Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Average Joe, Good Coffee

Since I'm usually chasing my cigars with a cup of joe, I figured that I may post how I get a great cuppa without breaking the bank.


Most of the time, I'm not drinking anything exotic, just Eight O'Clock Bean coffee. Once in a while, I'll get a small bag of Archer Farms coffee beans at Target, or I'll pick up some locally roasted beans for special occasions. The big thing is to get whole bean coffee, not ground. WHOLE BEAN. Remember that, and we'll get back to it.

Some folks roast their beans too harshly (Charbucks), or rarely, leave them a little underdone (tastes grassy, like a Sherpa cigar). I like the range between City Roast and Vienna Roast. If you're picking out beans at a local roaster, look for oily beans. If they look too dried out, they may have been sitting for a long time.

Okay, now that we've got beans, what then, smarty-pants? We grind them. Most folks end up with a whirling blade coffee grinder, which is pretty much the same as using an old Cuisinart food processor on them. You cannot really specify the grind size, like drip coffee versus espresso, with a whirlie. Also, whirlies don't do the best job of getting a consistent grind, where most of the grounds are fairly uniform.

For a more consistent grind, you need a burr grinder, which uses spaced metal cogs to grind beans to a specific texture. This way, you can tailor the grind to your specific situation.

When it comes to filters, I prefer unbleached, or brown, filters. Paper isn't naturally white, and I don't want the bleach in my coffee either. Worse yet is using a paper towel. Don't do it. Just get the brown filters.

CigarSmokingMan, a blogger of the first water, has pointed out the superiority of a gold, permanent filter basket. The basket replaces the paper filter, and holds the grounds during the drip brewing process. Paper filters can absorb the flavorful elements of the coffee as it's being brewed, while a permanent filter will not. Gold is important, as it will be durable and won't corrode, and is usually plated over a stainless steel wire mesh.

Do you LIKE to drink municipal tap water? Then why make coffee with it? Use filtered water for a better cup of coffee. I used to use the pitcher/cartridge systems, and eventually installed an under-sink system. Much better, and it doesn't take up room in your refrigerator.

There are a gazillion different apparati for making coffee. Percolator, automatic drip, French press, vacuum, ibrit (Turkish), cold press (toddy), espresso, and the list could go on. Friends don't let friends percolate coffee. As for the other methods, it's your pick.

I used to use a French Press, and it does yield a great cup of coffee, but it's a little more time-consuming. I bought a Bunn commercial coffee maker, which is automatic drip with a preheated reservoir of water. When I hit go, I have a full pot of coffee in three minutes. I like having coffee quickly.

Whichever kind you get, you'll want to clean it regularly. I find that white vinegar really cuts through the coffee residues on pots and filter baskets. Oxyclean is good as well, minus the loud, bearded guy.

Even brewing something as cheap as Folgers, I can get a decent cuppa by freshly grinding beans, using unbleached filters, and using filtered water. I also like a bit of brown sugar in my coffee, but that's another story. Bottom's up!


CigarSmokingMan said...

This is a good primer on making coffee. I would suggest a few changes:
1) Find a permanent gold coffee filter for your drip coffee maker. It's easy to clean. Paper filters out a lot of coffee oils and gives you less flavor.
2) Whole bean is the way to go. Supermarket coffee is stale as soon as it hits the shelves. If you have to buy coffee, goto a reputable roaster, which leads me to -
3) Roast your own coffee at home. It's not hard, the equipment is relatively cheap and a pound of green coffee beans can be less than half the cost of pre-roasted beans.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

My late boss, God grant him rest, tried roasting his own coffee. I tasted one of his earlier batches, and it was very grassy.

I'm so busy, 'tween work, family, and school, that diddling with roasting coffee beans would be a hassle I just don't have time for. Being a closet perfectionist, I'd spend way too much time trying to get it right, to the detriment to my other responsibilities.

Someday, once I'm done with my next degree, I'll have more time for my dilettante pursuits.

Thanks for the input, I'll see if I can score a good permanent filter.

E.Z. said...

Glad to see like minded people blogging away...

I do a lot of home roasting and I got to tell you, I got it right from my second batch (burned the first one...)

But I mainly keep the home roasted stuff for myself, buying some sort of decent quality grocery store whole bean for big parties etc.

Roasting is a cinch with a popcorn popper, but If you want to do one batch a week, just get a drum roaster, saves time.

Great blog... keep it up...


buy viagra said...
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Viagra said...

Although a French Press takes a while, I think it is well worth the wait. The coffee simply tastes amazing when using this method.