How to make coffee

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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So, I was recently informed that I make crappy coffee. :cry: We buy the Millstone French Roast and grind the beans, and the flavor is good, but after checking around a bit I decided that my know it all, X-hippy, artsy fartsy customer [really he's my good buddy but I know he checks in here from time to time, so just in case :tongue: ] was right; Mr. Coffee sucks. Then I discovered that deep in that strange and wonderful place, a place where angels fear to tread, the place called Tsuland, there existed a magical, mysterious thing called a French Press. So I tried it. WOW!!! :!!) Where have you been all my life?!?!?!?!

So, I am learning but decided to ask our experts. How do I make the perfect cup of coffee using a French Press. The stronger the better.
 

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  • #2
Evo
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Ivan Seeking said:
So, I am learning but decided to ask our experts. How do I make the perfect cup of coffee using a French Press. The stronger the better.
There was a show on he Food Network about that not too long ago. My mom had one at home, it was fun to use.
 
  • #3
Gokul43201
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This is how my boss makes his coffee :

http://home.columbus.rr.com/thegramilas/coffee/roaster2.jpg [Broken]

Equipment List:

An old Pentium machine Running DOS, with an ebay purchased National Instruments GPIB interface card

Two HP34401 digital voltmeters with GPIB interface (these are expensive, but are borrowed)
-- these read the thermocouple voltages directly.

A very old gpib digital-to-analog converter to run the SSR (not nearly as expensive, but still sort of costly)

A Solid State Relay for controlling the heater duty cycle (Grainger - part number 5Z438 about $20.00)

One variac is passive - it just makes a 140 V source for the SSR controlled heater. (A boost transformer would be better here) The other variac is currently unused.

A Velleman 8003 dimmer is used to operate the fan motor under computer control. Driving the inductive load of the motor with the triac based controller in this $20 kit took a bit of tweaking. Prudent placement of resistors to squelch switching voltages, and a 200 ohm resistor in parallel with the motor load seems to have done the trick. If anyone can steer me to a design for a pulse width modulated AC power source that can be DC controlled, please drop me a line!


Code:

I plan to make the code that I use available here, once I learn how make a link for this. -- In the meantime, send email if you want a copy.

http://home.columbus.rr.com/thegramilas/coffee/roaster.html [Broken]
http://home.columbus.rr.com/thegramilas/coffee/profile.html [Broken]
 
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  • #4
Moonbear
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That's STRONG coffee that a French press makes. :approve: I used to keep one in my office while doing my post-doc (they had awful coffee in the mailroom there and expected you to pay 25 cents/cup for it :yuck:). I think I used about a tablespoon or two of grounds per cup (it's been a while since I last used it). Add boiling water and wait for it to brew, about 3 minutes. That kept me going all night. I didn't know there was an art to it.
 
  • #5
Astronuc
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Try this - http://www.sweetmarias.com/brewinstr.frenchpress.html [Broken]
 
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  • #7
Astronuc
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or - http://www.ineedcoffee.com/02/03/press/ [Broken]
 
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  • #8
Janus
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Hmm, I always heard that a good cup of coffee was anything strong enough that you couldn't see the bottom of the cup, but not so strong that you couldn't see the bottom of a spoon.
 
  • #9
TheStatutoryApe
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I was about to say that your problem was that you were brewing french roast. :tongue:
I've heard that the french press makes the best coffee but I've never actually used one.
 
  • #10
Moonbear
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TheStatutoryApe said:
I was about to say that your problem was that you were brewing french roast. :tongue:
I've heard that the french press makes the best coffee but I've never actually used one.

I agree. I don't like the French Roast much. If you like strong coffee and can get Millstone brand, get their Caffe Midnight. It's my favorite. :approve:
 
  • #11
honestrosewater
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Bah, just get a Bunn. They have home models for $80-150. 900 watts, 200°, 3 minutes. :!!) After I get my PF membership, o:) I'm getting a Bunn.
 
  • #12
Moonbear
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Bunn, what's a Bunn? I thought that was Ivan's cat's name. :confused: :rofl:
 
  • #13
honestrosewater
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Moonbear said:
Bunn, what's a Bunn? I thought that was Ivan's cat's name. :confused: :rofl:
Hm, I can't tell if you're serious or joking. I'd like to know how "They have home models for $80-150. 900 watts, 200°, 3 minutes." would apply to a cat. :confused: :wink:
http://www.bunnomatic.com/ They make coffee makers and such.
 
  • #14
Kerrie
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French Press is definitely the way to go...I had one of those automatic coffee makers which were very messy to clean up, and if you ran out of filters, no coffee. I have two FP's, one for a large amount of coffee, and one for an individual serving.

I think the key also to getting good coffee is the bean you get. The well known brand that has shops on every corner here in the NW is probably the worst in my opinion. As for flavor, I gravitate towards any Kona blends or Breakfast blends. Welcome to the indulgence of good coffee Ivan!
 
  • #15
Zygotic Embryo
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lol @ being a science wiz, but not being able to make coffee..


yeah, they showed some show on food network on making the perfect coffee

ill see if i can find that episode and upload it
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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It looks like my grinder has to go as well. How good are the grinders at Safeway - the ones for customer use in the coffee section? They appear to be a high quality device. Does anyone know for sure?
 
  • #17
Moonbear
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honestrosewater said:
Hm, I can't tell if you're serious or joking. I'd like to know how "They have home models for $80-150. 900 watts, 200°, 3 minutes." would apply to a cat. :confused: :wink:
http://www.bunnomatic.com/ They make coffee makers and such.

:rofl: <---- This guy means I'm not being serious. :smile: I hadn't heard of the particular brand, but I knew you were talking about some sort of coffee maker. But the name reminded me of Ivan's cat Bun. Okay, my joke seemed funnier to me at 3 AM than it does now. :uhh: :redface:
 
  • #18
Ivan Seeking
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Moonbear said:
But the name reminded me of Ivan's cat Bun.

She is a very smart cat, but I've never caught her making coffee....yet. :uhh:
 
  • #19
Moonbear
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Ivan Seeking said:
It looks like my grinder has to go as well. How good are the grinders at Safeway - the ones for customer use in the coffee section? They appear to be a high quality device. Does anyone know for sure?
I use those (well, not at Safeway, but at my local grocery chain) and they seem to do a decent job. Of course, that means you're not fresh grinding it every time you make a cup, so you'll lose some flavor. I have a tight sealing glass jar I pour the coffee into as soon as I get home. I can still tell the difference between the cup I make at the end of a week compared with the one made with the fresh grounds the day they come home. For me, it's just not feasible to stop at the grocery store more often or deal with the fuss of grinding my own at home (because all I have is one of those whirly blade grinders too, and I do end up with really inconsistent grounds with that) so I deal with the loss of flavor over a week. Ideally, if you grind it at the store, you're only supposed to get what you'll use in 3 days I think. The most important thing though is to get it out of that paper bag and into a tightly sealing container as soon as you get home to help retain flavor (a few times I inadvertently got too much and had some that didn't fit into my glass jar and what was left in the paper bag had noticeably less flavor than what was in the jar (I was using what was in the bag first, and when I switched over to what was in the jar, even after just a few days, what was in the jar was stronger than what was left in the bag...though, I could be imagining that I suppose).

Maybe one of these days I'll get a proper grinder for home use. I'd love to get something with the storage canister for the beans on top and just push a button to grind until I get the amount I want out the bottom. Anyone know of anything made like that in a size that's reasonable to keep on a kitchen counter that would hold about a lb of beans at a time?
 
  • #20
Moonbear
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Ivan Seeking said:
She is a very smart cat, but I've never caught her making coffee....yet. :uhh:

If a cat could learn to make coffee, I think I'd be much more interested in owning a cat than I am now. :biggrin:

Oh, one other thing about those grinders at the grocery store...knock off any grounds stuck to the chute on it from the previous user (some days, the grounds just cling all over the chute the grounds come out of...too much static in the air or something...one of the stores around here used to leave out a brush to do that, but most I just give it a few good whacks (they should leave a brush out if they don't want me whacking the machine), and if you don't like the occassional surprise flavor added to your grounds, run it before you put your grounds in (there's a little lever behind the chute you have to hold up to run it without a bag under it...that's supposed to be there to make sure you put the bag under before running it, but you don't want to have the beans someone else didn't finish grinding added to your bag of grounds). Some stores have two grinders, one for regular coffees and one for flavored coffees (of course you go on faith that people heed the signs, but I think that most people snobbish enough about coffee to be buying the fresh ground will follow the signs) so if there are a few beans left from someone else's batch, you're not suddenly going to discover you have a chocolate/raspberry/hazelnut flavored coffee when you get home.
 
  • #21
TheStatutoryApe
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I've never used one I don't think but those grinders in the store look like they are the same that I used at the coffee house I worked at. In that case they should be pretty decent as long as they are kept up, which doesn't really take alot.
You're definitely going to want to use a grinder that will grind the beans for differant levels of fineness or courseness, or so I would imagine you would when using a french press.
Moonie is definitely right about the coffee losing it's flavor after it's been ground. I've seen some people put the beans and/or grinds in the freezer to help them stay fresh. I'm not sure if there is any adverse effect on the coffee if you do that. We never used any sort of refrigeration for the beans when I was at the coffee house.

Kerrie, you're right. The mass produced coffee from places like Starbucks is terrible. They actually double roast the beans at Starbucks which is what gives it that burnt taste. Being a Kona person I'm sure you prefer the more delicate flavors. From what I understand a good Kona is what a good coffee is supposed to be like. Like Ivan I prefer stronger coffee but I really can't stand French Roast. :yuck:
 
  • #22
Moonbear
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I've tried storing coffee in the freezer, and I wasn't impressed with the result. You also then have to wait for the coffee to warm back to room temperature before using it, I think to release the aromatic oils in it. Maybe it would be better in a freezer that's not a frost-free freezer, because I think it just dries them out otherwise, but how many people have freezers that are not frost-free anymore?
 
  • #23
Integral
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As Ivan can testify, I to like my coffee. Agreed, a French press makes a very good cup of coffee. The problem is the singular in that sentence. I generally want more then one cup and am to lazy to go through the process each time I want a cup. Therefore I usually settle for a less then perfect cup of coffee.

As for storage I take my lead from a local coffee shop. He says store it in the freezer in a tightly sealed container. This is the problem with the type of system Moonbear wants, if you leave the beans out on the counter the much of the flavor evaporates in just a few days.

Over the years I have had many different types of coffee grinders (been grinding my own for nearly 30 years) The small hand held electric grinders are convenient but have the trouble that it is difficult to get a consistent grind day in and day out. I have worn out a couple of those. The lowest tech that I have had was an old hand mill that you held between your legs and turned the handle until all of the coffee was ground, this was slow, but did give a very consistent grind.

I see 2 styles of coffee grinders, there are mills and grinders. A grinder consists of a spinning blade that continues to grind the coffee finer and finer until you stop it. Coarseness of grind is determined by how long you run the grinder.

A mill is a single pass device the beans are crushed between metal (or I suppose stone) wheels once a bean has been crushed it is not processed again. The coarseness of grind is determined by the separation of the wheels.

It is my believe that a mill gives the most consistent grind, you find mills in the stores for grinding the bulk coffee. The biggest problem I have found with the home use mills (read cheap (~$50) ) is that they to not have much range in grind coarseness. The one I had ground fine and finer. I wanted a grind that was a bit courser then the coarsest setting.

Currently I have found Mill and brew system which seems work pretty well. It has a grinder system which does not over grind. It is a http://www.cuisinart.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi/en/item.cgi?item_id=DGB-600BC [Broken] which grinds then brews. I but in water and whole beans get out a passably good cup of coffee. The grinder has a exit screen and as the coffee reaches a size that is able to pass through the screen it is blown out of the grinder into the brewing basket. So in a since, it is similar to a mill that it cannot over grind the beans.

As someone mentioned above, a good cup of coffee in a French press requires about 2 tablespoons (not sure of the metric equivalent!) of coffee per cup. Actually this is about the ration you want no matter what process you use, the trouble of course is that, that is quite a lot of coffee. I am generally to cheap to go the ideal amount and brew weaker pots, the best flavor comes with a full strength cup of coffee, just making it strong enough covers a lot of sins.

Ivan, I did not think you brewed a bad cup of coffee, I thought is was pretty good. Put then I am to practical to be a purist!
 
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  • #24
Integral
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Moonbear said:
If a cat could learn to make coffee, I think I'd be much more interested in owning a cat than I am now. :biggrin:

Oh, one other thing about those grinders at the grocery store...knock off any grounds stuck to the chute on it from the previous user (some days, the grounds just cling all over the chute the grounds come out of...too much static in the air or something...

Just a comment here. Any time you finely divide a substance (ie grind coffee) you create static. This was one of my wifes main complaint about a mill I used to use. It ground the coffee into a plastic container, which, as soon as I touched it seemed to change electric polarity, and there would be a fine shower of coffee grounds scattered about the counter. I have always wanted to replace the plastic with a grounded metal hopper to see if I could eliminate that problem.
 
  • #25
Moonbear
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Integral said:
AAs for storage I take my lead from a local coffee shop. He says store it in the freezer in a tightly sealed container. This is the problem with the type of system Moonbear wants, if you leave the beans out on the counter the much of the flavor evaporates in just a few days.
I was hoping if I kept them as whole beans until use, the flavor loss would be slower than if I brought them home already ground. Is that not the case? Typically, how long are they already stored from the time they are roasted until the time they get to the store or coffee shop? I'm not sure that a hopper at the store is only going to have enough for one day's sales, but maybe it does. Or are they getting them vacuum-packed before they are put out for bulk sale?
 
  • #26
Integral
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Moonbear said:
I was hoping if I kept them as whole beans until use, the flavor loss would be slower than if I brought them home already ground. Is that not the case?
Yes, that is correct, whole bean is the best way to store in any circumstance.
Typically, how long are they already stored from the time they are roasted until the time they get to the store or coffee shop? I'm not sure that a hopper at the store is only going to have enough for one day's sales, but maybe it does. Or are they getting them vacuum-packed before they are put out for bulk sale?
How long they are in the store or on the shelf can vary wildly! I think vacummn packing is the best for long term storage. At the shop I linked to, he roasts small batchs (~5 gal jar) and stores them in the freezer at night, out on the counter in the jar in the day. I feel that his is about as close to fresh roasted as I can get.

One upon a time I worked for a different local coffee roaster reparing coffee makers. I got to assemble a 5 burner Bunn from a cardboard box full of parts (the entire brewer was there, just not assembled!), that was fun. The real neat part of the job is that it was in the basement along side the coffee roasters. After a batch was roasted they would brew a full pot and pour one cup for the owner to sample, the rest of the pot was dumped out in the sink I was working around. All I had to do to get a fresh brewed cup of fresh roasted coffee was stick out my cup! :biggrin: Heaven.
 
  • #27
motai
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I generally tend to prefer my coffee mixed in with hot chocolate to dilute the bitterness that I usually taste. To me, it seems to taste quite a bit better.

edit: Quite a lot actually. Who can resist rich chocolate in one's coffee?
 
  • #28
TheStatutoryApe
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Integral said:
Yes, that is correct, whole bean is the best way to store in any circumstance.

How long they are in the store or on the shelf can vary wildly! I think vacummn packing is the best for long term storage. At the shop I linked to, he roasts small batchs (~5 gal jar) and stores them in the freezer at night, out on the counter in the jar in the day. I feel that his is about as close to fresh roasted as I can get.

One upon a time I worked for a different local coffee roaster reparing coffee makers. I got to assemble a 5 burner Bunn from a cardboard box full of parts (the entire brewer was there, just not assembled!), that was fun. The real neat part of the job is that it was in the basement along side the coffee roasters. After a batch was roasted they would brew a full pot and pour one cup for the owner to sample, the rest of the pot was dumped out in the sink I was working around. All I had to do to get a fresh brewed cup of fresh roasted coffee was stick out my cup! :biggrin: Heaven.
That would be very interesting, assembling the machines.
There used to be a coffee house around here that roasted their own beans but I think they stopped that after changing owners. They roasted them fresh daily if I remember correctly.
 
  • #29
Soilwork
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I don't know I wouldn't really agree with the idea that plungers make the best coffee.
I'd say that a percolator makes by far the best coffee when done right. But you can 'burn' the coffee by leaving it on too long, leaving a strong bitter coffee. But in the end I guess it comes down to preference.

For the plunger I use about the same amount as Moonbear. 2 tablespoon heaps of coffee per cup.
Anyway for general coffee I use a plunger as well because it's extremely easy and does make a good cup.
Although I also think that espresso machines are up there. If the coffee is ground thin enough it makes an awesome cup of coffee too.
Or you can do what my friend did when he got one...he didn't exactly drink coffee and when his mom got an espresso machine he offered to make me an espresso. So anyway he went over to the machine and filled the coffee holder with INSTANT espresso granules and placed it in the machine. :rofl:
I don't bother putting the beans in the freezer, but I do chuck them in the fridge, because otherwise you're better off making instant.
 
  • #30
caitir
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Being the daughter of a woman who drinks upwards of five cups of coffee per day, I've learned a fairly good deal about what makes coffee good. There are many steps to the perfect blend, from bean to cup.

First of all, there's the actual coffee you buy. I reccommend buying whole beans and grinding them at home. That way they stay fresh longer and will have a more full taste. As far as varieties of coffee go, I tend to find that the slightly more expensive brands are so for a reason: they taste better. Try buying small amounts of various types until you find blends you like. Personally, I like Kona, but that's just my taste.

Secondly, how you store your coffee will affect its flavor. Keep whole beans in their bag and ground beans in a Ziploc or Tupperware container. If you don't drink coffee often, keep the beans in the freezer for freshness. Grind small amounts at a time, just a few days' supply, so that they will retain flavor longer.

Of course, brewing is vital to the coffee process. A good French press can make all the difference in the world. Place approximately one tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of coffee in the bottom of the press and fill it with water that is just shy of boiling, then let it sit for about 3 minutes before pressing. Coffee is just like tea in that the longer it sits, the richer the taste. Just don't overdo it, or it will be too bitter.

Believe it or not, the coffee cup itself can change the coffee experience too. Some cups cool too quickly for a slow drinker, and some are clumsy shapes to hold. My mother has one that holds the equivalent of three other mugs because she drinks so much at one sitting. Find a cup that suits your taste, and you'll enjoy it all the more.
 
  • #31
faust9
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My guide to making a good cup of coffee:

"Honey, will brew some Java(as in Java the actual type of coffe not Java the generaic name for coffee)?"

"Regular or Decaf?"

"Oh, it's still early---I guess regular will do."

5 minutes later a huge cup of coffee materializes next to me. I don't see what all the fuss is about really :tongue: .
 
  • #32
TheStatutoryApe
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faust9 said:
My guide to making a good cup of coffee:

"Honey, will brew some Java(as in Java the actual type of coffe not Java the generaic name for coffee)?"

"Regular or Decaf?"

"Oh, it's still early---I guess regular will do."

5 minutes later a huge cup of coffee materializes next to me. I don't see what all the fuss is about really :tongue: .
I'd love a coffee maker like that. Preferably one with other functions as well. I have no problem with a large investment of time and care taking either.
 
  • #33
Moonbear
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TheStatutoryApe said:
I'd love a coffee maker like that. Preferably one with other functions as well. I have no problem with a large investment of time and care taking either.
Yeah, that sounds like a good one. I might even tolerate the occassional weak cup of coffee as a trade-off for the convenience and other perks. :tongue2:
 
  • #34
TheStatutoryApe
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Moonbear said:
Yeah, that sounds like a good one. I might even tolerate the occassional weak cup of coffee as a trade-off for the convenience and other perks. :tongue2:
"Will you take this man to be your coffee maker, to have and to hold, till a weak drip do you part?" :biggrin:
 
  • #35
Moonbear
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TheStatutoryApe said:
"Will you take this man to be your coffee maker, to have and to hold, till a weak drip do you part?" :biggrin:
They have medication to treat that weak drip nowadays. :biggrin: :rofl:
 

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