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Why is pour-over coffee better? [Split from Boston board]

Warning, the following is slightly tongue in cheek, and I had some fun writing it...

Don't mean to be (my usual) snarky (self), but I read this article in the NY Times this weekend, and did not understand what the big deal was. This is, after all, DRIP coffee.

When I was a kid, making drip manually, with a Melita drip set up was what you did if you did not have the $ for an automatic drip coffee maker.

Now you can get a Mr. Coffee at Target for $20.

Please explain to me how coffee made in WAY pricey, retro gear, but in the end DRIP coffee, is any different from what my pal Mr. Coffee makes.

Nevermind why should you stand there and pour hot water over the grinds manually, when kindly $20 Mr. Coffee will do it for you automatically?

Love the fact that the marketing dorks decided to call this "Artisan" coffee making, like you are actually MAKING something. Just plain hysterical. Ooh gosh mom, I'm pouring boiling water, does that mean they'll give me a show on the food network?

Wanna make something artisanal, go brew some beer, make some sauerkraut, heck bake some bread for gosh sake. But last I checked, there is no artisan's guild for water boilers...

;-)

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  1. Okay, I will bite and be the straight-person.

    1. The process is different. A Mr. Coffee boils water, pours it onto the grinds in a single cycle, and uses a paper filter. This set up uses multiple pour/drip cycles to bloom the beans and then extract their coffee-ness. It also uses a cloth filter, which has different properties than paper.

    2. Since you have not tried the "pricey, retro gear", you don't know what the result is. Maybe to you it will be the same as you get from your "pal" (tongue-in-cheek here for sure!). But maybe your experience will be like mine was - a genuine oh my goodness experience. Here is a chance to find out. Triple-dog dare ya!

    14 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      Aaaaah, the cloth filter...

      i.e. I've run out of coffee filters so will use the "Old Sock" trick instead.

      "Bloom" the beans," seriously.

      How can that be any different then just leaving the ground coffee in the hot water for a while, getting good extraction, then filtering.

      Sounds like time for a double blind taste test against my "special friend" Señor Coffee.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        I have a friend (he is an engineer) who does something similar. He is one of those guys who is completely annoying about finding the absolute best way of doing something, buying all the specialized equipment and then taking about 4 hours for a 5 minute job. His coffee, I will admit, is about the best I have ever had. On the other hand, he is the only one who can make it, and early in the morning, I want to wake up and push a button, not screw around with boiling water and coffee filters.

        1. re: tdaaa

          You've thrown down the gantlet!

          Me, Señor Coffee, and cast iron roasted beans, against nerdy engineer boy.

          Double blind.

          At Dawn.

          Cue theme song to "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly."

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hYV-J...

          Though in all fairness, I usually use a press pot and not Señor Coffee.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            OK. You got yourself a blind tasting. My nerdy engineer friend with his "pour over" system vs. your press pot vs. my capresso machine. It will have to wait for a few weeks, until my buddy comes up from NJ, where he lives. We will use straight from the tap, unfiltered, delicious Belmont water, and all use the same beans and grinder (I prefer starbucks Italian roast, but happy to use whatever you prefer). In addition to the three deuling coffee geeks, we will use additional independent testers and identical cups. And while I encourage the best coffee to win, I have absolutely no intention of changing from grinding my beans the night before and having hot, good-enough coffee waiting for me when I stumble down in the morning.

            I will let you know when my friend is coming up and we can arrange the showdown.

            1. re: tdaaa

              Wait, you lost before you won.

              Italian roast from charbucks has already had ALL the varietal flavor BURNT out of it. Nothing wrong with expresso roast, I like expresso and drink it with some frequency, but it ain't the pinnacle of coffee flavor.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                I like the roasted (burnt) flavors. helps wake me up. My real favorite is tanzinian peaberry, but its hard to find and more expensive. Compared to the swill that is available at my job, anything is wonderful. I even started drinking tea because the coffee here is so bad.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  I love Starbucks coffee. I don't get the "charbucks" silliness at all. Nothing is burnt. All is delicious.

                  And that's eSpresso.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    Jay? Different strokes for different folks. I find it very difficult to stomach a straight espresso shot at Starbucks, and I find that their over-roasted "char" quality even comes through milk drinks. Their brewed coffee is generally too bitter and too acidic as well. The only way I can -- "enjoy" is the wrong word -- "deal" with coffee at Starbucks is iced coffee with some half & half. Even then, the last time I was there, they automatically sweetened my iced coffee --DISGUSTING! (and certainly NOT what I ordered!).

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Starbucks sells pour over coffee now, which is good. You should try it.

                      1. re: calumin

                        Been there; done that. Compared to what I make at home . . . in my office . . . from cafés I go to locally . . . my personal opinion is, "It's not very good."

                        1. re: calumin

                          When I tried it recently it was pretty awful; I'd much rather have had the coffee from the prebrewed pot.

                          This is the inherent flaw in pour over though: it CAN be better than a machine because you have control over all the variables, but if a person is inexperienced or not properly trained, the setup isn't dialed in, or the operator isn't paying attention it will be worse than a machine.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  So did the showdown ever happen? ;)

              2. re: StriperGuy

                you should really do it so that you can find out the truth; i expect that SG is right on this one. But there is one way to find out.

            2. Ok, here is my story of a year-long quest of self-taught coffee making and why Hand Pour rules.

              About 2 years ago, before the Hand Pour craze, I bought coffee outside everyday. Like Lauren Bacall, I *LOVE* Cah-FEE! But I did kinda feel guilty about pitching a gazillion paper cups a year and so I bought one of those tall thin coffee thermos/mugs from my local green eco-friendly product store, Greenward. It promptly sat un-opened in my kitchen for months and months while I continued to buy ready-made coffee.

              Rummaging for some kitchen tool, I found my $2 #2 Melitta dripper from college, along with a left-over "gold cone" filter from a coffee machine long since landfilled or thrift-stored. I took them out, and said, hmm, I can make coffee. It sat on my counter for a few weeks till I finally managed to buy some beans somewhere, actually some Barismo beans at Simon's. I already had a coffee mill/spice mill, and so I finally opened up the box on coffee thermos and made my own damn coffee. It was nothing special, I just dumped hot water into the Melitta rather crudely from my smallest Bourgeat saucepan. But I liked it enough and continued making coffee like this till the beans ran out.

              At some point I realized I had a Moroccan tea pot, the kind you make mint tea in, and figured this would save me some arm muscle fatigue since the Bourgeat pans are extremely heavy. So there was this extra step of dumping water in it, and the spout has a large opening and is short, but it beat splashing water around from the lip of a heavy pan.

              One day I boiled the water, put it in the teapot, ran away to do something else, and came back. Too lazy to reboil, I just started pouring. I noticed the oils blooming were nicer and it basically was better.

              Since the #2 Melitta is small, a one-stage pour for 12 ounces is basically impossible. I started consciously playing with all kinds of variables, like how long to cool down the water, making ditches before the first pour, 2 or 3 stage pours, using a small spoon to either agitate or the opposite, pouring the water on the spoon as to not disturb the grinds.

              It sounds crazy, but every single cup of coffee I make tastes a bit different to me, from day to day. I've been doing it for a year every morning, and I have many, many various executions with a teapot and spoon. I can make it "smooth", "robust", "mild" "deep" etc., all with the same bean. I'll announce to guests, "Hey, well this is sort of a after-dinner coffee.", and they have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, but they like. And my equipment is completely ghetto, I actually have no interest in buying nice gear at the moment. The gold coating has long since worn off both the cone and my Japanese demitasse spoons, the plastic Melitta is permanently stained and cracking, and my thermos is so narrow that's it's fallen over more than once while I pour, but I love my setup. I'll take on anyone doing Hand Pours as a job with "pro" gear.

              When a friend came over and I made her coffee she said "OH MY GOD I just wet my panties." She wants to make me a YouTube video making coffee. A couple months ago, I made it to Barismo, after meeting Jaime many times at Hi-Rise and other shops. They had a Hand Pour flyer, and I was shocked at how close their recommendations were to my own self-discoveries. Digging wells, 2-stage, pre-wetting, etc. I'm hyper-aware of what's going on during Hand Pours and can tell who really knows what they are doing at cafes and who is just following directions.

              Anyway, I became a Hand Pour guy before I knew what it was with gear that most people would throw in the trash. You probably know my obsession with "over-roasted' Ethiopian Yrgacheffe. (Currently using Peet's Ethiopian Fancy, going "downscale" I suppose, but it works for me.)

              I really don't care for outside coffee anymore except Cafe Fixe, and Hi-Rise at the Blacksmith, and of course Barismo, and a few places in NYC, especially Abraco.

              I make coffee every morning and I think hard, "What can I do differently today to make the most awesome cup of coffee ever?" It's pretty amazing what you can do with a teapot, spoon, and cone.

              -----
              Cafe Fixe
              1642 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

              Barismo
              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

              10 Replies
              1. re: tatsu

                It seems a bit odd that a devoted, and generally very helpful, 'Hound like SG would take such an anti-Chowish view of coffee-brewing. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

                Is it so hard to believe that with several different independent parameters on the table (many of them continuous), there might be a particular range of values leading to better results?

                -coffee origin
                -storage method of the unroasted beans
                -roast
                -days since roast date
                -grind
                -dose
                -water source
                -temperature of water
                -rate of pour
                -total volume of water per dose
                -filter material

                Is it similarly difficult to believe that a completely automated (which does not mean consistent!) brewing system might not be within that range, especially given that the values need to be "tuned" to each roast batch of each coffee? Yes SG, even boiling water is a variable that should be taken into account. Water can be too hot, too cold, and "flat", and you can sabotage the whole process if the water doesn't taste good to begin with.

                Tatsu is correct: coffee can taste different every day, even if you think that you're doing the same thing to the same beans. Yeah, there's the psychological thing, um, don't we know that already? I think Tatsu also captures what is really _fun_ about it: experimenting, enjoying variation, teasing out effects and causes. Among other things, trying it yourself allows you to appreciate the greater skill of others.

                The fanatics at places like Barismo and Pavement constantly tinker to find suggested values, and to present them in shop as consistently as they can. The rest of us can benefit from their obsessions, and, if we like, enjoy experimenting ourselves. Isn't that the soul of Chowdom?

                -----
                Barismo
                169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                1. re: khandha

                  Let's just separate things that have some rational in physics/chemistry and mystical thinking:

                  -coffee origin - Important

                  -storage method of the unroasted beans - Important

                  -roast - Important

                  -days since roast date - Important

                  -grind - Important

                  -dose - Important

                  -water source - If you are using crappy chlorinated water, bad bad.

                  -temperature of water - Important

                  -rate of pour - mystical thinking

                  -total volume of water per dose - important

                  -filter material - not so important, a well washed/rinsed old sock will do

                  - "tuned" to each roast batch of each coffee?" mystical thinking

                  Water can be too hot, too cold - Important

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Hmm, it seems we mostly agree on things that are important.

                    As to mystical thinking, what I refer to as "tuning" includes things like adjusting grind, water temperature, etc. Surely you don't make all of your coffee at the same temperature and with the same grind. And surely batches vary, even if the same beans are being roasted. So I find the "mystical" label puzzling: it still seems like chemistry to me.

                    I don't know what kind of socks you brew with. I imagine that not just _any_ sock will do. A coarse wool sock would probably let things through too quickly, without allowing the water to extract enough from the coffee. I suppose you could grind it finer if all you had was a wool sock, or use hotter water. But would it taste as good as some other way?

                    I don;t see much mystical thinking in what I refer to as rate of pour. Again, it seems like chemistry to me. If a particle is completely submerged in hot water, it will not behave in the same way as if it is simply moistened by hot water. Some may like it one way, some another, but there is surely a difference.

                    All of this is even more obvious when it come to brewing very fine, competition grade teas. If the leaves are in water that is too hot for too long, unpleasant stewed vegetable flavors will creep in. Coffee is a courser beast, no doubt. But still, some care should be taken.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I know this is an old post, but why would rate of pour be unimportant or 'mystical thinking'? I can think of a few ways that the brew could be affected by rate of pour. Do you still think this doesn't matter?

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        The hole in the gear limits the flow.... Dump the water on and go read the paper. Repeat til your mug is full.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I'm thinking about trying one of these. I like the shut-off valve feature. It allows for some "steeping" time.

                          http://www.amazon.com/Coffee-Shrub-CL...

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            But it also affects the actual temperature at which the coffee is steeping. How much of a real-world difference that makes is open to interpretation - I'm no pourover guru, as I mainly use an Aeropress nowadays. But if someone told me they taste a difference between a very fast pour (which should translate to a hotter extraction) vs a very slow pour (cooler) with all other factors equal, I'd tend to believe them.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              More than a hotter or cooler extraction.I think under or over extracted would make more of a difference.

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              If you think that rate of pour doesn't influence coffee end-result, then you're saying French press extraction is the same as pour over extraction. Which clearly isn't true.

                      2. re: tatsu

                        Tatsu,

                        Your passion for coffee is really amazing . You say " I can make it "smooth", "robust", "mild" "deep" etc., all with the same bean." ...Can you please share your recipes ..I am very eager. I am now practising Matsuya coffee technique from Japan now....Its totally a different experience ...

                        Dan

                      3. A very simple answer to your initial question. "Why is a pour over better" because you have more control. The end results will depend on your technique

                        1. It seems to me that two principles are at war in coffee making. The first is that you want the water in contact with the ground beans for the maximum amount of extraction. The second is that you want the water in contact with the ground beans for the least amount of extraction of bitterness. Remove the water from the ground beans too soon, you have weak coffee, too late, and you have bitterness.

                          Automatic drip coffee practically guarantees a non-bitter but weak brew (very little water/coffee contact time). A percolator (remember them?) practically guarantees a very bitter but strong coffee (repeated pumping of the water through the grounds). I prefer the drip coffee because I abhor the bitterness of percolator coffee. To avoid the weak brew problem, I really load up the filter with ground coffee, far more than the directions call for. This works to some extent, but not perfectly.

                          As for the hand pour through a filter versus the automated pour from a drip coffee maker, the hand pour may be better because you can control the speed of the pour (i.e., making it slower), giving the water more time in contact with the coffee. (Rarely with a drip coffee maker is the problem that the coffee spends too much time in contact with the water.) However, personally, I haven't got that kind of patience (or arm strength).

                          I have been enamored by the "coolness" of making coffee with a coffee press arrangement ever since I saw Michael Caine, playing Harry Palmer, do it on "The Ipcress File," a cold war thriller. Whatever the value of the coffee made this way (I have mixed feelings), it LOOKS so cool . . .

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gfr1111

                            " A percolator (remember them?) practically guarantees a very bitter but strong coffee (repeated pumping of the water through the grounds). "

                            I actually went back to using a percolator for my coffee because I was tired of weak, flavorless coffee. I had tried multiple drip makes and french press and was never really satisfied with the flavor. I had some coffee over the summer and it was the best cup of coffee I had had in recent memory. When I asked about it, I was told it was perked. I came home, unplugged my latest coffee maker and took out my old camping percolator. After a little experimenting with timing and amounts, I now have a great cup of coffee every morning.

                            OBTW - my coffee is NEVER bitter - careful timing and measuring takes care of that!

                            1. re: NE_Elaine

                              The one problem with a percolator is that the already extracted coffee is essentially repeatedly boiled. It flows through the grounds, is boiled again, flows through the grounds, etc.

                              Many would suggest, and I agree, that boiling already extracted coffee breaks down the essential oils which provide the flavor we are after.

                              See a great diagram of a percolator.

                              http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...

                              Enjoy your perc, nothing wrong with it, but there is sound reasoning behind the fact that using an old fashioned percolator destroys some of the wonderful coffee flavor.

                              Don't get me started on espresso roasting really good beans.

                              Espresso pots only force the hot water through the grounds once.

                          2. I'm not a big coffee drinker, but no one has ever complained about the brew coming out of our french press. I'm not sure about the pour over coffee fad, however it sure got a lot attention from other diners at a recent brunch at ICOB.

                            6 Replies
                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Hi everyone,

                                I must agree, it's a fad. Pour-over coffee is nothing new.

                                In the early 70's, before there were electric hook-ups in campgrounds, we used a Chemex to make our coffee. And, yes, it was very good.

                                Been thinking about the steps, including wetting down the grounds and filter before pouring. I think I'll try that in my ultra-non-fancy Black & Decker drip machine tomorrow morning.

                                Who knows? Might improve what I already consider to be good coffee.

                                Lucy

                                1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                  In the early '70s we did indeed use Chemex. Here it is in the early '10s and guess what? Some of us are STILL using Chemex! Why? Back then, because it was hip and cool (ya got yer AR turntable, yer Pioneer speakers, yer handbuilt Heathkit amp, yer Chemex coffeepot on a little Salton hot tray …). Now I'm using it because it can make okay coffee from 2/$5 La Llave, incredible coffee from Peet's, and I've been doing this so long that when the Alzheimer's takes me the coffee will be the last thing to go. I did have a Moment a few years back, when I took the Chemex along on a group campout. I was walking back from the water spigot with my pot full of water, and this 30-something guy coming toward me did a double-take and said, "Wow! My grandma had wunna them!"

                                  The drill: coffee in the filter, flask on the hot tray. When water is JUST boiling, simmering around the edges and bubbles starting to swarm*, take kettle off stove, dampen grounds. Wait one minute, then pour half of water into the center of the grounds. When that's drained through, I gently wash the coffee residue down into the center of the cone and then pour the rest of the water right into the middle. How much coffee to use? Each kind has its own requirements, but I start with two heaping scoops for a four-mug pot (we don't use no steenkeeng piddly cups around here). La Llave (roughly equivalent to El Pico in the eastern half of the US) wants two heapers and about a half. Peet's needs just the two heapers.

                                  *If you miss the boat and the water's at a full rolling boil, put a shot from the cold faucet down the spout and proceed.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    Hi Will,

                                    Thanks for refreshing my memory of how we made the Chemex coffee. Darn, it was sure good! Especially in the Olympic Rain Forest. That was the time we made waffles over the campfire. Used an old cast iron waffle iron, the kind on a ring-type stand.

                                    I notice Chemex is available on Amazon for less than $40.00. Hmmm... Maybe I'll buy one. And check around the thrift shops for the small Salton hot tray.

                                    Edited: I've been using Peerless French Roast coffee. It's a place in Oakland. Very good stuff!

                                    Lucy

                                    1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                      You might just nose around for a Chemex pot, too - that's where I found mine, and it was about $5. The leather thong for the collar was dried beyond redemption, but all of the parts (including pots) are available from Chemex. If you buy a box of filters, there's a catalog/price list card tucked in there too.

                                      I've been a Peet's loyalist since they were Bay-area-only back in the '60s - fell in love when I walked into the Italian deli/coffeehouse on Telegraph in Berkeley about the time all the ruckus was getting underway, and smelled the seductive odor of French roast for the first time. I was thrilled when Peet's opened a store on El Camino in Menlo Park …

                                    2. re: Will Owen

                                      how do you clean a chemex? by hand only?

                              2. I lived in Norway and finland for 10 years. Scandinavians love their Java. Finland (Yeh, yeh, I know Finland is not really Scandinavian, but Finno-Ugric.) is/was the world's largest per capital consumer of coffee. The "Nordic Countries" use a different method that elimates the filter entirely. With Kokkemalt coffee, one simply empties a 500 gr. bag of Kokkemalt Kaffe into 1 l. of just boiled water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Some of the best I ever had. Kind sounds like cowboy coffee doesn't?
                                Does nostalgia improve flavor?

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Good water, good extraction, not TOO hot = good coffee, crazy isn't it.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    how then do you separate coffee from grounds?

                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                      Passa should confirm if it is true, but don't they just simply let the grounds settle and then decant off the extract?

                                      With "cowboy coffee" one does the same - dump coffee grounds and water into a tallish metal pot w/ an angle spout, boil it (with an eggshell if desired, I believe), add a bit of cold water, let the grounds settle then simply decant off coffee? http://www.lonehand.com/coffee_pots_a...
                                      Yes, one gets fine grounds in it - apparently it helps you grow hair on your chest. http://www.ehow.com/how_2067203_make-...

                                      In my childhood home and in many other homes in my part of the world at the time you simply poured hot water onto coffee grounds (usually fairly coarse) in a largish pot with a spout. The grounds settled. You pour off the coffee, essentially decanting it, cup-by-cup, sometimes through a small hand-held fine metal mesh filter (it resembled a tea strainer but with a fine metal mesh) The last cup or two tended to become, uh, a little grainy. :-
                                      )In commercial coffee shops, a cloth coffee filter bag-on-a-ring-with-handle was often used: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7698...

                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                        Sorry TJ, we've been away. Yes the grounds settle to the bottom. I never tasted any unless I was impaired from the previous night's Linje Adkovit.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Well, most of the grounds settle to the bottom. Them that're left provide "mouthfeel" (as the foodies say).

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            Grows yer chest hair! So I am told!!

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              Then I must not have drunk a single grain!

                                    2. Melita user for 35+ years. Still noticeably better than auto-drip.
                                      AeroPress isn't bad either.
                                      http://aerobie.com/Products/Details/A...

                                      1. I think automatic coffee makers don't get the water to the 195-205 degree range that it's supposed to be.

                                        If there were an automatic coffee maker that bloomed the coffee and used water at the proper temperature and used a cone-shaped filter like the chemex or v-60, I'd buy it.

                                        33 Replies
                                        1. re: sushigirlie

                                          Uhhhh the water is steaming in an auto drip, it ain't that hard to get water hot.

                                          As long as the water has sufficient duration of contact with the grounds, you are doing all the extracting necessary.

                                          And seriously, what's with this whole blooming thing. Someone explain to me the actual physics of "blooming."

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Water begins steaming at a much lower temperature--160 degrees or so.

                                            You bloom the coffee grounds so that they form a thicker sludge that remains at the bottom of the filter rather than circulating all around. The idea is to force the water to drip slowly through the little crevices in the sludge in order to increase extraction.

                                            1. re: sushigirlie

                                              That does it, thermometer into the drip pot tomorrow morning ;-).

                                              Hmmmm, at least I know what "blooming" is supposed to do.

                                              Not sure you actually increase extraction. In fact, more surface contact with coffee grounds floating in water then pasted to the bottom with the water gurgling through channels in the sludge. Never mind that as long as you put enough coffee into the drip basket you are going to get enough extraction for a good strong cup.

                                              Now that I understand blooming, my opinion is that it is far more ritual then physics.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                Shorter time in contact with floating grounds; water drips straight through the filter. Hey, I'm all for the scientific method. But what's wrong with ritual?

                                                Let me just say one thing I'm absolutely sure of. There is a huge difference in quality between coffee beans on the Starbucks level and the coffee beans of high-end purveyors (e.g., Intelligentsia, George Howell's Terroir, Blue Bottle, and Stumptown).

                                                1. re: sushigirlie

                                                  In terms of bean quality I totally agree.

                                                  Nevermind that Starbuck's burns the flavor right out of the beans by over roasting...

                                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                                    Blue Bottle brews using the cone method and understand Intelligentsia is switching from Clover machines to the Hario ceramic cone method. Maybe because Starbucks bought out Clover? AeroPress is similar to the Clover mechanics.

                                                    1. re: monku

                                                      Hmmmm, maybe I can pick up a used Clover machine on the cheap ;-).

                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                    I thought the wetting of the grounds with the hot water served to warm up the grinds and prime the extraction process by, amongst other things, creating good surface contact and wetting before the main pour of the water.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        How's this for un-magical - mundane, even?

                                                        I wet the grounds because when I don't, some of them tend to form a raft and float to the top, where they never mix with water. Wetting them improves extraction because all the grounds get wet, and I don't have to wash a spoon.

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          Bingo, you win!

                                                          And really fresh beans bloom and float a lot as CO2 is still off gasing.

                                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                                          I don't think there is magical thinking involved. The 1st wetting does indeed help to wet the surfaces of the ground particles and aids in the sloshing of the grounds in the 2nd water pour.

                                                          A little keen on the sarcasm and cynicism, I think you are. Hmm, since you say you are located in Bhutan (according to your profile) why don't you also try using some freshly melted Himalayan snow to see if there is a difference?

                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                            No, you have both convinced me of the rationale for pre-wetting.

                                                            I just get a little fed up with folks on chowhound who say you can't make a proper cup of coffee if you don't roast your own in a $300+ plus roaster (I roast my own in cast iron) buy beans that have been fermented in the navels of young virgins (kidding, I'm kidding) and then have the latest trendy coffee gear.

                                                            No joking, I could make an insane cup using a clean cotton sock and a nice sauce pan...

                                                            My one sin of coffee extravagance is a good burr grinder, I have this one, just not in orange:

                                                            http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KCG2...

                                                            And everyone who likes a really good cup should try cowboy roasting in cast iron once or twice. You really can roast some killer beans that way.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              Lots of my nerdy coffee-roaster pals started out roasting with a popcorn popper -- the kind with the little arm that spins around.

                                                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                Cast iron is great cause you have a lot of control...

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  how would you say your evenness of roast is with your cowboy/cast iron skillet method?

                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                    You basically have total control. Stir/shake vigorously and you get a totally even roast.

                                                                    If you are a bit less gung ho the beans can vary in roast intensity from bean to bean. I have found I like it both ways. Sometimes a slightly varied roast is nice and brings out the character of the beans in interesting ways.

                                                            2. re: huiray

                                                              I guess I’m one of those who followed the recent “fad,” as I got a Chimex after I noticed the Hario set up at my local Intelligensia. I’m no expert, and I don’t read enough to know all the kosher techniques. But I noticed that one of the posts mentioned wetting/blooming to increase surface contact. That’s interesting because I never thought of this technique even though I do something similar. I just keep a spoon in hand and stir/scrape off the edge as I pour. This process, in my opinion, is what makes pour-over coffee better than auto-drip. If I don’t stir, chunks of coffee will form on top of the water surface and/or cling to the edge of the cone, or the coffee will get trapped in bubbles formed from the initial pour, which means that they’re not in contact with the water. I imagine that’s what happens in an auto-drip. That’s why I used to have to double the amount of coffee for auto-drip if I want to actually taste more from the expensive coffee beans I just ground. And I think that’s a waste of good coffee beans. I will try the two-pour method tomorrow and see how it works out.

                                                              1. re: mountsac

                                                                I'm not exaggerating when I say this, but your method is a disaster. You're not understanding the concepts. Just follow methods posted on brewmethods.com and experiment. Scraping off!!!! Oh noes! You're supposed to have an upside down cone of coffee when you're done!

                                                                1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                  Wow, a disaster huh? I guess I have a lot to learn. What's the concept behind the upside down cone? If I don't scrape / stir at the beginning (and that's before I read about the two-pour method), much of coffee just get stuck on the filter near the top and never properly mix with the water. What does the scraping and stirring at the initial pour destroy?

                                                                    1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                      The reason the guy gave was over-extraction. I'm not sure if I agree because I don't really taste that over-extraction (bitterness) in my coffee. But I will try this method tomorrow morning and compare the results. Thanks for the link!

                                                                      1. re: mountsac

                                                                        Yes, but I have no idea if you are even using freshly roasted coffee ground correctly, or whether you're using the right amount of water to coffee, or if you are using the right temperatures. For all I know you could be pouring down the sides and watering down the coffee which would mitigate bitterness. I've seen it done at cafe's!

                                                                        1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                          Gee thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt there! Well, I don't roast my coffee beans. I buy them from local roasters (roasted within several days), I think Intelligensia does just fine. But, just so you don't think I'm completely clueless (but it's not like you should talk to anyway like they're idiots), I do grind my coffee to the correct fineness and use the amount of water (right temp) that I find is good for the particular batch of beans. I trust my own palate, because that's really what matters, and I can assure you that I will never drink watered down coffee. If I want that, I'd just stay with Mr. Coffee. But like I said, I will give the video and the aforementioned two-pour method a shot.

                                                                      2. re: cowboyjack

                                                                        Funny, you characterize somebody's method as a "disaster," then point that person to a video where the expert admits that "everybody has their own Chemex technique."

                                                                        The point of the upside-down cone is to avoid a mudslide of grounds that clogs the bottom of the filter while a pool of water sits on top and gets overextracted. Seems to me that stirring is another good way to avoid that.

                                                                        Then there are those who say that the Chemex, like the V60, has such a big hole at the bottom that water can flow too quickly. So maybe overextraction should be the least of your worries.

                                                                        Long story short - if we all share ideas, experiences, and impressions, we can avoid re-inventing the wheel and all achieve better results. But disparaging someone else's techniques or opinions simply isn't constructive.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          That does seem contradictory doesn't it. But for quality and consistency few actually measure TDS to formulate a method that works. There are multiple ways to get there but jumping in from zero and guessing isn't the way.

                                                                          The upside down cone in the chemex works differently than most people think. The water doesn't simply flow straight down. If you watch carefully the water flows outward from the center toward the coffee on the outside of the cone and down the sides where the coffee is. From my experience with the Chemex it is possible to overtract. The paper is thick enough, and the filter long enough that coffee spends a longer period of time steeping as it passes through compared to other pourover methods.

                                                                          Long story short, if someone comes out with a correctly brewed method, I'm all for it. But most people just guess, and if you're going to guess you should just use a Keurig it's more consistent.

                                                                      3. re: mountsac

                                                                        Eh, don't sweat it too much. Watch the videos, try different methods, see if they improve the quality of your brew. Meanwhile, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

                                                              2. re: huiray

                                                                The first step.....
                                                                Watching the barista at Intelligentsia I noticed he placed the paper filter into the V60 then "wet" the filter with hot water first before putting in the ground coffee.

                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                  They do this because paper filters (purportedly) impart a paper flavor. It's an effort to rinse the filter of that flavor. I do it at home too.

                                                                  It would be the simplest of experiments: a blind taste test of water that went through the paper filter versus plain water. I predict the paper would be detected easily (but subtly).

                                                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                                                    No need for me to do a test.
                                                                    I use 2-3 scoops per cup and lately I've been using a gold metal filter because I ran out of paper ones.

                                                            3. re: sushigirlie

                                                              The AeroPress solves this problem perfectly and easily: You stir the grounds with the water. No forcing of anything. The grounds simply can't not be in full contact with the water.

                                                              It also solves every other potential problem listed in this thread. It allows full customization of water temperature, volume, contact time, etc, etc, etc. And therefore allows you to make whatever your perfect cup of coffee is, as long as you're not expecting said coffee to be produced under 9 bars of pressure (or whatever the magic espresso number is).

                                                              Only downside is that it does take a few minutes to make a cup. You're not just pushing a button and waiting. But I find it to be an enjoyable way to start the day -- and, coincidentally, I had just finished making a cup right before finding this thread, which made it all the more enjoyable.

                                                        3. The difference between the Mr. Coffee and the Melitta cone is all about water temperature. Most automatic coffee makers brew with water around 180F - not hot enough for proper extraction. A $300 Technivorm drip coffeemaker solves this problem, but so does a $5 filter holder.

                                                          The whole hardcore pour-over thing where you spend three minutes dribbling water into a V60 filter holder using your Hario Buono kettle is a little too fussy for my taste. I understand that it's about controlling the amount of time the grounds spend in contact with the water, and that different extraction times produce different results. But still...

                                                          My preferred method is the vacuum pot. Water temperature is automatically correct unless you live at high altitude, and extraction time is controlled by how long you leave the pot on the heat. You get coffee that's far superior to the typical automatic-drip stuff without having to geek out about it.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            So, is the end result of using a vacuum pot different than using a moka pot. If so, how?

                                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                                              Very much so. It's like the difference between drip coffee and espresso. Maybe not quite so marked, but close.

                                                              In a moka pot, the water flows through fine grounds under pressure - kind of like espresso. You end up with a dense, concentrated cup.

                                                              In a vac pot, the water mixes with coarser grounds at atmospheric pressure, and the two hang out together until the grounds get filtered out. It's like the best possible drip coffee.

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                So, the idea is that, because the top is closed, heating the water causes pressure in the top vessel that is lower than atmospheric pressure, so the water will not be as hot in a vacuum pot when it overcomes ambient pressure and moves upwards?

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    I am just trying to understand the process. The water heats up, and goes up a tube into the top half, where it sits mixed with coarsely-ground coffee until you pour it out. Is that right?

                                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                                      Close. The water is pushed up the tube into the top half by steam pressure in the bottom half. It then sits there with medium-fine ground coffee until you remove the whole apparatus from the heat.

                                                                      When the air in the bottom half begins to cool it creates a vacuum (hence the name). At that point you stir the liquid in the top pot to create a vortex that will deposit the grounds in a nice dome over the filter. The vacuum sucks the liquid through the grounds and back into the bottom chamber.

                                                                      To serve, you remove the top bowl along with the grounds and set it aside, then pour delicious perfectly-extracted sediment-free coffee from the bottom part into your cup.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        So, how is that different from mixing hot water and grounds and then straining out the grounds? I don't know much about the effect of pressure, except in terms of pushing water through grounds at sub-boiling temperatures in an espresso maker.

                                                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                                                            It's not, but it looks much, much cooler than a thermos and an old sock. ;-)

                                                                            Seriously, pressure doesn't play a role except to move the water up to the top chamber. The key is the correlation between temperature and pressure - the water coming into the upper bowl is right around 200F (depending on altitude). And the little bit of water that remains in the lower bowl continues to create steam pressure, which keeps the water in the upper bowl at that temperature until you remove the heat source.

                                                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                After this thread I am switching too.

                                                                Gonna fill a (clean) old sock with grounds.

                                                                Stuff it into a good old fashioned glass lined thermos.

                                                                And pour 200 degree water into the thermos.

                                                                Let soak for 10 minutes, and drink.

                                                                My home method is actually a pre-heated, double walled (thermos style) press pot, and a 3-4 minute extraction with water giving a few seconds to cool after a full boil.

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Your new method is not unlike the woodman they will demo saturday. You should go. 10 minutes is way too long.

                                                                  1. re: tatsu

                                                                    Okay "let soak 3-4 minutes" then drink.

                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                    The sock method is an old method used in Cuba to make coffee. I think it's called a colador de tela. I have one and it works pretty well at making a good strong cup of Cuban coffee

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      But **which** old sock? Cotton, wool, or poly? Thick or thin? Ankle-high or over-the calf? If you've got a finely-knitted old sock made of 100% unbleached organic cotton, that may be the best bet...

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        I am most concerned about the choice of detergent. I would really prefer that it be washed in dish soap rather than Tide. . . .

                                                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                                                          For that particular flavor, I actually prefer my sock unwashed, and recently worn for several days by a nubile young... oh sorry, that's a web site for a different set of obsessives. ;-)

                                                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          A kind-of cloth "sock" [fairly thick cotton long bag-like "sock" framed/hung at the top end on a metal ring with a handle] is commonly used in coffee shops in vast swaths of East and South-East Asia. Hot water is poured onto the grinds placed in the sock and the extract allowed to drip through, sometimes with the grounds+sock left dangling in the receptacle for a SHORT period (IIRC).

                                                                    2. The Melitta has been around (patented 1908) for 100+ years and the pour-over method has been making a comeback.
                                                                      No mention of a Mr. Coffee resurgence yet.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: monku

                                                                        I think this whole thread is a hoot. All the years my family laughed at my old Melitta cones ( I had extra for company) and I was a trend setter - who knew?

                                                                        1. re: Berheenia

                                                                          Still using my my original Melitta's #2, #4 & #6 (35+ years).
                                                                          Other people must be using them because they sell filters everywhere, even at Trader Joe's.

                                                                          I was at Intelligentsia yesteday and they want $20 for the Hario V60 ceramic dripper/filter.
                                                                          Not quite convinced the coffee it makes is that much better, but had a fantastic cup of coffee for $4 (don't know what it was) made with it.
                                                                          Was it the coffee or V60?

                                                                          1. re: monku

                                                                            I have a smoky plastic one that came with a pound of Melitta ~ 35 years ago too but I scrounged up a red one at the office when somebody quit and more recently bought 2 at Sur La Table. I used to use paper towels for filters but was told they had asbestos so traded up to Trader Joe's. When I saw pour overs going for $3.50 at the new trendy coffee shop on the Common my first thought was redemption!

                                                                            1. re: monku

                                                                              I've been using my Melitta cone (#4 size), with Melitta paper cones, that sits on a glass carafe, for years and years. I use a pretty fine grind of coffee (just short of espresso fine-ness), roughly a scoop per cup of coffee. For two cups: Boil water, let cool just a tad, pour onto 2 scoops of grounds - sufficient to wet completely but no more, wait 12-15 seconds, then pour water from a slight height to create a definite down-up swirl and agitation, up to short of the paper cone top (takes about 3-4 seconds), then walk away and let the coffee filter through by itself, about 30-40 secs for ~90% of the extract/liquid. The foam/shiny bubbles that form and then get left on the surface of the grounds constitutes a fair bit of the "bitter oils" and is left behind. No "second" /slow drip extraction for me. One pre-wetting, one pour. That's it.

                                                                        2. Is this the article you are referring to?
                                                                          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/mag...

                                                                          Hmm, "swan-necked" kettles were and are 'standard' in much of East/SE Asia, at least when I was growing up there. My mental image of a kettle included that 'swan neck' with that relatively narrow spout. When I first came to the West I couldn't understand why kettles almost always had these squat barely 1-2 inch so-called spouts, whether "whistling" (tea kettles) or not, and wondered how anyone could pour HOT water without spilling it all over themselves and the counter tops.

                                                                          1. I've enjoyed reading different methods of coffee geeks.We just use an Xmas gift Cuisinart. I cook, my wife does clean up. Yesterday she shorted out the coffee maker for the third time while washing it. I found this out at 3 am, while about to finish my end of quarter grading of papers. I went out to our shed, rummaged and got my camping Milita cone. It saved the day.
                                                                            My first coffee was in Nam, usually foil packs of freeze dried dumped into a palstic canteen full of tepid, foul water. The coffee helped kill the flavor of the halezone tablets. Needless to say I was not a big coffee drinker when I returned to the "World". I started again in Scandinavia.
                                                                            I work summers as a sea kayak guide along the coast of Maine. On multi-day camp outs, I use 3 French press coffee makers for a group of 8, plus me. The plastic press packs well. It is just so tedious to keep making pots of the little French press for 9 people.
                                                                            Right now I'm drinking my Milita made Eight O'clock Colombian bought on sale for $2.99 a bag. Surprisingly drinkable.

                                                                            1. Does anybody do a twice pour-over? Pour near boiling water to dampen grounds, wait 60 seconds (per Melitta rec) then slowly drizzle rest of hot water over grounds.

                                                                              Then take the brewed coffee and send it back through the grounds. Makes a strong but not bitter coffee. Saw it done and called Turkish Coffee on a long, long-ago Food Network travelogue.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                So far from real Turkish coffee. I've done the bloom then pour over but never poured the brewed coffee back through the grinds. Those grinds gave up all they had the first time around. The second pass would only extract unwanted bitter flavors. So have you done it and did you like it?

                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                  yes, did not find it bitter, just stronger. Could make a diff which variety and roast. I was probably using a med to dark roast. Now I just try to get freshest beans, grind and pour-over.

                                                                              2. America's Test Kitchen determined that all but 1 (very pricey) electric drip coffee makers do not heat the water to the right temperature. Ignorance is bliss. I am now very unhappy with my morning coffee. I may go back to a Melitta system. At least I'd know the water got to boiling temperature that way.

                                                                                21 Replies
                                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                  There are now three electric drip machines certified by the SCAA to brew coffee at the proper temperature. The Technivorm and Lance-Larkin machines are very expensive, but you can get the Bunn HG for under a hundred bucks.

                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    Thanks! That will be my next coffeemaker. (Or an updated version if mine doesn't die for a while)

                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                      Uhhhhhh guess what?

                                                                                      Inspired by this thread, I just took my $19.95 Señor Coffee (actually a Black and Decker Versa Brew) and put an instant read thermometer into the basket as it filled with water.

                                                                                      No joke I got it on sale at CVS for $19.95.

                                                                                      http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12...

                                                                                      Guess what the temp was on a good instant read thermometer???

                                                                                      198 degrees farenheit. Spot on in the optimal range...

                                                                                      Knock yourself out with that technivorm though.

                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                        Outstanding. I remember an inexpensive drip maker (think it was a B&D) getting some love over at coffeegeek.com a while back. If you can find one that brews at the right temp, it'll do the job just fine. OTOH, some folks bought the same model based on that review and came back with comments like, "I guess if I wanted hot coffee I should have asked for it." The manufacturing tolerances are apparently on the loose side.

                                                                                        Still and all, it won't bloom the beans for you, or gradually pour a thin stream of water over the grounds in the proper clockwise (counter-clockwise south of the equator) direction. ;-)

                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          Seriously, not really that hard to get the manufacturing right on a auto drip.

                                                                                          6th grade engineering. I bet the folks and B&D or Mr. Coffee probably have that figured out pretty well by now.

                                                                                          Heck, if the temp is off and you are feeling like a real do it your selfer, you could probably calibrate the thing on your own.

                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                            Seems like consistency wouldn't be that hard to achieve, but there are still all kinds of complaints out there about brew temp. I won't vouch for their accuracy, but they're common enough that I can only assume they have some basis in reality.

                                                                                            Interesting idea about recalibration. I wonder if the relevant parts are accessible and adjustable.

                                                                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                            What I learned when I bloomed the beans in the basket of my Black & Decker twenty-bucks drip machine...

                                                                                            It did (maybe) make a minuscule difference BUT you need to remember to take away the carafe. Otherwise the water just drips on through...

                                                                                            This I discovered very early one morning. Clearly way too early for me to be fiddling with the coffee. My goal now is get it brewed, as fast as painless as possible.

                                                                                            Fiddle later.

                                                                                            Lucy

                                                                                          3. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                            Maybe my taste buds are shot or something, but sometimes I'm lazy and not paying attention to the water and use it right off the stove after it's come to a boil and never noticed a difference if it isn't brewed with water at between 195 and 205 degrees.

                                                                                            1. re: monku

                                                                                              Pouring boiling water into a room-temperature filter holder with some room temperature coffee will almost certainly drop the temp below 205F.

                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                Good point...maybe why I don't notice any difference.

                                                                                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                    But if you were making coffee on the ocean floor...

                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                      @StriperGuy: Confused...my point is that at elevation (say 5000', like Denver), it is physically impossible to get your water over 202F (at least in the open air), so your brewing temp would most likely be below the optimum temp range of 198-205F.

                                                                                                      1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                        At altitude (5000 and up) maybe steep and strain (e.g. French press) is the better choice, since it would be easier to keep the water (in contact with the coffee) hot.

                                                                                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                          I know, I know, but if you were on the ocean floor, boiling water would be say, 230F.

                                                                                                          I was making a dumb, somewhat nerdy joke.

                                                                                              2. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                I have nothing but irritated contempt for America's Test Kitchen and their "WE ARE THE GODS OF ALL MATTERS HAVING TO DO WITH FOOD" attitude. I think they perform a necessary service, but it'd be SOOOOOO much inviting and informative without the sneering superiority.

                                                                                                If I like the way my coffee tastes and it's NOT done according to their rigid standards, sooooooooooooo what?

                                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                  industries need research and standards.

                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                    Industry HAS research and standards, at least insofar as the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano (INEI) is concerned.

                                                                                                    They also have standards re: pour over coffee at the Speciality Coffee Assiciation of America.

                                                                                                  2. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                    I see your point with America's Test Kitchen. In this case, though, they are right.

                                                                                                    Most drip coffee makers aren't very good. In fact, if drip coffee makers were better fewer people would be doing pour-over at all. Getting the right water temperature is probably 50% or more of what makes pour over better than most drip coffee.

                                                                                                2. i think chowhound needs a "coffee" board, like "spirits" and "beer" and "wine." we certainly have enough hounds to populate the board!

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                      Word to the mother. How can we get more attention for this very important matter?

                                                                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                        Hear hear! Let the geeks and addicts have their own caffeine fest!

                                                                                                    2. Here my $.02: The best coffee you will probably ever have will be made with a manual drip like a Melitta or Chemex set-up. That said, some of the WORST coffee you will ever have will be made with the same. Temperature, rate of pour, blah, blah, blah, will all be slightly different, and will have remarkably strong effects on coffee quality. One day a Dr. Jekyll cup of full-bodied joe, the next a Mr. Hyde mug of warm water that tastes like a brown crayon has been melted in it. Blech, if you need your caffeine buzz, who wants to start over?

                                                                                                      Unless you are a coffee snob that doesn't actually need the caffeine to be alert enough to do it the right way, automatic drips are just fine. Do a little shopping, find the one that gets the water hot enough, and you'll be a happy camper and not necessarily out a lot of money.

                                                                                                      1. I'm a self-confessed coffee snob/geek/head and I don't get the love/hype that follows regular manual drip. I find well made and designed espresso machines far more exciting. I'll take an Americano any day over a manual drip coffee.

                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                          For years espresso was my brew of choice, but over the last few years I've decided that brewed coffee is the highest form of expression of the bean. The intense blueberry aromas of an Ethiopian, the delicate floral nose of a Panamanian, the earthy chocolate notes of a Sumatran - for me they all come through better using non-pressurized methods. YMMV, of course...

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            You're not getting those flavors out of a regular pour over manual drip, though. A Clever or French Press will bring them out but most of the manual pour overs being used in shops are not getting the full extraction. Sad to say but Ritual here in SF is the prime example of a shop using beans with so much potential that falls short everytime with their manual pour over bar.

                                                                                                            1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                              I dunno about the shops. I mostly drink vac-pot coffee at home.

                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                I just re-read the original post and realized I wasn't replying to the thread I though I was. I thought it had to do with people lining up as they do for pour over coffee bars.

                                                                                                                Anyway...vac-pot. How long does it take you to make a pot at home?

                                                                                                                1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                  Once the kettle boils, it's four or five minutes - the better part of a minute for water to rise into the funnel, a minute or so of infusion time, and a couple of minutes for the coffee to drain back into the bowl.

                                                                                                                  Speaking of which, how long does Ritual (for example) take with their pour-over? According to the coffee geeks I know who use the V60 or other "big hole" brewers, full extraction requires several minutes of undivided attention as water is poured s-l-o-w-l-y over the grounds.

                                                                                                                  When I'm doing drip coffee, I avoid that problem by using a ceramic filter cone with a single small hole. No fussiness involved - just dump the water and walk away. That gives me decent extraction, although it's harder to control than with a vac pot.

                                                                                                              2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                I completely disagree with your concept of flavor.

                                                                                                            2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                              Sorry, but the main thing I object to for most expresso cups is the fact that the beans are roasted to the point of losing ABSOLUTELY ALL varietal character, eseentially burnt, before brewing.

                                                                                                              At that point I agree that the optimal coffee making device, is an expresso machine.

                                                                                                              I far prefer a lighter roast with either drip, or press pot.

                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                There are specialty places that use medium roast blends for espresso. And a few places that use single origin medium roasts. They're not common enough but they can make a very lovely Americano.

                                                                                                                The majority of the places specializing in manual drip pour over in Northern California (Philz, Cole, Rodger’s, Plumes,) use dark roasts that taste of charcoal tea in the cup. For me, they're undrinkable without loading on the milk and sugar.

                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                  And also, automatic drip is for the masses. The water cools down too quickly to really extract the full spectrum of flavors of the coffee. Some places like Intelligentsia and Four Barrel use automatic drip set-ups in the restaurants they supply because its more convenient but it doesn't do any justice to their coffees. It makes for good cup, definitely better than using lower grade coffee like Farmer Bros. but not as good as a properly made French Press.

                                                                                                                  1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                    Honestly, nonsense.

                                                                                                                    The big drip machines that coffee places use are crappy.

                                                                                                                    But I put a temp probe in my home auto drip and the temp was spot on 198. And if you only brew 2-3 cups, which is what I do, you get great extraction.

                                                                                                                    Of course my other stand by is French Press, in fact until recently I used that exclusively. I like that too, but both have their flavor strengths.

                                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                      Does it stay at 198 degrees for 90% of the contact time?

                                                                                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                        Yup, I had the probe in their all through the brew, and with the fresh, hot, water dripping on it was spot on, and fairly quickly drained through.

                                                                                                                        Probably would not stay in the range if you did 10 cups, once the water exhausted, but for 2-3 cups it was great.

                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                          The problem with cheap home drip makers is that the water does not pour over the bed of ground evenly ( one point of manual pourover). Most spray water into a couple spots overextracting those and leave the rest of the coffee underextracted. Some coffees also prefer (to taste, I suppose) higher temps i.e. light roasts.

                                                                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                    That's because they use an espresso roast ;) I roast single origin and blends for espresso on the lighter side but it does need several days rest before using.

                                                                                                                2. You are all wrong. The real reason that the pour-over method is so great is that it means that my cup contains freshly-made coffee from freshly-ground beans rather than something that's been sitting around for hours because most people go to coffee shops for espresso-flavored milk rather than drip coffee.

                                                                                                                  If it means better drip coffee at coffee shops, I don't care how silly the trend sounds on paper.

                                                                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                    Espresso is ground and made to order but I don't see the same sort of excitement about it.

                                                                                                                    Another thing I don't like about manual pour over drip is that you need a dark roast to get a cup that tastes as if it has any depth and complexity. I've experiment with all sorts of single origin medium roasts coffees that were mind blowing in a professional cupping but disappointing and sad as a manual drip coffee (made by very precise methods, equipment, and hands). Manual pour over just can't get the extraction I need. That's why I prefer the Clever when I'm doing the brewing.

                                                                                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                      PS - As someone who was serious about starting a manual pour over drip bar four years ago, I'm always glad to see it has its fans. The overhead and impact for brewing coffee in this manner is next to nothing compared to all other set-ups and the mark up is the highest of all. Many places charge more for a manual drip coffee than for an Americano - which I don't get, especially when it's the same beans.

                                                                                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                        If you would rather drink an Americano than drip coffee, there's not really any benefit, sure, but I would usually rather drink drip if I'm sitting down at a coffee shop. The only time I order an Americano is when I don't trust the coffee shop's brewed coffee - which, I admit, is the case at most places. At home, all of this is moot because I use a press unless I'm feeling particularly lazy or impatient.

                                                                                                                        (All of my favorite coffee shops traded in their Clovers for manual drip setups after Starbucks bought Clover. Sad.)

                                                                                                                        1. re: lavaca

                                                                                                                          I was never a fan of the Clover so I can't feel that one. Now, those places (Ritual) who have switched out their French Press service for manual drip bars - and charge even more per cup are very sad sad to me. Not as good of a cup and more time consuming for the customer, too.

                                                                                                                          1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                            Fair enough. There was never much of a golden age of brewed coffee here in Seattle - most places that had Clover machines or do manual drip were just serving stale electric drip stuff before. Presses are commonly available, but have never really been pushed as a "gourmet" option, just a "get a lot of coffee at once" option.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                              My Clever (CCD) is some of the best money I ever spent. And so little.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Vetter

                                                                                                                                Used mine this morning . . . and -- back to the original premise of this entire thread, I've yet to try drip coffee from an automatic drip that matched the quality IN THE CUP of what I make with my Clever Coffee Dripper.

                                                                                                                                Cheers,
                                                                                                                                Jason

                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                  An AHA moment. Your Clever Coffee Dripper is what I call a Melitta coffee maker because for many years in the Boston area a can of ground Melitta coffee came with the Plastic drip cone attached to the top. I have a small collection of these and it is how I make coffee daily (and I can make it for up to 4 people in spite of hoots from my adult children).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                    A Clever is a full immersion brewer, the melitta is not.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                      I can do full immersion with a Melitta - I boil the water in a sauce pan, turn off the heat, add the grounds, let it sit a bit, and then strain through the paper filter. If I don't mind some sediment, I can use a small strainer instead.

                                                                                                                                      One way or another it comes down to steeping the grounds and then straining them.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                      Close . . . as "cowboyjack" said, a Melitta in not a full-imersion brewer.

                                                                                                                                      I used a Melitta for years. The two ARE different, and you can tate it in the cup (which is, after all, where it counts). Think of the Cleaver Coffee Dripper (CCD) as the illegitimate offspring of a French press and a Melitta . . .

                                                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                        My Clever dripper just arrived yesterday; I haven't had a chance to use it yet. What works well for you in terms of coffee to water ratio, time, and temperature?

                                                                                                                            2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                              "you need a dark roast to get a cup that tastes as if it has any depth and complexity."

                                                                                                                              That's an incorrect statement.

                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                Can you name a medium or light roasted coffee that tastes incredibly good brewed by manual pour over method?

                                                                                                                                1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                  I can name a list of good city to full city roasts that taste great, but if that taste isn't what you like them the conversation is useless.

                                                                                                                                  My point is that you were wrong in saying there is no depth or complexity. Go talk to George Howell, or learn more about cupping. Roast does not equal depth or complexity my friend.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                    Then what is it that makes an excellent coffee when properly french pressed taste mediocre when properly brewed by manual pour over?

                                                                                                                                    I'm sure you've experienced it before that you're at a cupping and you find a couple of coffees that are just amazing. Then you ask for each of those coffees from the manual pour over bar and french press. They taste blah as mpd but amazing french pressed.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                      A) Your personal preference
                                                                                                                                      B) Method

                                                                                                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                        I don't care for most French press coffees, would rather have a clever or reversed aeropress for full immersion. Last comparison cupping I did with FP vs Chemex the FP and chemex were identical in flavor for the most part. FP was less clean obviously, and that's where my preference rejects it. Don't care for sediment or dry tongue.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                          I'll bet in a well designed, double blinded test, you could not tell the difference between various drip techniques, heck, I'd bet on it.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                            I dunno. "Dump and go" coffee from a V60 is noticeably underextracted. Your statement might be true if you include the proviso that the ideal technique be used with each drip coffeemaker, but then you're opening up a whole 'nother can of worms.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                              Obviously pouring copious amounts of water at a fast rate will get by coffee too fast, or if the coffee is too course and the pouring isn't even. It all depends, as usual, but assuming that it's hard to overextract on the Chemex and Hario v60 is purely conjecture based on hole size.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                Heck, I'd bet any but the absolute most refined coffee cupping palate can't taste the difference between my Black and Decker Versa Brew and a chemex pour over.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                  I do it on a weekly basis. It doesn't matter what you would bet.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                              I think you're overgeneralizing. It's easy to get a mediocre cup of coffee with the currently trendy Hario V60 or equivalent pour-over cone. But that doesn't mean that it's impossible to get a good cup. It may be that the problem you're encountering has to do with technique rather than coffee variety or roast level.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not speaking from experience here - the fussiness required by a V60 is just too much for my tastes - but Tom from Sweet Maria's (who I've found to be fairly reliable) has a YouTube video showing how to get proper extraction from a pour-over cone. And we're not talking about somebody who punts the details here - he checks extraction levels with a refractometer.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                Barismo knows a lot about working with Hario equipment.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: scarmoza

                                                                                                                                            I recently roasted a batch of Bali Organic Kintamani beans to City + or just to the first snap of second crack. The dry aroma when ground is like chocolate covered cherries and the brewed flavor is heavy with blueberry flavors. This would be lost if roasted dark. Oh and it was brewed using a auto drip maker.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                              YesSSSSSSSSSSS!

                                                                                                                                              Nothing beats home roasted, City or City+.

                                                                                                                                    2. In the "better-late-than-never" mode . . .

                                                                                                                                      To my taste, I *prefer* some coffees made using a pourover (drip) method of preparation, while others I prefer made as espresso, or as a cappuccino, and so on and so on.

                                                                                                                                      At present I have a commercial espresso machine at home, paired with one commercial grinder and one higher-end consumer grinder. But i also have a Chemex 8-cup pourover (drip) coffee maker, a Clever Coffee Dripper (CCD) for making drip coffee one cup at a time -- it's sort of a hybrid pourover/press pot technique -- and a Hario 3-cup siphon pot. I also have a semi-commercial espresso machine and grinder in my office.

                                                                                                                                      Which gets used depends upon my mood, how much time I have, and how many people are over. But I do not find one method of preparation intrinsically better than another.

                                                                                                                                      Just my $0.02, and worth far less, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                      Cheers,
                                                                                                                                      Jason

                                                                                                                                      1. All about control. You want to control the beans so you purchase the ones you like most. You want to control the roast so you roast at home in cast iron. But controlling the other aspects is suddenly "mystical thinking?" Unlikely.

                                                                                                                                        More likely, they do matter to some degree. Chemex is what I use so chemex is what I'll reference here.

                                                                                                                                        1. Blooming is not mysitcal. If you are bothering to use fresh roasted and ground beans then they have a lot of excess CO2. That CO2 prevents water from coming in contact with the full surface of the ground coffee. Blooming for 45-60 seconds allows the CO2 to bubble off and for the next round of pouring to come in proper contact with the grounds for better extraction.

                                                                                                                                        2. Water temperature, I believe, needs to be near boiling. Very few automatic drip coffee makers get the water hot enough. Very well documented fact, but by all means check your machine. That's why you probably do make better coffee with your old socks in a pot of water than with your Mr. Coffee. You very quickly bloom the grounds by submerging them and then your water is plenty hot for proper extraction.

                                                                                                                                        3. Rate of pour. I side with you that it is NOT terribly important, with one clarification. The grind and your particular pour over device determines how long the coffee is in contact with the grounds. I can adjust my grind to be finer for the next pot if my extraction was too fast or I can adjust it to be coarser if the extraction was too slow.

                                                                                                                                        4. All of these adjustments could easily be built into an automatic coffee maker (and in fact they have in a popular german model).

                                                                                                                                        Which leads to . . .

                                                                                                                                        5. Espresso, French press, percolator, vacuum pot, cowboy coffee, turkish method all can produce a nice cup of coffee in their own way. I do think a cheap auto drip makes it much harder and is a handicap. But these cups are all very different. A cup of french press coffee is robust and turbid (in a pleasant way) but a cup of coffee made with a vacuum pot is probably the absolutely cleanest cup of coffee I've ever had.

                                                                                                                                        I like Chemex because it's easy, fun, and makes a relatively clean cup of coffee. It's super easy to clean (no descaling, etc), the filters are easy for me to find, and I don't think it's any slower than an auto drip (though I do have to work during the brew instead of walking away). Because I'm aware of all parts of the brewing process I can make adjustments and get good at making coffee this way. Auto drips just never made a great cup for me. I purchased my chemex for about the same price as a decent auto drip so that's a wash. Plus I use the carafe as a water pitcher when someone's over for dinner. It just works better for me than a coffee maker.

                                                                                                                                        But one thing is for sure . . . brewing coffee is never, ever artisinal. Ever.

                                                                                                                                        46 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                          Sorry, but your #1 does not make sense. 6-12 hours after roasting essentially ALL CO2 has outgassed. Blooming IMHO is just magical thinking. Talk to a chemist. Basic physics / chemistry that gaseous CO2 under pressure is pretty volatile and is not going to be hanging around. Having roasted my own numerous times the CO2 effect after roasting (you can tell by putting it in a sealed jar) is largely over after 4 hours.

                                                                                                                                          Your discussion of turbid French press I totally agree.

                                                                                                                                          And I think we pretty well agree on most of the rest, particularly that brewing coffee is not artisanal. Processing it, perhaps roasting it, but not brewing it.

                                                                                                                                          That cheap drip machines are inherently crappy I disagree. Esthetically they might be icky, but mine, with a good thermometer was spot on at the high end of the optimal temp range.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                            That's not true at all about CO2, and is why coffee discussions are so frustrating and ridiculous. Lots of people talking, not many facts.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                              Here's a fact: I have a bag of beans that were roasted 10 days ago and when I made a cup yesterday morning the initial couple of ounces of water that I poured on the grounds foamed like mad, producing twice the volume of foam as compared to the grounds. No way did those beans degass after 12 hours.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                To clarify I was referring to StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                  I know. Just adding fuel to the foaming fire and that seemed like as good a place as any to hit the Reply button!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                              Funny, I did talk to a chemist.

                                                                                                                                              Anyway, the thread started by you maintaining a position in a playful but intractable way. Numerous people have claimed that certain subtleties of brewing matter, you then say they don't. They have proposed models of why they do matter, you just say they don't. Your evidence has only been that *you* like your auto drip and that you can make coffee with socks (neat trick, by the way). At this point, I don't know if you've ever even tasted a cup of coffee brewed with a Chemex of Hario V60 or a vacuum siphon.

                                                                                                                                              But what about blooming. Let's leave aside the content of the gas left in the roasted beans if that makes you more comfortable.(I'm not sure why you brought pressure and volatility into the discussion.) There is a simple test to perform to show that there is a lot of gas trapped in the interstices of grounds.

                                                                                                                                              Take your ground coffee and pour hot water over them. Observe the foaming and bubbling. Most chemists agree that the gas was not formed via a reaction between the grounds and water but rather was trapped inside the grounds and was displaced by the hot water added to those grounds. I am among them. Allowing that gas to be replaced by water and for the water soluble compounds in the beans to dissolve into solution *before* the coffee is truly brewed makes sense to me. I'm not really sure how it doesn't to you.

                                                                                                                                              Let's now suppose that you are still skeptical as to the origins of that gas. Another observation you can make is that quite a bit of the grounds will float during the experiment. During professional cupping, much of the grounds float and form a crust. That coffee on top is not contributing much to the flavor of the final brewed product. Whether that produces a difference you can detect or appreciate is another matter. But it is a difference, one that others do say they appreciate.

                                                                                                                                              I also didn't say that drip machines are inherently crappy. I said that for the most part they have design flaws that handicap the brewer to a degree. It doesn't prevent a good cup of coffee from being brewed. Many friends of mine are excellent at brewing coffee with their auto drips and I enjoy their coffee frequently. They know their machines well. But it's a lot harder to brew coffee as well as other methods when they are done right. And frankly, now that I have my technique practiced my coffee is usually better.

                                                                                                                                              Some auto drips are great. The Technivorm drip machine has a lot of design flaws ironed out and probably makes better coffee than I can with my Chemex and probably is very consistent. It gets water very hot and blooms the coffee with a small amount of water before beginning the full brewing cycle. It drips water over more of the grounds than most auto drips.

                                                                                                                                              The pleasure of a Chemex is that the design flaws are gone. The problem is that they are replaced by potential technique flaws. But those can be improved over time. An auto drip that under-heats the water, drips in a few spots while neglecting others, and doesn't allow the coffee to bloom can be directly compensated for.

                                                                                                                                              But believe what you must.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                The trouble with a Chemex is that it's easily breakable. I broke two of them, gave up, and haven't used a Chemex in 10 years.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                  I think that might reflect more on you -- no offense -- than Chemex. I've had mine for probably 10 years, and haven't broken it. My father has his for about 25 . . .

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                    Actually, I think it's more a reflection on the person that doesn't break it than the one that does. The one that does break it is probably like the 99%, the 1% that doesn't is probably really uptight about their stuff.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                      Probably not . . .

                                                                                                                                                      I've accidentally knocked against the sink, I've run it through the dishwasher, it's slipped through my fingers in a sink full of soapy water . . . .

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                        I've had mine for 4 years or so and have whacked it against things many times. I dropped it once and chipped the handle, but that's it. Friends I know have them - not broken.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                      I haven't broken one, but they are far from indestructible. I am pretty careful with it and it has survived a few solid thwacks on the counter, but they do break. The equipment has to work for you. I personally prefer a siphon or even a nel drip to a chemex, but that setup just doesn't work for me and my life.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                    >>> Sorry, but your #1 does not make sense. 6-12 hours after roasting essentially ALL CO2 has outgassed. Blooming IMHO is just magical thinking. Talk to a chemist. Basic physics / chemistry that gaseous CO2 under pressure is pretty volatile and is not going to be hanging around. Having roasted my own numerous times the CO2 effect after roasting (you can tell by putting it in a sealed jar) is largely over after 4 hours. <<<

                                                                                                                                                    Uh . . . no.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                      Interesting, I've had ball jars of freshly roasted coffee blow the tops off after 4 days from roasting. No way degassing is complete in a short period of time from my experience

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                        Did you leave them un sealed for the first 12 hours?

                                                                                                                                                        4 days, seriously? I may have to roast a fresh batch and experiment with this much push back from you folks. My recollection is that after the first 12 hours there was not additional pressure build up, but hey, maybe I'm wrong...

                                                                                                                                                        I'd still love to do a blind taste test with Cacio e pepe with basic auto drip and pour over to see if he/she could tell the difference.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                          I usually move a batch to a foil pan after a cooling and then it sits in the kitchen over night or I might put the beans in a Ball jar without a lid or a loose fitting lid. I then cap it and they still pop when opened several days and even up to a week if resealed after use. I had one jar the other day that blew it's top clean off when I opened it. I think it was 2-3 days after roasting.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                            >>> I then cap it and they still pop when opened several days and even up to a week if resealed after use. <<<

                                                                                                                                                            Agreed.

                                                                                                                                                            I do NOT roast my own beans, but have them shipped to me the day they are roasted from small roasters such as the ones on this list -- http://www.home-barista.com/coffees/l...

                                                                                                                                                            The beans arrive 48-72 hours after roasting, in sealed bags with one-way gas valves. They are full of CO2. I transfer the beans into Ball jars for storage, and open as needed. The jars will "whoosh" when opened.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                              I tried using a vacuum pumped sealed container as an extra coffee storage device but the outgassing pushes the lid lose every time. It's pointless.

                                                                                                                                                              For $8 or so you can get TightVac's/CoffeeVac's that have a one way valve and let gas out on it's own as needed.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                              I hear you folks. Guess my recollection was not correct. Will do a little experiment next time I roast. 12, 24, 48, 72 hours before I place in jars and see just how long they are still outgassing.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                Like previously said, you can easily test this by pouring brew temp water on coffee grounds. No need to test in the jars.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                  Is there any negative issues with degassing? I figure once they have degassed completely they are old in my book. I roast about once a week for our daily consumption so beans aren't getting much pass 6-7 days old before they're gone.
                                                                                                                                                                  I know from a flavor stand point that even after a week my home roasted beans are still fresher than anything I can buy near me.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                    Fresher isn't always better especially when it comes to espresso.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                                      True, but neither is state . . . . I find most coffees hit their peak between 5-8, maybe 10 days post-roast.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                        From my conversations with a notable roaster it varies on the coffee being roasted and personal preference of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                        Drip <10 days out
                                                                                                                                                                        Espresso 5-15 days or so, depending on the coffee

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                                        Totally agree. For espresso I won't begin to use beans until they are 3-4 days old. Also remember that light roasts age slower and dark roasts age faster.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                        Babbe's Rule* of Fifteens:

                                                                                                                                                                        a) Green (unroasted) beans should be roasted within 15 months of harvest, or they go stale.

                                                                                                                                                                        b) Roasted beans should be ground within 15 days of being roasted, or they go stale.

                                                                                                                                                                        c) Ground coffee beans should be used within 15 minutes of being ground, or they go stale.
                                                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                                                        * Now there are certainly exceptions to these "rules," but then again there are very FEW "rules" in life and an awful lot of helpful "guidelines." OTOH, "Babbe's Guidelines of Fifteens" just doesn't have the same ring to it!

                                                                                                                                                                        /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                                                                                        >>> I know from a flavor stand point that even after a week my home roasted beans are still fresher than anything I can buy near me. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                        I rarely if ever buy beans in a store -- they are, as I indicated above, shipped to me the day they are roasted. In other words, they are roasted on Monday and -- depending upon how far away the roaster is located -- they arrive either on Wednesday or Thursday. Either way, when I get home from work on Thursday, I transfer the beans into Ball jars and store them in the freezer, to be taken out the night before as needed for use the next morning. When I'm down to 4-5 days, I re-order and . . . always fresh coffee!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                          "Store them in the freezer... "

                                                                                                                                                                          and you consider yourself a coffee expert/afficionado.... hmmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                          I would never freeze coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                            I was waiting for that . . .

                                                                                                                                                                            Coffee: To Freeze or Not to Freeze. Does freezing preserve coffee used for espresso? by Ken Fox -- http://www.home-barista.com/store-cof...

                                                                                                                                                                            Freezing Espresso Coffee, Part Two -- http://www.home-barista.com/tips/free...

                                                                                                                                                                            Rate of coffee staling -- http://www.home-barista.com/coffees/r...

                                                                                                                                                                            Frozen Coffee Storage Calculator -- http://www.home-barista.com/tips/froz...

                                                                                                                                                                            Refrigerator or Freezer for Coffee Storage? -- http://www.home-barista.com/coffees/r...

                                                                                                                                                                            Better Espresso thru Freezing -- http://www.home-barista.com/tips/bett...

                                                                                                                                                                            Serious Eats: To Freeze or Not to Freeze Coffee Beans -- http://www.home-barista.com/knockbox/...

                                                                                                                                                                            When (after roasting date) do you freeze your coffee? -- http://www.home-barista.com/tips/when...

                                                                                                                                                                            Some venting on freezing -- http://www.home-barista.com/coffees/s...

                                                                                                                                                                            Freezing Coffee -- Why not? -- http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/coff...

                                                                                                                                                                            There are many, many, MANY other sites and articles on this very topic. If you want more links, let me know . . .

                                                                                                                                                                            Bottom line: I've set up blind tastings at home where my wife grinds the beans and I can taste no difference in the espresso (pulled on an Elektra "Sixties" T1), or in the pour-over (using a Chemex).

                                                                                                                                                                            "Conventional Wisdom" is frequently little more than "an old wife's tale," and -- just as frequently -- is proven to be incorrect.

                                                                                                                                                                            Cheers,
                                                                                                                                                                            Jason

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                              Hmm. I, too, never freeze anymore. It looks like I have some reading to do. Thanks for the links.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                Some say it's pretty good but not as great as not freezing it, though close. I've never had to bother since I have access to any amount of freshly roasted coffee at any time. No point in over purchasing just to freeze.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree, BUT . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                  As I said above, I don't roast my own beans. The roasters I buy from either include shipping over a certain amount, or use USPS Flat-Rate Priority boxes. Finally, shipping gets prohibitive if I only order 1-2 pounds at a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Example: if I order from Redbird Coffee Roasting on Monday, it arrives on Wednesday. If my order consists of 2 pounds of Redbird Espresso, 2 pounds of Decaf, and 2 pounds of Ethiopian Bench Maji -- shipping is $10 total; and extra $1.66/lb. (OTOH, if I order a five pound bag, shipping is free and the per pound price drops considerably -- e.g.: Redbird Espresso is reg. $11.99/lb + 1.66/lb shipping = $13.65; but in a 5-pound bag, it's $51.50 incl. shipping, or $10.30/lb.)

                                                                                                                                                                                  So, yes -- it IS far cheaper to roast one's own coffee -- but this works out perfectly fine for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cheers,
                                                                                                                                                                                  Jason

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't roast either, although I've tried it. I know enough from talking to roasters at well-known roasting companies to not bother unless I plan on investing serious cash and time into it.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                Whew, an exhaustive reply if ever...

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                  Just to play devil's advocate... of course espresso roast is burnt to the point that any real varietal character, and most of the key aromatics that really make coffee special are long gone. Anything beyond city roast, or dark city is just a crime...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                    not to be snarkey, well just a little. There is no such thing as espresso roast! Espresso is a type of brewing not roasting. What you are referring to is french roast, which is basically good for nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                      You're not playing Devil's Advocate, you're playing into the hands of "Charbux" . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                      Where have I ever said that I was drinking "espresso roast" (as in what is more accurately termed, in the American market, "French-" or "Italian Roast").

                                                                                                                                                                                      As poser stated below, espresso is a method of coffee preparation. That doesn't stop various roasters from offering a blend (versus single-origin) that *they* designate as an Espresso blend. Generally -- at least from the roasters that *I* buy from -- these are done to a Full City Roast, or perhaps FC+ . . . in other words what is typical NOT of Napoli or Siclia, but of Northern Italy (Milano) or the Swiss Canton of Ticino.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you do look at the site -- http://redbirdcoffee.com/redbirdespre... -- you'll read that they list the roast level as "Traditional Northern Italian (Full City+).

                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheers,
                                                                                                                                                                                      Jason

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, you are wrong yet again.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank goodness for zin's post. I've been freezing my coffee beans for years. Whew! I'm not an idiot....HEY! Whaddya mean "in every other way"?

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                    This one particular rule caught me....
                                                                                                                                                                                    Babbe's Rule* of Fifteens:

                                                                                                                                                                                    a) Green (unroasted) beans should be roasted within 15 months of harvest, or they go stale.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course there are exceptions to the rule. This coffee manufacturer has been doing this for 80+ years by storing their coffee bean either for 5 or 8 years before roasting them. http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/food/i...

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mul

                                                                                                                                                                                      I said 'third wave' not 'third world'!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: poser

                                                                                                                                                                                        Haha, there is such a thing as aged coffee but that link was a bit of an exaggeration.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have not drunk any of that particular coffee produced by that place in Indonesia - but - have you, either? Anyone else here? Is there a reason to disbelieve (..."an exaggeration"...) what the article reports about what that coffee producer does? Long aging of certain coffees is indeed practiced. See the wiki section here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_p...

                                                                                                                                                                                          @poser: So, are you implying that any third-world practice is inherently and by definition inferior to anything you may do? I'm not sure the intent here is to limit discussion to only Western-style coffee and what is done in America, specifically U.S. of A...? It can't be, because folks have talked about how coffee is brewed in parts of the world other than the U.S.A.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Folks do things differently elsewhere in the world - have you had Malaysian-style coffee?
                                                                                                                                                                                          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12573...
                                                                                                                                                                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipoh_whi...
                                                                                                                                                                                          http://coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/h...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Real simple, Mr. Coffee uses about 1 tbls per cup. In a pour over, I use 4-5 tbls per cup. I'm able to quickly extract the flavor from quadruple the amount of beans in to one cup of coffee really quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                                      Oh good lord, that's not how that works at all.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                                        4 or 5 tablespoons for 1 cup (8 oz.?) of coffee? Even when making what most anyone would consider a REALLY strong cup, that much coffee would make at least twice as much brewed coffee. Sweet Maria's, who seem to know coffee, says 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) should make 15-20 oz. of coffee. If that's how you like yours, so be it, but it certainly wouldn't be for everyone. 16 cups yield out of 1 pound of coffee seems a tad wasteful, too.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                          Overdosing causes under extraction.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                            There seems to some agreement in what I read that the ideal ratio of water to coffee is somewhere around 16-18:1. The often-quoted Tom at Sweet Maria's likes 17:1.

                                                                                                                                                                            He also thinks that weighing the coffee isn't a bad idea at all, and it has become part of my coffee ritual - I have a small gram scale, and I weigh my coffee into my Hario Skerton grinder every morning. At the very least, it's become enough a part of my ritual that I would be uncomfortable to omit it. I haven't tried to prove its criticality.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                                                                                                                                                              I weigh my coffee also except I do it after grinding in the Breville Smart Grinder. I set the grinder on 10 cups (plus a smidgen) and this produces consistently 2 oz. (plus or minus a tenth or two). Just under 40 oz. water in the Technivorm and I'm good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                                                                                                                                                                the ratio only helps one piece, it's doesn't magically produce the right Tds and ext %

                                                                                                                                                                          2. This is a no brainer..no coffee pot to wash, no greasy old smell buildup to contend with in that icky Mr Coffee. Those Mr Coffee pots work great at first, but soon, they become slower & slower to make coffee & the coffee starts tasting like the near by gas station coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                            I boil water, pour a little over my grounds sitting in my fresh filter, let out the dog, put in the cat, finish pouring the rest of the water & sit down to a perfect FRESH cup of java. Case closed!

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                              The Mr Coffee makers only get gross when no one cleans them. I descale my Braun with white vinegar when it needs it, and I wash the filter holder and the pot with soap and water every time I use it. After 10 years, there is no build-up.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                Yah, I actually put the carafe and the filter holder into the dish washer. Cleans up great.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. For the last 4 years, I've spent a lot of time and probably way too many $$$ on trying to make the best cup of coffee possible. At present, my set-up is as follows:
                                                                                                                                                                              1. Beans - a variety of green from either Sweet Maria's or Burman Coffee Traders.
                                                                                                                                                                              2. Roaster - Behmor 1600 drum type.
                                                                                                                                                                              3. Grinder - Breville Smart Grinder
                                                                                                                                                                              4. Coffee Maker - Technivorm Moccamaster
                                                                                                                                                                              5. Roasted Bean Storage - Friis Cannister with CO2 vent.
                                                                                                                                                                              6. Filters - Melitta #4 Natural Brown

                                                                                                                                                                              I roast 1/2 pound at a time to the dark side of medium just a few seconds into the second crack. If oils appear on the beans, I've gone too far but we drink it anyway (I call it my Starbuck roast). It goes into the cannister for a minimum of 72 hours; never more than 5 days. The grind is set to the finer side for drip coffee. I use a bit more than 2 oz. of ground beans to 40 oz. of cold filtered coffee. Filter basket flow switch is turned off until approximately 5-6 oz. of water has flowed into it. I give it a gentle stir and open the flow switch. This produces a perfect cup (imho) each and every time with the only variation being the type of bean I started with.

                                                                                                                                                                              A few weeks ago, when I began reading this thread, I decided I should find out for myself exactly what the "pour-over" buzz was all about so I purchased a Melitta 1-cup version, in bright red, from Amazon for under $6. My procedure remained the same. The boiled water "rested" until the temp (taken with a Thermapen) came down to 205. The pour-over process was simple enough, the bloom looked the same, and except for the lack of a flow switch, nothing seemed to change.

                                                                                                                                                                              The result was a cup that ( to me) was undistinguishable from that from the Technivorm. Of course, the first cups of the morning will continue to be made as usual but, when I want another in the afternoon or early evening, the pour-over is the way I go with no reservations whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                                                              27 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                You're doing about as much as one can do right.

                                                                                                                                                                                I've starting measuring my water and bean and now use metric for better accuracy. For drip I'm using .055g of beans/ ml of water. I have a scale that will weigh in ml/g/oz. Makes it easy to measure water.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like you've got a bit of free time...

                                                                                                                                                                                  The key question is, could you taste the difference in a blind taste test?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                    My friends and family tell me I have more free time than anyone else they know!

                                                                                                                                                                                    A blind taste test? I doubt I could tell the difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                      The more key question is, could you tell the difference in a blind test between either your pour-over cup or a Technivorm cup and one from a standard Mr Coffee drip machine?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                        If I failed that test, I think I'd have to slit my wrists.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                          Free time, and you are honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I actually took a good thermometer and tested my Mr. Coffee. Spot on 202 degrees multiple times...

                                                                                                                                                                                          I ain't saying it's the best, but it is not as bad as folks make it out. And I'd wager good money that blind you couldn't tell the difference with that either.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                            We'll disagree then. I honestly perceive a significant difference between my auto-drip coffee and my Chemex. I know you would lose that bet. In fact, a taste test was why I switched methods.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                              I had a Mr Coffee for five years that continually made mediocre coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Now I have a Bonavita which is much better, some say comparable to a Technivorm.

                                                                                                                                                                                              A couple times per month I go to a coffee shop where I work that does pour over. They time the pour, measure water temperature, etc. I think people who don't understand why pour-over coffee tastes better may never have actually had a good pour-over cup, because the difference is really remarkable.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                I also use a Melita pour over when I make small batches, have roasted my own beans in a cast iron pan on and off for years. Have been using a burr grinder since 1990, and was drinking REALLY well roasted coffee at coffee connection here in Boston (George Howell) before he sold out to Starbucks while you guys were probably still drinking Folger's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I make my own cocktail bitters from scratch from botanticals, as well as my own cointreau and cocktail cherries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I also take my cooking VERY seriously and many a hound who's eaten at my house know's that I turn out serious chow without $700 custom made chef's knives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't confuse gear-loving and fetishism with excellent coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In a pinch I can make an excellent cup using a clean sock and a saucepan full of hot (202 degree) water and save $300 in the bargain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where do you do the cast iron pan roasting?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do it in the house, open up the windows, smoke up the whole house, and piss off my wife ;-) (she doesn't really care.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Who is spending $300? My Chemex costs roughly the same as your Mr. Coffee. It really isn't about the gear. These items are awfully cheap, really. They're just manual.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I didn't mean to imply that someone isn't a serious cook or that they don't have lots of gadgets to perform cooking tasks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What I meant was that if someone never tasted a really good cup of pour over coffee, that would explain why they would insist that Mr Coffee makes coffee that is just as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Either that or they don't really like coffee much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is this a matter of "my street creed is better than yours"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll take your word for it that your clean sock and a saucepan of hot water will be as good as a Technivorm, but I'd rather not drink it. That said, I don't have a $300 Technivorm, nor do I care to. If I'm making pourover -- admittedly a rather rare occurrence, since I mostly drink espresso -- I'm either using my $20 Clever Coffee Dripper, or my $35 Chemex. I've been using a burr grinder since 1970 -- I still have my father's old KitchenAid A9 . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                                          KitchenAid A9 that's what I have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to use almost exclusively French Press for my morning cup (or three). I have shifted to Melitta drip at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          At work we use Mr. Coffee, and as long as it hasn't been sitting there for 45 minutes I really feel it makes a great pot of coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                            How finely do you grind your coffee for the Melitta? I just ordered one, after not having drunk coffee for about ten years. I had a Melitta in the '70s, at which time Melitta recommended grinding your coffee as finely as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't go espresso fine, but pretty close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it's too fine it will take a LONG time to drip through the filter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I use the same grind for the Malitta as I do for the Technivorm. On the Breville Smart Grinder I set it to drip grind and a bit to the finer side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks a lot. Now let me go find my Technivorm and Breville Smart Grinder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    :-) my point was they're both drip processes thus the same grind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyjack

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "So wrong!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Care to elaborate? It's difficult to determine who/what is so wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: grampart

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, a technivorm is, to me, a drip machine that is designed to simulate a pour over. And I think they work great! I'm not surprised that you wouldn't be able to tell much difference between the technivorm and the pour over. Now, a Mr. Coffee and a pour over should be very noticeable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. I love my 10 year old $15 Braun drip coffee maker. Its main feature is that it gets the water really hot. A lot of older coffee makers didn't do this, which may explain why people bought fancier models. Oh, and when the power goes out, I heat water on my gas stove, then pour it through my back-up Melitta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    To me, the real issue is getting the grind right on the coffee. I've accidentally pulverized it on a few occasions with my cheap Mr. Coffee grinder, and ended up with a bitter brew. I guess if you really feel like spending bucks on your coffee equipment, the grinder is where you want to put your money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. http://sciencefriday.com/video/04/12/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ScienceFriday
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Perfect cup of coffee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Science and cupping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. With some coffeemaking processes (like a Vietnamese Phin, a Chemex, or a pour-over), you need to bloom the grounds in order to presoak them and fatten them up. Otherwise the water runs through them too quickly. In other processes (such as with a French press), it's just voodoo--it makes no difference whatsoever. When I'm making cowboy coffee, I always bloom my beans in a leather saddlebag for 10 minutes while I roll a Bull Durham cigarette. Then I circle the pot in a counter-clockwise direction 12 times, boil the water (mountain spring water from 10,000 feet or higher only) pour it over the beans, dump the whole pot on the fire and drive to the nearest Starbucks for a real cup of coffee. Best cup of Joe you've ever tasted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: seiun

                                                                                                                                                                                                          >>> . . . and drive to the nearest Starbucks for a real cup of coffee. Best cup of Joe you've ever tasted. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No. Best cup of Joe that YOU have ever tasted, perhaps, but this is why we each have our own individual tastes, our own personal palate preferences . . . personally, I can't stand *$, but that's my opinion -- obviously not yours -- and I have no desire to convert you (or anyone else) to my point-of-view.