# How to make coffee

#### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
So, I was recently informed that I make crappy coffee. 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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#### Evo

Mentor
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.

#### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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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#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
That's STRONG coffee that a French press makes. 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.

#### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Try this - http://www.sweetmarias.com/brewinstr.frenchpress.html [Broken]

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Mentor

#### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
or - http://www.ineedcoffee.com/02/03/press/ [Broken]

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#### Janus

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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.

#### TheStatutoryApe

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.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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.

Gold Member
Bah, just get a Bunn. They have home models for $80-150. 900 watts, 200°, 3 minutes. :!!) After I get my PF membership, I'm getting a Bunn. #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Bunn, what's a Bunn? I thought that was Ivan's cat's name. :rofl: #### honestrosewater Gold Member Moonbear said: Bunn, what's a Bunn? I thought that was Ivan's cat's name. :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.
http://www.bunnomatic.com/ They make coffee makers and such.

#### Kerrie

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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!

#### Zygotic Embryo

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

#### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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?

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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. http://www.bunnomatic.com/ They make coffee makers and such. :rofl: <---- This guy means I'm not being serious. 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: #### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 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: #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 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? #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 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. 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. #### TheStatutoryApe 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: #### Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 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? #### Integral Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 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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#### Integral

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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.

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.

#### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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?

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