Saturday, August 10, 2013

Towards a more perfect grind..

If you followed along in the first post and roasted yourself some green coffee beans into a roast you want to try - or if you purchased some (fresh roasted I hope!) coffee in whole bean form - you need to get it into the ground state before you can extract the coffee goodness. Typically to do this you'd use a coffee grinder. Unfortunately for us coffee snobs, most of the grinders available to us mere mortals are of the spinny blade type. These don't grind the coffee as much as bash it into semi-uniform sized chunks. Some say the blade type also heat the beans slightly, thus destroying some of the goodness of a freshly roasted bean. If you can get one, try to find an offset burr grinder, it will produce a more consistent grind and won't subject your precious coffee beans to a thrashing at the hands of a hundred mph metal blade. They are more expensive, no doubt, but Target sometimes sells one for around $25.00 that I've been using for the last 6 months that is decent and has an adjustable grind fineness setting that seems to work pretty well. If you want something a lot better head over to Sweet Marias and see what types of devices they have.

I've also heard that you can get a burr grinder attachment for the front of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (a fact that's not a surprise since I think you can get a tablesaw attachment for those mixers). I've never attempted to use one of these although we do have one of the Kitchen Aid mixers. From back in my home beer brewing days I heard good things about the burr grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid - to properly brew whole grain beer from scratch you need to crack the barley but not grind it. So you need a grinder with some precision. I'd love to hear from someone about the grinder attachment.

Depending on the type of brewer you'll be using will determine the fineness of the grind. For a pressed cup like you'd make with the aeropress or a french press, you'll want a finer grind than you would for a drip maker (bleh, generally). Experiment a bit to see what suits your taste.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Starting up the blog

I've been wanting to start a frugal coffee snob blog for a while. The idea for this blog is to detail ways to get great coffee without spending a lot of money doing it. If you feel like a K-Cup machine is all you could ever want for a great cup of coffee, then this blog might not be very interesting or useful to you.

I will focus on coffee and ways to make good / great coffee. I think at last count I had at least 8 different ways to make a cup (or more) of coffee, not 8 machines / devices, but 8 ways, some with multiple machines / devices; for example, at least 2 french presses, but that only counts as 1 way.

The top two things you can do to get great coffee is first to roast your own coffee. This can both save you money and give you fresher and should be better coffee. You can buy green coffee beans from a local supplier in larger metro areas and by mail order from places like Sweet Maria's. To roast it you'll need some sort of heating device. I use an air popcorn maker. Details of what specific type you need are on the Sweet Maria's site. Basically you want an air popper with air vents that will spin the beans as it heats them. Then you need to read up a bit on how to actually roast coffee and what to look for to get the roast you want. Warning: gadget people can end up spending a lot of money getting roasting equipment together. But you don't need all that to get good results. My most recent air poppers have been from Target and cost less than $25.

The second thing is to get an AeroPress from Aerobie. You can find them on Amazon for less than $24 (at least I did when writing this post). This will let you press shots of espresso that are almost too smooth. Then you can use a shot or shot and a half to make a nice Americano. When my wife first tasted coffee this way, she said this is too smooth, it doesn't seem like coffee. (I think she meant it's not bitter enough to be coffee, but she uses cream and sugar in coffee whereas I drink it black.)

These two items will make a good start to getting a great cup of coffee. Next I'll cover how to go from beans (your own roast or purchased whole bean roasted coffee) to ground coffee. And at some point dive into few other ways to make coffee, some decent and at least one other excellent way.