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squelchy451
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Aug 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 12, 2013, 11:37am
Subject: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

Hi. I started drinking coffee just for the caffeine, but now I want to drink it for the taste too.
Unfortunately, I'm a student so money is low. My current setup is a Chemex, a cheap Cuisinart blade grinder, and some beans from Trader Joe's. I used to get pre-ground ones or use the grinder at the grocery store, but I found that grinding the beans as I need creates a better cup of coffee.

I know grocery store coffee beans are not guaranteed to be fresh, and I think buying fresh beans is probably the cheapest way I can improve my coffee experience. If I had more money, I'd definitely get a burr grinder and perhaps a different brewing apparatus. I live in Los Angeles, so I'd really like to know where's a good place to buy fresh beans without breaking the bank. I'm new to this, so I probably won't know much difference between very high-quality beans and medium-high ones.

Also, from what I read Chemex removes some of the oils from coffee, leaving it less bitter. However, I think that that would reduce some of the more subtle flavors of coffee. What would be a different brewing method that doesn't require a lot of equipment and allows me to get all the flavors of a particular roast?

Thanks!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,468
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Jun 12, 2013, 1:46pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

There are a lot of ways to enjoy coffee. Some like it with "grit" so they will move in the direction of the FP or Turkish coffee, others like myself favor clean coffee so I look to drip, Aeropress, vac pot and espresso. There is no "RIGHT" way to enjoy coffee.

A blade "grinder" is better than pre ground or in the supermarket but it is VERY inconsistent in the texture of the grind. Everything from boulders of coffee to dust is the result of one of these choppers.

Hand grinders for non espresso use are available for under $50, fresh coffee will run about $12 per pound and up..... some times way WAAY up. The most I have ever paid for a pound of coffee was $75 and I know there are much more expensive coffees out there.

You need not look for a corner shop to buy your coffee, there are a few EXCELLENT roasters right here but within 100 miles. There is Intelly, Klatch, Kean, Portola to name the ones off the top of my head. All roast fresh all the time and ship very quickly for L.A. two days at most using the slowest snail mail.

The Aeropress is very forgiving of the grinder, they are in the $25 ball park. They make an excellent brew and I own two of them. They do use a paper filter and that bugs some people (not me) and there are aftermarket metal filters for them too.

 
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Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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al_bongo
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Aug 2008
Posts: 443
Location: Scotland
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Starbucks Barista
Grinder: Solis 166/Iberital MC2
Vac Pot: Cona
Drip: Chemex/Melitta
Posted Thu Jun 13, 2013, 3:37am
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

I'd say you're on the right track. Some good bean suggestions above, I'm sure, though I've only tried Intelligentsia (excellent but not cheap).

Your not wrong about the grinder but I'd try some good coffees before saving up for a new grinder. The Aeropress is perhaps the most flexible brewer for making  a single cup of coffee and as the previous poster states perhaps the most forgiving in terms of the output of a blade grinder. If you over extract a Chemex brew e.g. much over 4.5 minutes you can get a very bitter unpleasant brew, way more so than French Press for the most part.

You'll get lots of options on here. People love their French Presses. What I would say is if you are unfamiliar with coffee brewed in one you can approximate a French Press with a pitcher. Just add just off the boil water to coarse ground coffee in a pitcher (use a saucer or plate for a lid) and stir. Wait 4 minutes and strain through a tea strainer. Cheaper than buying a FP and the brew is pretty similar.

Of the manual filter methods the Kalitta Wave and the Chemex are my go to methods.
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coffeeguydenton
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Joined: 20 Jun 2013
Posts: 89
Location: Denton, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Chemex
Posted Sun Jun 23, 2013, 12:59pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

squelchy451 Said:

Hi. I started drinking coffee just for the caffeine, but now I want to drink it for the taste too.
Unfortunately, I'm a student so money is low. My current setup is a Chemex, a cheap Cuisinart blade grinder, and some beans from Trader Joe's. I used to get pre-ground ones or use the grinder at the grocery store, but I found that grinding the beans as I need creates a better cup of coffee.

I know grocery store coffee beans are not guaranteed to be fresh, and I think buying fresh beans is probably the cheapest way I can improve my coffee experience. If I had more money, I'd definitely get a burr grinder and perhaps a different brewing apparatus. I live in Los Angeles, so I'd really like to know where's a good place to buy fresh beans without breaking the bank. I'm new to this, so I probably won't know much difference between very high-quality beans and medium-high ones.

Also, from what I read Chemex removes some of the oils from coffee, leaving it less bitter. However, I think that that would reduce some of the more subtle flavors of coffee. What would be a different brewing method that doesn't require a lot of equipment and allows me to get all the flavors of a particular roast?

Thanks!

Posted June 12, 2013 link

I, too, am a student.  While I can appreciate your need to keep things cheap, I have also learned that sometimes you have to pay to get what you want.  The Chemex is a great starting point.  You can use something like the Aeropress or a French press that may be a bit more forgiving, but all in all the Chemex is solid and its what you already have.  There are introductory level burr grinders such as the cuisinart that are not much more than what you will pay for a French press or Aeropress and will make a difference, though you will quickly find yourself wanting something even nicer.  My recommendation would be to search for a used or refurbed decent burr grinder.

My own personal setup is a FP and Chemex with a cheap weight watchers scale, a Bonavita electric kettle and a Baratza Preciso.  It was an investment, but has saved me money long term and was worth every penny.
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,010
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Thu Jun 27, 2013, 6:26am
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

Chemex is a good way to go.  I would think about getting a manual Hario grinder. I would also look into better coffee.  Intelligentsia would be a good place to check out.
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coffeeguydenton
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Jun 2013
Posts: 89
Location: Denton, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Chemex
Posted Thu Jun 27, 2013, 9:05am
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

Burner0000 Said:

Chemex is a good way to go.  I would think about getting a manual Hario grinder. I would also look into better coffee.  Intelligentsia would be a good place to check out.

Posted June 27, 2013 link

On a student budget?  Much better finding a good local roaster.  I get coffee that is almost as good locally for about half the price when you factor in the cost of shipping.  The manual Hario is a good way to go, though.
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,010
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Thu Jun 27, 2013, 1:16pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

coffeeguydenton Said:

On a student budget?  Much better finding a good local roaster.  I get coffee that is almost as good locally for about half the price when you factor in the cost of shipping.  The manual Hario is a good way to go, though.

Posted June 27, 2013 link

There is a L.A location. :)  Some local roasters may sell for cheaper tho too.
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coffeeguydenton
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Jun 2013
Posts: 89
Location: Denton, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Chemex
Posted Sat Jun 29, 2013, 10:48pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

Burner0000 Said:

There is a L.A location. :)  

Posted June 27, 2013 link

That's like saying Walmart is local :P.
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CheapBastid
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Joined: 3 Dec 2012
Posts: 73
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: None
Grinder: Infinity - talking myself...
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Mr Coffee
Roaster: None
Posted Tue Jul 2, 2013, 12:24pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

While not a student I was in a similar position.

I did the infrequent French Press for years and never really enjoyed coffee.  Then I smelled fresh Intelligentsia and got wild ideas.  I got an Aeropress and a used Capresso Infinity (for cheap).  That first cup pushed me right over the edge to my current weekly habit.

Burner0000 Said:

There is a L.A (Intelligensia) location. :)  Some local roasters may sell for cheaper tho too.

Posted June 27, 2013 link

There are two (Pasadena and Silverlake).

My advice is swing by an Intelligentsia TODAY ($2 off Tuesdays - the only day I buy) and pick up the freshest/cheapest beans they have.  The aroma is intoxicating and you will not regret it.

coffeeguydenton Said:

I have also learned that sometimes you have to pay to get what you want.

Posted June 23, 2013 link

Wise words.  For some time I chafed at their high price, so I tried a few other local roasters and I found that I didn't like them as much.
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cerridwyn
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cerridwyn
Joined: 6 Jun 2010
Posts: 490
Location: Inland Empire California
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Tue Jul 2, 2013, 9:43pm
Subject: Re: Small ways to improve coffee?
 

The hand grinder is a great idea. I have 2. Both Harios. I like the Skerton better than the Mini. Easy to use and easy to keep clean and a low profile for student shelving.

I really enjoy Intelli's coffee. Not sure where in LA you live, but if it is anywhere near Demitasse, you can often try other hand brew methods there. They sell beans from multiple other roasters that you could occasionally treat yourself too.

If you do go to Intelli, I suggest you keep a coffee diary of what you buy and what you like or dislike about it. You will find you probably like coffees from certain parts of the world better than from others. That way if you have a choice between 2 different ones, you know which one you are more likely to like.

Right now, well weekend before last, they had one of the best Ethiopian Yirgacheffe I have ever had, and that's my favorite coffee growing region of the world.

Good luck on your journey.

 
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