Coffee

Melitta 10-cup Pour Over

Melitta 10-cup Pour Over

AeroPress

AeroPress

Coffee is an essential part of my day, and in resent weeks, I’ve taken it a bit more seriously. This all began when Kristin’s coffee maker died. She began looking for a new coffee maker and I suggested my Cuisinart model. It has 2000 four and five star reviews on Amazon, but Kristin, being more thorough than me, also noticed it had 500 one star reviews. So she read those and was disturbed to find that they all said things like “this was a great coffee maker until it caught fire.”

My husband is a firefighter. If you tell me something in my house is prone to catching fire, it’s not going to be in my house for very long. Out went the Cuisinart and thus began my journey to better, safer coffee.

As it turns out, people have strong opinions about coffee. Many people suggested a Keurig, but I quickly realized that wasn’t a good option for me for a variety of reasons. The first is that I drink six, five ounce cups of coffee every morning one right after the other. The second is that I’ve been grinding my own beans for a long time, so I’m used to paying a premium for coffee, but I’m not used to paying double what I pay now for freshly roasted beans just to have prepackaged ground coffee in those little plastic cups. They are too expensive and they produce a lot of landfill waste. As for the reusable Keurig cups, that’s a better option, but grinding beans and filling one of those six times every morning doesn’t sound very convenient.

I looked at French presses, but I don’t like the sludge factor. I like a clean, bright cup of coffee and the French press produces a murky, thick cup of coffee. I know a lot of people who love them, but I don’t.

I considered another drip coffee maker, one that didn’t catch fire, but after doing so much coffee research, I realized that most drip coffee makers don’t get the water hot enough for a really great cup of coffee. Since I was getting high quality, locally roasted beans from places like Beanetics in Annandale and Catoctin Coffee at the Leesburg Farmer’s Market, it seemed like a good time to up my coffee making game.

After much reading about coffee and watching many YouTube videos on how to make coffee, I settled on the Melitta pour over pictured above. It produces a clean, bright cup of coffee just like I like. Using the Melitta, I often drink coffee black now rather than adding cream.

Colin, however, prefers the AeroPress pictured above. He is a big fan of chicory blended coffee and prefers his coffee with a lot of milk, so the espresso-like concentrate that the AeroPress creates is perfect for his morning routine.

Kristin settled on a beautiful Chemex like the one pictured below. Like the Melitta, it produces a clean, bright cup of coffee, but it’s also super pretty.

Whatever your coffee preferences, I encourage you to try some of the methods I’ve mentioned. I was surprised by the difference and I don’t think I have a particularly sensitive sense of taste. There is a lot of wonderful coffee out there to be enjoyed. I want to try it all.

Chemex 6-cup

Chemex 6-cup

17 thoughts on “Coffee

  1. I just want to point out that while I do love the Chemex, I also deeply enjoy a cup of muddy french press sludge from time to time.

    Nice post. 🙂

  2. If your French press is producing sludge, your grinder probably needs adjusting or replacing. We have a Baratza Virtuoso and while my pressed coffee certainly has a bit of sediment in it, it is far from sludge. As long as I don’t drink the last sip, it is a fairly clean cup. If you are using a blade grinder, throw it in the trash can and order a Baratza Encore ($129) or a Virtuoso ($229). A quality burr grinder makes a world of difference. By far the most important piece of coffee gear.

    I use my Chemex every morning, but I am also very partial to my Hario V60. I like the Clever Coffee Dripper for a good immersion brew without and sediment – it’s cheap and uses filters that are available anywhere. I have read astoundingly good things about the Kalita Wave, but mine got back-ordered and I am still awaiting its arrival.

    • Hi David,

      I say sludge mostly to irritate Kristin who is a fan of the French press. As for grind, you’re absolutely right, but sadly, the only time I can tell a difference in grind is with a French press. There is a noticeable difference with the right grind in a French press, but I honestly can’t tell the difference in grinders with the pour overs. My taste buds are just not that sensitive. I also can’t, for instance, taste the paper filter and can’t tell a difference if I wet it beforehand or not. You sound like a guy with a lot of coffee gear and a very sensitive sense of taste. I envy you that. I am, however, completely intrigued by the Clever Coffee Dripper. It sounds a lot like something I use to make tea. I might have to have one of those. Thanks for the tip!

      • I’m very sensitive to overly extracted coffee, and grind size makes a big difference in how quickly (or slowly) a pour over drains, which of course is what determines how it extracts. I play with settings and keep a log of what I make, how I made it, and how I liked it. I’ve found that, with my Hario V60s, I like to set the Virtuoso to 16; with the Clever dripper, I like 18 best. When I grind for the press pot, I set it to 40, its coarsest setting. (The Clever allows for control of steep time, so one could grind coarser and increase the steeping time accordingly, if one were so inclined.)

        One nice thing about the Clever: it does not require a dedicated pouring kettle, as the V60 and Kalita Wave do. If you are already grinding your own coffee, and you have a hot water source, all you need is the Clever dripper ($22 from Amazon) and some #4 filters (Melitta, $3.50 for 100, Bed Bath & Beyond). It’s good for producing up to about sixteen ounces of coffee at a time; I tend to do 20g of grounds and 340g of water, which gets me about ten ounces of brewed coffee, perfect for my smaller morning mug.

        If you’re up for ordering online, Intelligentsia’s Organic Kurimi is fantastic (provided you enjoy African beans). I also really enjoy Ceremony’s Worka. Lately I am roasting my own beans because it’s waaaaaaaaay cheaper, but those are two coffees that are worth your attention/dollars.

    • David, out of curiosity, how loud is your Baratza? I have a manual grinder (Camano by Red Rooster) that I got primarily because of the positive reviews for its press grind, and while it’s a great little American-made mill, it does get a bit tedious when I have company.

      • Kristin, it’s around 74 decibels, if I recall correctly. (I measured it at the request of another friend, but I’m at work and don’t have my phone on me to check.) That might sound kind of loud, but it’s not really – my wife can’t hear it in the bedroom (same floor, only a bathroom between our bedroom and the kitchen), and my eight-week-old sleeps right through it in our living room, perhaps ten feet from it. It’s certainly not silent, but I wouldn’t call it “loud” either. I’m happy to take a video of it this evening and send to Jo for her to forward on to you.

  3. David, that’s incredibly kind of you – but just knowing that you don’t consider it overly loud is very helpful. I’ve read that the higher end Vario is particularly quiet, but not much has been said about the loudness of the Virtuoso, which is what I would consider if I decide to get an electric burr.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • The Virtuoso is awesome, and I can recommend it without reservations. I considered a Vario, but a fellow coffee snob on another forum I’m on has written that its greatness for espresso is countered by its mediocrity for other brewing methods. To grind for non-espresso brews, Baratza sells a different set of burrs. Once he switched his out, he was happy with the results, but his recommendation was to save the money and get a Virtuoso unless you’re doing espresso.

      I am certain you already know this, but on the off-chance that you do not: Baratza sells refurbished grinders at fairly steep discounts, and they come up for sale on baratza.com every Thursday morning. I think the Virtuoso goes for $150 refurbished, but it’s not available right now for me to check.

      http://www.baratza.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?search=action&category=RFRB

  4. David, thanks for that tip and the link – I really appreciate it!

    Making a press pot now – I had a craving. There’s something terribly enjoyable about seeing freshly roasted ground beans froth and foam when the hot water first hits them. 🙂

  5. Marie, can you confirm that the drip cone on the Melitta 10-cup has three holes? Also, how many fluid ounces does the carafe hold? No one has a straight answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s