View Full Version : Questions about coffee:

14-03-2005, 10:52
In a book I have at home, it says that, "according to experts," cafe filtre (where boiling water is added to ground coffee in a carafe and the grounds are pushed to the bottom with a plunger) is "the absolute best way to make coffee."

I've also read that percolating is the absolute worst way to make it (presumably because more of the bitter oils are leached from the beans as the liquid is recycled?). If this is so, why do so many Italians still use those little stovetop percolators to make espresso?

In a third source, I read that (bar Turkish coffee, perhaps) the strongest coffee is filter-drip, which should be made with UNSOFTENED, UNFILTERED water in order to prevent too many of the oils from being leached out. (This is supposedly how McDonald's makes their fresh-brewed coffee in the States.)

Any thoughts/comments/recommendations on the above, or on coffee-making in general?

14-03-2005, 10:59
the first and most important rule of making a good cup of joe is to start with the beans. if they are not fresh (slightly oily looking), then forget it...they should also be freshly ground. I use the 'french press' method...put the grounds in, pour in water from the kettle once it's hot, stir, and then let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending upon how strong I want it), before plunging it and drinking it. i also tend to use dark roasts -- Kalosi, Brazilian Santos, Guatemalan Antigua, Tanzanian Peaberry, etc -- and keep the beans in the freezer until i run out of a small amount in a tightly closed jar in the cupboard. i have taken to using filtered water in the kettle, simply b/c my flatmates had a fit that i was using tap water, and then boiling it...i also use a special coffee ground scoop...can't remember how much it is (about a tablespoon, i think). One scoop per 1 c. of water...

i'm dubious about the McD's reference to coffee. it has always seemed vile to me...

14-03-2005, 12:35
You should NEVER pour boiling water onto coffee grounds, it burns them and the resulting coffee will be bitter. I use a Gagia espresso machine which grinds the beans freshly for each coffee. From the ‘base’ espresso I then make a cappuccino, latté, Americano etc, etc

I agree with veejay the beans are the key, however you make your coffee, and which bean is a matter of personal taste.

14-03-2005, 12:53
And real espresso is made with compressed steam, as I understand...? :confused:

14-03-2005, 12:57
Originally posted by boscoe
You should NEVER pour boiling water onto coffee grounds, it burns them and the resulting coffee will be bitter.

Yes, indeed...i let the kettle settle a bit before pouring the water in the karafe...sorry for any confusion...

likewise, for any sort of 'machine' made coffee, use cold water...

14-03-2005, 13:05
My machine uses hot water and steam that is pumped under pressure through the coffee (this is the same as most commercial coffee machines) – found this on the net see point 9 (temp under 100c)

1. Blend - Without a good espresso blend you cannot have a good espresso. Coffees must be blended to achieve the sweetness, aromatics, and smoothness desired in espresso. The blend must also be fresh. We recommend using espresso within four days of roasting. Please see the espresso blending section for help on creating your own blends or order some excellent espresso blends from either Caffe D'arte or Espresso Vivace.

2. Roast - Too often you will find espresso roasted very dark. This results in a bitter, charcoal tasting brew. People that know how to blend espresso will roast light to preserve the aroma and sugars. More information.

3. Grind - The grind must be continuously monitored throughout the day to achieve an extraction time of 25-30 seconds. Do not change the pressure you tamp with to compensate for a grind that has become too large or small. More information on grinding.

4. Grinder - A high quality burr grinder is essential for espresso. A conical burr grinder is preferred to flat burrs since the particle size is more even, they last longer, and the coffee is not heated during the grinding process. If the burrs become hot the aroma of the coffee will be diminished. A conical/parallel hybrid blade is considered the best design by many coffee professionals.

5. Dosing - Coffee must be freshly ground to achieve peak flavors. Grind and dose on demand. When someone orders an espresso grind only what is necessary for one shot, dose properly, tamp, and brew. Discard any espresso grounds that are not used within 30 seconds. See dosing for detailed information.

6. Distribution - Distribute the coffee evenly after dosing in the porta-filter before tamping. More information.

7. Tamping - Tamp the coffee once very evenly with 5 lbs of pressure, then once with 30 lbs of pressure, and polish 720° with 20 lbs of pressure. More information.

8. Water mineral content - The water used for espresso must be filtered. Some cities must even compensate for the mineral content of their water. Over time oxygen will be forced out of the water in the espresso machine leading to off tasting water. Try filling a small glass with water, letting it cool, and tasting it for off flavors. If the water tastes strange you may want to dump the tanks daily and begin with fresh water.

9. Water temperature - The water temperature should be stable and somewhere between 92-96°C. The choice of the espresso machine is very important to both water temperature and temperature stability.

10. Temperature stabilizing - A stable temperature means consistent espresso. Click here for more information on stabilizing the temperature of your espresso machine.

11. Water pressure - The pressure of the water forced through the espresso should be between 9 and 10 atm. This pressure is responsible for the development of the crema.

12. Boiler pressure - The boiler pressure determines the amount of water to be incorporated in the steam. If your milk is not foaming correctly as described in milk texturing you may want to experiment with different boiler pressures, but this should only be altered by professionals. You can check your boiler pressure by looking at the boiler pressure gauge on the front of most espresso machines.

13. Extraction time - Extraction time to fill two 1-oz cups should be between 25-30 seconds. Despite the time the pump should be turned off if the espresso becomes slightly lighter in color. The goal is to have a dark red espresso take approximately 25-30 seconds to brew with no change in color. More information.

14. Porta-filter and basket - The porta-filter should always remain the same temperature as the water used to brew the espresso. Therefore it should always remain in the group head. The basket should hold 16-18 grams of coffee and must be straight walled. Curvatures in the basket will lead to uneven extraction.

15. Timeliness - Act quickly, but carefully. You should spend no longer than 30 seconds for the time it takes to dose, distribute, tamp, pre-heat, and brew the espresso.

16. Espresso machine cleanliness - This is probably the biggest problem with espresso today. If the machine, basket, and porta-filter are not cleaned regularly the espresso will always taste rancid.

17. Espresso grinder maintenance - Everyday the burr blades should be swept clean. Between shots you may want to brush out the excess espresso that gets stuck between the burrs and the dosing chamber. The burrs must be replaced at least yearly so that they continue to produce coffee granules with a maximal surface area.

18. Environmental Factors - The humidity and temperature will change throughout the day. Since coffee is hydroscopic (absorbs moisture), the grind size must be changed throughout the day to achieve a brew time of 25-30 seconds. The temperature will not affect the espresso like the humidity, but it is important to avoid exposing the coffee to any high temperatures until brewing.

19. Espresso cup - The espresso cup should be pre-heated from a source other than the espresso machine. Filling a cup with water from the espresso machine prior to brewing the espresso will lower the temperature of the water in the boiler and the espresso extraction will be uneven. The espresso cup should have thick walls and a narrow mouth to retain heat and aroma, respectively.

20. Practice - I cannot overstress the importance of practicing and experimenting. The key to espresso is to realize that it always has further potential. By changing any one of these factors you can improve or diminish its potential. Espresso preparation is an art that demands the precision and dedication of science. I have never achieved, nor have ever seen a perfect espresso. A perfect espresso more of a concept than an actuality. The beauty is that espresso is volatile and difficult. If it were easy we would develop a machine that can brew a perfect espresso every time. There are so many factors involved in espresso preparation that only a human mind and a passionate heart can begin to understand and control its complexity.

15-03-2005, 10:37
...realy neat the instructions..
how do i make coffee at home?
i buy the best i can get in town ( king hadranaut from julius meinl, sold at the little tea shop in the corner of the food mall down in the bowels of the manege, at stockmanns, aliya parusa)
at home we have a filter for the tap water. for the perculator i use ordinary 'melitta' paper filters.
coffee comes ground already and since we drink a lot there is no chance it gets old, stale or oily.
1 soup spoon, heaped, for each cup of coffee, we love it strong, the machine does the water by itself..
presto, and finish is a super cup of coffee.
clean machine once a month with vinegar concentrate (80%) this removes all the scale and other build up, and is by far cheaper than any commercial scale remover ( WHICH ALSO USES ONLY CITIRC ACID as main ingredient)..
we use cold milk, sugar and that's it.

15-03-2005, 23:06
Wow, did not think I would need a Phd to make a simple cup of coffee......

:p :p :p

16-03-2005, 04:38
Sorry, old man, but Mickey D's java is only a last resort on my list. Ack. Survival mode only and all that sort of thing. :vomit: Not that I'm a gourmet - other than D's, I'll drink just about anything!

16-03-2005, 08:14
A post about coffee at 04:38am? Seems the effect is kicking in!

16-03-2005, 11:31
..namibia, you don't need a phd to make a cup of coffee, as you don't need an engineering degree to set the video recorder or what?

16-03-2005, 12:08
Have any of you tried Mac Café – they sell ‘premium’ coffee in there and I have to say it isn’t bad at all!

16-03-2005, 12:23
Originally posted by zcyka
Sorry, old man, but Mickey D's java is only a last resort on my list. Ack. Survival mode only and all that sort of thing. :vomit: Not that I'm a gourmet - other than D's, I'll drink just about anything!

Originally posted by Namibia
Wow, did not think I would need a Phd to make a simple cup of coffee......
Don't need to be a rocket scientist to fry an egg, either, but there's a particular way to do it if you want it to come out good! :D

As for Mickey D's, I'll take their fresh-brewed coffee over some of the stuff I've had in high-priced restaurants any day. It's vastly superior to that horrible "French Roast" coffee that a lot of places were offering last time I checked. So far as I'm concerned, French Roast tastes like artificially-flavored vanilla mould. YIK! :sick:

That said, it's true nothing beats a good cup of espresso or cappucino. Still, for your average Caffe Americano, McDonald's suits me just fine! The Nescafe they feature here now ain't all that bad, either.

(I can remember the days when they didn't even have coffee on the menu in Moscow. Talk about your major withdrawal symptoms.... :cry: )

16-03-2005, 16:17
Great info! Thanks, I might just stick to tea ;)

17-03-2005, 03:29
Sorry about that, Shatner. You're right. I wasn't counting french roast as coffee. If that's on the list as coffee, Mickey D's isn't on the bottom rung. :D