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Biotech Java Programming

What is Your Favorite Way to Make Coffee? 592

Posted by Cliff
from the good-to-the-last-drop dept.
markov_chain asks: "For a while I've been making coffee using home-ground whole beans and a standard drip maker. I settled on this method for its simplicity and good taste, even after trying numerous other methods (such as the French press, gravity percolators, and pressure percolators), each coupled with either pre-ground or whole beans. So far, the fresh ground beans are the only factor that made a significant difference in taste. However, when I recently spotted a a site that vaguely extols freshness, I began to wonder how much the freshness of the beans themselves affects the quality. Normally I thought the whole beans would retain the quality far longer, due to less surface area exposed to air, but clearly there still must be a decline; worse yet, it is difficult to gauge that decline since the sellers usually do not advertise the age of the beans. I would now like to pose a few questions. What is your preferred coffee-making method, and how does it compare to other methods you've tried? What are your favorite beans?"
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What is Your Favorite Way to Make Coffee?

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  • Fresh ground (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmIAnAi (975049) * on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:27PM (#19152605)
    I have to agree that fresh, home ground beans beats packaged ground any day. I also think the intense aroma given off when grinding the beans adds to the enjoyment of the first cup.

    I found that I had to play with the grinder setting for a while before finding the ideal setting. However, I also found hat the optimum setting varies with the type of bean. I recently changed to a decaffinated bean after getting heart palpitations from too many cups.

    At first I found the brew somewhat insipid, but after experimenting with a finer grind, I now get the same intense flavour of regular beans.
    • Re:Fresh ground (Score:5, Informative)

      by Detaer (562863) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:47PM (#19152905)
      Pick up a coffee roaster, and some unroasted beams. You can even use a air popcorn popper if you would like. Coffee ground and brewed within 4 hours of its roast has the best flavor. How you brew your coffee will change specific flavor aspects along with the grind of the coffee, preference is really up to you. My favorite method is Turkish, however when time needs to be considered a manual cone filter produces adequate results.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Grind with a burr grinder( doesn't char the beans like a blade grinder will). Buy freshly roasted beans(roasted within last week). I like to french press it,personally.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by canUbeleiveIT (787307)
          True, but a conical burr grinder is better than a standard burr. Conical burr grinders process the beans more slowly (hence less heat) and more uniformly, which is also important. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a coffee grinder that doesn't make a hellacious mess.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jasin Natael (14968)

            I have a cheap burr mill grinder, a $30 Mr. Coffee brand machine, that is good enough for the day-to-day. I got it at a Target store last year, but I haven't seen it on the shelves recently. It never makes a mess, if you treat it right. There's a picture of it here [amazon.com], seemingly on the wrong product.

            The trick is to find a grinder with a durable cup that has a lid with a small opening (this one is lexan, and the input opening is about 1cm x 2cm). Cover the opening with your thumb, shake the grounds around,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SacredNaCl (545593)
        If you can get green beans and roast them yourself - a press pot works fantastic. I'm a little too lazy to roast them all of the time, so I found some compromise blends that aren't too stale. But if I really want it nice, I have to trek down and get ones to roast myself. Nothing fancy, just pan roast here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jbrax (315669)
      Type "man emacs"
    • Recently a roaster opened nearby me. Man what a huge difference that makes. freshly ground is irrelevant compared to freshly roasted in small batches.

      at work I use ground coffee in an Aerobie coffee press. low temperature brewing in an aerobie inverted press makes the least acid coffee I've ever tasted. I have stopped adding milk since I got my aerobie.

      And for the grammar nazi's my pet peeve is that fresh as normally used should be an adverb not an adjective. it's not fresh baked bread it is freshly bake

    • Re:Fresh ground (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @09:03PM (#19154617) Homepage
      Agreed fresh ground is best but how you store the beans makes a difference. I always used to use a sealed air tight container and a cool dry place for storage. I recently adpated to a different storage system. Co2 pressurized.

      I have discovered that buying good high grade single crop coffee beans is far cheaper in bulk, it also ensure freshness from the roaster. Problem, I cant drink 25 pounds of beans in time.

      I came across a solution that works very well. I use cleaned and sanatized 3 liter pop bottles. I fill them with beans and then by using a modified cap I seal them up and charge them with Co2. Getting the air out is not important.Gassing them with co2 from a tube can do that but keeping them under pressure with a high concentration of Co2 is important. I then store them in the basement wher e they are in the dark and in a cool place (66 degrees F.)

      They amazingly stay incredibly fresh. Way fresher after 6 months than a new bag of starbucks beans at a grocery store (starbucks beans suck to begin with but that's a roasting problem).

      It really works! you can easily make a cap or a modified neck of the 3 liter bottle to have a co2 inlet valve. I get my high grade coffee at way lower prices than you can in the stores or "shops", It's far fresher as they ship directly from the roaster company. and I found a way to store for long duration.

      the "vacuum" packed crap is a gimmick you do not want a vaccuum you want pressure and co2 to fight the loss of the co2 in the beans.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GreyPoopon (411036)

        Agreed fresh ground is best but how you store the beans makes a difference. I always used to use a sealed air tight container and a cool dry place for storage. I recently adpated to a different storage system. Co2 pressurized.

        Personally, I think the best way to good coffee is to avoid anything roasted or sold in America. I lived in Germany for a while, and found on my return to the US that I couldn't stand ANY of the coffee. Since then, I've been forced to bring back a suitcase full of coffee every time I

      • Re:Fresh ground (Score:4, Informative)

        by GonadLeft (1103345) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @11:25PM (#19156141)
        The Co2 part is correct, but I don't know about the need to pressurize them. My brother (who has a coffee roasting company) says the biggest enemy to coffee flavor is oxygen. He uses special coffee bags that have a one-way valve in them. Coffee, right after being roasted, continuously gives off Co2 for a while and the one-way values allows the oxygen in the bag to be displaced by the Co2, which leads to a very long storage life for the coffee as long as the bag is not opened.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by griffjon (14945)
        If you can find unroasted beans (any coffee shop worth the name roasts their own, and some Whole Foods markets have them), it's astoundingly simple to roast your own using a standard air-popper, and you can roast a week's worth of beans at a time (they have to de-gas for at least 3 days or they taste horrid!). With a little practice, this (a) makes your kitchen smell like a good coffee shop, (b) gives you fresh-roasted and ground beans and (c) green beans, unlike roasted beans, improve with age! It's a wi
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RevDigger (4288)
        How about an instructables.com on that?

        How much for a 25 lb bag of beans? Costco has 2.5 lb bags for $8 or $9, MUCH cheaper that the supermarkets, and they are roasting it right there. Is the deal better than that?

        Best ask.slashdot ever.

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:28PM (#19152623) Journal
    It's in the roast -- the method of roasting -- as much as the variety. Freshness counts, variety counts, but it's the roast that matters the most. I've experienced Jamaca Blue Mountain both in a mild roast and in a dark roast, and they could be two entirely different coffees. The mild roast made me want to compose a sonata, and the dark roast made me want to go scrape barnacles off an oil rig. I ended up doing neither, because I couldn't afford the next cup.
    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:58PM (#19153049) Journal
      Jamaican Blue Mountain ranks right up there with Kona as the most overrated coffee on the market today. It has a weak body, insipid flavor, and a medium acidity that does not stand out in any way. It is equivalent to any private reserve Columbian.

      Roast is important, not the method, but how dark. To taste the varietal flavors best, a full city roast is recommended. Any lighter and it will have more hay-like or grassy notes than varietal flavors, any darker and the bittersweet taste of the roast will dominate the varietal flavors.

      As I said below, the absolute, in fact, the only thing is the amount of time between roasting, grinding, and brewing. I guarantee, 90% of coffee drinkers out there have never really tasted coffee. Once you have tried coffee straight from the roaster, you will know what I mean.

      You can roast your own beans at home if you can find green beans. Most coffee roasters will be more than happy to sell you green beans, as coffee loses 10-25% of its weight during roasting, so they can make more money selling you unroasted beans at roasted bean prices.

      You need a cast iron skillet and a hot stove. Just heat the skillet up as hot as you can get it and throw in enough beans for one pot. Stir until they are a couple of shades lighter than you normally want your coffee, then throw them into a metal bowl to cool. They will continue to darken as they cool. You will find the resulting cup of coffee tastes far more intense than any you have had previously.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by canUbeleiveIT (787307)

        Jamaican Blue Mountain ranks right up there with Kona as the most overrated coffee on the market today. It has a weak body, insipid flavor, and a medium acidity that does not stand out in any way. It is equivalent to any private reserve Columbian.

        Amen. Sometimes I think that I must be the crazy one because so many coffee neophytes are running around saying how good these varieties are. Price != quality in this case.

        Personally, I like strong-bodied, lower acid coffees fairly dark roasted. Fortunately, we have a roaster/cafe in the neighborhood who will roast to order. My preferred method of preparation is a black americano w/ an extra shot or, when it's warm out, an iced americano. Every time I introduce a brewed strong dark coffee aficiona

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        Jamaican Blue Mountain ranks right up there with Kona as the most overrated coffee on the market today.
        yeah, anyone who extols the virtues of JBM or Kona over all others, clearly has not tasted good coffee. A good Yemen Matari beats either of those easily.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dr_strang (32799)
        I agree, Jamaican Blue Mountain is quite possibly the WORST coffee this side of the convenience store crap.
        We actually went up to a Blue Mountain coffee farm and got some on a day trip. The trip was more interesting than the coffee.

      • by Pensacola Tiger (538962) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @08:47PM (#19154391)
        You can roast your own beans at home if you can find green beans. Most coffee roasters will be more than happy to sell you green beans, as coffee loses 10-25% of its weight during roasting, so they can make more money selling you unroasted beans at roasted bean prices.

        Green beans are less than half the price of roasted beans. Green beans are available at several websites, just search on 'green coffee beans'.

        Stovetop roasting is interesting, but it is difficult to produce an even roast. Using a hot air roaster, even an old hot air popcorn popper, will make a real difference in the final product.

      • Overrated? Kona? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Upaut (670171) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @08:50PM (#19154437) Homepage Journal
        Have you really had Kona coffee, not just the 10% crap that many sell these days? Kona has a microclimate that is just right, coupled with perfect mineral composition, leading to what I think of as "perfect" beans. Just as different weather and soil can lead to "perfect" wine making grapes. I do admit, it is what you do with the beans next that leads to the magic...

        And while a cast-iron pan is a wonder for cooking damn near everything, you cannot evenly roast with it. Hell, I have two home brew coffee roasters at home. One butane, one hot air. Both makes a wide range of wonderful roasts, with noticable differences with both meathods. And I care not only about location, but size. I prize Kona because its "perfect" bean is the smallest I have ever encountered, enabling a better medium roast without undercooking, or a perfect french without burning. I have found small beans all over the world, each making a fine cuppa', but it is Kona that still makes my heart sing.
      • by jamrock (863246) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @09:56PM (#19155199)

        Jamaican Blue Mountain ranks right up there with Kona as the most overrated coffee on the market today. It has a weak body, insipid flavor, and a medium acidity that does not stand out in any way. It is equivalent to any private reserve Columbian.

        Excellent and informative post about roasting coffee, but I absolutely disagree with you about the taste of Blue Mountain coffee. Where did you have Blue Mountain coffee, and how was it prepared? Was it a blend of seconds from different plantations, as is typically the case with the crap that's usually exported under the Blue Mountain cachet? "Blue Mountain" only refers to coffee grown in designated regions of the Blue Mountains, between 3,000 and 5,500 feet, and YMMV. I'm sure that you wouldn't be surprised to discover that some absolute rubbish beans qualify for the Blue Mountain name.

        For some reason, about 95% of the Blue Mountain coffee crop winds up in Japan, and my brother was taken aback on a trip to Tokyo to find chilled cans of the stuff available from vending machines. Japanese buyers pay top dollar for the entire crops from select plantations sight unseen, and the second rate stuff, usually from the plethora of rural folk with some plants growing behind their houses, finds its way to the rest of the world at ridiculous prices. I should add that the interior of Jamaica is very hilly, and many, many homeowners will casually keep a couple coffee plants in their yards in the same way that many North Americans or Europeans will keep a kitchen garden, and expecting them to produce top-class beans is like expecting Mrs. Smith down the block to produce export-quality squash. But hey, they live in the designated growing areas, so they're technically growers of Blue Mountain Coffee(TM). I actually have a few plants in my yard and the coffee is pretty damned good, but since I live at about 2,000 feet above sea level and nowhere the Blue Mountains, it qualifies as "Jamaica High Mountain". Compared to the top quality beans, what is typically available in North America or Europe is an embarrassment to the Blue Mountain name, and I sincerely hope that your experience with Blue Mountain wasn't tainted by an encounter with this second-rate battery acid. I've had Kona, and Colombian, and they don't compare to top-class Blue Mountain.

        I drink Blue Mountain coffee every morning, one of the perks [sorry!] of living in Jamaica (my user name is how locals fondly refer to our blessed, cursed homeland, "Jamrock" or "The Rock"). I am fortunate enough to be able to get the green beans of Blue Mountain coffee and I roast them exactly as stated in your excellent post, and grind them myself. I like a robust coffee, so I prefer a fine-ground dark roast, and I despise drip makers, because the water doesn't get hot enough. My favorite preparation method is the Moka Express [wikipedia.org], a much-battered example of which resides permanently on my stove. Best coffee maker EVAR. Blue Mountain generally has a mild flavor (certainly not "weak" or "insipid"), but it's anything but mild how I prepare it.

        That being said, the very best coffee I've ever had wasn't Blue Mountain. It came from the farm of a friend of mine who lives about 20 miles away and 1,000 feet higher up than I do. He used to keep a couple acres of coffee for his personal use, and once in a blue moon he'd generously bestow a few pounds of green beans on each of his friends. Much to my horror, he eventually got sick of locals stripping his plants at night, and decided it was better for his blood pressure to cut them down and remove the temptation, rather than camp out with his shotgun and get himself into serious trouble.

        It's always been somewhat interesting to me that the soil and climate of the hilly interior of Jamaica are so conducive to top quality specialty crops. The coffee of course, but Jamaican ginger also enjoys a global reputation for it's strong, sharp flavor. And not to mention the Indica variety of ganja, which has an unusual minty scent and highly aromatic smoke. Or so I've been told....

        • by spun (1352)
          You know, you touch on an important point: it is the particular plantation that really makes the bean. I've had coffee ostensibly from the same area, both fresh roasted and brewed right. One cup tastes blah, the next tastes like brown liquid heaven. It depends on the plantation. Willoughby's, were my GF worked, had tasters that would go to the coffee shows and would only buy the best from each region. Honestly, I've only had as good a cup as Willoughby's produced on a very few occasions, and I'm pretty sure
        • by Chrisje (471362)
          I've been watching this discussion go on for some time, and as expected, there is a whole lot of Snobbery going on. You talk about your beans, your storage, home-roasting and all of that bollocks. Most of it are versions of Arabica, and most are grown in the mountains. Firstly, I grew up in the Netherlands, where Douwe Egberts is the coffee-company that sells the most. A german low-price supermarket chain had an anonymous gold-label coffee that was a lot better than the brand-name coffees out there. It just
    • It's in the roast -- the method of roasting -- as much as the variety. Freshness counts, variety counts, but it's the roast that matters the most.

      I agree that the roast is incredibly important, but other factors are just as important.

      You could get the worlds best roast, grind it finely and leave it in a paper bag on top of the fridge and after a few weeks you may as well be drinking the filter percolator crap from McDonalds.

      Freshness is as important as the roast. The oils that make a good coffee beans ar

  • Strong (Score:5, Funny)

    by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:28PM (#19152633) Homepage
    I use 1 teaspoon of water for every tablespoon of ground beans. I use whole beans, but keep an extra tablespoon of ground beans around to start the process because I don't have a grinder. After the first cup, I can grind the beans with my bare hands from the twitch alone.
    • Chemex (Score:5, Informative)

      by LunaticTippy (872397) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:29PM (#19153447)
      I like your style, but I am a bit more cautious.

      I use a Chemex coffeemaker, which is every chemistry geek's dream. It is a very simple all-glass vessel that accommodates a lab-grade folded square filter. You pour hot water through the grounds and end up with a very nice cup o' joe. It looks elegantly labware-like.

      I like it because the water never touches metal or plastic, which impart a flavor. I like it because the lab-grade filters make for a very mild flavor even with lumberjack-strength brew. People marvel at how good my coffee tastes "for how strong it is."

      I suppose if you want to be truly geeked-out you could use a vacuum pump and extraction funnel. I've done that myself to show off, but it is a lot of work to do before I've had me coffee!
  • by justkarl (775856) * on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:28PM (#19152637) Homepage
    I can affirm that the pump-powered espresso machine is the best way to brew coffee ever(However, it's expensive.). If you're still a drip coffee fan, go for the french press. All of the essential oils and flavors stay intact, unlike filter-brewed coffee.
    • The Gaggia Carezza [wholelattelove.com] is the cheapest pump-driven espresso machine that I have found. I have one, and it makes excellent coffee. Of course, "cheap" is relative.
      • by MaineCoon (12585)
        I've been looking for a decent pump-driven espresso machine in the sub $500 range... I'm definitely going to check this one out. Thanks for the post!
    • by drgonzo59 (747139)
      Amen. Basically all the basic steps that the coffee gets to your cup are important:

      1. Bean species and location (arabica vs. robusta for ex.).

      2. Roast. How it was roasted. I like the Espresso roast -- very sweet, not bitter, but after so much roasting, it is the bean's origin or location is really hard to detect, it just all tastes very "roasted", which I like.

      3. The freshness. How long ago it was picked and roasted.

      4. The grinding. I like a special grinder that lets one select the grind size. I l

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        3. The freshness. How long ago it was picked and roasted.
        Time since picked is largely irrelevant. Green beans last effectively forever. Once roasted though, you got about 20 minutes before it goes downhill, and certainly no more than a day before it achieves mediocrity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TempeTerra (83076)
          I challenge you. I'm taking a coffee making course run by an experienced perfectionist, and I associate regularly with coffee makers. I have always been told that coffee is at its best between three and seven days after roasting. During the first three days the coffee is still degassing, and makes crap, ashy tasting coffee with a frothy crema. I have experienced this myself. Coffee lasts for 20 minutes after it's ground, after which it goes stale. Beware of cafes which keep their grinder full of ground coff
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I can affirm that the pump-powered espresso machine is the best way to brew coffee ever(However, it's expensive.). If you're still a drip coffee fan, go for the french press. All of the essential oils and flavors stay intact, unlike filter-brewed coffee.

      As a user of a La Pavoni Europiccola, I would have to respectfully quibble. Pulling by hand puts you in the driver's seat. Yes, it isn't as easy or convenient as a pump-powered machine, but for my purposes (only 2-3 doubles at a time) it can't be beat.

      Th

  • Simplicity (Score:5, Funny)

    by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:30PM (#19152649) Homepage Journal
    1. Open can of whatever was on sale at Meijer
    2. Make coffee
    3. Pour enough milk/sugar in that I don't taste the coffee
    4. Consume

    I'm way too tired in the morning to do much else or worry about the freshness of my beans. :p
  • Jackoffee (Score:5, Funny)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:30PM (#19152653) Journal
    With a little spurt of Jack Daniel's
  • Roast your own (Score:4, Informative)

    by icars99 (759048) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:31PM (#19152673)

    If you can find someone to supply you with green beans, your can roast your own in a hot air popcorn maker. The beans float once roasted and you can control how dark a roast you want.

    You'll also want a very fine grind to get the maximum flavor out of your beans.

  • Wimps! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ProppaT (557551) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:32PM (#19152701) Homepage

    Real men suck on plugs of grounds. Liquid coffee's for sissies....
  • by oever (233119) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:35PM (#19152735) Homepage
    - Get Turkish ground beans
    - For two mugs, dissolve one spoon of ground beans and half a teaspoon of sugar in a small amount of milk in a mug
    - Heat pan
    - Pour viscous mass into pan
    - add two mugs of milk
    - heat until the milk rises to the edge of the pan
    - pour divine coffee into mugs, while avoiding the dregs to leak into the mugs
    - enjoy
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lebow (903160)
      I've never herd of putting milk in Turkish coffee ?...

      The classic way to make Turkish coffee is in a fujuan (sp?), it is a small pot with a tapered opening... first you put in water ( about 6 or 7 oz ) and 1 tablespoon of sugar, add a pinch of Hawadg (sp?) (special blend of spices for coffee) or just Cardamom. After the watter is boiled and the the sugar dissolved, remove from the fire, float a big heap of coffee ( about tablespoon ) on top of the water, then return to the fire... if you did everything

  • Turkish Coffee. Definitely my favorite, but rarely make it these days. I get mine from this site:
    http://www.natashascafe.com/ [natashascafe.com]
    Finely ground, boil a couple times. My small "ibrik" makes about 3 espresso sized cups per batch, but trust me, that's all you need. Unfiltered too - you end up leaving a sludge at the bottom of your cup.

    In regards to the original question, I've seen the coffee fool site, haven't tried starting with unroasted beans. I have had the best luck, drip coffee wise, using this:
    http://ww [cuisinart.com]
    • by nuzak (959558)
      Grind n' Brew is terrific, got one of those myself. The thermal carafe keeps the coffee warm for a nice long time without continuously heating it (coffee's still pretty bad if you leave it for hours, but at least it goes bad slower in this).

      In general tho, here's the thing about good coffee, and frankly quality in general: get or make the best stuff for which you actually *care* about the difference. Anything more than that is empty snobbery for an empty wallet. For me, getting peets beans of a varietal
  • Roast your own (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:36PM (#19152745)
    Store bought coffee, even whole bean, is often weeks old, months even for the canned stuff. However, the bean peaks in freshness after a short resting period of a day or three and only lasts in peak freshness for about a week. After that it rapidly stales because the chemical processes set in place continue even after the roast is complete. So, you may never get much of a difference between store-bought whole-bean coffee and preground - both will be mostly or completely staled and bland. Fresh roasted coffee tho - that you will detect a difference right away.

    Never store your coffee in the freezer or fridge. No matter how well you seal it, moisture can still get in. Also, moisture gets in when you open the package. Nothing stales coffee faster than moisture. So - roast what you can consume in a week and only that. When you're done with that, roast for the next week and so forth.

    http://www.sweetmarias.com/ [sweetmarias.com] is the premier source of green tho I get my Kona direct from a farmer I know - they also have a decent home-roaster's forum too. You can roast with a West Bend Poppery I or II popcorn popper - I started off with the Poppery II - and there are roasters in levels of sophistication all the way up to the fancy drum roasters. I have a pair of Alpenrosts that work fine for me for the moment. I'll upgrade when they die but they're perfect for my coffee currently. Store your coffee in a button-bag and press out the air and keep it in a cool dark location. I use the coffee press exclusively because I like a heavier bodied coffee. Home roasted coffee tastes like it smells - hot, tepid or chilled. Zero bitterness and wonderful taste - something you'll never find in a store-bought coffee.
    • by JacobO (41895)
      I have to vote for home roasted coffee also. I have had (in the past) good access to freshly roasted beans and they were great, but being able to control the roasting process yourself makes it even better (and guarantees you freshness.)

      I recommend The Green Beanery [greenbeanery.ca] for those in Canada, this is where I get my green beans from. I have only ever bought free-trade organic beans, so the selection is smaller, but have found some I really like. My particular favorite right now is the Ethiopian Limu (FTO). As h
  • Toddy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:36PM (#19152751)
    http://www.toddycafe.com/ [toddycafe.com].

    Brew an entire pound of coffee in one shot, then dilute a cup's worth whenever you want some. It's easy to adjust the strength, and all you need to do is heat the coffee to your taste (or stick in a couple ice cubes for iced coffee).
    • by Paul Doom (21946)
      I second that. The coffee is smooth and the time savings is unbeatable. At the drop of a hat you can nuke up a good cup of coffee, which is good because I may need another cup at the drop of a hat to keep from collapsing unconscious into my keyboard.
  • Easy way (Score:5, Funny)

    by coren2000 (788204) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:38PM (#19152767) Journal
    I like to push the GO button on the coffee machine at work.
  • Nothing beats a single-cup Melitta drip cone. If you go to a good coffee shop and ask for a regular coffee, they'll make you a single cup with a filter cone. I used to watch the coffee shop girls in Japan and they make filter-cone coffee with such precision, it's incredible.
    Some people say that drip filters leach too much from some grounds and too little from others. So just swish the water around in the filter while it's brewing, make sure the grounds get all mixed together instead of sticking to the sides
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:45PM (#19152877) Journal
    Okay, I had a girlfriend in college who worked at New Haven, Connecticut's snootiest coffee roaster. She and they gave me a fairly complete education in coffee. Here's the scoop.

    Coffee beans lose 90% of their varietal aromatics within 3 days of roasting if unground, and within four hours if ground. Coffee quality is at least as much a function of the care taken in combing over the beans for clinkers as it is in the quality of the beans. A single clinker, that is, an immature bean, can ruin an entire pot of coffee, imparting a bitter, burnt flavor. They will look lighter in color, may be smaller, and will be lighter in weight than other beens, and you can remove them yourself. Obviously, if you are buying a blend with lighter and darker beans, they will be harder to find than a single varietal.

    Method of brewing is important, with the major factors being the temperature of the water and the length of time the water is in contact with the grounds. Water temperature should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, and ideally should not stay in contact with grounds for more than six minutes. After that amount of time, the grounds start to release more bitter compounds.

    As for the taste of beans, you will find there are three distinct coffee producing regions. Central and South American beans have low acidity, medium to high body (that is, the feel of the coffee in you mouth. If it feels thick, that is high body. If it feels watery, that is low body.) and tends towards spicy flavor notes. Eastern African coffees tend to have high acidity, low body, and winy flavor notes. Southeastern Asian coffees tend to have medium to low acidity, medium body, and earthy or nutty flavor ntoes. Of course, I am talking about Arabica beans from these regions, not Robusta, which all tend to taste like hay.
    • by BobearQSI (786434) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @08:23PM (#19154129)
      Also check out http://www.thecoffeecritic.com/ [thecoffeecritic.com] and read about thier 'Brewing Secrets.' I like to get my coffee from them. They roast it and ship it the day it is ordered, and by UPS ground its 2 days from them to me. You can also buy green beans from them if you get your own roaster.

      The important thing is to consume it right away, like within a week - in an airtight container, they say 14 days, but in my opinion its a little less.

      And never freeze your coffee, like I've heard some people say. I've read that it is the release of carbon dioxide and other minerals that makes coffee go stale and lose its sweet taste. Freezing does delay this, however, freezing causes the air moisture, along with impurities in the air, to freeze on the coffee, and when thawed, leaves unpleasant flavors and aromas in the coffee. So don't freeze it unless the air in your freezer and between the coffee beans inside the container is completely free of impurities of any kind. The coffee will also more readily pick up any smells present when frozen.
  • OK, I'm not affiliated with this company I just like their products:

    Go to Sweet Marias [sweetmarias.com] and order up some green beans and a buy a roaster. For cheap stuff, I prefer Ethiopian Yrgacheffe, but the selection is large and there's plenty of other beans and blends available. For the roaster, I have one of these [sweetmarias.com]. It's a nice cheap way to try roasting. If you're really cheap, many hot air popcorn makers will roast just fine too. And finally, for the perfect cup you'll want to try one of these Vacuum Coffee Brewers [sweetmarias.com] t
  • Home ground through a drip coffee maker is just too easy. Cleanlyness is usally the only critical factor there. You can get a wee (wee) bit different flavor using other methods, but I've not tasted anything that was identifiably better. Maybe a french press, maybe, but stray grounds, time and mess usually make that not worth the effort.

    Fresh beans (roasted that day) are good for a couple to three days. After that they start to taste a lot like everything else. Not bad, but the interesting parts that make a
  • Three favorites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aging_Newbie (16932) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @06:57PM (#19153019)
    Ultimate favorite is the Toddy Coffee Maker. Google lists lots of sites. It cold brews coffee into a coffee concentrate over a period of 24 hours. Then to make a cup of coffee you add a shot of the concentrate to a cup of hot water/zap it and drink. Very smooth especially with Columbian coffee, minimal acids and LOTS of caffeine. Cold brewing preserves lots of flavors and oils too. Downside is that the concentrate needs refrigeration as does the reusable filter for the coffee maker. Without refrigeration, or after a while even with it, the concentrate ferments/gets rancid sort of like old iced tea so you have to drink enough to keep it fresh. Somewhat inconvenient but really really good.

    Drip brewed using the fine screen rather than filter paper is the 2nd best, particularly with lots of finely ground coffee. I like it best about halfway in strength between regular drip and expresso. Unlike a paper filter, the screen does not perform chromatography on all of the tasty oils in the coffee so more flavor gets to the coffee.

    I spend a lot of time in the wilderness and my choice there is a stainless steel percolator on a gas burner with very low flame. If the flame is too high the coffee tastes scorched and bitter, but if it is just enough to perc every 1-3 seconds it produces really strong full flavored coffee. I wait about 15 minutes of percolating. More boils off too much flavor, less makes it weak. YMMV I don't know whether electric percolators work as well, my recollection of electrically percolators is that the coffee tasted bitter but it was decades ago. I have looked longingly at the backpacking expresso maker sold at backpacking stores, and wonder if it really works. Maybe somebody here has used one and could comment.

    Now, for the beans vs. ground topic. I have long been a fan of grinding beans but the Costco Columbian ground coffee is so good that it is hard to tell from fresh ground beans. There are good beans and poor beans and maybe I hit a run of poor beans, I think.
  • ...and get the barista to do it.

    It doesn't matter how hard I try, I can never seem to get the Java Chip to turn out right when I attempt it myself. And being addicted to chocolate flavoured coffee, I have no other choice.

  • For pure style you can't go past Cona vaccum brewers [sweetmarias.com]; they're just fun to watch. Conveniently they also make great coffee, and are pretty consistent at doing that: the design ensures you always get temperature and extraction rate perfect, and the result is an incredibly clean cup of coffee that is never too bitter.
  • The thing that has made the biggest difference for me was switching to a burr grinder from a blade grinder. I didn't believe that it would make that big of a difference, but even a cheap (for a burr grinder) $50 cuisinart grinder makes a huge difference in terms of the flavor and mouth feel of the brew.

    As for the brewing, I've become quite enamored with my vacuum coffee machine; I use the Bodum Santos Electric:

    http://www.bodumusa.com/shop/line.asp?MD=3&GID=52& LID=280&CHK=&SLT= [bodumusa.com]

    It is geek-a-
  • You can't beat an espresso machine. The problem is that espresso is really easy to screw up, and it tastes really bad when you do. You quickly move from grocery-store-bought beans to fresher locally roasted beans to home roasting [sweetmarias.com]. Even when home-roasting, the beans go downhill after about a week after you roast them, so it's best to keep your batches relatively small. The last key is to get a decent burr grinder. The little spinny things produce horribly uneven grinds, which is a nightmare for espresso
    • by rossz (67331)
      I haven't quite reached the roast-your-own stage level of insanity. Give me a few more months.
  • by thule (9041)
    I purchased a Aeropress [aerobie.com] from Thinkgeek and it seems to work pretty good. Inexpensive, easy to use and clean. The only fault I have found is that I tried some beans from the supermarket and it made really nasty coffee. No matter how fancy a maker you have, if you have bad beans, it will not help.
  • If you start getting all lah dee dah about it, you're defeating the object: to overclock your brain and get stuck into something. The only reason I even bother boiling the damn water is that I don't trust the coffee beans to be safe to consume otherwise.

  • Chew a hand full of chocolate covered espresso beans and then drink some water.

    I brought a box of chocolate covered espresso beans in to work one time and a co-worker hand a handful before reading the label and realizing that *4* beans was about one cup's worth of coffee. Good times!

    My current company has a pump espresso machine in the Oregon office. That's a sweet piece of machinery. Unfortunately after using it I've realized how inadequate my old $90 cheapo steam machine is and am now going to have to

  • I'm in no way an authority on coffee beans, but I do believe I make a mean French press of coffee. It's relatively simple: one tablespoon of coffee for every six ounces (or 180mL for we metric folk) of water, let the freshly-boiled water stand for ten seconds to bring it down to maximum flavour extraction temperature, and then let the grounds steep for four minutes. Press and enjoy! There's no way that anybody could force me to grind two tablespoons of coffee a day, though, so I just grind enough at one
  • Now that warmer weather is here, I sometimes like to take a couple of spoonsful of instant coffee, (yeah, yeah, but try it this way - you might like it), in the bottom of a 16-oz tumbler and add about a half-inch of milk and enough sweetner for a whole glass. Microwave it until it boils (usually about 20-30 sec, so watch it closely), then take it out and swirl it to make sure all the coffee nuggets have dissolved. Put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to bring it back down to cool. Fill the tumbler the re
  • We roast our own coffee, purchasing green coffee beans for ~30%-50% less than roasted (and stale) beans purchased in a store or coffee house. Roasted beans begin losing their flavour within the first week after roasting even if kept in stainless steel or glass air tight containers (NEVER plastic or paper. The acid picks up the flavour of the paper or plastic). By the end of the second week the oils in the beans has begun to turn rancid. This accounts for the strong harsh stale flavour many people associate
  • My favorite way of making coffee is to buy the fair trade organic coffee beans I bought on sale for $7 a pound and keep them in a 2 pound sealed ceramic jar. I then take a handful and put them in my Braun handheld coffee grinder (bought for $15 in Canada about 25 years ago and still working fine), swirl it and turn upside down to get a really good grind as I grind it, then tamp it lightly into the espresso cup (? that thing you put the fresh grounds in), and make a nice espresso latte - double or triple -
  • My method (Score:5, Funny)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) * <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:18PM (#19153271) Homepage Journal
    Just get a jar of Sanka http://www.shopping.com/xDN-food_and_drinks-sanka_ coffee [shopping.com] and make it medium weak. Then, grind up two No-Doz http://www.novartis.com/consumerhealth/OTC/NoDoz.s html [novartis.com] and a Commit Nicotine lozenge http://www.commitlozenge.com/ [commitlozenge.com] and put them in the coffee. Chase it with some Tequila, and that's all you need every morning to get you ready to take on the world. The ENTIRE world.
  • I feel left out... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Evil Cretin (1090953)
    I drink tea.
  • by thedohman (932417)
    My favorite way to make coffee is to let them do it at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans at the French market. It's actually a coffee and chicory blend, and half milk (I suppose you can order it black). Along with an order of beignets, let them bring it, sit back, listen to the jazz, and watch the people walk by on Decatur.

    Unfortunately, I don't live near enough new Orleans to do that more than once a year.

    I prefer pressed, but settle for drip cause it's less work for me. Too much trouble to grind it myself.
  • my personal setup (Score:5, Informative)

    by jnana (519059) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:32PM (#19153469) Journal

    My setup:

    1. Good beans (avoid pre-ground like the plague)
    2. A burr grinder
    3. A simple plastic drip filter holder with a decent filter

    In detail:

    1. Either Royal Coffee's Ethiopian Harrar [royalcoffee.com] (pre-roasted) or any of various Sweet Maria's green (unroasted) beans [sweetmarias.com] which I roast using this roaster [amazon.com]
    2. Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder [amazon.com], which is one of the cheapest burr grinders that you can find, but does the job
    3. Something like this simple 6-cup filter [melitta.com]

    Grind the beans, boil the water then wait a few minutes for it to cool a few degrees, pour and enjoy fresh.

  • So I've been doing this for about 5 years:
    - French press
    - Cheap blade grinder (yes it's hard to get a consistent grind, but with a french press you don't need it fine)
    - electric water pot for boiling fresh filtered water
    - Peets (www.peets.com) coffee shipped monthly directly to work (whole bean). 1lb lasts about a month, give or take a few days.

    The keys to good coffee are:
    - Good, fresh beans, ground just before use
    - Fresh filtered water, boiled
    - Proper grind, which for the french press is coarser then espr
  • by SABME (524360) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:45PM (#19153631)
    My favorite coffee comes from a can of Lavazza ground espresso made in a Bialetti mokka pot. The pot was $20, the coffee is about $5.50 a can. It takes 20 minutes to make on a stovetop, and it's nice and strong. I know it isn't as fresh as some methods, but it tastes good enough to me, plus it gives me a great buzz.
  • Here's the way my Dad got it, back in WW II: take a coffee pot, put in your grounds, a pinch of salt and an egg. Boil it until done, with the egg to catch the grounds. When the pot's empty, put in more grounds, another pinch of salt, another egg and do it again. Repeat until there's not enough room for another pot, then dump out the grounds and start over. There's not much coffee in the last pot, but it's very strong. Tastes good, I gather, at about 2 AM when you're on a graveyard shift on a cold night
  • by jht (5006) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:54PM (#19153747) Homepage Journal
    I take a K-cup of whatever variety I've been liking lately (usually the Green Mountain Sumatran Reserve), and feed it into my Keurig [keurig.com] one-cup system. Simple, fast, pretty good, and a fraction of the price of getting fancy-ass coffee out somewhere else.

    I have been known to grind and brew from beans on occasion, but that's become rare since discovering the Keurig. I have one in my house and I bought another one for the office.
  • home roasted turkish (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dillenger69 (84599)
    I get my beans from Sweet Maria's http://www.sweetmarias.com/ [sweetmarias.com]
    I roast it myself with a table top roaster that does about one pot worth of beans.
    Once the beans have cooled down I grind them to a nice fine powder
    Then I put the powder and about 8 cups of water in a sauce pan
    Bring it to a boil while stirring continuously.
    Shut off as soon as a boil starts, if not slightly before it starts to boil.
    let is settle a bit

    Some people like to pour it through a filter to get the sediment out.
    I prefer it straight into the
  • by rossz (67331)
    I have a super automatic espresso maker (Jura-Capresso Impressa E8) and load it with Blue Mountain espresso roast beans. I get a perfect 2oz shot of espresso in 30 seconds. It's smooth and rich, and not at all bitter as you would expect from that large Seattle based coffee chain.

    For regular coffee I have a Keurig single cup coffee maker. It uses "k-cups", which are a huge convenience. I still have a regular automatic drip coffee maker that I keep around in case I have company that might want regular cof
  • I have finally settled on a way of making good coffee that is not outrageously expensive. First off, I found myself a good local roaster (Stauf's in Columbus/Grandview Heights, OH). I usually only buy a half a pound of whole beans at a time- that way it never gets too stale. Next, I use a blade grinder that costs 20 bucks. A lot of purists will scream in horror, but for the type of coffee maker I use (see below), this is fine- I don't really need a homogeneous distribution of particle sizes. I usually
  • by dacut (243842)
    The alt.coffee guide [baetzler.de] provides a great set of tips, including:

    Second, it is essential to select the proper filter for your coffee maker. It is generally acknowledged that a metal type filter is far superior to any other types available, because this type of filter will not impart any strange flavors into your coffee. These metal types are often gold colored, but silver colored ones can be found too. It is also generally acknowledged that using a paper filter yields a superior pot of coffee, because metal fil

  • However, when I recently spotted a a site that vaguely extols freshness, I began to wonder how much the freshness of the beans themselves affects the quality. Normally I thought the whole beans would retain the quality far longer, due to less surface area exposed to air, but clearly there still must be a decline; worse yet, it is difficult to gauge that decline since the sellers usually do not advertise the age of the beans.

    You know, discussing the relative freshness of beans you didn't roast yourself is like discussing the quality of a Wal-Mart suit vs. a K-Mart suit. Neither of them are Armani, so what's the difference? You will certainly be able to tell the difference between stale beans (2 days old) and really stale beans (2 weeks old+), but in both cases, you're still drinking coffee made from stale beans. Roasted coffee beans have a short shelf life, flavor wise. Personally, I can taste the difference between truly fres

  • I buy my coffee from a local roaster which never sells beans that were roasted more than 4 days ago. They also carry a number of varieties that aren't so common anywhere else. My favorite is the Harrar, which is Ethiopian but very different from the more common Yirgacheffe. There are very distinct notes of blueberry -- when it's been given a light roast. Roasted dark there's nothing special about it.

    At home I brew using a vacuum brewer [coffeekid.com]. They have the advantage that the water is always the right temperatur

  • This was posted to Kuro5hin back in 2002, and I found it rather informative.

    A Coder's Guide to Coffee [moertel.com]

    Original Kuro5hin article [kuro5hin.org], with subsequent commentary.

    Schwab

  • Lots of good comments here.

    For me, two most important things:

    Freshness, the most important. This cannot be understated. A friend of mine has a small home coffee roaster. I thought I'd had good coffee before, but after tasting freshly roasted, I could never go back. You won't believe the difference between freshly roasted and something from a can.

    A good point to be made is that coffee really shouldnt be very bitter. Case in point, the first thing I noticed when drinking fresh roasted coffee was how litt
  • I ordered "fresh" coffee from the Coffee Fool and it was absolutely horrid. Never do that again. Anybody have a different experience?

    I prefer plain ole Starbucks Italian Roast (pre-ground). I use a espresso maker and make an Americano - one cup at a time.

    I have learned that cleanliness of the coffee maker is essential to that sweet cup of joe.....
  • by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @09:00PM (#19154575) Journal
    OK, this is the half-italian style, like my heritage. Get a Mokka pot, also known as a stovetop espresso pot (it isn't really espresso, more pressure percolated). The Italians in the know use the aluminum ones, the taste is better, the steel ones cost more. I use steel because I'm aluminum-shy. A 4-cup model does me two cups. Buy vacuum packed whole beans, one pound bags. Make sure they're fair-trade and shade grown, so you cup doesn't have the bitter flavour of exploitation or deforestation (hey, those birds migrate through my forest in the summer). A medium roast has more complexity, but a dark roast has that espresso flavour kick. Not too dark--or you'll get that Starbucks charred flavour with hints of unlovely burlap. Fill the pot to the level of the safety valve, no more. Grind the beans fine but not to dust. Use them immediately. Don't pack a Moka pot down firmly the way you would an espresso maker. The trick with a Moka pot is to never ever let it boil dry, take it off when it starts making the spitting sound. Best to use a medium-high setting on the stove, not maximum. When you're done, rinse the pot out right away, don't let it sit, and don't use soap. The slight residue from the oils sticks to aluminum better, thus the flavour improvement. If you're going for a cappucino or latte, you can heat milk in a small pot and use a small battery powered whisk to get a foam that's even better than steamed milk. That's it, ciao!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tumbaumba (547886)
      Get a Mokka pot, also known as a stovetop espresso pot (it isn't really espresso, more pressure percolated).

      I second that. Moka pot does not make espresso though. It is something else, really an espresso like only much better and often stronger then espresso. Myself, I grind my coffee beens not as fine as for espresso making and tap it a bit with a spoon. The main trick is really to use very low flame and take it off as soon as it is done. It may take a while to make but result is well worth it, especial
  • by Allnighterking (74212) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @09:02PM (#19154609) Homepage
    Noting that the most expensive coffee in the world is an Indonesian Blend that passes through the digestive track [truthorfiction.com] of a local monkey. I'd hardly call these beans "fresh".
  • Moka Express (Score:3, Informative)

    by erik_norgaard (692400) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @04:58AM (#19158147) Homepage
    Drip brewed coffee and french press do not produce the full coffee taste as the water is too cold and only extract some aromas.

    August 28 2000 was a significant day in my coffee life as I changed to the Italian Moka Express http://www.bialettishop.com/MokaExpressMain.htm [bialettishop.com]. This radical change followed a change in my perception of what constitutes a true coffee experience after a visit to Italy. Since then I only drink moka or expresso. I bring my own coffee maker on any travels not destined for Italy. There should be left no doubt that a trip to Italy for the coffee experience is a must for the true coffee enthusiast.

    I think the best maker is the 2 or 3 cup size, the bigger the makers have higher water:coffee ratio. But the right maker is not enough, you gotta get the right blend of torrefacto and natural roast (torrefacto is made by roasting the beans with sugar). Shop arround to find the blend and roast that you like. Once you have found your coffee pusher, stick with him as he will know your specific taste and preferences and make sure to have your blend.
  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @09:34AM (#19160463) Homepage Journal
    How I did it before I had kids:

    1. Open the freezer and take out the 5:1 mixture of Kona mild roast and Kenya AAA dark roast beans, which I stored in an air-tight plastic tub.
    2. Measure exactly 1/4 cup of beans into my grinder, add 1 teaspoon of ground chicory, which I stored air-tight but at room temperature.
    3. Grind medium fine and pour half into the bleach-free Melita filters in my Braun drip machine.
    4. Grind the remainder extra fine and add to the filter.
    5. Fill the machine with the filtered water I'd let stand overnight to outgas the chlorine, and start the machine.
    6. While coffee is brewing, use a soft-tipped brush to clean out the grinder and put the coffee and chicory away.
    7. Pour the coffee into a my very clean mug, reserved just for coffee, just as the pot finishes brewing. Enjoy the appearance, aroma and intense flavor of the first sip, and let the flavor bloom through each subsequent sip.
    8. Discard any coffee that's been sitting on the warmer for more than 30 minutes, and make it fresh.
    9. Wash pot, filter, lid and mugs by hand with very hot water and a mild Alconox [vwrlabshop.com] solution, to remove residues. Dry with a soft towel and replace, ready for the next pot.

    How I do it now, with four kids:

    1. If there isn't any cold coffee left from yesterday, open can of Folger's.
    2. Put four or five scoops into the paper filter I got in bulk at Costco, in my Braun drip machine.
    3. Fill pot with water straight from the tap. Add to machine. Press button.
    4. Feed kids while coffee is brewing.
    5. Pour coffee into whatever mug's closest, as soon as I get the chance. Drink. Repeat until either pot is empty, or I have to go to work.
    6. Leave empty mug, empty pot on counter. Go to work.

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