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Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 804
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I want to learn about great coffee, i.e., brands, roasting, brewing... Everything. Is there a great coffee forum that is reliable? Books? I visited a couple and I can see that the coffee folk are as fanatical as the homebrewers are, and that's a good thing.
Jim
 

Denny Conn
Senior Member
Username: Denny

Post Number: 6139
Registered: 01-2001
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 08:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jim, if you don't get responses here (unlikely!), then mosey over to Tastybrew and post a message for Bob Girolamo or Tom Fries. Both roast some killer coffee.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6306
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 09:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jim, I think there is enough information to get you started here: http://www.sweetmarias.com

I admit I have become almost fanatical about roasting my own coffee. I have a hard time stopping at Starbuck's when my own coffee at home is so much better.
 

John Jacox
Member
Username: Johnj

Post Number: 209
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, January 19, 2007 - 09:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I second the Sweet Maria's website. If you want to get started on the cheap, I believe they still tell you about using an air popcorn popper for roasting. After about three years, that's still what I use. As they say though, be sure it's the right kind or you get immense smoke, beans being blown out, and the possibility of a fire. (Don't ask how I know, just say that sometimes I tend to ignore sound advice!).
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 806
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 10:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, guys. I'm not cheap even though I'm a disciple of the Conn method of batch sparging. This coffee "thing" doesn't seem nearly as expensive as homebrewing can be.
Jim
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6312
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 12:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Using a $6 thrift shop hot air popper (slightly modified), in an hour I roast enough beans for a week's worth of truly wonderful coffee. I can't imagine going back to supermarket beans.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1206
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2007 - 11:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I broke the glass vessel in our roaster just before Christmas and we had to go back to supermarket beans until I could get a replacement. It was a shock. I hadn't realized how good we had it.
"God bless us all, every one."
 

Tom Greenspon
Junior Member
Username: Tgreenspon

Post Number: 29
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2007 - 02:42 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Just want to second (or third) the Sweet Maria's suggestion. Three or four years back, I was flipping through a homebrew catalog and ran across a coffee roaster. My wife is the same kind of coffee snob as I am a beer snob, so I asked her if she would be interested. She was, and since then she has been an active member of the Sweet Maria's list and has graduated to some awesome equipment, which turns out the kind of coffee you can't get in any chain. Like beer, coffee has a shelf life and most coffee shops keep even the roasted whole beans, let alone ground coffee, way too long. Tom and Maria are outstanding, and they're glad to be helpful to enthusiasts. (NAYYY)!
Tom Greenspon
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 810
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 01:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, all! For some silly reason this coffee business seems more daunting to me than when I first started researching homebrew. Maybe it's my age.
Jim
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6323
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 01:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Relax, Jim. It's really quite simple, about one-fifth the effort required to brew a batch of extract beer.
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 811
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2007 - 08:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill,

Do you use a French press?
Jim
 

Rick Dau
New Member
Username: Rcthd

Post Number: 11
Registered: 08-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 12:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do you also buy the beans at Sweet Maria's or other places?

Rick
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6326
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 01:38 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jim, I use an thermos-style carafe drip coffeemaker. Not that I don't appreciate a French press.

Rick, I'm in Canada, although I have ordered through Sweet Maria's to a US address in the past. My normal suppliers are some good folks in Toronto who have a very nice coffee house and roasted/unroasted bean business: Birds & Beans

(Message edited by BillPierce on January 23, 2007)
 

Miker
Advanced Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 625
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 05:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Add me to the list of spoiled coffee drinkers. We've been roasting for about 3 years now with the small Fresh Roast (I think that's the correct brand name) and could never go back to regular coffee. When that machine gives out we'll get a larger roaster for sure.

B3 also has C3 (coffee, coffee and more coffee) and you can order coffee, homebrew supplies and winemaking supplies at the same time and get free shipping over $59. We just got some green beans from them before Christmas and they were a lot cheaper than we can find locally.

No affiliation, of course. Just like the idea of ordering all my vices from one place, and free shipping on a heavy product (coffee beans) to boot.

http://morecoffee.com/?FLAVORID=
 

Jon Steinhauer
Senior Member
Username: Jstein6870

Post Number: 1067
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 02:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow, I didn't realized this discussion was taking place here, and I did not realize how mane brewers were also coffee roasters!

Beer, coffee, bread and cheese seem to go together, for some reason.

I was introduced to home coffee roasting several years ago by another home brewer who let me borrow his "old" roaster for a while.
Steinhauer
 

Steve Sampson
Intermediate Member
Username: Sampsosm

Post Number: 320
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 06:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Been raostin with the "Popcorn Pumper" for a couple years, always check thrift stores every once in a while for poppers, also look on Craigslist.

I recently found someone selling a Poppery II on Craigslist for 5 bucks, about 2 blocks from my house!

Also check eBay....

I highly recommend starting with a popcorn pooper, to keep your financial investment to a minumum while figuring out if you are into it.

Popcorn Poppers: the Zapap Lauter Tuns of coffee roasting!
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6346
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 - 08:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I use a $6 thrift shop hot air popper, just as I was able to brew award-winning beer with a Zapap bucket lauter tun. The popper produces a very even roast. If you invest in a thermometer you can control the degree of roasting very accurately, although it takes a little experience to know what temperature produces the desired roast because each popper is a little different.

In about an hour I can roast enough beans for a week's worth of wonderful coffee. So far I've found no need to graduate to the "BrewMagic" of roasters; I can't see how the coffee would be any better.
 

Steve Sampson
Intermediate Member
Username: Sampsosm

Post Number: 321
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 04:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree Bill, by the way you say your popper is "modified", did you do the switch where you cut off the heat, so that you can cool the beans quickly, or install a thermometer, or?????
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 812
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 08:37 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Since I'm the "green horn" here, I'd appreciate some advice on the BEST way to brew coffee- not necessarily espresso, if there's any difference.
Jim
 

Steve Sampson
Intermediate Member
Username: Sampsosm

Post Number: 322
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 03:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey, sorry for the thread hijack.

The BEST way to brew coffe is the way that gives the flavor that you personally enjoy the most!

I prefer french press, BUT lost my french press, and just use a drip coffee maker because of the convenience, I can program it to have the coffee ready in the morning.

Espresso is nice, but also more work, and you need to get nicer equipment to have REAL espresso.

HTH
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6354
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 03:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Steve, I merely added a thermometer to the popper. As for cooling the beans, I have one of those old fireplace popcorn poppers I lined with some aluminum screen. I dump the hot beans in that and wave it through the air for a minute or so. This cools the beans relatively quickly.

Jim, asking what is the "best" way to roast coffee is a little like the "best" way to brew beer. Fortunately roasting is less complex; in my opinion you're guilty of overthinking. Take the plunge and do it. Your understanding, confidence and the results will improve with some experience, but you won't do badly even your first time out.

As for espresso, buy a variety of unroasted beans that lends itself to a dark roast, and do your thing. Grind the roasted beans very fine and use a good coffeemaker.
 

Miker
Advanced Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 626
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 03:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It took me a short time to get used to the french press coffee my wife was into when we first met, but now I think it's definitely the way to go. I'm enjoying some right now.
 

Jon Steinhauer
Senior Member
Username: Jstein6870

Post Number: 1074
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 05:43 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

To say there is no best way to prepare coffee is also like saying that Maxwell House in a cheap drip coffee maker is good coffee, if you think it is good. Bud Light is a good beer, too, eh?

While degree of roast, variety and to a certain degree brewing method are matters of taste, you can not argue that freshness of roasted beans, water quality, per "batch" coffee quantity, water temperature and infusion time are essential factors that should be adhered too. The brewing is at least just as, if not more important than the roasting.

Generally, press and vacuum pot brewing are the most consistently good ways to make coffee, depending on which you prefer. Drip coffee makers can be okay, but it is difficult to find machines that heat the water to appropriate temperatures and infuse the grounds for an appropriate length of time. And consider, a good drip maker will set you back at least $80, if not more, and a good press pot no more than $40.

If you are going to go to the effort of roasting coffee, you might as well prepare it as best you can.

Once you do it, you'll never be able to drink the swill out of the pot at the office.
Steinhauer
 

Steve Sampson
Intermediate Member
Username: Sampsosm

Post Number: 323
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 03:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, many people would say that Bud Light is the best beer, the point we were trying to get across was that it is an opinion, and the best way to make coffee is subjective.

I prefer espresso, but cleaning the milk frother after making a cup can be a pain.

With french press, water has to be heated.

My drip coffee is extremely convenient, and makes coffee that I enjoy very much.

In a world of trade-offs, I consider it the best.

As always YMMV......
 

John Jacox
Member
Username: Johnj

Post Number: 211
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 - 10:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Am I strange, or does anyone else do this too? I guess I like variety (just like with my beers), I'm constantly buying green coffees of different origins and rotating them from one roasting to the next. I usually have three to five varieties in the house. Right now I've been drinking an Indian Monsooned Malabar. The taste difference between some of the coffees is extremely interesting and not subtle at all! Having said that, it's interesting to note that I have been married to the same woman for 22 years, so maybe I don't need variety in all aspects of my life!
 

Jon Steinhauer
Senior Member
Username: Jstein6870

Post Number: 1079
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 01:25 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I buy coffee two pounds at a time, varying the roast slightly between batches. Sometimes I will go back and buy more of something I found particularly interesting. I often have five or six different types sitting around.

Brewing of coffee is like sparging/lautering. Too hot, too long, to dilute, you leach tannins and other harsh components. Too cool, you lose out on body and the good flavors of coffee. Wrong temperature, wrong concentration, wrong time, wrong result. This is not my opinion, but the opinion of all experts on coffee that I have heard/read. If there is information counter to this, then I am simply ignorant of it. Brewing a good cup of tea is the same. I will not argue that fresh roasted coffee brewed in a bad drip coffee maker is not better than anything you otherwise get, I'm just suggesting it could be better. It takes about five minutes for me to heat the water. The inconvenience is wort it to me.

Espresso is a whole different thing. I'm speaking only of infusion brewing of coffee. I'm not a big espresso fan.
Steinhauer
 

Ginger Larson
Junior Member
Username: Ginger

Post Number: 54
Registered: 08-2001
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 02:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I buy most of my beans from the Green Coffee Coop:
http://www.greencoffee.coop
Coop members buy coffee in large lots, and distribute it to members in 5 lb increments. I have about 15 different varieties of beans, and roast 6 different beans each week for that week's coffee. I try to have a Central, African, Indonesian, So. American and a Middle Eastern variety each week.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6393
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 27, 2007 - 07:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Good to see you back, Ginger.
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 813
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 28, 2007 - 04:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks, Bill. But, i asked the best way to "brew" coffee, not roast it. And yes, I tend to overthink things.
Jim
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6403
Registered: 01-2002
Posted on Sunday, January 28, 2007 - 04:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry, Jim, after I made my post I realized you were asking about brewing rather than roasting espresso. A good espresso maker can be somewhat pricey. I have a very small (only two demitasse cups) old Italian model that is about 40 years old (it was my mother's), but I don't use it that often, as I'm not a huge espresso fan. Grind the beans very fine. As for regular coffee, like has been mentioned, a french press does an excellent job, but a good drip coffee maker is much more convenient. The key is to ensure that the water is the correct temperature (at least 180 F but 190-200 F is better). Many coffee makers heat the water only to about 160 F or so.


(Message edited by BillPierce on January 28, 2007)
 

Miker
Advanced Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 628
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Monday, January 29, 2007 - 04:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the link to the Coop, Ginger. I read over the FAQ and it looks sort of complicated. Probably not once you get into it, but just wondering what an average price per pound is by the time you add it all up. Say I wanted to order a few 5lb packs of different beans from one distibutor and deliver to an address fairly close to the distributor?
 

Ginger Larson
Junior Member
Username: Ginger

Post Number: 55
Registered: 08-2001
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 08:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Miker -
It's actually not too complicated once you start. The shopping cart calculates the Coop fee, and most distributors use the USPS flat rate boxes - 10lbs fit nicely into the 8.10 one, unless you're ordering Monsooned Malabar, or another over sized bean. The average price of the beans I've been ordering is 2-3 dollars a lb. If you order 5 lbs, your total cost is between 4 - 6 dollars per lb, and that cost goes down if you buy 10 lbs or more.
The main problem with the Coop now is being able to order beans. Membership has grown, and it's not unusual for 1000+ lbs of coffee to sell out in a matter of hours after it goes into the shopping cart. If you have the abiltity to continually check on the website when coffee is being put up, though, you can get some terrific beans for a decent price.
If you do live close to a coffee distribution center, you might want to consider becoming a distributor; you'd get your beans cost, without coop fees or shipping.

BTW, Bill - thanks for the welcome back. I still lurk from time to time, but don't post much.
 

Steve Jones
Intermediate Member
Username: Stevej

Post Number: 282
Registered: 08-2001
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 10:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I rarely look at any topics other than B&V, but this one caught my attention today.

I roast 8 oz of beans at a time using the heat gun /dog bowl method. It takes about 12 minutes, and I cool them by pouring into a 12" strainer and stirring while held in front of a fan. 2 batches will last me over a week.

To brew the coffee use an electric percolator here at home, and a French Press at work. I like the percolator much better than drip, and almost as much as the French Press.

Like Ginger, I have been buying from GCC for a few years now. And at first there would be beans available almost any time you went to the site. But now, as Ginger said, 1000 or more pounds will sell out in just a few hours. I usually buy 25 or more lbs at a time, and my total cost averages about $3 or slightly more per lb. And the quality is great - every bit as good as SM's where my average cost was about $5.50.

Just don't wait until you're out of coffee before trying to buy some. Even if you can't constantly lurk, the distributors usually will post a note in advance as to what date/time they expect to put their distro in the cart.
 

Miker
Advanced Member
Username: Miker

Post Number: 630
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 03:57 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the info. I might give GCC a try. I'm easily discouraged if I have to spend a lot of bs time on a website trying to save a couple of bucks, though. If the selection is outstanding and I can get coffee there that I can't find elsewhere then that's another thing.
 

Rick Dau
New Member
Username: Rcthd

Post Number: 12
Registered: 08-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2007 - 04:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

What do you use to grind the beans? and what would be a good bean to try for the first time. looks like there are several to pick from
Thanks
Rick

(Message edited by rcthd on February 11, 2007)
 

John Jacox
Member
Username: Johnj

Post Number: 216
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 11, 2007 - 08:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I had been using a whirling blade grinder, but it results in a lot of powdered coffee. Since I use a french press, I usually had a lot of sediment at the bottom of the cup. Not a big deal. However, today my 83 year old mother gave me my fathers antique coffee grinder that had been in his family for about a century. It would appear to be a burr type grinder with an adjustable gap. It is mounted on a wooden box with a drawer underneath. My first attempt left a grind that was too fine, so I loosened it up and we will see what results tomorrow.
As for type of coffee, I would recommend buying small lots of several different types of coffees to begin with. You might want to try Central or South American coffees first before trying some of the African coffees. (Some Yemenese, Etheopian, and other coffees have strong "earthy" flavors). Personally, for most of my everyday coffee drinking I prefer coffees that are low acid (brightness) because too acidic of a coffee seems to give me a "sour" stomach. YMMV!
 

Jim O'Conner
Advanced Member
Username: Roguejim

Post Number: 947
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 - 07:18 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I still haven't taken the plunge, but I'm close. I just got back from Maui, and noticed how expensive Kona coffee is. How does this particular coffee rate in the world of coffee.
Jim
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 1319
Registered: 02-2002
Posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 - 02:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Some Kona coffee is among the most expensive in the world. But "good" and "bad" have no meaning when it comes to personal taste. My wife and I have settled on an Ethiopian Harrar as our day-to-day variety because it is rich and very aromatic. But it's hardly considered top-shelf. We can get green beans from a local roaster for $5.50/lb. We've tried the Kona Purple Mountain Extra Fancy at nearly four times the price and found it didn't suit us as well.

So I would second John's advice: buy 1lb each of a bunch of different varieties and see what you like.

My local retailer does mail-order, too: http://www.roastmasters.com. Their prices and selection are about as good as the GCC without the hassle factor. NAYYY.

John, I'm envious of your grinder. My grandmother had one just like you describe, which she'd gotten as a wedding present. Back when I was a kid, only "those crazy Eye-talians" down in the cheap part of town bought whole-bean coffee at the A&P and didn't have it ground at the store. Grinding coffee for my grandmother was one of my favorite chores when I went to visit. A lot of memories were attached to that thing. It was one of only 4 or 5 things I wanted out of the whole house. We scoured the house after she died and never found it. She must have given it away or thrown it out. Cherish yours for the family history as well as the grind.
Patriotic dissent is not a luxury. It is essential for the proper functioning of democracy and free society.

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