Coffee nerds!
December 14, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to make truly excellent coffee or even espresso at home? Are fancy machines necessary? Dethroner is doing a theme week about coffee with a guestblogging pro coffee nerd dispensing some dense yet practical advice about beans and brewing. Don't miss the latte art video which makes it look so easy.
posted by the_ill_gino (29 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The 'dense' link probably should point to this
posted by rajbot at 2:08 PM on December 14, 2006

Six words: Cafe Bustelo in a Moka Pot.
posted by thecaddy at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2006

I second thecaddy's stovetop espresso recommendation, though mine doesn't happen to be the Moka Pot brand. For foam, there are decent pump-action foamers. They work about as well as the foamers on mid-level machines.

Fancy equipment? Bah. My stovetop espress maker will last at least a decade, and it cost me about $50. The foamer was $15. And I don't lose 3 cuft. of counter space.
posted by gurple at 2:16 PM on December 14, 2006

In before aeropress.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:21 PM on December 14, 2006

I was fairly certain we had a previous post about this before, but I couldnt find it (apologies if I missed it). In any case, the Toddy cold-brewed system is pretty nifty and makes some darn good joe. Not very cost-efficient though. You only get about 12-15 cups of coffee from an entire pound of beans in my experience. Fine coffee though, and low acidity for folks like me with sensitive tummys.
posted by elendil71 at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2006

The only equipment I need is a stainless steel Vietnamese coffee filter and some Trung Nguyen coffee. There's no filter to dispose of, so no waste, it's super-easy to use, and boy, that coffee's strong. I suspect the lack of a paper filter means more of the coffee's oils and flavor make it into the cup.

Brewing takes about 5 minutes. I prefer mine with some sweetened condensed milk and over ice.
posted by drtofu at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2006

I third the stovetop espresso maker, but I am currently in love with my $40 Aerobie Aeropress which I discovered on Metafilter and finally located in Canada.
posted by unSane at 2:33 PM on December 14, 2006

They don't seem to mention Turkish coffee (self-link, which, jeez, I've even linked to before here) on that site. Dead simple, no waste, and yummy. Hard to take on the bus, though, which is why I usually go stovetop.
posted by gurple at 2:33 PM on December 14, 2006

I like coffee, but not as much as I like This is Coffee, which carefully explains how to produce "perfection... in a cup."
posted by phooky at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2006

Aeropress is teh awesome.
posted by photoslob at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2006

This aeropress... it's an upside-down french press, right? "The filter in the French Press is at the top of the mixture. Because coffee floats, the floating grounds clog the filter and makes pressing and cleaning very difficult." Yes, that must be it... these aren't the droids I'm looking for.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2006

I've wondered before, wouldn't it be better to pull the grounds up out of the water? But then I guess it'd take a while for all the water to drip out. I definitely need to try the aeropress.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2006

It ain't French roasted without absinthe.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:13 PM on December 14, 2006

Yeah, the Aeropress looks like minor improvements on the French Press. Except it cant sit there single-serving size and elegantly designed next to my mug of coffee.
posted by vacapinta at 3:21 PM on December 14, 2006

Trung Nguyen coffee? Isn't that the same as Kopi Luwak? (Haw.)

I got a free Senseo pod coffeemaker recently after I took a marketing survey. It's sort of a combination of drip and espresso: The water is forced quickly through the podful of grounds and then through a foam-producing mesh. It's quite smooth, but of course you're stuck buying the pods. It takes two pods, at $.40-50 each, to make a mugful. Oh, and it only brews by the cup.
posted by Tuffy at 3:33 PM on December 14, 2006

I guess I'm a coffee-luddite, but the best (i.e. optimally priced and delivers a superior brew) coffee making implement I have is my Melitta #2 Filter cone. Super easy to use, and allows you to control most of the variables that go into a sublime cup of coffee.
posted by scalespace at 3:57 PM on December 14, 2006

The aeropress (thanks, Metafilter!) looks kinda french-press-like, but its forcing of the water through the grounds under pressure means that the result really isn't that similar. It really does make something quite similar to espresso. I switched from French Press to an Aeropress after my French Press died, and I'm really happy. Of course, I'm the only coffee drinker in the house; it does not work well if you're trying to make coffee for more than one person.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2006

For many years I used the humble and ubiquitous Bialetti "Little Man" stove-top espresso pot, found in virtually every Italian kitchen from Bolzano to Palermo. For the last 5 years or so, though, I've been even happier with the Alessi Pelicano, which seems to have a virtually indestructible rubber gasket. It is highly dependable and makes a delicious pot every time. A good quality rubber gasket is key to stove-top espresso pot performance!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2006

The Aeropress is not really very like a French Press at all. It is much more like a syringe which squirts hot water under high pressure through a plug of espresso ground coffee.

Clean up is ridiculously easy.

The coffee it makes is closer to the stuff that comes out of a stovetop espresso maker than anything else.

However best thing about the Aeropress IMO is that you can finesse the coffee that comes out of it almost infinitely by varying the temperature of the water, the coarseness of the grind, the amount of coffee and the length (if any) of steep. It is a coffee nerd's dream.

(FWIW I use 3-4 scopps of coffee and a full container of just off-boiling water, because I like quite a bitter brew since it cuts through the milk I put in it).
posted by unSane at 4:40 PM on December 14, 2006

Agree on Aeropress. Another variable to tweak is heating the beans in a pan before grinding which releases oils and/or toasts them slightly (more).
posted by stbalbach at 5:14 PM on December 14, 2006

The best thing I've got for the Aeropress: stir it longer than the package says. Give it at least 20 seconds, more like 30, before you press it. It brings out a range of flavors that you can't get with a ten-second stir. I loved the Aeropress already, but now my love, and my coffee, is even stronger. I just bought a second one for my brother('s house, where I drink coffee and he doesn't) and will be getting one more next week for my father-in-law('s house, where I drink coffee and he doesn't).

There are also great experiments going on with different filtering materials. You can learn pretty much everything there is to know about that, and the Aeropress in general, hither.
posted by bink at 5:25 PM on December 14, 2006

Best tip. Not best thing. Best tip.
posted by bink at 5:25 PM on December 14, 2006

I've never learned to like coffee, but thanks for the link to Dethroner. I found the site a couple of months ago, but forgot to bookmark it.
posted by maudlin at 5:32 PM on December 14, 2006

Sure you can, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than hitting up Peet's (or $coffee_chain) every morning.
posted by drstein at 6:07 PM on December 14, 2006

The only equipment I need is a stainless steel Vietnamese coffee filter

posted by jack_mo at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2006

Fully fledged geek here. And while I've got a Bialetti Stove Top, a French Press and a Cona vacuum pot, I wouldn't be without my Euro2000 and Mazzer Mini for anything.

Though the loss of kitchen countertop real estate is a bit of a pain, it isn't that much more than I lost with my previous Gaggia Classic and Starbucks-rebadged Solis Maestro.

Working from home, it's the only way I'd have access to professional quality espresso on a daily basis, and while the learning curve is a little steep, with the help of Steve at Has Bean, I can now confidently say that the coffee round at my house is the equal or better of anywhere in the UK.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:20 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Aeropress for the win.

1.25 oz fresh beans coarse ground on a burr, filtered water hot from an electric kettle with thermostat set to 85C, fill syringe to top of "4", press into insulated 18oz mug, top up with hot water and enjoy. My wife and I start every day like this, and it doesn't get any better.

It's 10 minutes from running the tap to first sip for two cups, but they pass quickly and I can still load the dishwasher while the water is heating.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:20 AM on December 15, 2006

Hello everybody! I'm glad that other people like to make coffee on the stove too. I usually make my coffee by boiling tap water in a big metal pot and then throwing in handfuls of the cheapest pre-ground coffee I can find. When the grounds sink I just scoop out the brew with my mug. Yum!
posted by fuq at 5:58 AM on December 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I went into this thread ready to say the Aeropress is the greatest thing ever and looks like everyone beat me to it. I use 2 scoops of finely (between drip and espresso) ground beans (unfortunatly I got a whirlybird), lately I'm working through a pound of French Columbian Peaberry (yay Porto Rico!), and I put in 175degF water to the 2, stir for 15 and press, and top off with a 1:1 mix of the leftover water. YUM. On weekends I'll use my silly cheap milk frother which suprisingly works very well (and cost $15).
posted by Mach5 at 7:25 AM on December 15, 2006

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