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Mar 3, 2002 05:43 AM

Best way to make coffee?

  • s

I'm talking about making your standard, drinkable-around-the-clock coffee. I just use a cone-filter coffeemaker with paper filters for ease. Is there a noticeable difference between paper & gold plate or whatever else is out there? What about the French press method? I've tried this but I really don't like the sediment on the bottom of the cup and the cleaning part sucks too. And the percolator method? How do you make your coffee?

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  1. Well you're bound to get some interesting and divergent views on this one. Here's the advice of an admitted coffee fanatic:

    Your cone filter method is fine and I don't think there is a major difference paper vs. gold mesh filters. What you have to do is start with fresh quality coffee properly ground for the brewing method.

    As for grinding, do it just before brewing. Use a relatively fine grind for the method you're using (for drip method, particle size roughly that of table sugar, or a bit finer).

    Water should be very hot; just under boiling point when poured on grounds.

    Now, as far as I'm concerned you need coffee that was roasted no more than a week before grinding and brewing. Some gourmet neighborhood coffee shops that roast their own are a good bet. Ask when it was roasted. Forget Starbucks: the coffee in their shops was roasted several weeks prior to purchase

    The best solution: home roast your own coffee a day or two before use. Home roasting opens a whole new universs of coffee enjoyment.

    This may be more than you wanted to hear but I admitted to being a coffee fanatic. is a good source of info on home roasting and coffee in general, at least for us fanatics.

    Good Luck

    1 Reply
    1. re: garyls

      Good advice, but I'd skip the home roasting. Buy good coffee in vacuum packs and then store in an air-tight, opaque, hinged-lid container and you're good to go. Make sure to get quality beans and grind just before brewing. Those little coffee grindners are cheap as heck.

      Melitta and French press are the best of the easier methods. Percolaters are really cool old-school things, and make good coffee, but they take a while.

    2. I think that it's mainnly an issue of what type of coffee you use, rahter than the type of filter. Try to get your coffee from
      Get their PURE COFFEE

      It's the best coffee you can get for your buck. Use a bit extra coffee that what you can usually handle, this coffee will not turn bitter or acidic if you make it strong.

      1. I like Honore de Balzac's method:

        Consume the freshly ground beans and let the stomach acids do the brewing. From his "Treatise on Modern Stimulants":

        "This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army on the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensign to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of wit start up like sharshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder."


        1 Reply
        1. j
          Janet A. Zimmerman

          Aside from the quality of the coffee you use, for drip coffee-making, the two things that most affect the quality of the brewed coffee are the water temperature and the length of time the coffee and water stay in contact. Older coffee makers don't generally get the water hot enough to extract all the flavor and body from the ground coffee -- some of the newer models have corrected that flaw. Second, you want the water and coffee to stay in contact for a while instead of having the water rush right through the grounds. The "steeping time" also extracts more flavor and body. I think that's the beauty of the french press -- you're actually steeping the coffee for a time before pushing the grounds out. But I agree that it's messy, and the added body takes some getting used to.

          Krups has a new model of coffeemaker out that does both of those things (gets the water hot and steeps the coffee) -- I haven't tried it yet, but I'm seriously thinking about getting one, especially since my current Braun model is on its last legs.

          Other points: a gold filter will result in coffee with more body but will always allow a little sediment through. So if you want to avoid any sediment, use paper. Also, you should decalcify your coffee machine every couple of months, either with a commercial product like Better Brew, or with a mixture of vinegar and water or citric acid and water.

          And finally, don't keep brewed coffee on a heating element -- pour it immediately into a thermal carafe.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Janet A. Zimmerman

            Clean up may be messier, I just grind beans and throw into ceramic carafe, pour not quite boiling water in and let steep. Stir if you like, pour coffee thru filter to catch loose grounds. Basically filtered cowboy coffee.

            1. re: Janet A. Zimmerman

              You can simply use an Melitta portable coffee maker and plug the drain hole with a stopper that is long enough for you to easily grab and pull out from the bottom without burning your fingers,
              Just find something that you can use as a stopper.........It could be a rubber stopper. A dowel. The button from a pen that you don't need.
              1 Plug the bottom.
              2 Insert your filter.
              3 Add your coffee grounds.
              4 Pour your hot water into the basket and let the grounds steep for a few minutes.
              Some experts say that the water should not stay in contact with the grounds for more than 5
              minutes or so.
              Just judge your time and take into account the amount of time it will take for the water to
              drain once you pull the plug out.
              If you need to add additional water because of making a larger amount of coffee that what
              fit in the basket...........Lessen the steeping time if need be, before pulling the plug, since
              you will be pouring additional water in after you pull plug and drain. No plug will be needed
              once you drain the first basketful of water.
              It's really pretty simple.

              You can also do this with an automatic drip coffee maker with and automatic drip STOP once the carafe is pulled out ,

              Simply add only enough water that will fill your basket and grounds without overflowing. Keep your carafe slightly pulled out so that your basket stops dripping into the carafe. ( If you need to completely remove your Carafe, turn off the coffee maker) Let the water and grounds steep for a few minutes..........Push your carafe back in place and let the coffee drip. Then add the remainder of your water into your reservoir and turn your coffee maker back on and let it run it's course.
              Again, take the additional time the water and grounds will be in contact with one another to avoid and OVER EXTRACTION.

              It's really a pretty simple way to make your coffee.

              If your coffee maker does not heat the water to HOT ENOUGH.

              You can also do this.........Rather than allowing your coffee maker to heat the water........

              Add your coffee to the basket as usual.
              Heat the water on your stove. Boil it........Then pour it into a measuring cup and let it sit just long enough so that the temperature drops to around 198 degrees like the experts say.
              Swing out the basket. (First make sure it's has an AUTOMATIC STOP)
              Pour your hot water into the basket just high enough so that it does not overflow. Let it steep.

              Push the basket back into place and let it drip and drain.
              Swing the basket back out and pour some more HOT Water from the stove into a measuring cup and pour it into the basket and either let it steep some more............or immediately push it back into place and let it drip. Repeat again if additional water is needed for the yield you are making.

              It's really much much easier than it seems here. The entire process, whether it's with the Automatic drip maker..........Whether you boil the water yourself or use the coffee maker or using a Melitta portable drip coffee maker, takes less than 10 minutes.

              NO MESS like you get from a French Press.

              Give it a try.

            2. Bodum/French press is the way to go. Use filtered water, and grind the beans yourself.

              This is the golden ratio: 2 Tbs ground coffee to 6 oz water. Steep for four minutes. If the coffee is stronger than you prefer, add hot water to taste. Don't use a lower coffee to water ratio when brewing, or taste will suffer.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Lindsay B.
                Guy Lesperance

                I agree that the French press is the best way to brew coffee and Lindsay is correct in the way she prepares it. You say that you do not like the sediments at the bottom of your cup: that is because your coffee is to fine. Have your coffee ground on the coarsest setting or you can do it yourself, which is ideal.
                Doing coffee in a percolator is probably the worst way to brew coffee. You just kill all the qualities your beans might have when using this method!
                Enjoy your next cup!!!

                1. re: Lindsay B.

                  This is the same ratio of coffee grounds to water that Alton Brown mentioned on his "True Brew" episode. My problem is this: how many T of BEANS does this translate to? I don't make coffee at home that often, so I'm not very good at estimating the amount of beans I have to grind. And I think I grind them too fine.

                  1. re: LisaPizza

                    For two 8 oz cups of coffee from my press pot, I have had good success with 4 1/2 heaping tablespoons of whole beans. I have one of those little Krups blade grinders, and grind for approx 5-6 seconds (I actually count in my head). I stir the coffee thoroughly after adding the water, and try not to steep for more than 2 1/2 minutes.

                    1. re: katie young

                      Thanks, Katie. I've been waiting for someone to answer my question! I think I grind the beans too much; Alton Brown ground them for 10-15 seconds, but he was making filter coffee. . . I'm going to try your version tomorrow morning. I, personally, don't have a problem with the way my coffee comes out, but my husband doesn't love it. :-)

                  2. re: Lindsay B.

                    My wife and have had our French press for about 4 months and have yet to use it properly. The coffee always seems to watery. We tried the formula above, 2 T per 6 oz water, quadrupled it, and let it steep an extra minute. Still too watery. Do I need to up the steep time? Could my beans be ground too coarse? Should I try more beans?

                    Any help would be greatly appreciated -- I've had French press coffee in restaurants and know how fantastic it can be. Thanks!

                    1. re: Jason W.

                      My guess is that you may be slightly too coarse in your grind. Additionally, your water may not be hot enough--should be just below boiling. I boil it and wait about 5 sec after removing from heat before I pour.
                      After pouring the coffee into the grounds, give it a good stir. Put the cover on the press, but do NOT press down the plunger until 4-5 minutes have elapsed. Believe it or not, I had a friend who would press the pluger immediately and alway wondered why his coffee was so bed.

                      1. re: Jason W.

                        Fellow French Press User ,
                        I too have had this problem of really weak coffee from freshly ground beans. I found that it was the quality of the beans. I had bought some, 8 oclock Brand, coffee beans, and no matter how much I used, I couldn't get the flavor I wanted. I was at Trader Joes the other day, and found one of their brands called, Double Dark. Let me tell you that this coffee has a kick, and the aroma of the beans after grinding is intense. The beans are very oily, and you may have to experiment with the amount you use for your choice of a perfect cup, but I don't think you'll be disapointed...

                      2. re: Lindsay B.

                        Yum! Thanks for the guidance. This is a wonderful cup of coffee!

                        And thanks Chowhound for making old posts available two years after the fact!

                        1. re: Lindsay B.

                          I agree. I've tried different ratios and it doesn't seem to work. The fullness of the flavor really comes through. But what coffee beans do you use?

                          1. re: Lindsay B.

                            This is exactly the way I do it. May I also suggest the wonderful coffee from Cole Coffee in Oakland. Their Timor is the best, but is only available on occasion. All of their coffee is far superior to anything else I have had.