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Thread: What is your best coffee-making technique?

  1. #51
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    On Burr Grinders:

    I've used the Capresso Infinity for several years. Every few months, it drops down to the $60 range. I'm bad at maintaining them - I've broken one, and replacement was cheaper than repair. That said, at about $30-$50 / year, it's a pretty good deal, unless you REALLY know what you're doing for burr maintenance (and if you do, maybe lemme know?). According to coffee snobs, cheaper burr grinders tend to fail for fine grinds / have some un-even-ness to the coarse grinds. They say the Capresso Infinity is the crappiest acceptable grinder. I'm not a coffee snob, but as an academic, I respect the opinion of people who spend too much time caring about minute details. And as a person who's tried a blade grinder, I can vouch that poorly / unevenly ground coffee, even if the coffee and brewer are excellent, does not work.

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    I've gone through several different brewing methods. I started with the classic Melitta cone (with paper filter), and I often go back to it. I've developed a few techniques for making more reliable / rich cups with it: Use an almost-espresso-ground on the grinder. Try to minimize time between the end of grinding and the start of brewing. Heat the water in the microwave in a pyrex cup. Use a thermometer to calibrate with each new house, and get it to exactly where you want it. Then pour it over the brewer, and stir with a spoon (the stirring is actually important - helps bring out the flavor by breaking up clumps). Heat milk (I use whole milk, but whatever) in the still-warm pyrex cup (no need to use power - the residual heat will warm it without curdling it).

    That produces an extremely efficient, rich cup of coffee, with minimal wasted time, and limited cleanup.

    I've used an aeropress. If you like Americanos (espresso + water), there's nothing better. It produces a coffee concentrate a little weaker than espresso, and with almost no acid at all. Do inverted brewing to get the most flavor. But if you like black coffee and want to avoid stomach issues, aeropress is totally the way to go. Like drip coffee - calibrate your heating and grinding times for your setup, and it can be a very efficient process.

    I've also used some espresso machines. First I tried a normal cheap (but pump, not steam. DeLonghi I think). It was unremarkable and unreliable relative to the aeropress, and it ate a lot of counter space. Gone.

    I tried a nespresso. Good for what it was, easy to use / hard to screw up. Small counter profile. Price per shot was over $0.5, though. I got a good deal on my first 200 pods, which was nice. After that, though, it's big gimmick is all the different flavors of coffee it offers. I only liked two or three (the purple, the columbian and the Indian, if you care). And they weren't that great. All the waste made me feel a little annoyed, too - I was paying a LOT for packaging, when I'd rather grind my own, freshness-wise.

    Most recently, I got a ridiculous deal on a Saeco super-automatic. It's annoying to maintain (small water supply, finicky sensors means refilling, emptying and cleaning sometimes 2x per day). But the quality of the output is really very nice - on par with what I'd get in an okayish coffeeshop (better than starbucks), and aside from frothing, it really is pretty hands-off (It can take 2 and a half minutes to brew a double shot, but after I hit the brew button twice, I can walk away, something I could never do with a drip cone / aeropress, or even with my other machines, if I wanted a second shot). Of course, once it starts to break down / the built-in-burr-grinder runs into trouble, we'll see what song I'm singing then. I got it for $130 refurbished, so I've got about a $30 repair budget before I go back to something else...

  3. #53
    Varsity Member tdig's Avatar
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    Signed up to be an "Alpha" member at Perfect Coffee which got me 6 free trial packs. Looking forward to tasting some west coast beans that I've heard nothing but awesome things about.



    The basic idea is that they have developed a way to get the perfect grind for each bean based on the style of brewing and developed a way to package the ground bean to maintain freshness.

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    @tdig I'm a little surprised james freeman from blue bottle would sign off on this idea. the guy won't even allow other shops to serve his coffee, so this must be a pretty high tech de-oxygen-ing system! another thing to remember is that grind size is also relative to the amount of coffee you're brewing... a 16oz pour over should be ground a little coarser than a 12oz for proper extraction time.

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    Varsity Member tdig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfs View Post
    @tdig I'm a little surprised james freeman from blue bottle would sign off on this idea. the guy won't even allow other shops to serve his coffee, so this must be a pretty high tech de-oxygen-ing system! another thing to remember is that grind size is also relative to the amount of coffee you're brewing... a 16oz pour over should be ground a little coarser than a 12oz for proper extraction time.
    Was thinking the same thing. I knew it had to be legit when I saw blue bottle as an option. Drinking the Philz Tesora right now and its fantastic. Planning to try the Three Africans tomorrow.

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    I personally love brewing with my Chemex. There are a lot of factors that go into making a cup with a Chemex and it can be pretty tricky to get used to, but that's why I enjoy it so much. You might nail a killer cup and try to replicate it might turn out tasting burnt, under-extracted. etc. It's really fun to experiment with but there is a fairly large learning curve.

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    Varsity Member jonATL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoffeeorBust View Post
    I personally love brewing with my Chemex. There are a lot of factors that go into making a cup with a Chemex and it can be pretty tricky to get used to, but that's why I enjoy it so much. You might nail a killer cup and try to replicate it might turn out tasting burnt, under-extracted. etc. It's really fun to experiment with but there is a fairly large learning curve.
    Chemex is life!

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    I just love using my Aeropress. It makes really good coffee that is smooth and tasty.

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    Super Moderator hornsup84's Avatar
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    Blast from the past post!

    My circa 2010 Cuisinart finally bit the dust last summer, so I upgraded to a Bonavita brewer and a Baratza burr grinder. It definitely was a bit of an overspend, but I like good coffee and it still saves me money relative to buying coffee (even with using only on weekends) so long as this lasts 2 years. The brewer is a definite upgrade from the Cuisinart (even when the Cuisinart was new, but absolutely from when it was on its last leg), and I like the look and simplicity of it. The grinder was totally a splurge / add-on purchase, but it's nice to have fresh ground and at a nice, consistent grind level.

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    So Iíve yet to acquire the taste for most regular coffee. Iím one of those Starbucks preference type of guys but the price is getting too high. Espresso based drinks I tend to favor and keep debating getting a nice espresso machine. We got the ninja that tries to duplicate an espresso. Itís fine for iced coffee type drinks but nothing to write home about. With our first child on the way, finishing my mba and other stuff I feel my caffeine needs will probably need to increase.

    Has anyone here taken the plunge on a machine like the Breville? My buddy bought the 2k one. Has sent me pics of the finished product and It looks amazing but I still am still skeptical before spending that much coin on a coffee maker.

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