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Mojo Hand

Coffee/Espresso hipsters

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Recently got a Breville Express and it's rocking my world.  Plus I have a beard so this is apparently me now.  Any coffee making people here? 

So far for Cappuccinos I've tried Peet's Major Dickason beans, which are too bitter, and something called "Jo Espresso" that I found on Amazon, which is pretty good.   Recommendations would be appreciated. 

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Silvia with group and main heaters on PID's

Super Jolly

you probably haven't heard of the beans I grind

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No making coffee around here.  I order nespresso pods from the web and pop them in the machine.  

Its about all l I order in public.  Aint nobody got time to sip on a 24oz mug of bean water mixed with half-fat soy with 3 shakes of powdered sugar and 2 of toasted cinnamon.

People keep giving us beans as gift, tho.  So we bought a burr grinder to go with some re-usable nespresso pods.

French presses and moka pots or big legit chrome italian espresso machines are too much of a faff to clean and use

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Hell I haven't heard of anything.  I've only been grinding for a couple of weeks.  Moving up from years with a Nespresso (which I liked).

Edited by Mojo Hand

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If you are into a good cup coffee it is a different game that I am not good at playing. 

To get espresso just right takes messing around / lots of practice to get the temperature and grind combination just right.  After learning how much pressure to apply to tamping you time how long it takes to "pull" the shot and adjust the grind to get the time right. Too short (i.e. 20 seconds to get a shot) and you miss the great flavors but too long and you over extract bitter flavors. Then you have to let the boiler and head temperature settle back to normal. When it all works it is heaven.  You then spend the rest of your life trying to repeat that. The quality of the grinder is probably more important than the espresso machine within limits. 

Even things like a super-humid day will interfere with the right grind settings.  I wish there were an easier way but damn - when the shot tastes smooth, almost no bitterness and you can taste dark blueberry, cherry or cocoa you accept the pain that was involved. Even a mediocre shot is pretty good and I don't usually waste them even when they are a little off.

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I find the whole thing frustrating.  I go to my favorite coffee place (Cultivar) and I get this amazing-tasting drink.  It does not taste like what I've been served as "coffee" anywhere else.  I must have more of it.

So I buy their beans and the coffee maker they recommend - a stupid expensive, fiddly thing called a Technivorm.  Tastes nice, but nowhere near what they make.  I ask them what I'm doing wrong and basically they tell me that my expectations are too high and that I have to come there, where well-trained experts use a $10,000 machine, to get what I want.

I wish I had never gone there in the first place.

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I've got a Delonghi EC680 that pulls a damn fine shot or double shot of espresso, along with the delonghi conical burr grinder. For a while I used a lower quality mr. coffee grinder that wasn't a conical burr that just couldn't get a consistent and fine enough grind. Getting a good consistent grinder is KEY to a great cup of espresso or other high pressure brew coffee. I usually just swing by my local specs for fresh beans since they roast every day.

My espresso machine is fairly entry level but I've been consistently happy with it. It pulls damn fine and consistent shots

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I am in the coffee business.  When asked, here is the advice I give on at home coffee preparation:

Beans - As mentioned by others above, find some local roasters and buy from them.  If the coffee you're buying doesn't have a roast date stamped on the bag, it is not good coffee.  I don't know of any exceptions to this rule.  Always buy whole bean and grind yourself immediately before preparation.  As a general guideline, you should be consuming the coffee within a month of the roasted date.   

In addition to the country of origin, pay attention to the varietal (caturra, catuai, bourbon, harar, marargogipe, &c) and especially the bean processing type, of which there are three primary methods: dry/natural, honey/pulped, wet/washed.  These factors have a big impact on the flavor profiles and body (viscosity) of the coffee and noting them will help you zero in on what types of coffees you will like.   

Water - Coffee is made from just two ingredients:  coffee beans and water.  Every type of unmixed brewed/extracted coffee beverage is over 95% water.  Many people ignore it for some reason.  The science behind what makes for ideal water is actually very complex.  I'm not going to type out all the details because it would be a novel.  If you think your water might be an issue, I'll save you some time and say just brew with Volvic water and see if you notice a difference.  There is nothing magic about Volvic - it is just a commonly available water that has all the properties in the range suited for great coffee preparation and equipment protection (i.e. it won't scale).  DO NOT use straight Texas tap water in an espresso machine.  It will scale.  

http://volvic-na.com/

(disclaimer: I have no commercial investment or interest in Volvic and no affiliation with them). 

Drip Coffee Preparation - This is the typical way most Americans prepare and drink coffee.  It's actually a pretty forgiving process and has a wide margin of error because it produces a dilute beverage at low pressure.  Beyond the bean selection, the main things to focus on is the water to coffee mass ratio and extraction time.  A good guideline to start with on ratio is a water to coffee mass ratio of 18:1 (55 g of coffee per liter of water).  From there you can make it stronger or weaker to taste.  Extraction time for drip should be between 4-6 minutes.  Once you have the mass ratio you prefer, you control the extraction time with your grind level (finer grinds lengthen the extraction time).  Water temps for extraction should be between 195 and 205 F.  This should be controlled by your machine; this is pretty much the only thing a drip machine needs to get right (along with having a basket large enough to achieve the desired coffee to water ratio; sometimes they are too small); most are pretty decent at hitting this temp range, so if it's not it is either broken or just a crap machine. Either way, get a new one if this is a problem.  If you want to get into more details on the brewing, visit the SCAA website:

http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=brewing-standards

Espresso Preparation -  Compared to drip coffee, proper espresso preparation is difficult and has a very small margin for error.  This is because it is very concentrated (so any flaw is magnified) and it is brewed under pressure (8-10 atmospheres).  The biggest thing to focus on is mass ratio and extraction time.  For mass ratio, start with 7-9 grams per 30 ml (1 fluid ounce).  Extraction time should be 25-30 seconds.  Once you get the mass dialed in, you adjust extraction time by the grinder setting.  You need a stepless burr grinder for good espresso preparation.  I prefer conical burr grinders, but flat burrs work well too.  At the house I use a Lelit PL53. 

Lots of folks focus on the espresso machine itself, but I've had great espresso from just about every machine imaginable.  A high end machine gets you more thermal stability over a large number of shots (which is typically only needed in a commercial setting) and better milk steaming/texturing for making microfoam.  Most home machines are crappy at making quality microfoam.  Microfoam is the steamed milk that almost looks like wet paint that high end shops serve, typically with hearts and fern leaf art showing off the milk prep.  This is very hard to reproduce at the house.  But if you are interested in making a just few straight shots of espresso per day, almost any espresso machine will work and a high end machine won't produce a notable difference.  

On tamping, the main thing is that it needs to be level.  Don't focus too much on the force; anywhere from 15-40 lbs is fine (I normally aim for the lower end because there is no need to go higher).  Just do a good firm tamp.  Again, focus more on it being level than the amount of force.  Non-level tamps can produce channeling, which is when the water doesn't flow through the coffee cake evening and forms channels.  

I'm tired of typing and can't think of anything else at the moment.  Ask me any questions if you like and I'll do my best to answer.  I have no interest in promoting my products; in fact I will not name mine or promote them in any way on here, because then it would just become work and I don't come to the internet for work.  I just like to talk coffee.  

 

Edited by Guest

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11 hours ago, Aphelion said:

I am in the coffee business.  When asked, here is the advice I give on at home coffee preparation:

Beans - As mentioned by others above, find some local roasters and buy from them.  If the coffee you're buying doesn't have a roast date stamped on the bag, it is not good coffee.  I don't know of any exceptions to this rule.  Always buy whole bean and grind yourself immediately before preparation.  As a general guideline, you should be consuming the coffee within a month of the roasted date.   

In addition to the country of origin, pay attention to the varietal (caturra, catuai, bourbon, harar, marargogipe, &c) and especially the bean processing type, of which there are three primary methods: dry/natural, honey/pulped, wet/washed.  These factors have a big impact on the flavor profiles and body (viscosity) of the coffee and noting them will help you zero in on what types of coffees you will like.   

Water - Coffee is made from just two ingredients:  coffee beans and water.  Every type of unmixed brewed/extracted coffee beverage is over 95% water.  Many people ignore it for some reason.  The science behind what makes for ideal water is actually very complex.  I'm not going to type out all the details because it would be a novel.  If you think your water might be an issue, I'll save you some time and say just brew with Volvic water and see if you notice a difference.  There is nothing magic about Volvic - it is just a commonly available water that has all the properties in the range suited for great coffee preparation and equipment protection (i.e. it won't scale).  DO NOT use straight Texas tap water in an espresso machine.  It will scale.  

http://volvic-na.com/

(disclaimer: I have no commercial investment or interest in Volvic and no affiliation with them). 

Drip Coffee Preparation - This is the typical way most Americans prepare and drink coffee.  It's actually a pretty forgiving process and has a wide margin of error because it produces a dilute beverage at low pressure.  Beyond the bean selection, the main things to focus on is the water to coffee mass ratio and extraction time.  A good guideline to start with on ratio is a water to coffee mass ratio of 18:1 (55 g of coffee per liter of water).  From there you can make it stronger or weaker to taste.  Extraction time for drip should be between 4-6 minutes.  Once you have the mass ratio you prefer, you control the extraction time with your grind level (finer grinds lengthen the extraction time).  Water temps for extraction should be between 195 and 205 F.  This should be controlled by your machine; this is pretty much the only thing a drip machine needs to get right (along with having a basket large enough to achieve the desired coffee to water ratio; sometimes they are too small); most are pretty decent at hitting this temp range, so if it's not it is either broken or just a crap machine. Either way, get a new one if this is a problem.  If you want to get into more details on the brewing, visit the SCAA website:

http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=brewing-standards

Espresso Preparation -  Compared to drip coffee, proper espresso preparation is difficult and has a very small margin for error.  This is because it is very concentrated (so any flaw is magnified) and it is brewed under pressure (8-10 atmospheres).  The biggest thing to focus on is mass ratio and extraction time.  For mass ratio, start with 7-9 grams per 30 ml (1 fluid ounce).  Extraction time should be 25-30 seconds.  Once you get the mass dialed in, you adjust extraction time by the grinder setting.  You need a stepless burr grinder for good espresso preparation.  I prefer conical burr grinders, but flat burrs work well too.  At the house I use a Lelit PL53. 

Lots of folks focus on the espresso machine itself, but I've had great espresso from just about every machine imaginable.  A high end machine gets you more thermal stability over a large number of shots (which is typically only needed in a commercial setting) and better milk steaming/texturing for making microfoam.  Most home machines are crappy at making quality microfoam.  Microfoam is the steamed milk that almost looks like wet paint that high end shops serve, typically with hearts and fern leaf art showing off the milk prep.  This is very hard to reproduce at the house.  But if you are interested in making a just few straight shots of espresso per day, almost any espresso machine will work and a high end machine won't produce a notable difference.  

On tamping, the main thing is that it needs to be level.  Don't focus too much on the force; anywhere from 15-40 lbs is fine (I normally aim for the lower end because there is no need to go higher).  Just do a good firm tamp.  Again, focus more on it being level than the amount of force.  Non-level tamps can produce channeling, which is when the water doesn't flow through the coffee cake evening and forms channels.  

I'm tired of typing and can't think of anything else at the moment.  Ask me any questions if you like and I'll do my best to answer.  I have no interest in promoting my products; in fact I will not name mine or promote them in any way on here, because then it would just become work and I don't come to the internet for work.  I just like to talk coffee.  

 

I don't drink coffee, but your opus made me actually consider this as a project.

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great job aphelion.   what are the surly thoughts on the different kinds of roasts.  i like dark coffee, the darker the better, but went to a coffee shop in georgetown and they insinuated that was the shit grind.  the real connoisseurs use a full city grind.  the lighter the grind the more caffeine, which i like the sound of, but damn if it doesn't taste watery to me, more like tea.  

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I had a semi automatic espresso machine for several years, but I got tired of all the prep and got a Gaggia Brera, which is a relatively reasonably priced automatic machine.

Rule one with these types of machines is not to go too dark with the roast or it will gum up the burr grinder.  So I use the Lavaza Super Crema.  It's good stuff.  I have it on subscription from Amazon and get about three pounds per month delivered.

We have a really good local roaster, but it's a pain to get there regularly and I hate running out of coffee. 

Edited by dcbc

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Aphelion -- so, for a double shot, I should first adjust my machine to produce 14-18 g of grinds, and then I should make the grind  finer until the extraction goes between 25-30 seconds?

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Maxwell house from the grocery store. Run it through the cheapest coffee maker we could find.

Still superior to anything a Roman Emperor could drink.

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8 hours ago, Pablo said:

I don't drink coffee, but your opus made me actually consider this as a project.

It's a lot of fun once you get into it.  It's similar to wine in that there are endless varietals and types to try.  However, unlike wine, you are a key part of the production since you manage the brewing process.  Two people can start with the same roasted beans and produce much different end products.   I actually like preparing and serving coffee more than I like consuming it.  I get a kick out of taking a product that someone has had a million times and serving it to them in a way that is so different that it seems like they are discovering it for the first time.  

 

3 hours ago, thrillhammer said:

great job aphelion.   what are the surly thoughts on the different kinds of roasts.  i like dark coffee, the darker the better, but went to a coffee shop in georgetown and they insinuated that was the shit grind.  the real connoisseurs use a full city grind.  the lighter the grind the more caffeine, which i like the sound of, but damn if it doesn't taste watery to me, more like tea.  

Preferred & ideal roasting levels is a complex and even controversial topic.  Coffee roasters talk in terms of roast profiles, which is the time and temperature graph that a batch of coffee experiences in the roaster.  They look like this for drum roasters: 

r2-710x575.jpg

 

All roast profiles for drum roasters have this basic shape.  What varies is the exact temperatures, times, and rates of rise (derivatives) for the various stages in each profile.  What consumers see in the end is a level of roast, typically given the simple categorization of light, medium, or dark roast.  Despite what some purists may tell you, there is no objectively superior roast level.  It's a matter of preference. 

Lot's of purists prefer lighter roasts because more of the beans characteristics are preserved in lighter roasts.  This is somewhat analogous to steaks.  If you have a top quality steak and you want to taste all the subtle flavors within the meat, then it is typically recommended to serve it rare to medium rare.  The same is often applied to coffee.  If you roast a top quality coffee bean too dark, you will taste the generic roasted flavor more than the subtle flavor components of the bean.  However, lighter roasts produce a more acidic brew which tastes sour to many people who are used to the more common darker roasts profiles.  So ultimately I say find the roast levels that you like; the market is massive and there are plenty of other folks who will drink the roast profiles that aren't for you.  The only recommendation I give is to at least try coffees that are roasted below 2nd crack.  You can tell that coffee is roasted to and beyond 2nd crack because it will be covered in a shiny oil sheen.  At this point the bean has been heavily roasted; the roast flavors dominate and little is left of the particular flavors of the bean's origin.  To me, this coffee is just not very interesting.  I can take any crap coffee and roast it to this level and it will taste about the same.  This is why it is preferred for fast food coffee.  

As for the tea-like coffee, if a coffee is prepared with the proper mass ratio and brew time and temps, it should definitely have the qualities that you expect in a cup of coffee.  Now many Americans associate the heavy roast flavors which dominate french roasts and other very dark roast profiles with "coffee flavor."  So a lighter roasted coffee may not have that flavor, but it certainly should not have the light clarity and thin mouthfeel (body, viscosity) of a tea.  If it does, then this is likely from a preparation flaw.  

 

45 minutes ago, Mojo Hand said:

Aphelion -- so, for a double shot, I should first adjust my machine to produce 14-18 g of grinds, and then I should make the grind  finer until the extraction goes between 25-30 seconds?

Yes.  Make sure that your machine actually is producing around 55-60 ml (2 fluid ounce) for a double shot.  Use 14-18 grams (I'd start closer to 15-16) and adjust the grinder until the extraction produces 55-60 ml in 25-30 seconds.  Make sure you measure the mass after each grinder adjustment, because adjusting the fine/coarse level will often effect the amount of mass which the machine will produce in a given amount of time.  So do not rely on grinder time when dialing in your shots.  Use coffee mass and water volume.  

Edited by Guest

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To add to the espresso preparation:

I work with commercial grade machines that come standard with large portafilters that hold wide double shot baskets that can easily accommodate 18 g of ground coffee.  Many home machines have the option for large double shot baskets as well.  However, some machines come with smaller portafilters that cannot hold that much coffee.  If that is the case, do not try to overfill the portafilter.  If you have a smaller portafilter that can't hold that much coffee, just make smaller shots.  It's better to make two good single shots than to rush one sub-optimal double.  The traditional single shot parameters are 6-8 grams of coffee in 25-30 ml of water.  The percolation time should remain the same for singles; that doesn't scale.  Always aim for 25-30 second extractions regardless of shot volume.  What scales is the amount of water (linear with the coffee mass).  

 

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I buy beans from Central Market, usually something they have from their in-house blends or from Katz. I use an Infinity Capresso burr grinder and a Chemex. I'm pretty happy with this setup.

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I roast my own. Smallish home roaster that does about a pound at a time. 

Once you start doing that, you’ll never go back. You’ll end up taking your own setup when you travel. Everything else will be shit.

 

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I use a small French press, a kettle that’s programmed to start heating 5 minutes before my alarm goes off, a virtuoso grinder, and beans that I always forget what the hell they are when I’m shopping.  Water is hot when I wake up, grind a scoop, pour the water, set the timer for 4 minutes,  morning piss, put in my contacts, coffee is done.  I own an aeropress but the French press is simpler and less hassle.

There was a bag of Cuvée beans I liked a lot once but their damn packaging and product names make it hard to tell which bean is which.  I hate the flavored ones, chocolate, berries, pecans, whatever... But I often buy them on accident thinking it’s something else.  Recommend a roaster in Austin where I can buy coffee beans that just taste like coffee. 

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Yes.  Make sure that your machine actually is producing around 55-60 ml (2 fluid ounce) for a double shot.  Use 14-18 grams (I'd start closer to 15-16) and adjust the grinder until the extraction produces 55-60 ml in 25-30 seconds.  Make sure you measure the mass after each grinder adjustment, because adjusting the fine/coarse level will often effect the amount of mass which the machine will produce in a given amount of time.  So do not rely on grinder time when dialing in your shots.  Use coffee mass and water volume.  
I find this number depends on the roast. 23g in a triple basket for the stuff I have this week.

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I find this number depends on the roast. 23g in a triple basket for the stuff I have this week.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk

I mean...thats what they recommended using. I kinda like drinking syrup.

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This thread has already greatly improved my espresso making.  I'm still waiting for the kitchen scale to be delivered, but I went finer and added more and got a 30 second extraction that was so much better than the shit I was making before.

6 hours ago, mackavelli said:

Blue bottle subscription. Enjoy coffee a lot of ways - french press, aeropress, brewed, pour over.

How soon after they're roasted do they come?   I need some sort of Internet delivery.

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2 hours ago, thunderlounge said:

I roast my own. Smallish home roaster that does about a pound at a time. 

Once you start doing that, you’ll never go back. You’ll end up taking your own setup when you travel. Everything else will be shit.

 

What machine do you roast with?  I use a small machine to roast samples when I'm trying new coffees.  Also, where do you get your green beans to roast?

 

1 hour ago, beer said:

I find this number depends on the roast. 23g in a triple basket for the stuff I have this week.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
 

Depending on the bean, sometimes I'll go bigger at the house as well and dose in the 20-23 g range.  There are shops out there that whose standard dose is 22-23 g.  You can use these large dose sizes depending on your bean, roast profile, and client base.  I'm always conscious about both new espresso drinkers and those who are accustomed to the traditional way espresso is served in Europe.  A shot using 22 g of ground coffee (especially if it's a lighter roast, which most specialty shops use) is a radically different product than a traditional Italian espresso.  So at the shop I try to aim for a shot that will satisfy the widest customer base possible.  Also, most consumers in the US want the espresso cut with milk (classic macchiato, cortado, cappuccino) and so I also have to select an espresso that holds up well with milk; some espressos will taste great as a straight shot, but their subtle flavors will disappear in milk.  Of course at the house you don't have to worry about any of these factors and so if you like the syrupy shots that come with a 23 g dose and your basket & machine can handle these massive doses, then by all means load that sucker up.  

Edited by Guest

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56 minutes ago, Aphelion said:

What machine do you roast with?  I use a small machine to roast samples when I'm trying new coffees.  Also, where do you get your green beans to roast?

I’m using a behmor now. I used to use an air roaster (iheart? iroast? Something like that with a 2 at the end) that did surprisingly well. 

As for beans, it depends. Burman, maria’s, corral. Just depends on what bean I’m after and who has it, etc. 

Most roasts I do are up to aroumd the second crack starting. City/full city. Depends on the bean. 

Wish I could remember this mexican variety I had probably 10 years ago. I know it came from Burman, but still can’t find it in my history. Full city roast, and after about 24 hrs of rest out popped this amazing chocolate blueberry smell and flavor. It was excellent on a drip or as shots.

 

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This thread has already greatly improved my espresso making.  I'm still waiting for the kitchen scale to be delivered, but I went finer and added more and got a 30 second extraction that was so much better than the shit I was making before.
How soon after they're roasted do they come?   I need some sort of Internet delivery.
It's good if they are at least a few days post roasting before you use them for espresso. I think some people like very fresh roasted for drip / press coffee.

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I roast my own. Smallish home roaster that does about a pound at a time. 
Once you start doing that, you’ll never go back. You’ll end up taking your own setup when you travel. Everything else will be shit.
 
Did you ever try an air popper? That's what I used..outside of course. Airpopper and a chopstick to stir it.

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I tried an air popper after my air roaster died. Was not impressed. Too puny of airflow to mix the beans around. Have also tried cast iron and a whirley pop on a grill. Meh. The behmor I've been using for years now, and it's pretty solid.

Every now and then I think about moving up to a 2lb-3lb drum roaster. Then my wallet reminds me it's bad idea jeans. 5lb would be tits.

 

sweetm-irst2.jpg

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Is a French press a good investment to make killer coffee at home?


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14 hours ago, Mojo Hand said:

This thread has already greatly improved my espresso making.  I'm still waiting for the kitchen scale to be delivered, but I went finer and added more and got a 30 second extraction that was so much better than the shit I was making before.

How soon after they're roasted do they come?   I need some sort of Internet delivery.

Last one roasted on the 25th, received on the 28th.     its fun to get different beans every shipment.  I am settled on Bella Donovan right now but I can always change that for next shipment.  I may be overpaying ,but damn I love the coffee.  and I figure it saves me from going to coffee shops and overpaying for their coffee.  

 

Take the quiz.  see what blend you should start with:  https://bluebottlecoffee.com/coffee-match

 

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On 3/28/2018 at 10:13 PM, Aphelion said:

I am in the coffee business.  When asked, here is the advice I give on at home coffee preparation:

Beans - As mentioned by others above, find some local roasters and buy from them.  If the coffee you're buying doesn't have a roast date stamped on the bag, it is not good coffee.  I don't know of any exceptions to this rule.  Always buy whole bean and grind yourself immediately before preparation.  As a general guideline, you should be consuming the coffee within a month of the roasted date.   

In addition to the country of origin, pay attention to the varietal (caturra, catuai, bourbon, harar, marargogipe, &c) and especially the bean processing type, of which there are three primary methods: dry/natural, honey/pulped, wet/washed.  These factors have a big impact on the flavor profiles and body (viscosity) of the coffee and noting them will help you zero in on what types of coffees you will like.   

Water - Coffee is made from just two ingredients:  coffee beans and water.  Every type of unmixed brewed/extracted coffee beverage is over 95% water.  Many people ignore it for some reason.  The science behind what makes for ideal water is actually very complex.  I'm not going to type out all the details because it would be a novel.  If you think your water might be an issue, I'll save you some time and say just brew with Volvic water and see if you notice a difference.  There is nothing magic about Volvic - it is just a commonly available water that has all the properties in the range suited for great coffee preparation and equipment protection (i.e. it won't scale).  DO NOT use straight Texas tap water in an espresso machine.  It will scale.  

http://volvic-na.com/

(disclaimer: I have no commercial investment or interest in Volvic and no affiliation with them). 

Drip Coffee Preparation - This is the typical way most Americans prepare and drink coffee.  It's actually a pretty forgiving process and has a wide margin of error because it produces a dilute beverage at low pressure.  Beyond the bean selection, the main things to focus on is the water to coffee mass ratio and extraction time.  A good guideline to start with on ratio is a water to coffee mass ratio of 18:1 (55 g of coffee per liter of water).  From there you can make it stronger or weaker to taste.  Extraction time for drip should be between 4-6 minutes.  Once you have the mass ratio you prefer, you control the extraction time with your grind level (finer grinds lengthen the extraction time).  Water temps for extraction should be between 195 and 205 F.  This should be controlled by your machine; this is pretty much the only thing a drip machine needs to get right (along with having a basket large enough to achieve the desired coffee to water ratio; sometimes they are too small); most are pretty decent at hitting this temp range, so if it's not it is either broken or just a crap machine. Either way, get a new one if this is a problem.  If you want to get into more details on the brewing, visit the SCAA website:

http://www.scaa.org/?page=resources&d=brewing-standards

Espresso Preparation -  Compared to drip coffee, proper espresso preparation is difficult and has a very small margin for error.  This is because it is very concentrated (so any flaw is magnified) and it is brewed under pressure (8-10 atmospheres).  The biggest thing to focus on is mass ratio and extraction time.  For mass ratio, start with 7-9 grams per 30 ml (1 fluid ounce).  Extraction time should be 25-30 seconds.  Once you get the mass dialed in, you adjust extraction time by the grinder setting.  You need a stepless burr grinder for good espresso preparation.  I prefer conical burr grinders, but flat burrs work well too.  At the house I use a Lelit PL53. 

Lots of folks focus on the espresso machine itself, but I've had great espresso from just about every machine imaginable.  A high end machine gets you more thermal stability over a large number of shots (which is typically only needed in a commercial setting) and better milk steaming/texturing for making microfoam.  Most home machines are crappy at making quality microfoam.  Microfoam is the steamed milk that almost looks like wet paint that high end shops serve, typically with hearts and fern leaf art showing off the milk prep.  This is very hard to reproduce at the house.  But if you are interested in making a just few straight shots of espresso per day, almost any espresso machine will work and a high end machine won't produce a notable difference.  

On tamping, the main thing is that it needs to be level.  Don't focus too much on the force; anywhere from 15-40 lbs is fine (I normally aim for the lower end because there is no need to go higher).  Just do a good firm tamp.  Again, focus more on it being level than the amount of force.  Non-level tamps can produce channeling, which is when the water doesn't flow through the coffee cake evening and forms channels.  

I'm tired of typing and can't think of anything else at the moment.  Ask me any questions if you like and I'll do my best to answer.  I have no interest in promoting my products; in fact I will not name mine or promote them in any way on here, because then it would just become work and I don't come to the internet for work.  I just like to talk coffee.  

 

Thanks Aphelion.  This is great information. Matches my thinking at home, where I just focus on fresh beans, grind before brewing and use a drip maker to make a pretty god cup of coffee.

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On 4/1/2018 at 12:22 AM, thunderlounge said:

I tried an air popper after my air roaster died. Was not impressed. Too puny of airflow to mix the beans around. Have also tried cast iron and a whirley pop on a grill. Meh. The behmor I've been using for years now, and it's pretty solid.

Every now and then I think about moving up to a 2lb-3lb drum roaster. Then my wallet reminds me it's bad idea jeans. 5lb would be tits.

 

sweetm-irst2.jpg

 

I have never met a home roaster that has a drum roaster.  That is some serious commitment.  A drum roaster does give you a lot more control over the roast profile and you can achieve a wider range of profiles; you will also be able to achieve better quality roasts (i.e. more homogeneous heat distribution across the batch) with larger batches of coffee.  On the downside, the cheapest ones I've seen cost a few thousand dollars and you have to plumb up a gas line and hook up an external exhaust line. They also put off a lot of heat, so you need to have a decent amount of space around them.  But it would be a great conversation piece for dinner parties.  

 

On 4/1/2018 at 9:00 AM, 'stache said:

Is a French press a good investment to make killer coffee at home?


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You can make a great cup of coffee with the French press method.  You can also make a quality cup of coffee with a good drip machine, an AeroPress, a V60, a chemex, and numerous other methods and devices.  I almost never make drip style coffee at the house (I drink espresso), but if I do I use a chemex.  It's a bit more labor intensive during the brew process as you have to stand over it and pour, but the clean up is easier than a French press.  French press produces a heavier body brew as more oils make it into the cup since there is no paper filter.  There is also more sediment in French press coffee; this doesn't bother me (I actually like it) but it bothers some.  

Assuming you are starting with good ingredients (both coffee beans and water), the brew process all comes down to getting the mass ratio, brew time, and water temperatures correct.  If you get these factors correct, then the coffee will be good.  If not, then the coffee won't be as good.  I've talked with lots of folks who think these processes are all radically different, but ultimately they all produce a similar strength coffee drink using similar mass ratios, contact times, and temps.  So not surprisingly, if done properly, they all produce similar coffee drinks.  

 

23 hours ago, Godzillatron said:

Thanks Aphelion.  This is great information. Matches my thinking at home, where I just focus on fresh beans, grind before brewing and use a drip maker to make a pretty god cup of coffee.

Fresh roasted coffee is a huge factor that often gets overlooked for commercial and convenience reasons.  What other roasted products do people store and consume up to a year or more after roasting?  Even though it is fairly stable compared to some other baked and roasted products, coffee is a roasted product that stales over time.  Grinding it increases the rate at which it stales.  So buying fresh and storing it in whole bean form is definitely the way to go. 

 

I took a picture of an 8 ounce double shot cappuccino I made this morning to show an example of microfoam.  Microfoam has very small, tight bubbles and is much denser than the traditional airy macrofoam.  It should also have a glassy, moderately reflective surface.  Notice you can see the light from the windows on the surface.  At the shop we can make it a bit tighter and smoother/glassier, but this gives the basic idea.

 

Cap.jpg

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Damn, that is beautiful.  Do you have milk left in the pourer after you do that or do you only foam exactly enough for one cappuccino?   I end up pouring a lot of unfoamed milk if I don't use a spoon, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm starting with too much milk in the metal pitcher.  When I foam, the milk does expand until nearly the top of the pitcher, so there is no more room for more expansion. 

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1 hour ago, Aphelion said:

I have never met a home roaster that has a drum roaster.  That is some serious commitment.  A drum roaster does give you a lot more control over the roast profile and you can achieve a wider range of profiles; you will also be able to achieve better quality roasts (i.e. more homogeneous heat distribution across the batch) with larger batches of coffee.  On the downside, the cheapest ones I've seen cost a few thousand dollars and you have to plumb up a gas line and hook up an external exhaust line. They also put off a lot of heat, so you need to have a decent amount of space around them.  But it would be a great conversation piece for dinner parties.

 

The behmor I have now is a drum roaster. Well, kind of I guess. Just small and more like an oven with the cage being a horizontal cylinder. Not what I think of with a drum, but same in principal I guess. 

 

Not sure where I would put a traditional drum. Granted I’ve got better things to drop $5k+ on for now, so the behmor will stick around. 

It does well, and for being able to do a pound at a time it works. It’s more difficult to grt a dark roast unless you drop your bean quantity down, but that is ok by me as second crack is just fine for me. Even for espresso I prefer a nice full city over a traditional dark roast. Better flavor IMO, especially in a latte. (My typical latte is 8-10 shots.) Fuck around, I do not. 

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I'll just chime in that I learned a shit load about coffee at a coffee farm in Colombia.  Very interesting stuff.  I didn't know about the grades and how unique every coffee roasters process is.  Seems to be that instead of trying to learn how to be a master roaster you could simply keep trying brands where you like their roasting process and the coffee it makes.   I'd  be surprised that you could actually buy quality almonds from a good grower in order to roast your own vs what the big guys buy.

Edited by midtown

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2 hours ago, Mojo Hand said:

Damn, that is beautiful.  Do you have milk left in the pourer after you do that or do you only foam exactly enough for one cappuccino?   I end up pouring a lot of unfoamed milk if I don't use a spoon, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm starting with too much milk in the metal pitcher.  When I foam, the milk does expand until nearly the top of the pitcher, so there is no more room for more expansion. 

If you've got a lot of leftover milk that you are pouring out, then you are either starting with too much milk or your foam is too airy/not dense enough.  The way you make microfoam is you put the steam wand just below the surface of the milk and open the steam valve.  You should hear a sound that sounds like paper tearing.  This is called the stretching phase.  This phase is where you ingest air into the milk and increase its volume.  Keep your hand on the metal pitcher and when it starts to feel about body temp warm, submerge the steam wand deeper and create an aggressive whirlpool/vortex.  Depending on your steam wand and pitcher, you'll probably have to tilt the pitcher to create the whirlpool.  You no longer ingest air at this point; the goal here is to add additional heat and homogenize the steamed milk by whipping it around in the whirlpool.  Keep your hand on the pitcher and when it gets to the point that your hand wants to involuntarily pop off, then turn off the steam wand.  The milk is around 145 F at this point.  You don't want to go hotter than this (some people think you actually boil the milk, but this is a terrible thing to do).  

Now you pour the steamed milk into the espresso.  At first it will come out nearly homogeneous to the point where you will not really notice a distinction between milk and foam.  However, it will quickly separate in the cup.  When pouring it should flow like a liquid and not in clumps.  If you want to create pretty latte art, that is a matter of lots of practice.  At the house I usually don't even bother and at most will make a simple heart pour.  I have some baristas that can do incredible art, but the important thing for drink quality is that the milk is textured properly and steamed to the proper temp.  

Depending on your home machine, you may not have enough boiler pressure and volume to get the sustained velocity necessary to make quality microfoam.  Sometimes I'll be at someone's house and they'll ask me to make them a cappuccino on their machine and it is just impossible to make shop quality microfoam.  So depending on your setup, you may or may not be able to get there.  But you can always add some texture at least and heat the milk to proper temp.  

 

45 minutes ago, thunderlounge said:

 

The behmor I have now is a drum roaster. Well, kind of I guess. Just small and more like an oven with the cage being a horizontal cylinder. Not what I think of with a drum, but same in principal I guess. 

 

Not sure where I would put a traditional drum. Granted I’ve got better things to drop $5k+ on for now, so the behmor will stick around. 

It does well, and for being able to do a pound at a time it works. It’s more difficult to grt a dark roast unless you drop your bean quantity down, but that is ok by me as second crack is just fine for me. Even for espresso I prefer a nice full city over a traditional dark roast. Better flavor IMO, especially in a latte. (My typical latte is 8-10 shots.) Fuck around, I do not. 

Holy cow.  I usually only drink the equivalent of 2-3 shots a day.  Any more than that and I'll get jittery.  

 

21 minutes ago, midtown said:

I'll just chime in that I learned a shit load about coffee at a coffee farm in Colombia.  Very interesting stuff.  I didn't know about the grades and how unique every coffee roasters process is.  Seems to be that instead of trying to learn how to be a master roaster you could simply keep trying brands where you like their roasting process and the coffee it makes.   I'd  be surprised that you could actually buy quality almonds from a good grower in order to roast your own vs what the big guys buy.

Home roasters are a very small percentage of the market.  Convenience dominates with American consumers.  I have a hard enough time just convincing people to stop using pods and grind whole bean coffee.  Commercial buyers do have access to a much larger green coffee market compared to home roasters, as most suppliers only sell in large quantity.  Typically the smallest unit they will sell is a bag,  which is 60-70 kg depending on the county of origin.  Also, professional roast masters on their high end roasting equipment are typically going to beat a home roaster.  But home roasting is fun and some people have very specific tastes and feel that the best way to get exactly what they want is to roast it themselves.  

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24 minutes ago, Aphelion said:

Holy cow.  I usually only drink the equivalent of 2-3 shots a day.  Any more than that and I'll get jittery.  

 

Nah. My typical is 2-3 of those a day. No jitters at all. Now go a couple days without, and it's not a pretty sight.

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I'm definitely not doing the whole submerging thing; I just keep it near the surface and keep raising it as the milk expands to keep it in the same spot.   I'll try that tomorrow.   Thanks!

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Convenience dominates with American consumers.  

Are there a lot of Canadian. Russian Italian and French home roasters or do all consumers like convenience?



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19 hours ago, Mojo Hand said:

I'm definitely not doing the whole submerging thing; I just keep it near the surface and keep raising it as the milk expands to keep it in the same spot.   I'll try that tomorrow.   Thanks!

To clarify, you don't need to submerge very deep during the mixing phase.  Just put the wand far enough under the surface to the point where you are no longer ingesting air.  The tip will still be fairly close to the surface when you are focusing on creating a fast whirlpool.  

 

18 hours ago, midtown said:


Are there a lot of Canadian. Russian Italian and French home roasters or do all consumers like convenience?
 

That's a good question on home roasters in other countries; I don't know the answer.  Of course all consumers like convenience.  Of the three primary factors of convenience, quality, and low cost, all consumers want all three, but some value more than the others and this influences their preferred method of consumption.  Convenience tends to be a stronger consideration than the other two with many American consumers (more so than some other markets).  This is why products such as k cups are so popular.  They are fairly high cost per unit and their quality isn't great, but they are incredibly convenient.  

I agree with your advice on finding good local roasters and trying their selection.  I think this is the best way to acquire quality coffee when all factors are considered.  I'm a commercial roaster and not a home roaster and I don't sell green coffee for folks to roast themselves, so I don't have any reason to promote home roasting.  I was just offering some perspective as to why some folks roast themselves.  

 

I posted my picture in the above post on an old Photobucket account for some reason, but apparently they don't do 3rd party hosting anymore.  So I again took a few pictures of a double shot 8 ounce cappuccino I made this morning at the house.   Here is the extraction as viewed from underneath the portafilter.  I drilled this PF out myself (notice the exposed brass inside the PF around the internal circumference) to make it a bottomless.  From this view I can see that my machine could use a wipe down; the one at the shop is kept immaculate by the employees, but apparently I'm not as diligent.   

This is an even extraction with no channeling.  All the coffee in the PF is contacted by the water.  As you can see, this is still a heavy, syrupy shot even though this was dosed with the normal amount of coffee for a double shot (around 18 g).  

VyaKOFd.jpg

 

Here is the cappuccino immediately after pouring.  Notice you cannot see the foam line clearly yet, as the textured milk is still fairly homogeneous.

pJrtlZv.jpg

 

Here is the same drink about 30 seconds later.  Notice you can now see that the foam line has separated out.

9Tptf0T.jpg

 

Edited by Guest

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I use this and am really happy with it. My compromise between weak shitty k-cup coffee and single serve fast convenience. I can buy grind and use my own beans and it brews in a few minutes and easy to clean. I’m buying a French press for the weekends for a stronger brew when I have more time.

4d55930d60d57c2d7404bf1a13f41290.jpg

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 agree with your advice on finding good local roasters and trying their selection.  I think this is the best way to acquire quality coffee when all factors are considered.  I'm a commercial roaster and not a home roaster and I don't sell green coffee for folks to roast themselves, so I don't have any reason to promote home roasting.  I was just offering some perspective as to why some folks roast themselves.  

I appreciate your input and insight.

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Back when I was picking beans in Guatemala, we used to make fresh coffee, right off the trees I mean. That was good. This is shit, but hey, I'm in a police station...

great thread.  props to those with the big brains dropping some knowledge. 

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On 4/1/2018 at 11:12 AM, mackavelli said:

Last one roasted on the 25th, received on the 28th.     its fun to get different beans every shipment.  I am settled on Bella Donovan right now but I can always change that for next shipment.  I may be overpaying ,but damn I love the coffee.  and I figure it saves me from going to coffee shops and overpaying for their coffee.  

 

Take the quiz.  see what blend you should start with:  https://bluebottlecoffee.com/coffee-match

 

Thanks, I'm starting with their Hayes Valley. 

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On 4/1/2018 at 10:12 AM, mackavelli said:

Last one roasted on the 25th, received on the 28th.     its fun to get different beans every shipment.  I am settled on Bella Donovan right now but I can always change that for next shipment.  I may be overpaying ,but damn I love the coffee.  and I figure it saves me from going to coffee shops and overpaying for their coffee.  

 

Take the quiz.  see what blend you should start with:  https://bluebottlecoffee.com/coffee-match

 

$17 for 12 oz seems kinda expensive to me.  $17/lb would even be too pricey in my book.  

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