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May 8, 2011 12:54 PM

Great coffee at home [moved from San Francisco board]

I love espresso . . . I love pourover (drip) coffee . . . I love siphon coffee . . .

The difference, to me at least, is simply the method of preparation -- all can be *great* or, conversely each can *suck* big time!

I admit I went a little overboard, and I have a commercial espresso machine (Elektra "Sixties" T1, FWIW) plumbed into the water supply in my kitchen, as well as a commercial grinder (Mahlkönig K30 Vario). But I also have an 8-cup Chemex for brewing "by the pot," a Clever Coffee Dripper (CCD) for making one cup of pourover at a time, a 3-cup Hario siphon pot, and a small French press at home . . . which I use all depends upon mood.

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  1. And MUCH more important than the method used to make the coffee is the grinder!!! And you got a nice one!

    1 Reply
    1. re: 12172003

      I agree re: the importance of the grinder -- I've gone through quite a number over the past 5+ years in search of the right ones . . . FWIW, I also have two Baratza Varios, one at home paired with the Mahlkönig for use as a second espresso (SO and decaf) and for drip/siphon grinder. The second one is in my office, paired with La Valentina espresso machine.

    2. I'm curious though, with selection of beans changing up so frequently, how do you form a routine which method to use for each mood ? Sure, every roaster has a core line of beans, but there are still variables. I know De La Paz ha blogged tasting notes by different brewing styles, but even then, it's impossible to duplicate their conditions exactly.

      9 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof

        I am not sure I understand what you question is . . .

        There are dozens of variables, hundreds (if not thousands) of different roasters from which to select dozens of different beans -- single origin (SO), or blends -- at various roast levels, and on and on and on . . .

        I have no clue who "De La Paz" is, but I also have no idea why anyone would attempt to "duplicate conditions exactly."

        Can you explain/elaborate?

        1. re: zin1953

          De La Paz is a roaster in San Francisco. I hadn't heard of them either until a few weeks ago when I got a pound of their Perfume V. I was very pleasantly surprised. Vivaldi II. 15g on a Baratza Vario. 34 second pull with 4 seconds pre-infusion. 1.5-1.75oz. 93C was blah but 92C was really really good. Zin1953, why do I get a feeling we're the only ones who can relate to being ultra ultra coffee snobs here? :)

          1. re: 12172003

            You're not! But snob might not be the best way to describe one who cares about something that others just don't understand or care about.

            1. re: poser

              And snobby or not, I'm passing on your notes about grinding the Perfume V to the SO, 12172003. He has a Vario, a Rancilio and a pound of that there bean to deal with in the next little while :-).

              1. re: grayelf

                Greyelf, "SO" in this thread means "single origin." :)

          2. re: zin1953

            Zin1953, It's those variables, fluctuations, and quality control that make we wonder how you go about selecting your bean to brew method if you have that many personal options?

            Some bean/roasts perform better using specific methods, but what beans are you using that are that dependable from day to day that you can let your mood actively influence the type of results make it into the cup? I like the vast options of beans on the market, but the baristas at even the most respected SF roasters are hopeless giving sales advice, and the tasting notes on the bags/website aren't a great guide.

            1. re: sugartoof

              Speaking personally, I think you are looking for problems where none exist, and/or making assumptions that are false.

              While it is certainly true that some beans may favor certain preparations, I am more concerned with what *I* like . . . not what I am supposed to like, or what someone tells me to like. In other words, it doesn't necessarily matter that some may say "use 18.2 grams brewed at 201.3 degrees for 23.75 seconds," or some such formula . . . I simply drink what I like.

              You also seem to assume that I have *x* number of different beans/blends at home, and that each has only one purpose. I rarely have more than two different beans, and often just one. There are any number of fine micro-roasters in this country, as well as who knows how many "less than fine" ones. I favor a number of micro-roasters, but rarely do I buy any coffee beans locally. I prefer the quality I find elsewhere.

              Be that as it may, this is but one variable and -- as they say -- YMMV.

              I tend to drink one cappuccino per day, occasionally two, and the rest of the day straight shots. I only brew up a pot of coffee if we are having company. And the only times I make a cup of (pourover) coffee is wither when I'm settling down to read a book/newspaper, or if I want a cup of coffee while diving a certain distance or the like.

              The key to making great coffee, as I am sure you are aware, is the "Four M's" and one must be consistent in one's technique.

              1. re: zin1953

                Now that you clarified your personal routine, it doesn't sound like you're selecting a bean and then brewing to mood after all.

                I now see you were just talking about picking the brewing gadget by what you felt like using, as opposed to say, some analysis and then deciding a cup of Kenyan AA is superior in the Clover early in the season, yet using a press pot on an afternoon because you felt like whatever minor differences in the flavor profile that method might bring out.

                I obviously misread.

                Which beans are you partial?

                1. re: sugartoof

                  There are certainly some beans which I *prefer* to (or ONLY) use with certain methods . . . for example, I greatly prefer Ethiopian Amaro Gayo (see below) as a pourover (drip) cup compared to a SO espresso shot. But that sort of thing, I am sure, is simply MY own personal taste, and doesn't rule out someone else preferring just the opposite: loving it as a straight shot, and hating it as a drip or siphon coffee.

                  Now, I only found that out through experimenting, and that's all anyone can do. For example, a whole lot of people love Starbucks, and I can't stand it. How do I know? I tasted it! So you may love, or you may hate, my recommendations, or you may fall somewhere in between. There are a lot of roasters that some people get excited about that I taste and -- yawn! - don't see what's so special. OTOTH, there are roasters that people get excited about, and so do I!

                  I only purchase beans from roasters that provide me with the roasting date so that I know how fresh/stale the beans are.

                  My main source these days is Red Bird Coffee out of Bozeman, Montana ( If I order on Sunday, the beans are roasted on Monday, and they arrive on my doorstep on Wednesday. Favored choices here are their Red Bird Espresso ($11.75/lb, plus shipping or $49.95/5 lb. INCLUDING shipping), their Ethiopian Amaro Gayo, the Brazil Sweet Blue and their Decaf Espresso.

                  Now, referring back to the beginning, I only use their Amaro Gayo as a drip (or occasionally siphon). So, right now, I have three different beans at home -- all of the above, save the Sweet Blue. The Red Bird Espresso is for espresso only; the Amaro Gayo is for drip only; and the decaf i use for both.

                  I will also order beans from Espresso Vivace in Seattle, WA; Caffè Fresco in Pennsylvania; Metropolis in Chicago, and Verve in Santa Cruz (though these beans I usually buy when I'm there, as opposed to buying online).

                  I tend to only buy locally if I forget to order on time and run out of beans before the next shipment arrives. Then, it's usually Ritual, Four Barrel or Sightglass -- all are San Francisco roasters -- but I prefer what i get from the five "out-of-town" roasters.

                  But YMMV . . .


                  OH, BTW, you might want to also check out