Coffee: Intermediate to Advanced

Jim_F

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There are a lot of tangents between the existing coffee threads, so I thought I'd try this instead of starting just a home roasting thread.
I've looked at alt.coffee, but it seems like almost all discussions go better among this group than in that jungle which is Usenet.
My gadget addiction has merged with my caffeine addiction to form a superaddiction of sorts. I'm progressing through grinders, roasters and coffeemakers to feed my habits. In an alarmingly short time, I've gone from canned coffee and an automatic drip machine to a delightful array of toys to produce a decadent brew.
My present armamentum:
Roasters:
Zach & Dani's roaster for small batches. It's nice in that it doesn't produce much smoke, so I can use it under the range hood without even opening a window.
Gene Cafe roaster for larger batches and when I can manage a bit more smoke. It's faster and more adjustable than the Z&D. I just got it and I'm really early in the learning curve.
My roasts are slowly improving. The freshness of home roasting is nice, the control over numerous variables is cool, but mostly it's just fun.
Grinder:
Refurb Solis Maestro Plus. It does a good job for my occasional serving of drip coffee, and to grind beans for my fix at work. Awfully messy though, due to a lot of static.
Coffeemaker:
(drumroll) Jura-Capresso S7 Avantgarde superautomatic. OK, now I've gone too far, but sometimes I just have to treat myself to a small taste of how the other half lives. It took a 20% Bed Bath and Beyond coupon and all of my Discover points to bring the price down to "insane", but I really like this contraption.
Beans:
I'm feeling my way on blending beans. I haven't yet hit on a blend to rival Intelligentsia Black Cat (or a fresh bag Starbucks House Blend for that matter) My base beans have usually been Columbia Huila Especial and Sumatra Mandheling. I'm developing a taste for the fine Arabicas, but wouldn't mind keeping a little bit of the bite of cheaper coffees, so I'm starting to mix in some Robusta beans.
So, how about it? Do we have enough caffeine freaks to support a thread about roasting, grinding and preparing coffee at the next level?
 

Jeff Gatie

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Jim_F said:
So, how about it? Do we have enough caffeine freaks to support a thread about roasting, grinding and preparing coffee at the next level?
No roasting for me, but I do own a Saeco Italia Superauto and grind my own for the ocasional pot of drip. Have tried a few types of beans, but always come back to the Trader Joe's Italian Roast. It's smooth, strong and has character (plus it's not extremely expensive). For drip, I go with my old standby - Dunkin' Donuts whole bean. Nothing I've tasted is a better drip coffee (YMMV), and I've tried them all. Though admittedly, I'm in no way an "advanced" type; my consumption is gastronomic only, not hobbyist. Kind of like the difference between a beer drinker and a beer brewer.
 

EugeneR

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For coffee, you're going to be hard-pressed to find better than Peete's, any type, if it is around in your town. As far as the static with the Solis Maestro, let the grinder sit for a couple of minutes after you grind instead of taking out the coffee compartment right away. The static electricity seems to dissipate considerably.
 

Jim_F

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Cool, I've got a few more beans to try.
I've only been able to pay and read my way to what I'd call an "intermediate" level so far. I've never handcrafted a "real" espresso (not that I really want to, the less work and mess the better, as far as I'm concerned) I've learned quite a bit about roasting just recently, but I've got a lot of reading, practicing, and drinking my mistakes ahead.
let the grinder sit for a couple of minutes

Thanks for that tip, EugeneR. My favorite method for cleaning the kitchen is not making a mess in the first place.
 

Jeff Gatie

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Jim_F said:
Cool, I've got a few more beans to try.
I've only been able to pay and read my way to what I'd call an "intermediate" level so far. I've never handcrafted a "real" espresso (not that I really want to, the less work and mess the better, as far as I'm concerned)
I've drawn a "real" espresso from a few different manual machines, and while the quality difference is there (you can't get a true mahogany tinged crema from a superauto), the learning curve is steep and it is time consuming and messy. My superauto takes 2 minutes to heat up and one button to push - My kind of machine for close to 80% of a manual's quality draw. I'll take that for the time saved. Plus, my Saeco froths milk like a professional (no "EZ Froth" tip, just a straight tube), so if I want milk, I'm good to go.
As far as the static in the grinder, I've read that the KitchenAid I listed in the other thread has no static because the hopper and receiver are glass (the more I think about it, the more I'm convincing myself to get that KitchenAid instead of my Cuisinart cheapie
).
 

Lew Crippen

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Central Market (major Texas cities) has an outstanding selection of beans from various places and roasted to different degrees. You can create your own blends from these(as you could anywhere) and they also have several of their own blends).
Illy is considered by many (well many Italians) to have the best espresso available. Not owning an espresso machine, I am content to sip this at a couple of my local Italian restaurants.
 

Jim_F

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My previous experience with espresso was with a cheap steam machine or murky, bitter (almost) crunchy style from a local cafe. I never thought I'd like straight espresso and figured I'd use it from the S7 to make Americanos, lattes, and caps. That and homemade coffee ice cream.
Much to my surprise, I'm really enjoying the espresso from this thing. I get plenty of authentic, mottled crema. Nothing close to a 25(ish) second pull, but once in a while it jumps from its usual 10(ish) seconds to the low 20s.
I really like Black Cat. I've also roasted green beans of Malabar Gold from Coffee Wholesalers and Liquid Amber from SweetMarias.com (lots of good info there) These roasts came out pretty good. I went a little darker on the MG than I intended, but it's good in the cup. I've got some roasted MG on order to see how it should look when it's done.
 

Johnny Angell

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Jim_F said:
I haven't yet hit on a blend to rival Intelligentsia Black Cat (or a fresh bag Starbucks House Blend for that matter) My base beans have usually been Columbia Huila Especial and Sumatra Mandheling. I'm developing a taste for the fine Arabicas, but wouldn't mind keeping a little bit of the bite of cheaper coffees, so I'm starting to mix in some Robusta beans.
I was wondering if you use the Black Cat for regular coffee or just for expresso. I was taking a look at the Inteligentsia site and they do have a variety of coffee to choose from. That El Diablo Dark Roast looked interesting too.
 

Jim_F

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I was wondering if you use the Black Cat for regular coffee or just for expresso.
I've been using my new machine, which brews everything under pressure. The Black Cat makes a good Americano (hot water added to espresso) I'm not sold on Caffe Suisse so far (extra water runs through the espresso puck)
In the interest of research, I drip brewed (Melitta Cone) some Black Cat into my mug today. It's good. I don't know that it would be my first choice for drip, but if I could only have one kind of coffee in the house for both espresso and drip, it would be a very good choice for both. Bear in mind, I still like Starbuck's House Blend (much maligned among coffee fanatics) for drip, so take my opinion FWIW.
This week, my espresso blend has been Metropolis' Redline. Very nice. Starts like a mouthful of blueberries and finishes like chocolate. Damn fine coffee!
EDIT: I haven't tried the El Diablo yet. Your post reminded me that I also have some Intelligensia House Blend on hand, so I used some of that for my 2nd mugful. I like it. I'll be using more of this for my drip coffee at work. Better than the Black Cat for drip IMVHO.
 

Johnny Angell

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Jim_F said:
I've been using my new machine, which brews everything under pressure. The Black Cat makes a good Americano (hot water added to espresso) I'm not sold on Caffe Suisse so far (extra water runs through the espresso puck)
EDIT: I haven't tried the El Diablo yet. Your post reminded me that I also have some Intelligensia House Blend on hand, so I used some of that for my 2nd mugful. I like it. I'll be using more of this for my drip coffee at work. Better than the Black Cat for drip IMVHO.
"Holy Mr. Coffee it's not, Batman!" I just did a search on your machine, looks wonderful.
I kinda looks like the Inteligensia site is selling beans whose primary purpose is expresso. Maybe we'll try the house blend.
 

Sam Posten

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Rise, RISE from the GRAVE thread!
With my new home I'm gearing up for some new coffee experimentation.
I settled on my new brew pot, the Technivorm MoccaMaster:
http://www.amazon.com/Technivorm-Moccamaster-Coffee-Brewer-Thermo/dp/B002S4DI2S/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1335549287&sr=1-1
This thing ROCKS. It is so cool to watch it in operation, like a work of tech art, AND it brews some of the best tasting drip coffee I've ever had.
Today tho, I take it to a new level. I have had my eye on getting a home Espresso machine for a while and finally bit on the one I really wanted to try, the Breville Dual Boiler:
http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BES900XL-Automatic-Espresso-Machine/dp/B005I722YC/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1335549406&sr=1-1
CRAZY expensive but should last me a lifetime.
I've got my conical burr grinder set to go as soon as I get home and will make my first batch. Going to go with a local NJ bean for the first run, Rook Roasters Flores:
http://www.rookcoffeeroasters.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=flores
Got a few other varieties to try out (even a few bags of whole bean Starbucks! :cool: ) and experiment with this weekend, will report back how it goes.
 

Walter Kittel

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I love my AeroPress. Inexpensive, easy to clean, and it doesn't take up much room.
I have a small electric kettle that I use to heat the water, and since I brew a single cup - water temperature isn't an issue.
- Walter...
 

DaveF

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I used a French Press and an inexpensive grinder for several years, for my morning coffee. And for a while, I kept it at work, taking in ground coffee. I could make a good coffee with the break room microwave in the afternoon. But last Fall I switched to a Keurig. It is so much easier and faster. And I can make a decaf on a Saturday afternoon; or a nice Camimille tea in the evening before going to bed. But I'm concerned about the build quality of the Keurig.

A friend also swears by his Aeropress. He's explained to me that he makes a week's worth of Aeropress pre-coffee, and then dilutes a cup at a time each day, reheating before leaving for work.
 

Sam Posten

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First run last night was tasty but no crema to be seen. Dialed in the Espresso perfectly on 2nd shot, iced latte it is this AM!
http://thebestcamera.com/DSCwT
 

Sam Posten

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C'mon over! And we don't mess around, this is a $1_6_00 dollar espresso machine, but yeah, I got a major discount so close to $1k ;) Felt like a dumbass ordering it but I figure if it saves me on 2 starbucks a week it pays for itself in 2 years =p
 

Jim_F

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Im still enjoying the Jura. I am seriously hooked on the Espresso Toscano from Counter Culture Coffee. At work, I've joined the (Keurig) Pod People. So far my favorite K-cups are the Newman's Own Organics Special Blend (Extra Bold)
I still roast some coffee, but not very often.
Very nice looking machine there, Sam!
 

MrsMac

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We buy Peet's coffee (already ground) and use it in our AeroPress. Wonderful coffee. I also have a Krup's 12C brewer that we use when we have company, and hubby prefers to use it on the mornings when he's first up. If he's making the coffee and toast, I don't complain - just enjoy. :D
 

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