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The Coffee thread


Shimmyhill
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I have so many coffee questions and i keep jumping into other threads so i figured i should have one. There appears to be lots of coffee fans so any input is most welcome. I have a few specific questions to start.

1) I am fed up with my filter machine, its a Kenwood jobbie and when you make a pot it seems to stew in the glass jug. First cup is nice but a 2nd even 10 mins later has a different stewed taste. I assume the filter is letting coffee thru and continuing to brew it. I either want a new machine or a better cafetiere than i used to have (was a bodum one and the filter used to go all stabby on me)

Any recommendations for either ?

2) I have an espresso machine, not the greatest fan of it straight but like many espresso based drinks. I am going to get a burr grinder (as mentioned in the ultimate thread from JL) and i am looking for advice on beans and storage. My preferred ground espresso is illy or gaggia at the moment. Filter wise i am partial to Columbian but do tend to buy lots of the various taylors packs. What beans would be a good place to start and where is the best place to buy.

3) I assume you can use the grinder for both espresso and filter coffee just making the filter coffee finer ?

4) De-scaling the gaggia, Gaggia say 4-6 weeks or 3 months in a low scale area, i use filtered water but how about folk here - i have just done mine (first time since December 06) and there was defi some on the shower head and i dont want to mess the machine up with scale. The gaggia chap in Norwich will service the machine once a year, seemingly for free - i assume this is a good idea ?

Well thats me for now, any further tips and tricks or further questions feel free to add - i am determined to get rid of instant coffee (of course Tracy bought 2 big jars this month :wub: )

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I've been getting into "proper" coffee lately, first just with a cafetiere and ground coffee, and since Christmas with my Espresso machine, which I love.

I now buy Lavazza espresso beans, and grind enough for about 2-3 days of espresso in a Whittards electric grinder. I tend to be happy with a double portion of espresso, plus sugar, and haven't really gone into making cappucino or latte. Occasionally I microwave half a mug of milk and add two espressos, but I know that's a lazy and "wrong" way to go about it.

I've also just been bought a bag of beans from the Monmouth Coffee Shop, near Borough Market. Haven't tried them yet though.

By the way, I think it's the other way round for your 3rd point. Espresso is a brief, high pressure process, so I think the grind needs to be finer. And you're right, the grinder does both, you just do it for longer if you want it finer.

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The reason your filter coffee is shit is that the first cup is brewed coffee, but then when it sits on the hotplate (even for ten minutes) it's being continually heated. There's bound to be some chemical reaction type reason for why this makes it taste dreadful, but I don't know it. It gets the same taste as if you microwave a cup to reheat it. Stay away from filter machines, is my advice.

Cafetieres are good, if you don't mind the slight bother cleaning them. Not sure what you mean by the filter going stabby, though. My bodum works fine. The other way to go is one of those stove top espresso makers. They're just awesome.

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I've always fancied a proper coffee machine but I could never be bothered with the hassle of cleaning them and grinding beans e.t.c. So instead I bought one of those coffee machines that use little pods of coffee and it's excellent. Pop in a little coffee pod, flick the switch and you get a really nice coffee. Mine's a nespresso system which means you can only really get ahold of the pods online but the quality of the coffee is at least as good as I get in most restaurants and there's no cleaning anything afterwards!

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By the way, I think it's the other way round for your 3rd point. Espresso is a brief, high pressure process, so I think the grind needs to be finer. And you're right, the grinder does both, you just do it for longer if you want it finer.

Yes my bad, i did mean finer for espresso and coarser for filter but the interface between brain and keyboard failed again ;)

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Personally, I wouldn't bother with a filter machine or a cafetiere. If you get a big coffee in a Nero or wherever, they make it Americano by doing an espresso (or double) and then adding hot water. Works for me, anyway.

Beans - You want them as freshly roasted as possible. This means avoiding supermarkets if possible, and not stocking up huge amounts that'll only go stale after a few weeks. Whittard seem to be widespread enough and they do some pretty reasonable beans. Grind as many as you need for that moment, and no more. Within 30 minutes of grinding them (less even, if you believe the sort of people that post on coffeegeeks.com) they're losing taste and freshness. As you've already discussed, finer grinding is for the espresso machine. A decent grinder (dualit one is also available as many other brands, Starbucks for example. I got that ahead of the Gaggia one as it's got an anti-static tray for the grinds.) will have a lot of different grades so you need to experiment. 2-3 notches out of 20 (I think there's that many, don't really go down the other end!) works well for my espresso machine. My boss tells me that air humidty affects this too, the nutter.

My morning routine: Switch on espresso machine. Hop in shower. Get dressed. Grind beans for an espresso (approx 20 seconds). Make coffee. Feel better about the world.

On the descaling thing - I've never heard of having to do it that often. Every 6 months would be more like what I've been told. Interesting! And a free service sounds like a handy thing to have!

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I like bitter tastes :) (that and I usually have pretty short americanos)

Where do you get a good filter coffee from if you're out and about? Whenever I end up with one in the UK it tends to taste like its been sitting there for hours.

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Guest alisdair

1. Filter machines have always seemed too much hassle for me. I bought a decent cafetiere from John Lewis, and it makes great afternoon coffee. Even better if you grind your own beans just beforehand.

2. I buy all my beans from HasBean. They roast and date each bag, so you can work out when you prefer your coffee. I find it's best about 3--10 days after roasting. I'm using a Gaggia Classic with the Gaggia MDF grinder.

3. You can use the same grinder, but filter coffee should be coarser than espresso. Cafetiere coffee should be coarser still.

4. Every three months I clean the shower head with water and a cloth. We haven't had the machine a year yet, but will descale it around that time. And a free service can't hurt!

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Guest alisdair
Where do you get a good filter coffee from if you're out and about?

All the Starbucks I've ever been to have two filter coffees on the go, one of which is FairTrade. I've found them to be consistently pretty good.

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I like bitter tastes :) (that and I usually have pretty short americanos)

Where do you get a good filter coffee from if you're out and about? Whenever I end up with one in the UK it tends to taste like its been sitting there for hours.

Monmouth, if you're in London. They just use those little individual white ceramic thingies (with a filter bag in) that you put over a cup. If it's good enough for them it's good enough for me at home.

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I don't think I've ever bought one in a coffee bar place like that. At home or in restaurants or in Italy only. They're too easily cocked up. Ack, I've reminded myself of the restaurant that made two espressos from one 'dose' now. Which isn't sooo bad except they did it one after another, so I ended up with a small cup of watery shit :unsure:

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Cheers guys, lots to be going on with. I think i shall pick up a grinder and cafetiere from John Lewis next week.

I actually bought some starbucks filter coffee and its not that bad, i dont like the major high street coffee places - i actually find McDonalds do a better coffee :unsure:

When i was in Spain in Jan there was a little restuarant over the road from out hotel, they did a fantastic coffee - espresso with a little milk in so not quite a latte/cappuccino. Cafe au lait they called it and it was fantastic, under a euro and i could drink it all day. The muck served here for at least twice as much annoys me :D

Alisdair - do you take the showerhead off to clean it (unscrew and the plate falls off in my case)

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  • 7 months later...

I recently got a cafetiere and am enjoying the benefits of filter coffee. ;) So much more energy than when I was on instant. Can anyone recommend some particularly nice beans I can pick up at the Supermarket?

To stop the coffee being bitter you're meant to leave the water a couple of minutes after its boiled before pouring it in the cafetiere, otherwise the heat burns the flavour out of them. One great tip I heard was to heat up your cup for a minute in the microwave before pouring the coffee in. Keeps the drink nice and hot without losing the flavour. :) With 2 minues in the kettle and 5 minutes in the cafetiere it can get pretty cool otherwise.

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Get yourself down to M&S and get their Italian blend. Its 227g for £2.29, and it tastes absolutely lovely. Nicer than the regular stuff in Whittards, and cheaper too. Certainly the best supermarket coffee I've tried. Coffee is like wine. The specialists are great, but you can also find lovely stuff in the supermarkets if you look around.

Worth getting a good airtight jar as well. Those glass ones that Douwe Egberts freeze-dried coffee comes in are excellent, and you can put a half pound of beans in the bigger one and keep it in the fridge.

It is great having a grinder/caffetiere combo. the coffe tastes great, no real cleaning to do, and piss-easy to use. I got a decent espresso machine last year, and the cafetiere still gets more use, purely out of the convenience and quality factor.

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Worth looking in a Whittards if there's one near to you. We got a nice electric one for about a tenner last year, from the outlet store in Portsmouth. Tchibo and Ikea are also worth a look.

Try looking around in the sales. Places like Debenhams, BHS and the like probably do them for a reasonable price when they're trying to shift stuff this time of year. Otherwise, look on eBay.

Our food processor has a grinder attachment with it, for coffee and spices. If you have one of those appliances you may already have one in a cupboard somewhere. It would save space in the kitchen as well.

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