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curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/10/08 12:38 p.m.

I watch Alton Brown, so I'm an expert.... not really, but I am a chemist and a coffee lover. I also brew with a $14 after rebate Mr. Coffee.

The secret is to try to introduce the water to the coffee at about 181-185 degrees. You also want the coffee to be as vertical as possible. The water flowing down passing over a lot of coffee is favored because it reaches saturation. Once it reaches saturation it can only rinse off coffee from the grindings below it, not dissolve more acids and caffeine from the flake itself.

The problem is, those two functions are in opposition; the more coffee the water passes through, the cooler it gets on its way. Flat, wide baskets on the other hand keep a more even water temperature the whole way through the coffee, but it also means that fresh, unsaturated water is constantly hitting the coffee and its dissolving more components out of the flakes. This can lead to a fully-developed coffee flavor (from the proper temperature water) but also lead to sour or bitter coffee (because there is more being dissolved out of the grounds) Conversely, the cone filtered models can lead to supreme coffee chemistry (saturated water and a tall pile of coffee) but undeveloped coffee flavor (water is too cool by the time it reaches the pot). Its a subtle difference.

I prefer the cone style because (while it means the possibility of cooler temps in the bottom of the filter) it usually makes little difference, especially on full pots of coffee. The first few cups of water brew sub-standard coffee, but they effectively heat up all the grounds. The last 8 cups makes up for the first 3.

The other thing is how much coffee you use. Using less than normal means you'll have the same effect as using a wide, flat basket. The first few cups will dissolve all the good parts of the coffee, and the last few cups will just continue to strip the flakes of all the acids, tannins, and other bitter compounds. If you like your coffee weak, add hot water AFTER its brewed.

Water temperature is also important as mentioned above. If its too cool, your coffee will taste like coffee-flavored water. If its too hot, it will be able to dissolve more of the "bad" chemicals from the flakes. Most coffee pots are pretty good at introducing correct-temperature water.

The best coffee maker is one that doesn't worry about tall or flat filters. If you surround each ground with proper temperature water, its not an issue. That is what makes a French Press so yummy. The only limit is time. If you add water at about 190, it will almost instantly drop to 185 when it hits the room-temperature press and coffee grinds. The limit is having a design that will keep the temperature from dropping below 180 in the time it has to brew. For that reason, choose the larger capacity press since more water means slower cooling. There are also insulated models which I like a lot.

The other factor that has a small amount to do with things is how quickly the water moves through the filter. One of the reasons Bunn coffee makers have such a good coffee flavor is that they're quick for the food service industry. They don't have time to linger around and pickup the "bad" chemicals from the flakes... but they also don't have the time to pick up the subtle goodies from the coffee. It makes a good coffee, but it makes "coors light" coffee, not a fine ale.

So which one should you get? I use a flat basket. Since I use a little more coffee than most do, it helps cut down on the overstripping of the coffee. The benefit is more even water temps through the basket. If you use less coffee than most, a cone filter might help you out. In that case you are using the height of the coffee to prevent overstripping, and the fact that there is less coffee helps keep your temperatures even. A french press (since it surrounds each flake with constant water) should be used by people who really like their coffee on the espresso side. Since all of the flakes are surrounded by water, the chance for overstripping is much greater. For that reason you want to use more coffee. That way the water becomes saturated with the good stuff and then doesn't have room for the bad stuff.

So, if you put all of those together, you can custom tailor how you want your coffee to taste. Select a roast and bean that you like. My favorites are actually from Starbucks. They're a little cliche, but they're big and crank out reliable consistent product. The Christmas Blend is my decaf choice. Komodo Dragon is a top notch roast; really dark but not bitter or overbearing. Sumatra I think they over caramelize the bean. Breakfast blend and House are too complex. It just ends up tasting like coffee that is too strong. Now that you have your roast, grind it a little finer than you normally would (you do have your own grinder, right?). Regardless of roast or grind, start with 2Tbs of coffee per "cup" of water. I put that in quotes because some coffee makers use anywhere from 4 to 7oz as a cup. Adjust up and down from there. Adjust up until your coffee is just too strong to bear or starts getting sour or cloudy. Come back down by about 20%. If its still too strong, lighten it with extra cream or hot water.

Truly... once you find the right roast and the right proportions, even the cheapest coffee maker will be up to the task. Like I said, I brew with a $14 Mr. Coffee with the flat basket. I use about 2.5T of coffee per cup, so that helps cut down on the water stripping too much from the flakes. If I were using less coffee, the cone filter would probably suit me better.

Just remember; keep it between about 180-185 degrees, and the main secret is to dissove the good stuff, but not overstrip it. Its always better to make coffee that is too strong and then dilute it than it is to make weak coffee.

Salanis
Salanis SuperDork
10/10/08 12:46 p.m.

I bow to your awesome coffee knowledge! Teach me, oh coffee master. I am your javaprentice.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/10/08 1:21 p.m.
I always figured a percolator was defined by the water pressure being pushed up through the grounds. That the difference was, this type doesn't let the coffee recirculate. I guess the water pressure forced through grounds is the same action as an espresso maker. Well, I'll stop calling it the wrong thing. It does make great coffee.

One thing I'd like to add to the percolator debate...

Most percolators push water up through and let it filter down through the basket. Its not a bad idea, although it does use near-boiling temps to push "bubbles" of coffee up through. Its not too bad since one bloop of water pulls newer cooler water into the bottom bell, but the bottom line is that if not carefully monitored, the coffee gets too hot. One of its major benefits is that you are using coffee'd water to continue the brew and the likelihood of overstripping is reduced. At its most base level it makes good coffee with higher heat. Fully developed flavor with very little overstripping. The main problem with standard percolators is that the temps are much higher, especially given the wide variety of people using them. Its really easy to scald coffee.

There is a nice variation on this percolator that works very well and makes killer coffee. The upper basket portion seals to the water-filled base and has holes that don't let water passively drip. You gently boil the water up into top. When all the water is boiled up to the top you take it off the heat. As the bottom chamber cools it actively sucks the coffee back down to the bottom. In operation it looks like a percolator, but in actual coffee making its more like a French Press.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/10/08 1:27 p.m.
Salanis wrote: I bow to your awesome coffee knowledge! Teach me, oh coffee master. I am your javaprentice.

Now if I could just find a way to politely share this with my in-laws. They make terrible coffee

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/10/08 4:08 p.m.

I appreciate great coffee, but as a career firefighter, I can also drink the stuff that has been in the pot at the station for five hours.

However, the BEST cup of coffee is the one that someone hands you in the middle of the street at 3 am after the fire's out.

In February.

DrBoost
DrBoost Reader
10/10/08 5:13 p.m.

Pretty much everything Curtis73 said is addressed with the vacuum brewing process. Check this link out. I got the Yama 8 cup for my wife. She and everyone who tries it gives it rave reviews.

aussiesmg
aussiesmg HalfDork
10/10/08 9:07 p.m.
ignorant wrote: I like Krups.

I bought a Krups and the matching grinder on eBay for a grand total of $15, esspresso and capuchinno inclusive, runs great, can't beat that....I guess you'd call that Grassroots Coffee snobbery

minimac
minimac Dork
10/11/08 1:15 p.m.

Get a Bunn. Buy it once and you're done. If you want to go cheap(like in FREE) sign up for coffee from Gevalia.Then cancel the service and you get to keep the coffee maker.

bastomatic
bastomatic Dork
10/13/08 6:33 a.m.

According to America's Test Kitchen, who reviews products like this, the best coffee consistently comes from a Vacuum pot, and a little worse is the French Press. Both systems are a bit difficult to clean and make large amounts of coffee with though.

The newest issue rates drip coffee makers, and only one got full marks for Brewing, Flavor, and ease-of-use. The $240 Technivorm Moccamaster, which beat the French Press in flavor head-to-head. Best buy is the KRUPS 10-cup FMFS for $100.

The Bunn got poor marks for weak and flat flavor, water never reached 195 degrees, and you have to leave it on all the time unless you wait 15 minutes to preheat before brewing.

wetpossum
wetpossum New Reader
10/13/08 11:33 a.m.

Turkish grind coffee (almost powdered sugar consistency) in a cup. Add hot water. After about 2 minutes, the grounds have settled, and you can drink your coffee. Tastes good, not gritty because of the fine grind, and is very grassroots. Plus you look like a total hard-ass drinking cowboy coffee.

--Mike

fkoos
fkoos New Reader
3/25/19 11:24 a.m.

Before buying kitchen appliances, I usually read reviews and overviews all over the internet and only then look for desired model. Recently by following this algorithm I got on coffeemakers` overview on [hot canoeing world] read a lot, made a lot of comparisons, but still doubt the choice. I want to ask you help me with choice. I will be very grateful for help and story from personal experience.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
3/25/19 12:14 p.m.

About 20 years into the Senseo machine and wondering what we will do if it ever goes away! The company left NA, but with Amazon it does not really matter as pods ( pads?) are only days away.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/25/19 12:22 p.m.

Wow, a canoe that found an 11 year old thread.  Amazing.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
3/25/19 1:00 p.m.

(Yes, I know this is a zombie thread)

 

If you have the time, then you want to do your own pourover (i.e. chemex), complete with a high quality thermometer to know when to pour it. If you don't, because you're like most people, you want a commercial Bunn or a Mochamaster. The others don't get hot enough, because of lawyers. Careful not to leave it on the hot plate too long. 

 

All that said, I use a cheap Black and Decker for my daily coffee, and when I work from home or weekends, I use a stove-top Moka pot, because I don't care enough about my coffee that I can drop $300 on a coffeemaker right now. Much more important are the beans. 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
3/25/19 1:25 p.m.

Cost per cup.... I buy the $20 white Mr Coffee or Black&Decker with a timer. Replace it every 2-3 years. It makes 10-cups every morning, 6-days a week, 50 weeks a year (vacation) for $20. Takes 5 minutes to brew the entire pot and I can fill while brewing. At this price, we buy a spare and throw it into the closet for later. REALLY hard to beat that. I've thought of the Bunn for years but I just can't justify the cost. 

mtn
mtn MegaDork
3/25/19 1:39 p.m.
bobzilla said:

Cost per cup.... I buy the $20 white Mr Coffee or Black&Decker with a timer. Replace it every 2-3 years. It makes 10-cups every morning, 6-days a week, 50 weeks a year (vacation) for $20. Takes 5 minutes to brew the entire pot and I can fill while brewing. At this price, we buy a spare and throw it into the closet for later. REALLY hard to beat that. I've thought of the Bunn for years but I just can't justify the cost. 

This is about where I am. At one point we had I think 5 of them--2 from a vacation house that was sold, 2 from college, and 1 that I bought at an estate sale because I knew that our other ones were in storage while we moving and unpacking. I think we have one left though--thats the thing, they do break on a very regular schedule. Next time, I hope to be in a position where I just bite the bullet and get one that will last for the rest of my lfie.

Curtis
Curtis GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/25/19 2:40 p.m.
Crap... canoe zombie

 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/25/19 3:06 p.m.
bobzilla said:

Cost per cup.... I buy the $20 white Mr Coffee or Black&Decker with a timer. Replace it every 2-3 years. It makes 10-cups every morning, 6-days a week, 50 weeks a year (vacation) for $20. Takes 5 minutes to brew the entire pot and I can fill while brewing. At this price, we buy a spare and throw it into the closet for later. REALLY hard to beat that. I've thought of the Bunn for years but I just can't justify the cost. 

Same here. While I love a good espresso, until I can justify a $600 Barilla my $20 programmable drip machines will do.  I have enough trouble getting up in the morning, so I want to wake up and have my coffee ready to go into a cup.  Auto-off is a god-send as well. 

JmfnB
JmfnB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/25/19 4:30 p.m.

Went from my Keurig to a $9 Amazon Hamilton Beach.

Never going back zombie boy.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
3/26/19 7:58 a.m.

It's only a zombie thread until it gets enough coffee!

I tried a cheap Chinese clone of a moka pot recently - brewed fairly decent coffee, but had a tendency to leak and couldn't be left unattended. For everyday use, I've been using a standard drip coffeemaker with a vacuum flask and no heating pad - not having the coffee sit on a hot plate makes a differnce.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
3/26/19 8:17 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

It's only a zombie thread until it gets enough coffee!

I tried a cheap Chinese clone of a moka pot recently - brewed fairly decent coffee, but had a tendency to leak and couldn't be left unattended. For everyday use, I've been using a standard drip coffeemaker with a vacuum flask and no heating pad - not having the coffee sit on a hot plate makes a differnce.

Every Moka pot I've used from new (which is about 4 of them) has leaked at the beginning. I think the seals need to break in. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/26/19 9:18 a.m.

I want a programmable drip maker with a sensor switch that prevents it from starting unless the pot is on the plate. blush

ShawnG
ShawnG PowerDork
3/26/19 9:22 a.m.

Bought a Nespresso and I love it.

Probably the best machine made espresso I've ever had.

I still love my Moka Pot though.

MahfujMR
MahfujMR
3/12/20 7:24 a.m.

In reply to joey48442 :

Same I'm also looking for a decent quality coffee maker.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
3/12/20 10:17 a.m.

bastomatic said:

According to America's Test Kitchen, who reviews products like this...

Amazing that this thread dates back to 2008!  America's Test Kitchen is still a good resource a dozen years later.  My daily use machines are a Nespresso (mine) and Keurig (spouse's) which use coffee pods, but I found this ATK review useful and informative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHEt2hEEeWQ

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