Coffee

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Thad
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Coffee

Postby Thad » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:14 am

Managed to break my coffee pot the other night. Debating whether to replace it and stick with the drip machine, or go full hipster and switch to cold brew.

The Toddy seems to be the go-to machine for cold brewing, but it looks like it's just a big plastic funnel with a handle on it, a jar, and a spongey filter piece that you have to replace every few months. Seems like I could just use two mason jars, a funnel, and the basket filter I've already got. I've probably got some mason jars around here somewhere.

I'm also looking at getting a burr grinder. I used to have a cheapy Costco one but after about a year the sensor that was supposed to detect whether the lid was on it broke and it quit working. I switched back to a cheapy blade grinder and have had inconsistent results.

There seem to be a fuck of a lot of different kinds of burr grinders. Hand-crank seems to be the best option, if you're into hand-cranking things. The electric ones tend to be pretty messy, partly because they generate a lot of static electricity (which was the second-biggest problem I had with the Krups one I used to have, after the aforementioned #1 problem that it quit working entirely after a year); I hear the conical ones are better than the flat ones.

There's a cheapy Mr. Coffee one that sounds adequate for $35. A step up from that is a Capresso for $50. But I'm leaning toward the Capreso 560.01, which seems to be the best-reviewed model under $100. Pretty pricey for a coffee grinder (for a guy like me -- actually a pretty good price compared to what higher-end burr grinders go for) but it's got over 1200 5-star reviews and one of them is a crazy-detailed review by a guy who says his has been running for 7 years. $95 doesn't sound so bad in that context.

(All links are affiliate links. But don't buy the Krups one; it's just there as an example of a bad burr grinder I used to have.)

Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations?

I'm not a coffee expert, but I drink a couple of cups a day and I buy good beans. And I've got the taste buds to notice that the same quantity of the same beans ground with the same blade grinder and put in the same drip machine can have wildly inconsistent flavor and strength from one day to the next. And that sucks.

(As a rare extravagance, I bought a $19 12-oz bag of beans at Cartel Coffee Lab the other week. On the one hand, that is a lot of money for 12 ounces of beans. On the other, the first pot of coffee I made from it was absolutely fucking heavenly, probably among the top five cups of coffee I've had in my entire life. But then the rest of the bag was just kinda meh, and I was through it in less than a week. My thinking is that with a burr grinder and cold brewing, I could make enough concentrate from 12 ounces of beans to last a couple of weeks, at which point $19 a bag starts to seem a lot less extravagant, and its quality wouldn't vary so hugely from one day to the next.)

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Re: Coffee

Postby Niku » Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:38 pm

I know basically nothing about coffee except that I started getting cold brew at work basically every day and have a hard time going back to anything else (save for cafe sua da / Vietnamese iced coffee, my personal crack at the moment). I keep meaning to figure out a good way to do it myself at home to save some money, and I've seen we sell a pretty simple cloth filter "Coffee Sock" + mason jar combo for cold brewing, so I think you're pretty right about not needing too much more than what you've got on hand if you want to start cold brewing.
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TA
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Re: Coffee

Postby TA » Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:53 pm

I don't know about any cold brews, but have you tried an Aeropress?
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Thad
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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:47 pm

Went over to my grandparents' for breakfast and noticed they had a burr filter sitting on the back porch, unused and still in box. I asked if they were planning on using it, Gran said the one they've got is working just fine and she just picked it up because it was on sale, and so now I don't need to buy a burr grinder.

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kashan
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Re: Coffee

Postby kashan » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:28 pm

I recently moved to an entry level pump espresso machine from a french press, and it was a great move.This is the machine I'm using, and it seems to be the consensus choice for an entry level machine. It's pressurized which means it won't produce espresso of quite the strength that a depressurized machine would, but it also means you don't need a 300 dollar grinder. The steam wand is also a little weak. Because it's so popular there are a lot of videos online about how to mod it to be depressurized or to change the steam wand to something more useful.

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Rico
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Re: Coffee

Postby Rico » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:18 am

I normally just do French press, but I bought my mom that machine kashan linked and it's definitely worth the extra over a cheaper espresso setup.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:01 pm

Day one.

Picked a Friday, partly because I know there's going to be some fine-tuning here and if I find myself unable to sleep tonight at least it's a Friday night.

So far: it's really smooth, and even at a 2:1 water:concentrate mix it seems pretty strong.

Milder flavor than I'm used to; not bitter. I like the bitter but I like this too; it's almost sweet, even taken black.

Thinking I should maybe get a third jar, keep one jar of concentrate in the fridge at home and another in the fridge at work, and just use ceramic mugs instead of travel mugs (so I can put them in the microwave -- today's high is 89 and so it's a perfectly nice day for cold coffee, but that won't be the case for much longer).

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:41 pm

I definitely feel fresher. I've got the energy of a good strong couple of cups of coffee without the unpleasant jittery stuff. Bit of a headache, which is probably unrelated but I'm mentioning anyway. Seems easier on the stomach too.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:14 pm

Wound up getting 3 days' worth out of 1 batch of cold brew. (That's about 1 cup of grounds, or the "8 cup" setting on the burr grinder. Given that I was using the "6 cup" setting before, for 1 day's worth of coffee, I'm getting better than double the yield per pound.) Still fine-tuning; may even be able to stretch it out to 4 days. (I'm currently doing roughly 2:1 water:extract and that still seems like it might be stronger than I need.)

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Re: Coffee

Postby Silversong » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:02 pm

Do you heat it up after you brew it, or are you just drinking cold coffee all the time?

I really do recommend an Aeropress. I actually got rid of my auto-drip machine in favor of it. I'm also planning on getting a hand-crank burr grinder pretty soon.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:30 pm

I went with cold coffee the first few weeks, but after the weather started to cool down I started heating it.

Specifically, I toss a cup of water in the microwave for a couple minutes, then add the concentrate and stir. Comes out pretty well. I imagine it would be better if I heated the water with fire instead of radiation, but at that point it starts to be more effort than if I'd just used the drip machine.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:02 pm

I saw someone suggest reusing the same grounds to make two batches of cold brew out of one set of grounds.

I tried it and do not recommend it. The entire batch comes out tasting like the dregs at the bottom.

(Maybe tomorrow I'll try shaking it before mixing it in, hopefully get a little bit more mix. But I'm not optimistic.)

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Thad
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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:58 am

It's not so bad when I shake it before mixing it in. Not chalky but not very flavorful. Maybe tomorrow I'll try more concentrate and less water -- at any rate, it's palatable enough now to finish the whole thing; I was worried I was going to have to dump the rest of the batch. (At least I got two days' worth of good coffee out of it before I mixed in the second brew.)

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Re: Coffee

Postby Mothra » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:33 pm

It's a bit out of my way, but if I give myself a good twenty minutes in the morning, I can stop by The Coffee Trike:



This guy makes the most incredibly smooth espresso I've ever had. Good company, too.

It's odd, because his trike is just sitting there in the middle of an open square, with a line of people forming and just waiting for the duration of each espresso to get theirs. It's a matter of some time investment, but god damn, this coffee.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:02 pm

Started a new bag of beans, a High Desert Brothers medium roast from Costco.

It is a fucking amazing cup of coffee. Loads better than the Starbucks dark roast (also from Costco) I just finished.

Strangely, I seem to have gotten noticeably more liquid out of this one, even though I had more grounds and less water going in. (There were some grounds already in the catcher before I started; my wife made a pot of coffee with these beans the other day and apparently didn't use all the grounds.) Could be these beans are less absorbent than the other ones? Don't know. I know dark roasted beans are greasier but I'm not sure if that means they hold more moisture or something.

I was thinking of making a second batch today (not going to try reusing grounds again, but just thinking it might be good to fill the jar up all the way now that my wife's started drinking coffee again), but will probably put it off another day or two, because the jar is more than half-full off one batch.

I'm still thinking that, after we use up this bag (which will be awhile; it's a 2.5 lb bag from Costco and one cup of grounds yields about 4 cups of coffee -- I'm thinking maybe 5 or even 6 if I keep getting the same yield I did on this batch, and even if my wife starts sharing she doesn't take it as strong as I do) I might go to the Expensive Coffee Shop next to my comic shop and buy a bag of their wonderful Guatemalan light roast, which, if I were still making drip coffee, would be a needless luxury given that I'm unemployed (it's $17 for a 12 oz bag), but, given how much farther a bag goes with cold brew, is going to wind up costing me less than cheap grocery store coffee would using the drip machine.

BUT this Costco coffee actually tastes rather a lot like that Guatemalan coffee. So if I do wind up going to the Expensive Coffee Shop, I'm thinking I'll try a different kind of coffee. Maybe one of the cheaper ones.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Grath » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:22 pm

I had a barely-counts-as-coffee Caramel Truffle Latte with lunch today. It was good, but that's to be expected from the Culinary Institute of America.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:28 pm

Yeah, I used to do the occasional sweet chocolatey coffee thing. When I switched to drinking coffee daily, I opted to go black (and once you go black, ...). This is largely because it was part of a decision to go with something healthier than my two daily cans of Mountain Dew, and going from one sugared beverage to another wouldn't really achieve that goal.

That and I LIKE the taste of coffee. Don't get me wrong, I like chocolate, whipped cream, cinammon, caramel, all that stuff too -- but I don't really want them in my coffee anymore.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Thad » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:06 pm

So I bought a bag of guatica, the cheapest coffee at the expensive coffee place ($13 for 12 oz). It's good!

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Re: Coffee

Postby Mothra » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:46 pm

Been trying out the areopress method for about a month now. Generally, I'll put the attached pump upside-down, put the ground coffee in, pour in the boiling water, stir, and let sit for about 20 seconds. Then, I'll attach the filter, flip it onto my coffee mug, and press down slowly for another 20 seconds, filtering the coffee through.

It's a bit strong, but it's good. Better than it being weak. Going to take a little experimentation to get the steeping time just right, likely.

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Re: Coffee

Postby Kayma » Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:08 am

I bought a french press for myself my wife for Christmas. I guess everyone knows this already, but Keurig coffee, it turns out, kinda sucks.

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