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Nov 17, 2011 08:26 AM

All I want is a good cup of coffee at home. [moved from General Topics]

Do you enjoy coffee at home? No, I'm not asking do you make coffee at home and suck it down as and eye opener. Do you make coffee and actually enjoy it at home? If you do what do you think is most important; the quality of the coffee or the quality of the coffee making device.

Let's say we have $100. Should you upgrade the coffee maker from the 3 year old model you bought for $19.99 or should you buy the best quality coffee available?

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  1. (I assume you have a filter/drip machine)
    First, clean the coffee machine with proper cleaning products; then buy a small quantity of good coffee (pre-grind) and see if hat makes a difference (it should).

    After that, see if you can find a small coffee grinder and grind the coffee as you use it.

    after that, looking to buy a "better" coffee machine can be an expensive proposition (more than $100).

    1. With $100, you could buy a Hario V60 pour over ($9.95 on amazon for the clear) or a cheap French Press, a burr grinder (like the capresso infinity, $89 on Amazon), and yes you could have exceptional coffee every single morning. That alone would make your coffee better than 90% of the coffee out there. Add in fresh roasted beans from a quality roaster and your coffee could compete with anyone.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Klunco

        With the large hole at the bottom of the V60 pour over, its imperative that you control the rate of water that flows into the pour over. So, along with the $10 Hario V60 and $90 capresso infinity burr grinder, you'd also need to get the Hario Buono pouring kettle which is going to cost around $60.

        1. re: hobbess

          I've poured hot water from both a Bodum French Press a small saucepan into a Hario V60 and gotten good results. The Buono or a Bonavita both will make it much easier to get good results, but it's not a drop dead necessity.

      2. After experimenting with how to make a very good cup of coffee at home, here's the things I find works best for me. Keys to a good cup, if you will, that if I deviate from them, for whatever reason (laziness, I forget, or I screw up), the result is a not-as-good cup of coffee.

        1) The machine - I have a run of the mill, Mr Coffee programmable. I upgraded a few things, though:
        a) a gold coffee basket to replace the paper filters. Does it make a difference in the quality of the brewed coffee? I don't know. But it does prevent the crappy paper filters from getting folded over, and then grounds getting out and into the brewed coffee, essentially ruining the whole batch.
        b) a stainless steel insulated pot. Keeps coffee hot longer. No more burned coffee from letting a glass coffee pot on the heating mechanism. I found that coffee can have a burned taste after just a few minutes on the hot plate, so this helps a lot.

        2) I run vinegar through the machine once or twice a year. Does it help the flavor of the coffee? I don't know, but it sure seems to clean out smudge.

        3) The water - a very important, yet overlooked component of coffee. If you're tap water tastes bad, you're coffee will taste bad. No way around it, given that coffee is basically flavored water. If you're lucky enough to have good tasting tap, great. If not, consider a filter. I found this makes a huge difference - where i live, the water lines are "flushed" twice a year, and for a couple days the water tastes odd. On those days, my coffee tastes odd.

        4) The coffee - After years of experimenting, I found a coffee I like, and a supplier I like. Yes, there is crappy coffee out there that no matter how great a machine and technique, you're coffee will always be terrible. But in that area of "good quality coffee beans", it's just personal preference. I go for Peace Coffee's Sumatra Mandheling.

        5) The grind - After years of experimenting, I found that an electric blade grinder works best for me. Most coffee experts seem to recommend burr grinders, however. I've used a few, and I can't get coffee fine enough with a burr grinder. I've found that my best coffee is when I grind coffee to "very fine", a step away from espresso grind, maybe even verging into espresso grind. If I'm lazy or screw up, and the grind is coarser, the coffee isn't as good.

        6) I grind fresh for each batch. Maybe I'll grind extra for the next day. If it's been ground for more than 24 hours, I find a noticeable difference in the finished product.

        7) Ratio - For my tastes, I use 1 fairly rounded tablespoon of very fine ground coffee per approximately 5 ounces of water. It seems that my coffee maker defines "1 cup" as about 4-5 ounces of water. Once I have my coffee in, I add an extra tablespoon of coffee - so the final is 1 tablespoon per 5 ounces H2O, + 1 extra tablespoon. Yes, the extra tablespoon seems to make a difference, and the same difference, regardless of whether I'm making a 3 cup batch or an 8 cup batch. Doesn't make sense, but it works.

        If any of the above conditions change, my coffee isn't as good. It's taken a few years to figure out what works and what doesn't for me. Your mileage may vary. Good luck.

        11 Replies
        1. re: foreverhungry

          With respect to everyone who has mentioned the ratio of water to coffee do you measure the amount of water you pour over the grinds/into the drip machine or the amount of water post brew? Also, when measuring the beans is that pre or post grind and when you say tablespoon I'm assuming a bakers measure tablespoon not the larger of the two spoons in my flatware collection.

          1. re: mikey031

            I do a measurement of 7 grams beans to 4 ounces water in my French Press. I find I lose about 4 ounces of water to the grinds, so for a single cup I do 21 grams coffee and 12 ounces water. For two cups, 35 grams coffee and 20 ounces water.

            I use a digital scale for everything in the kitchen and find it is not only easier, but obviously much more exact than a tablespoon. That said, if I was using a standard measuring "tablespoon" my ratio would be about two tablespoons for ever 4 ounces water.

            1. re: mikey031

              Typically the ratio is 2 Tablespoons (baker tablespoon) of Coffee for every 6 oz of water. If you measure whole beans use heaping tablespoons, post grind should be level tablespoons.

              So if you are making a full pot of coffee and your coffee maker makes 8 cups that is 8 6oz cups not 8 8oz cups. So that would be 16 tablespoons of coffee.

              check your coffee maker, it should tell you what it considers a cup and it can vary a lot. You can purchase a 2 tablespoon coffee scoop at Starbucks which I think makes it easier than using that puny 1 tablespoon measure that comes with most coffee makers.

            2. re: foreverhungry

              I agree that you have to figure out what defines a "good" cup of coffee to you and adjust your method/tools/supplies accordingly. I like my coffee very darkly roasted (I know lots of aficionados think this masks the flavor of the coffee, but I prefer the acid to be toned down and don't care about the flavor notes) so I buy an "ultra dark roast." I like the flavor of drip - it's what I grew up with and I think K cups and the like are disgusting and french press is a poor substitute. I also grind my coffee very fine, but my grinder at home doesn't do it, so I grind it in the store when I buy it. I only buy a week's worth at a time, so the grind is always reasonably fresh. And I like it strong, so I use a similar ratio to foreverhungry (I do a rounded 2 T scoop for each 2 cups of water according to my coffee maker.)

              1. re: Savour

                >>>I only buy a week's worth at a time, so the grind is always reasonably fresh.<<<

                Buying coffee often, in small quantities, is NOT a guarantee of freshness unless you're buying directly from the coffee roaster.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  "...unless you're buying directly from the coffee roaster."
                  Which is an excellent idea, BTW. It's a major part of the reason my coffee tastes good.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    CBAD, I see home roasting in your future. :-))

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      You're almost psychic. Been reading about roasting systems today. Though, like the smoke house and curing fridge I plan to one day buy or build, this may have to wait a little while.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Haha. Psychic no but can spot an obsession, hobby, a mile away.

                        It's not a matter of if but when. ;-))

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Hi Cowboy,

                          You can get a refurbished Behmor 1600 for $200 from chocolate alchemy. It won't be on his web site (though you can find a direct link w/ a bit of googling) - but just email him.

                          I got my Behmor about 4 years ago and it's still going strong. There's nothing quite like truly fresh roasted coffee. Green beans can often be had for $3.50 - 5 a pound from many sources. I'm not sure what the ROI is vs store bought truly fresh roasted coffee, but I don't care. It's just not a lot of dough to invest to then have truly amazing coffee at home.

                          Recently I've started experimenting with my roast profiles and am really liking the results. P4 is a slower profile that steps the temps up over time. My 12oz batches take 18.5 - 20 min instead of about 14.5. And they are even richer and more complex - all with the same beans.

                          The smoke suppression system really is quite excellent. You home will smell like coffee but it won't smoke up.

                          1. re: PepinRocks

                            Just a note. Roasting coffee does not smell like roasted coffee

              2. I make my own lattes at home and have a good espresso machine and my own grinder. Ultimately though, I think the coffee is definitely the most important element to making a great cup of coffee - not that the other elements aren't important but the bean is #1. I prefer an extremely dark, smoky espresso. On the occasion that my husband buys the beans, he always ends up bringing home a milder roast which isn't nearly as enjoyable to me.

                You can make fabulous coffee with a french press and good (home ground) beans for well under $100.

                1. I think both are important. Do you make coffee for only yourself? If so, I have a strong preference for the drip style - one cup at a time method. I have a Beehouse, for which I think I paid $16, but other types work just as well. It makes a great cup of coffee in exactly the quantity you want.


                  So I'd use the $100 to buy a single cup coffee maker and spend the remainder on high quality beans.