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Discussions > Espresso > General > Getting started...  
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 1:09pm
Subject: Getting started with coffee
 

Hi Everyone

I'm just getting started in the world of coffee, or rather, I'm just getting started in caring about the quality of coffee I drink. My question is this: What would you recommend as the first steps to some one looking to increase their appreciation and understanding of coffee (and espresso in particular)? Or to put it another way, is there one thing you wish you'd known when you started out on the coffee geek road?

I'm not talking about espresso preparation methods or techniques in particular (although any responses along these lines would be appreciated), but more general coffee/espresso appreciation. For example, do you think a newbie such as myself would benefit from attending a coffee cupping event? I suspect that the general answer is simply to go and try as much espresso as possible in as many places as possible, which isn't exactly an unpleasant answer to receive to any question, but any other thoughts/suggestions would be most welcome.

I hope I'm not sounding too vague and my apologies if this has been answered in another thread, I have looked through the forums and I suspect that the vague nature of my question makes such searching difficult.

Thanks in advance,
Bruce
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,051
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 2:12pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

If you can get to cupping classes I am sure that would be helpful.  I took a home barista class.  Not sure if you have them where you are.  If not then maybe get a good french press and a great grinder that can do espresso and start tasting fresh beans from various sources.  See what you like.  That is what matters most, what you like. I found my palate grew faster than I would have expected.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 757
Location: Eatonville, Wa
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 9:00pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Hi Bruce,
 I think I understand where you're at- there is so much to learn that you don't know where to start or what to ask? I know I was there not so very long ago. There are two starting points I would suggest.
  One is- look through the guides and how tos and start to understand what it takes to properly prepare coffee and the different ways to do so. By this I mean proper brew temperatures, different grinds used for different methods, what those different methods are, things like that. I don't know what is available in your nick of the woods or what your budget is but you should be able to get an idea of where you might like to start that way.
  The other will depend more on what is available in your area. Are there quality coffee roasters/shops in the area where you can get a good cup of coffee, espresso, Cappuccino? Give them a try. Coffee will only be really good if the beans are within a couple weeks or so of the roast date. And fresh ground. If you go to an espresso shop and they dose from a grinder with a doser full of ground coffee it's not going to be the experience you're looking for.
  As you journey down the road the pieces will begin to fall into place. And an awsome journey it is- there's nothing like a good cup of coffee! As for the appreciation and understanding- you'll know it when you taste it, it just has to be roasted, ground, and prepared right.
  Hope this helps,
             Ron
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:30pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Thanks for the responses guys.

Coffee culture isn't huge here but there are a few coffee shops with their own roasts and blends, and who do supply beans with the roasting date prominently displayed. I've had a few espressos in these places and it's partly the good experiences I've had that have prompted me to explore further.

I'm currently looking for a grinder and hopefully paired with my moka pot and french press this will enable me to learn some more. There really is a wealth of information on this site (and elsewhere online) but it's definitely time to do some more hands on experience.

Thanks again,
Bruce
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,051
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013, 8:58am
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Hard to give advice when I have no idea what you have in your area, sorry. French press you would almost always need a different grinder from espresso.  There are a few that do both, ok.  But most geeks have a dedicated grinder for espresso.  I have a Baratza vario that sells over seas as Mahlkonig.  The two companies have some sort of arrangement between them and Baratza uses Mahlkonig burrs.  The one model down from that in the Baratza line will do both french press and espresso which is why I mention it as something you might can find, Baratza Prescio. If there is a used commercial market and you have a large coffee area/kitchen then look for a mazzer super jolly for espresso only.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Thanks for the advice. I can get the Vario (branded as Mahlkonig) and the Preciso here. I know this topic has already been done to death in the other forums, but in your opinion is the Vario worth the premium over the Preciso? The Mark Prince Preciso review seemed to indicate that the two were very close in terms of grind quality, but I've seen a lot of negative comments in the consumer reviews regarding the long-term durability of the preciso.

There is a small used commercial market here, but I'm somewhat wary of going that route as I don't really know what to look out for in terms of wear and tear, and I'm also unsure of the availability/cost of replacement parts should I need to replace the burrs.

Bruce
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,051
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 8:39am
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Well, most commercial grinders need very little except new burrs.  If they run they keep running.

I like the Vario W a lot and think the built in scale is worth it for consistent amounts in the portafilter.  Its taste in the cup is comparable to much larger grinders.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,282
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 9:38am
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

BWR Said:

Hi Everyone

I'm just getting started in the world of coffee, or rather, I'm just getting started in caring about the quality of coffee I drink. My question is this: What would you recommend as the first steps to some one looking to increase their appreciation and understanding of coffee (and espresso in particular)? Or to put it another way, is there one thing you wish you'd known when you started out on the coffee geek road?

I'm not talking about espresso preparation methods or techniques in particular (although any responses along these lines would be appreciated), but more general coffee/espresso appreciation. For example, do you think a newbie such as myself would benefit from attending a coffee cupping event? I suspect that the general answer is simply to go and try as much espresso as possible in as many places as possible, which isn't exactly an unpleasant answer to receive to any question, but any other thoughts/suggestions would be most welcome.

I hope I'm not sounding too vague and my apologies if this has been answered in another thread, I have looked through the forums and I suspect that the vague nature of my question makes such searching difficult.

Thanks in advance,
Bruce

Posted January 3, 2013 link

You have asked a very good question really, so I will try to give you a good answer. This is my opinion only and there are many opinions, so if this evokes discussion
please lets not get off the subject. Here goes: I can only relate to your question within the framework of my experience and knowledge of coffee. My love for coffee
started about 40 years ago when i walked into a small boutique where in the back the lady kept a variety of fresh beans from all over the world. I then proceeded
to get a Melitta pour over,a cheap blade grinder and begin my journey.To me the difference in the varietals from each region was like a huge new world,one in fact to this day hasnt subsided.
There are many pitfalls though that one in my opinion, must traverse as their own particular journey unfolds. There are as many theories and
coffee ideas out there as there are people. In my opinion one of the greatest issues now is over roasting beans to the point where the
roast profile over takes the varietal profile. When the first thing you taste is a burnt taste as you work your way through coffee then you have
only made it more difficult for your pallet to begin to appreciate the finer nuances of what the bean truly can offer. From the many regions of the world each bean will and should taste
different. Regions like Costa Rica, Guatemala,Mexico ( Chiapas ), Peru,Hawaii, Africa,Sumatra....etc etc etc....all should and will offer a very unique taste.
Then within that you have climate changes from year to year,harvesting techniques,shade grown, and the list goes on and on.
To learn to appreciate the coffee bean you need to drink all  kinds of coffee. Espresso is a wonderful extraction method among many.
In my opinion it forcibly captures more of the over 900 volatile compounds identified  in coffee. Yet in a pour over method
with fresh ground beans and good water suspending the coffee you also can create a taste wonderland for your pallet. I would suggest if it were me reading all you can
and drinking all you can. i would get a pour over and a Bonavita kettle and begin by ordering all kinds of coffee from all over the world. I would also get a good grinder for drip.I
recommend Baratza. I will post some of my favorite links.


http://www.baratza.com/

http://www.melitta.com/

http://www.wholelattelove.com/

http://www.coffeereview.com/

http://www.sweetmarias.com/index.php
( Tom as good info on coffee )

http://www.bona-vita.biz/default.asp

http://www.klatchroasting.com/

http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/



Good coffee is no accident.

Steve
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MerleApAmber
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Nov 2012
Posts: 203
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES900
Grinder: Baratza Preciso + Esatto
Vac Pot: Yuma
Drip: bah-humbug
Roaster: Hot Top 2K P
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 9:30pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

My quick list.
- Best Grinder you can get. So far, I'm pleased with baratza P (and I got the scale addition, but you COULD do with the inexpensive electronic scales they sell today - remember to specify one which will include calibrated measure of the tare weight + your coffee! )
- Nice French Press. This will give you the whole of the bean and allow you to control how much, how long, an how hot to start.
- Mokka Pot. It's the inexpensive first step into espresso and will help you taste the differences between a steep brew and an extraction.
- Get a quick read thermometer. Sensitivity to initial water temperature is a plus.

Then as you evolve your interests:
-Keep a look out for a Siphon Brewer - ya it's coffee geek art - and also a very controlled brew with no lingering leaching as you have with french press.
- Consider one of the pump driven Delonghi EC155's I understand a 'normal' portafilter can be placed under one of these. This will give you an inexpensive intro to learning the mechanical process of getting espresso. Because you'll already have a quality grinder you may well be drawing very good shots within a short period of time. You may have already discovered an interest in steaming milk. If not there is a start here too.

IF you find you're still infatuated, or even worse, have a long and abiding relationship with the crema... discover roasting; and THEN... look for an engagement ring (the espresso maker of your dreams/tempered by your budget...)
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jan 6, 2013, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Getting started with coffee
 

Thanks everyone for all the advice and suggestions. I had never really considered pour over or siphon brewing and will definitely look into those methods a bit more.

I'm really keen to try get a bit more experience with the different varietals and fortunately I do have access to some roasters who offer a variety of beans and some offer cupping classes or other courses, so hopefully I'll get round to one of these in the next few weeks. Along with making a grinder decision of course.

Thanks again for all the advice
Bruce
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