Note:  I originally published this in 2004, but since it was orphaned at the old site, I figured I should bring it here.

>

I’ve been to your home or apartment. We’ve broken bread, drank some wine or beer, had a few laughs and a good time. Its getting late, and some caffeine would be good for the ride home.

Here’s the problem: Your coffee sucks. That’s right, I said it: You do not know how to brew a good cup of Joe.

You suffer (actually, I’m the one who suffers) from one of four likely problems. Lucky for you, opinionated bastards like me are here on the ‘net to give you good advice you didn’t even know you needed:

1) You Use Crappy Coffee. Forget instant, that’s not even under consideration. Store bought, no name, canned ground coffee is at its best, mediocre. If you buy a good French Roast, and use 5 to 6 heaping scoopfuls (not spoonfuls, but those little plastic scoopers), you get a halfway decent brew.

But most people don’t. They buy whatever lame ass coffee is on sale that week, and then they use  miserly portions. Bleeeccch.

2) Your Coffeemaker Sucks

That’s right, its a piece of shit: It brews too fast, and it doesn’t make the coffee hot enough.

A good brewer will slowly let the water drip into the basket, allowing the natural oils, flavor and aroma of the beans to come out. Ahhhhh, can you smell that? Hmmmmm.

Ideally, your brewer will use fresh filtered water, crank up the heat, and then have the warmer turn off quickly — otherwise, it will burn the brew.

By the way, when was the last time you cleaned that stanky coffeemaker of yours? You can buy commercial products, or just run a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Clean it every six months or so.

3) Your Coffee Was Ground Ages Ago

Forget the stuff in the can — that was factory ground in 1994. I’m talking to the people who buy beans, ground them up immediately, and then put them in a jar in the fridge for months. That starts the gradual loss of flavor and aroma immediately. (Why even buy beans?)

You want beans, and you want them ground as close to the brewing process as possible.

4) Your Tap Water is Nasty

Depending upon where you live, your tap water ranges from tasty to industrial run off to chemical contaminants to carcinogenic.

Cancer flavored coffee tends to taste bad.

OK now you know why your coffee sucks. Let’s resolve each of these issues for you poor shlumps who up until know, did not know any better (but now ya do):

1) BUY GOOD COFFEE

There, that wasn’t too hard to figure out, was it? It doesn’t have to be expensive, just good.

My favorite coffee supplier is Porto Rico Importing; They have excellent coffee, and its about 1/2 to a 1/3 of what Starbucks charges. Here’s their contact info:

201 Bleecker St.
New York, N.Y. 10012
212-Gr7-5421
1-800-453-5908
Fax:212-979-2303

http://portorico.com/

If you are tight with the moolah, then you can stock up during their twice yearly sales: Going on in the Springtime sale (April 15-30); They run a fall sale (for Peter’s birthday) in October.

Try the Danish Blend (1/2 Mocha & Java, 1/2 French Mocha), or Peter’s Blend (1/3 French Mocha, 1/3 Colombian Supremo, 1/3 Venezuelan Tachira).  Both are on sale for $3.99/lb this week.

I’m sure there are plenty of other good roasters in your region. Outside of NYC, the Fairway on Long Island has their own roaster — also good coffee at reasonable prices.

Hunt around a bit, you’ll find something.

2) Get a Kickass Coffeemaker

My old machine is the Capresso CoffeeTeam Luxe 10-Cup Electronic Coffeemaker with Conical Burr Grinder. It cost me about 2 beans (I never see it go on sale). Its a great balance between performance and cost. The next step up beyond it are $600 to a few grand (see pictures at bottom). That’s a lot of wood, Jerry.

For half the price of my machine — about $100 — there’s a decent looking Cuisnart. It comes in Black or White; You can spend $150 for the Chrome machine, but at that point, you are better off spending the extra 50 clams for the Capresso.  I’ve never used this Cuisinart machine (but I have used their previous model grind and brew). Please post any comments on this if you have first hand experience (There’s a wide range of opinions at epinions).

Way back when, Toshiba made a grind and brew called “My Cafe” — and it was terrific. They still pop up on eBay, and in used appliance stores from time to time. Nice symmetrical design, too. There was a cottage industry repairing them. If you see one, grab it.

3) Grind Your Coffee Fresh

The ‘grind and brew’ machines resolve this issue. If you don’t want to go that route, than buy a small burr or blade grinder. As close as possible to the actual brewing, freshly grind the coffee beans. (Hmmmm, smell the aroma).

If you grind them at night for the morning’s coffee, that’s acceptable. Anything longer than that loses too much flavor.

4) Use Fresh Filtered Water

You have plenty of options: Some people buy the large 5 gallon jugs of bottled Deer Park water, or, you can buy the 2 gallon refrigerator size. Others use a separate filter (i.e., Brita) — its a pain, but better than tap water.

We installed a Moen carbon filtration system right into our kitchen sink; Most brand name kitchen hardware companies — Moen, American Standard, etc. — offer this as a modestly priced option. If you are remodelling your kitchen, this is a MUST DO option. If not, it is merely highly advised.

Yes, I’m being a bit on the picayune side here? Yes, but that’s the price for really good java.

I’ve been meaning to get this post up for sometime. Now go make me a good cup of coffee. I’ll be right here waiting . . .

UPDATE October 29, 2006 7:53 am

I originally posted this here over 2 years ago. This week, I received as a birthday gift the latest Capresso Design — and its awesome: The Capresso 455.05 CoffeeTEAM Therm Stainless Coffeemaker/Burr Grinder Combination

Capresso_455


Yeah, its $300 — but its the best machine I’ve come across that’s under 4 figures.

~~~

P.S.You probably don’t want to spend this type of wood, but consider what you get if you spend 10X as much, you can get the $3,000 Magic Saeco.

Now that’s a nice looking machine . . .

magic_brew

Graphic courtesy of  New York Times

Category: Food and Drink, Weekend

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

19 Responses to “Your Coffee Sucks!”

  1. leftback says:

    Tell this to Starbucks. Their coffee sucks.

  2. polizeros says:

    Another way to make coffee even better. Roast your own beans. It makes way better coffee and is actually quite a lot cheaper too.

    SweetMarias.com has dozens of green beans, carefully graded and taste-tested, for $5-6 a lb and they sell coffee roasters too.

    Once you’ve had fresh-roasted, store-bought isn’t even close.

    Starbucks nearly burns their beans. That’s why the coffee sucks. With home-roasting, you control the roast.

  3. Tyler K says:

    What! No salsa dispenser?

  4. karen says:

    Appreciate the bean link.. i do use filtered water and grind my luscious, rich beans fresh each morning, however, you will never get me to part with my french press for any electric coffee maker, no matter how fancy.. A fun repost! thanks!

  5. BR,

    that Post is Great~ Porto Rico, among others, might even be happy to have a Copy, or a 1000 (they can do That)..

    this, though: 4) Your Tap Water is Nasty

    Depending upon where you live, your tap water ranges from tasty to industrial run off to chemical contaminants to carcinogenic.

    Cancer flavored coffee tends to taste bad.

    Shouldn’t be overlooked, or rationalized, away, into the ether..
    http://clusty.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&query=water+quality+issues

    it should be noted that BR, in, above, snip, Wasn’t being hyperbolistic.

    But, sadly, Carbon-block filters only go so far (as in, not far enough)..

    the Good News is there are nano-tech applications that can go ‘all the way’.

    til then, these: http://www.berkeyfilters.com/ are, about, as good as it gets in the Volume/Longevity/Price matrix..

  6. mooga says:

    Genius! And so correct! Trader Joes also has excellent beans at a reasonable price – for those of us stuck in the ‘burbs.

  7. bhenick says:

    For those unwilling to roast their own beans, I commend the beloved-to-highfalutin-tech-types Stumptown Coffee Roasters, who just opened a retail location in Midtown. Unless you’re the kind of snob who insists on having their entire cup of coffee from one spot on the map, they’re not too shabby.

    The roaster who sells me my beans suggests to his customers that even the whole beans start losing their freshness asymptotically after a week. I’m skeptical about truth:salespitch ratio, but only a little.

    I gotta disagree, however, with the notion of spending more than $60. on a coffeemaker, unless it comes with a lifetime guarantee and you’re filtering your water at of the tap to remove buildup-prone minerals. If you’ve got a vacuum decanter and a wire filter, you’re on the right track. …And not only do traditional glass decanters on hotplates murder your coffee, they also do a number on your electricity bill. I drink coffee throughout the working day, and when I finally got around to buying a rig with a vacuum decanter, it paid for itself in about five months.

    Unless you are serious-as-a-heart-attack about your espresso, stick with a proper drip or perc rig. Pulling shots is an art, and an expensive one to learn.

    Don’t bother with weak coffee unless you’re some kind of mutant. Drink perc’d or properly infused tea instead.

    What BR said about cleaning your coffeemaker is the next thing to gospel. Remember to run one or two pots of plain water through it after you clean it.

    Another prospect to consider is French press coffee. It’s more labor-intensive, but I lost count of my press-flogging friends a long time ago. …And there are 4-cup presses for those who serve dessert to company on a regular basis. Added bonus: they don’t mysteriously kick the bucket at the worst possible time, unless you’re a klutz.

    Finally, Starbucks does char their beans, but I’m pretty sure that their technique does something for the caffeine kick. Also note that they’re the reason why we care about coffee in the first place. (Just think back to twenty years ago, eh?)

    P.S. These comments could really do for a Preview facility.

  8. MileHigh says:

    Your coffee still sucks btw simply b.c you don’t use a french press. There really is no comparison. I don’t drink coffee unless it comes from a french press. I will add that I gave up coffee due to heartburn, but sitll enjoy an occasional cup out of the french press

  9. dimitris says:

    +1 on Stumptown

    On splurge options, we had a fully automatic Saeco in the office years ago which we bought for way under $1000. I don’t see anything in the $3k one above that the old one didn’t have.

    I also have to plug Whole Latte Love for coffee equipment and supplies. My dream splurge option there would lean towards less automation.

  10. mixylplik3 says:

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    The best coffee keeps things simple. I used to get seduced by $1000+ super automatics but they are not necessary. Spend some money on a good grinder. None of this pulverize coffee to a pulp dime-store crap, get a decent burr grinder. A $10 kettle to boil water and $30 Chemex coffee maker (http://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/Coffeemakers.htm). I use locally-roasted beans and it’s by far the best coffee I have ever consumed. Check out coffeegeek.com, it’s the highest-rated coffee maker there and those people are crazy!

  11. donna says:

    Well, don’t come to my place — we don’t even drink coffee…

  12. donna says:

    salsa dispensers would be GREAT, tho!

  13. ceengel says:

    The power of your words! I started looking for a grind and brew yesterday online. Ended up in Dillards where I picked up a Cusinart 10-cup with thermal carafe that I think was mispriced. $60!

  14. Joe Facer says:

    Good as far as it goes. A low bucks Saeco semi or fully automatic espresso machine can be had for between$400 to $600 if you are on the look out/right place and right time. The fully auto machine includes a burr grinder and does the deed with very little fuss and muss. Life’s too short and hard and for God’s sake once you buy the beans, don’t you DESERVE the very best cuppa coffee you can get from them?

  15. Joe Facer says:

    A fully manual real espresso machine (not a $90 little steam powered bitter burned coffee horror) can be had for ’bout 2 and a half.

  16. ElectricAngel says:

    The REAL word on the best way to make coffee is here: http://gizmodo.com/5345785/giz-explains-how-to-actually-make-coffee
    They do not favor ANY pot or maker that cannot get to 200 degrees F. The capresso is missing from their recommendations. I excerpt: “The drip coffeemaker you’ve got at home and at your office on the left here? It sucks. Remember earlier, how I said consistency is the key to coffee? A consistent temperature is crucial, and most drip makers can’t deliver that. They can’t even deliver the right temperature to begin with. 200 degrees is the golden temperature for brewing coffee, and most drip pots top out at around 180, which isn’t hot enough for a proper extraction. Plus, they probably wet the grinds unevenly, making it worse. In fact, Ken and David both say that the only drip brewer who can deliver that is from Technivorm (on the right), whose drip brewers actually meet the temperature standards of the Special Coffee Association of America. And Technivorms coffeemakers aren’t cheap, going for around $200″

    I still think the best cup of coffee is from my tabletop vacuum-suction pot that works with an alcohol-fueled bunsen burner, but it’s a ROYAL pain to set up for everyday use. It makes for the best coffee theater, though.

  17. [...] be fair, this was not a blind taste test, and my pre-existing hatred of instant probably colored my view. I am curious if other ordinary coffee drinkers liked [...]

  18. Kekepana says:

    I’m sipping my coffee on my lanai in the tradewinds by the water this bright sunny morning. Living in Hawaii doesn’t help my stock trading because I miss half the trading day, but it does have it’s compensations. And when you combine it with freshly-brewed Kona coffee directly from a French press, life doesn’t get much better. I have used a French press for many years and it makes even a mid-grade coffee taste pretty good. Guests always rave about the coffee and coffee makers don’t come less expensive than a French press. Cleaning is easy (just rinse with cold water and a clean sponge). Or put it in the dishwasher.

  19. WaveCatcher says:

    Here’s what I drink (French press), but maybe that’s because it comes from my cousin’s farm!

    http://www.ariannafarms.com