"

coffee drinker here, who buys Dunkin Donuts decaf via monthly subscription...but only because I honestly can't tell the difference between it and some of the so-called "better" coffee beans.

Well, except for instant. I will not drink instant.

Anyway, I use a Keurig on a daily basis.

When the power goes out, I use either a French press or an antique aluminum percolator pot on the gas stove.

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Response to pipi_k (Reply #15)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:47 PM

16. Donut shop coffee is generally very good

Donut shop owners figured out many years ago that coffee and donuts just go together and as many people will come for the coffee as come for the donuts. I think the beans you get from Dunkin are easily as good as what Starbucks offers. I suspect if you are getting them via monthly subscription you are getting a very freshly roasted supply which is a great thing.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:23 AM

34. Dunkin Donuts coffee is WAY better than Starbucks.

Have you had either recently? For "fast food" coffee, nothing beats DD. Starbucks, on the other hand, is the worst I've had, apart from some gas station coffee. I've had cups that I had to throw out after a few sips.

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Response to harmonicon (Reply #34)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:38 AM

37. I drink both from time to time

Aside from all the flavored choices, specialty coffees, and decaf, Starbucks has two basic coffees that they serve in their stores and is generally available in all their stores for sale in whole bean bags. One is their original blend which is a dark roast and the other is called Pike Place which is a lighter roast. Comparably, Dunkin has one basic non-decaf that they offer in whole bean form which is a lighter roast. Coffee from both places is going to be large batch roasted coffee that is reasonably fresh and sold in mylar layered bags with one way valves. Both are comparable in terms of quality. As far as which one is better, this is going to be largely subjective. Those that like dark roasts are probably going to prefer Starbucks original. Those that like lighter roasts are probably going to go for either Starbucks Pike Place or Dunkin.

I will get more into whole bean coffee in a later post if this series continues that long.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #37)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:43 AM

38. I meant prepared cups of coffee from them.

Starbucks seems to have zero quality standards when it comes to their brewed coffee. Now I just stay away from it and get espresso drinks if they're the only option when I want a coffee.

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Response to harmonicon (Reply #38)


Response to seaglass (Reply #49)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:35 PM

50. DD is just more consistent.

Starbucks is sometimes fine, but sometimes it's burnt beyond recognition.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:58 PM

17. BRAVO!!!!!!!

 





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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:15 PM

20. I hate coffee. But I loooove the smell, with one exception.

Mr. k uses a cheapo Cuban coffee maker and Bustello. I swear to God, he burns it every morning and makes the house stink.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:33 PM

21. you forgot Nespresso, they make it so easy and quick to make perfect fresh tasting espresso

 

the .60 cent capsules are aluminum- stay fresh for at least a year- and the pressure is strong enough to create a lovely crema. Really nice assortment of blends and single origin coffees. I totally love mine.
Keurig tastes very off and stale in comparison. And the new Starbucks machine is a dollar a cup, two if you want a latte made with powdered milk. Ick.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #21)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:05 PM

26. I didn't mention it because I have no experience with them

From what I have seen they look to be a thermoblock espresso machine that is designed to take pods only. If you want to go the pod route I'm sure they are as good as any and those I've ran across that had one seem to like it. I would not expect them to compete well with a traditional espresso machine in the hands of someone who was really dedicated to the craft, but as I posted there's a significant list of disadvantages that comes with doing that at home. The Nespresso is probably much better suited for the home market at least for most.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:34 AM

33. on the downside, they only make expresso. on the other hand is super fresh and delish.

 

if better than most commercial barristas can make with no fuss at all, which is saying a lot.
there's a reusable pod you can get too, but I like their blends so much I haven't bothered yet.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:56 AM

42. That's not much of a down side really

If you just add hot water to espresso, you get an Americano which is at least somewhat similar to drip brewed coffee and many people prefer it to drip brewed coffee.

You can also heat up milk in the microwave to around 140-160 degrees F and get a variation on the Cafe au Lait. If you take that same milk and put it through a milk frothing device (or just put it in a sealed container and shake the hell out of it) you can get a poor man's latte or cappuccino.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #42)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:58 PM

53. yep. I LOVE it. they sell a frother too, but I just warm the milk in my micro while it heats.

 

the bit of foam from the crema is enough texture for me. and the whole thing, including preheating the machine, takes one minute, one lever, and one button pushed.
I used to use drip or a BFs expensive expresso set up, but would get put off if the coffee wasn't super fresh roasted. I'd just never know how much coffee I'd end up using and end up wasting it. Now I waste coffee because everyone want to try a cup, and then asks for seconds, LOL. I invested because I'm able to work from home a few days a week, and got a good price. But I'd replace it in a heartbeat. None of those other pods hold a candle to it, flavor wise.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:43 PM

24. Most every home when I was young had a small hand held coffee ground strainer

Which looked like this:

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 07:53 PM

25. I like my Keurig coffee maker

Am I the only one?

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Response to Kingofalldems (Reply #25)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:08 PM

27. I'm sure you're not

There's one at work that I use sometimes when I don't have time to grind and brew. Buried deep in my post I mentioned that if you want to go the pre-ground route, the Keurig is one of the best ways to do it and they are particularly well suited for the office environment.

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Response to Kingofalldems (Reply #25)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:42 PM

31. I like mine, too.

The coffee tastes fine. The only coffee I won't drink is Folger's, which tastes like burned wood chips dissolved in battery acid and strained through a dirty jock strap, so I'm not too picky. I'm also lazy, so the Keurig is perfect for me. Fast, easy, no mess.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:08 PM

28. tldr

I just use a French Press, both at home and at the office because our office coffee sucks. I have an electric kettle which can boil a quart of water in about five minutes. When the water's ready, I grind the beans and dump everything into the press for about four minutes. It's not complicated.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:49 PM

29. What a great post!

I love coffee, but for health reasons, I was told no more caffeine. Do you have any suggestions for a great tasting cup of decaf? I miss the taste of real caffeinated coffee.

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Response to oregonjen (Reply #29)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 01:03 AM

32. Most good coffee roasters will offer decaf

Later on I'll go into coffee and brewing. Those are two subjects which deserve their own threads.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:20 PM

30. Percolator coffee is an experience. It requires you to have patience

and fills the house with an aroma none of the other coffee makers can match. A real master can even make perfect coffee on a campfire.

You do have to be experienced to make a good pot of coffee though.

Sadly I can't drink much coffee anymore, not even decaf. If I drink morning coffee for two days, I can't sleep the next night. I used to drink it 12 hours a day.

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Response to A Simple Game (Reply #30)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:44 AM

41. The biggest problems I have with the percolator is over temperature and over extraction

If I get far enough in this series I'll explain basic brewing techniques in greater detail. Each brewing method produces a different character from coffee. I have no doubt that some are going to prefer the character that a percolator is going to produce.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #41)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 09:55 PM

51. If all you want is the taste of a good cup of coffee, there is little need

for a percolator.

I think I enjoy the smell more than the taste and nothing I know of beats a percolator at that. Probably stems from when I was told I was "too young to drink coffee" because it would stunt my growth.

I used to love the smell of the coffee being ground in the grocery store also.

Looking forward to your future posts on the subject. Thanks.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:30 AM

35. I just recently heard about the egg thing, but heard a different reason.

It was on that NPR cooking show ... you know, the one with the annoying people talking about food on it.

Anyway, they talked about people mixing an egg in with the grounds in a drip coffee maker. Apparently this somehow makes the coffee more translucent, and doubtless does something to the taste. They attributed the practice to Swedish immigrants to the midwest and plains, but I have no idea if anything like this is done in Europe - nowhere where I've been.

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Response to harmonicon (Reply #35)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:40 AM

40. I just assumed my grandmother did it to hold down the grounds

I really have no idea why because I never asked her, but without fail she would always crack an egg into the brew when making cowboy coffee. If you've ever lived on a farm with chickens, you'd know you always have way more eggs than you could ever hope to use so perhaps they sat around and dreamed up new uses for them.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #40)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:25 AM

44. Ha! I do love that explanation.

My grandmother was a dairy farmer, but they never had chickens or coffee - they were teetotalers (that sort of explains the coffee, but not the chickens).

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #40)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:40 AM

45. Ok. My curiosity got the better of me, and it turns out we're already on the internet.

I guess the egg in coffee is done for multiple reasons, one indeed being to keep the grounds at the bottom of the pot, but that's not the only time egg is added. Some people just use the shells, some don't use the shells, and some also add salt. Apparently this may have replaced using a fish's swim bladder for the same purpose. Anyway, not only does the egg keep the grounds in the bottom, but it also makes for a more clear extraction, and the alkali of the egg counteracts some of the acidity in the coffee. Some say it's great, and others say it's terrible. I may have to try it out.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)


Response to seaglass (Reply #36)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:36 AM

39. I do know of the Clover

Outside of the interesting visual experience you get when you order a Clover, the character of coffee it produces is quite different than most other brewed coffee. I very much like it, but at north of $10,000, a plumbed in water connection, and 220v power, it's not well suited for the home environment even for serious coffee geeks like me. The Aeropress has the capability of producing coffee that is virtually indistinguishable from Clover brewed coffee, and for about $25 shipped it's much better suited for amateur use. If you get one, the instructions that come with it aren't bad, but the water temp specification is way too low, IMO. Use ~200 degree F water and you'll get much better results. There's a lot of videos on the youtubes about the Aeropress which demonstrate all sorts of variations of use which you can try to fine tune the coffee character. I think the Aeropress is an awesome little coffee making device.


I suspect the reason some people dislike Starbucks is because for many years they offered only their regular brew and decaf (as far as drip brewed coffee goes). Their regular coffee is a dark roast and many people abhor dark roasts (some prefer them). For the last few years Starbucks finally bowed to lighter roast fans and they now offer Pike Place as a lighter roast option in their stores. I suspect that most people who didn't like Starbucks before would probably like them better if they tried Pike Place.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:08 AM

43. Drip and French press...

My current French press is the travel mug version. I don't use it as a travel mug due to the grounds thing. They're extra bad in this model, but I got it for five bucks on clearance, so not complaining. I just pour it through a strainer into a coffee mug. I use the same strainer to rinse out the grounds from the press, too. Wish I had thought of that with the old glass one I had. I broke it trying to tap out the used grounds.

I'm kind of picky about my coffee, but it has as much to do with how it affects my stomach as it does taste. A lot of it gives me a gut ache. Usually, the cheaper brands make me queasy, but Millstone does, too, as does Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Neither of them are cheap. The exception is the stuff Aldi carries that's imported from Germany. A lot of what I drink depends on what coupons I have and what sales there are. I snagged a couple of free bags of Gevalia with store and mfg. buy-one-get-ones a few weeks ago.

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Response to GoCubsGo (Reply #43)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:20 PM

47. I love my French presses.

I typically have just one cup of coffee a day, in the morning right after I have gotten dressed, and a French Press gives me exactly what I want exactly how I want it in less than five minutes. One thing that I do is put some sugar in with the coffee grounds (an idea I got when seeing a Roman barista making a Cubano), because I like my coffee with sugar.

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 12:36 PM

48. When it comes to coffee, I have more experience than y'all amateurs!

Mainly cuz of this: I just turned 58, and I've been drinking coffee for 50 of those years. Yup. Seen it all: the can of Maxwell House that opened with the key taped to the bottom, the percolator give way to Melitta and Mr Coffee machines, the crap brands, the diner stuff that looks (and prolly tastes) like the dishwater in their sinks, the roasting, the grinding, the quest for the perfect cup.

Lucky for me, when I was a kid my dad worked in North Beach (SF's Little Italy) so I started drinking espresso at age 13. I had my own home machine by the time I was 23, and just recently I got the fully automated computer espresso maker. It grinds, it presses, it froths for lattes and cappuccinos, and it usually costs over 1000--but I found one n Craig's List for 125. With my coffee history, I feel I deserve such a lucky bargain!

Yes, I am a caffeine-based life form. All the other drugs I tried never satisfied, so I will give up my coffee when they tear the mug from my cold dead hand.

Anyway, moral to the story: whatever device delivers the elixir of life to you, it's all good!

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:09 PM

52. GREAT TOPIC! Thanks, Major Nikon.

Do go on!

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Response to Major Nikon (Original post)

Sat Jan 25, 2014, 12:19 PM

54. kick

I love coffee threads as I'm enjoying mine now.

Question for you (or anyone)

Is a Keurig worth it?

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Response to tabbycat31 (Reply #54)

Sat Jan 25, 2014, 12:30 PM

55. It depends on what you want

If you want single serve convenience, variety, and decent quality (at least relative to using preground coffee through a drip coffee maker), then a Keurig can be a good choice.

Every coffee making device is a tradeoff. If you consider quality, convenience, and price, nothing is going to give you all three. Many will only excel with one of those things. The Keurig strikes a pretty good balance between all three with its biggest strength being convenience. I'm not a big fan of using preground anything, but for many the Keurig isn't a bad way to go. The expense and inconvenience of a grinder is no small consideration and there's also a lot to be said for the ease in cleanup. I think they are great for the office environment and if you must go with preground, they aren't bad for the home.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #55)

Sat Jan 25, 2014, 12:41 PM

56. I'm looking at it for my parents house

Ok well also for my convenience when I visit there.

My mom hates coffee and hates when people drink it. My dad drinks one cup a day (usually McD's) and they do not have any sort of coffee brewing device at home. Whenever I go there, I have to head out to get my coffee.

I'm not the biggest coffee snob but I do like a variety of coffees. My favorite is Wawa (yes gas station coffee but Wawa is unlike other gas stations).

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Response to tabbycat31 (Reply #56)

Sat Jan 25, 2014, 12:58 PM

57. We bought one for the in-laws

I have a little hand grinder I use at the office along with an Aeropress, but sometimes I just don't have the time to mess with it so I still buy pods for the office Keurig.

Staples seems to have consistently the best prices for the pods if you are buying in bulk. They can get quite pricey if you're buying them in the grocery store.

These are my favorite pods. If you can find them for less than 50 cents each you are getting a good deal.

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