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Machine Recomendation -- best trade off between ease of use and decent coffee
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zelbinion
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Denver
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:42am
Subject: Machine Recomendation -- best trade off between ease of use and decent coffee
 

First off, I am not a coffee drinker.  However, my wife is, and she's very frustrated.

We had a Mr. Coffee drip machine and a grinder, but my wife complains she can't make a consistently decent cup of coffee with it, so it went into the basement.

I bought her an electric kettle and a french press, and she is happy with the quality of the coffee, but she complains it is too much work to both brew and then clean up to get a cup of coffee in the morning.
(We have two young kids -- a super active 2 year old and a 3 month old.)

So, what I'm looking for is the best solution to get my wife a decent cup of coffee with the minimum of fuss.  My (her) requirements:

  1. Brew two or three cups a day, every day (If we need to make coffee for company, we'll use our drip machine -- this is only for her daily coffee.)
  2. No more than ~20 seconds prep to start brewing
  3. No more than ~20 seconds to clean up afterwards
  4. Time from prep and starting to brew to completed cup is not as important, as this does not require actively doing anything (if it takes 6 minutes to make a single cup of coffee, but set up and clean up are easy, that's okay)
  5. The quality of the coffee must be at least decent (My wife will be the first to admit that she does not require the best cup of coffee money can buy, but it needs to be at least 'good' or the ease of use of whatever system we buy won't matter.)
  6. I would prefer to spend less than $200 on the whole system.


So, the priorities are (in this order):
#1. Ease of use -- she does not have time between nursing a 3mo. old and corralling a temper-tantruming 2 year old to mess with a coffee machine. It MUST be very VERY simple and fast to use. I'm at work, so there is no one to help her, short of driving through Starbuck's
#2. At least 'good' coffee -- does not have to be the best cup of coffee money can buy, but has to be of respectable quality.  In other words, instant coffee is not good enough.
#3. Cost less than $200
#4. Won't break in 6 months

I've done some reading about the "pod" machines, which look like an ideal solution, but I find that with the popular models (mainly Keurig brand) the reviews are quite mixed.  Many complain of weak, tasteless coffee, and many more complain the machines are expensive and break very quickly.

Of course on the internet, you can find a bad review about anything.  Are the Keurig machines really that bad?  Are there pod-type machines that don't break as easily and produce decent coffee?  Is there another solution (different type of drip machine, aeropress, mocha pot, espresso machine [that can do an americano]) that I should consider?  I've had people recommend the Nespresso brand pod espresso machines, and to just use the 'Lungo' mode.  However, I understand this tastes different than coffee (more bitter?). My wife does like a little half and half in her coffee, so maybe a 'Lungo' with some milk/half and half would be okay?  (Again, I don't drink coffee, so I'm pretty clueless about the finer details.)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,351
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 4:18pm
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

Maybe add this to the French Press:
 http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/kiss.html

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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Skylar
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2004
Posts: 133
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: lelit espresso
Grinder: lelit grinder
Vac Pot: B. D. Electric
Drip: chemex
Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 5:47pm
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

I pulled out my chemex recently and followed the recommendation re weight of coffee and water found on the Intelligentsia  web site.  The coffee made was much better than any prior using this system. I guess paying attention to dose by weight really is superior. Who'da thunk it!

Takes little time (boil water, 4 minutes brew time on average) Since the chemex filter is used, the clean up is throwing the filter and grinds into the garbage and rinsing out the glassware.

The glassware is not pricey comparing it to an electric machine, the amt. of coffee made using the intelligentsia proportions (44 grams coffee, 700 grams of water) gives me 3 cups of very good coffee. I should mention I am using fresh beans (Redbird) and, of course grinding them right before using.

If this is too much of a hassle or the fresh beans, or the grinder thing is an obstacle I understand.

Skylar
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barkingburro
Senior Member
barkingburro
Joined: 23 Nov 2011
Posts: 181
Location: Irvine, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Vac Pot: Trifecta MB, CafeSolo,...
Posted Thu Nov 21, 2013, 12:38am
Subject: Depends how you amortize the cost of single cup packages
 

I think you have a good starting assessment of both Keurig and Nespresso machines.  You really need to have your wife try samples from both.  It will be fun to go into a store like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table and try out their demo machines.  But you should probably stick to the Vue system for the Keurig side, as it makes a stronger cup.

As for quality of taste, your wife may like a Keurig Vue or Nespresso brew, but it will be a compromise and you will pay a premium for that, both in cost of pods and in Keurig reliability and inconsistency.  Can't say how reliable Nespresso machines are.  Also, as far as convenience, you will periodically have a nasty clean-up job, at least for the Keurig.  Again, I have no experience with Nespresso.

Now about that cost.

If you use one of these single cup machines, you'll end up spending at least $200 for a decent machine that is discounted, and approx. twice the cost of high quality coffee beans per cup.  In fact, you are actually spending about $50 per lb. on coffee pods, with the average price clocking in at about $1 per pod for the Vue system.

Let's compare that to using your own beans.  A strong 6 oz cup requires approx. 12 grams coffee, so a pound of coffee beans yields 454/12 or about 38 cups, which at 2-3 cups/day, will last your wife a little over 2 weeks.  The price of that pound can be $25 for high-end coffee, but with a little shopping for subscription delivery services and a little samples tasting, one can easily find delicious coffee selling for less than $20/lb. delivered.  For the Keurig Vue you will spend $40 for the same 38 cups, but they will be weaker. And for lesser systems you can find even cheaper pods, resulting in weak muddy water that matches the underdosage of coffee.

In 10 weeks time, you will have spent $200 for pods, as compared to $100 for high-end whole beans.  In 30 weeks--a little over half a year, you will have spent $600 vs. $300.  What could you have bought if you had taken that $300 savings as part of your budget?

You could have bought a Bunn Trifecta MB.  And never compromised on convenience or quality.  Google it.  Or read about it on Amazon (yes, that's my review):

Click Here (www.amazon.com)

 
- Michael
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kschendel
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Nov 2008
Posts: 279
Location: Pittsburgh
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Maestro
Roaster: Freshroast
Posted Thu Nov 21, 2013, 6:39am
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

The Nespresso and Keurig machines are expensive to run.  If she likes what comes out, it might be worth it, and you can be reasonably sure of consistent (if rather mediocre IMHO) quality from the pods.

It might be worth considering something like the Behmor Brazen, or even the Bunn Phase Brew, which brew at proper temps, if that grinder you have is any good.  If it isn't (ie if it's a whirly-blade or fake pressed burr grinder), maybe consider the Capresso grind-and-brew machine, which does a decent job.  Either way, your best bet is to make sure you are using properly roasted and fresh beans, no more than a couple weeks post roast.
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Eastsideloco
Senior Member
Eastsideloco
Joined: 7 Jan 2012
Posts: 45
Location: Austin
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: '74 Cremina, '91 Livietta...
Grinder: Vario-W, mid-century...
Vac Pot: Cona C, Kono PR 3, Hellem...
Drip: Kalita Wave, V60, Chemex,...
Posted Thu Nov 21, 2013, 11:00pm
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

Based on those parameters, I'd get a Behmor Brazen, which is designed for quality in the cup and convenience of use:

http://www.behmor.com/brazen.php

Not sure what you're grinding with now, but ideally you want to use decent burr grinder. If you don't have one already, I'd look at a refurbished Baratza:

Click Here (www.baratza.com)
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Skylar
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2004
Posts: 133
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: lelit espresso
Grinder: lelit grinder
Vac Pot: B. D. Electric
Drip: chemex
Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 5:20am
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

The OP has not mentioned having a grinder or, for that matter, if he and wife use decent beans, or even (Lord help us) use pre-ground store beans. As we are discussing the purchase of some rather pricy machines, clarification about what would go into those machines might be helpful.  

After all "garbage in - garbage out".

Sky
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zelbinion
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Denver
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 22, 2013, 11:27am
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

Wow!  Thanks for all the helpful information so far!

To answer some more questions that have come up:

My wife does have a grinder, but I'm not sure how good it is.  It is a Krupps Type 203, and it has a little metal blade at the bottom (sort of like a blender.)  It is a hand-held unit that can only grind a handful of beans at a time.  She was running pre-ground coffee from the supermarket, but she wasn't happy with that (no surprise), and that's when she switched to whole beans that she grinds one cup at a time right before brewing.

I like that little french press insert that makes cleanup easier -- I think I'll get one of those if for no other reason than to make what she's doing now a little easier.

I was not aware you could go to a Williams Sonoma and try out some of the pod-type machines.  We'll have to try that.  She likes the idea of the ease of use of the pod machines, but they had one at a previous job and she wasn't happy with the quality of the coffee.  The only brand of coffee pod they made available for the machine was "Green Mountain." Her uncle and a good friend both have Keurig machines and they are very happy with them, but both agree "Green Mountain" does not make good pods.  Her uncle likes Starbuck's pods, and I can't remember the brand her friend recommended.  Anyway, if we could find a brand she likes, then a pod-type machine might still be an option. A co-worker of mine had one and didn't like it, but reported that it is easy to sell used on Craigslist for not a lot less than what he paid for it, so that might be an option to just try it out for a few months.

My wife told me last night that she worked at inside a Barnes and Noble in college, and occasionally filled in as the Barista when the regular guy needed a break, so I think that experience might have given her higher standards than the average coffee drinker since she knows what's possible and got to tweak things on some very nice equipment.

I knew the pod type machines were more expensive to run, but didn't realize how MUCH more.  I asked her last night if she could make decent coffee with a drip-type machine would she prefer that over the french press (if only because it would be less fuss) and she said yes.

So, that Brazen machine Eastsideloco recommended looks interesting.  
Another Co-worker recommended a Technivorm machine, which looks to be somewhat similar to the Brazen in that it has better temperature control.

A machine that had a grinder built-in might be nice, too, but I'm not sure if there is such a thing that is both decent and doesn't cost a thousand dollars.  We have limited counter space in our kitchen, so a full-size hopper-style grinder plus a carafe-type coffee machine starts to feel like overkill for brewing a single travel mug in the morning.

Anyway, this is great information.  I will need to talk with my wife a bit more and maybe swing by Williams Sonoma and try to narrow things down a little.

Thanks!
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Mfoster
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 14
Location: Columbia, Il
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: cheapo
Grinder: Capresso Infinity
Drip: Brazen
Posted Sat Nov 23, 2013, 7:01am
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

Check the current posts and reviews regarding the Brazen. I loved the cup the Brazen produced, but my machine completely died after 10 months. I never used purified distilled filtered water. Only at the end after the companies recommendation on cleaning the machine, which worked, did I start using the zero water filter. Still in the end it completely clogged.
Behmor is extremely helpful with issues regarding the maker.

I decided to switch to the Bonavita BV1800TH, instead of trying to get a Brazen replacement. It's 50 cheaper than the Brazen and makes a cup of coffee that's nearly as good. I preferred to have my coffee brewed at the 195-198 temps. The bonavita brews at a higher temp.... But still a great cup of coffee. The over all reviews of the Bonavita here, on Amazon and SeattleCoffeeGear are mostly positive.

In the end, I'm totally bummed, the Brazen made the best coffee I've ever had ! But I want a machine that will last and requires no maintenance.
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Skylar
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2004
Posts: 133
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: lelit espresso
Grinder: lelit grinder
Vac Pot: B. D. Electric
Drip: chemex
Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Sat Nov 23, 2013, 7:24am
Subject: Re: Machine Recomendation
 

Glad to hear your wife uses whole beans and grinds her own. Sad to hear it is in a whirly blade as the amt. of dust produced will tend to diminish the goodness of the brew and the variation in bits of coffee will lessen the production of what can be obtained from those beans.

We do love to spend folks money on this board (can you tell? lol) and I think the other posters may suggest a bit better grinder to deal with those beans, which we all hope are fresh i.e. have been roasted within a short time of purchase, like say, a few days.

Sky
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