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Jason Panella

Coffee

217 posts in this topic

It's been a little while since I've been by the board, so this response about making coffee with a French Press might be a little late.

In my experience, freshly roasted beans and a good grind (preferably seconds before you add the near boiling water) are key.

A good how-to guide with pictures can be found here: http://www.coffeegeek.com/guides/presspot

And finally, I find the more press coffee I make, the better it gets.

Cheers

Clive

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For those in the business (or formally in the business), this is old news; one of the main reasons so many little coffee shops are in business is thanks to Starbucks! I've heard many first-hand stories, though, of Starbucks offering small businesses money to close their doors so Starbucks can move in.

What better way to boost sales at a small mom-and-pop store than to have a less-than-mediocre chain open next door?

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Formally?

I don't think I had the presence of mind to ask at the time, but I'd say 'yes.' Something like buying the property the indie coffee shop is on but not using it when the time comes. I don't think Starbucks is a big evil company, necessarily; they just want to wipe out competition.

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Oh, OK. (Did you mean "technically" or "on paper"?) I read that as a type-o for "formerly" and was afraid there was bad news!

Well! I misread!

It was a typo, but I haven't been in the coffee business in half of a year. (I thought you had asked, "Did Starbucks formally ask to..."!) :)

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Ethiopian Sidamo Peaberry is a frequent choice of mine. It is dark and a little bit fruity. There might be a better way to describe this type.

Edited by Tout le bataclan

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Just had a Guatemalan Peaberry myself this morning. I'm generally a fan of Guatemalan coffees: a nice balance between the bright acidity of East African beans and the earthiness of SE Asia coffees, and always with a nice warm chocolate base. The Guat peaberry tastes more like a Kenyan or Rwandan but still with the chocolate.

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Anybody ever tried this coffee?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

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Just had a Guatemalan Peaberry myself this morning. I'm generally a fan of Guatemalan coffees: a nice balance between the bright acidity of East African beans and the earthiness of SE Asia coffees, and always with a nice warm chocolate base. The Guat peaberry tastes more like a Kenyan or Rwandan but still with the chocolate.

From where / what roasters are you guys getting this stuff?

Anybody ever tried this coffee?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

I haven't, but I know a few that have. Their thoughts: it's great, but no more great than some of the other well-regarded auction-lot coffees out there. It probably just comes down to personal taste, I'm sure.

But, then again, people sometimes drink Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain (two--in my opinion--overpriced/overrated beans) and force themselves to assume it's amazing because they paid a fortune for a small batch.

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Ladies and gentlemen: A $11,000 single-cup, drip-brew coffeemaker. Sounds like French Press to me...$22 a cup?

Ah, the Clover. One of the Pittsburgh shops uses these, and there are many supporters/dissenters. It works more like a vacuum brewer than a press pot, Alan (I have a personal vac pot and--trust me--it's great). But it costs so much because unlike standard drip makers, you can use multiple beans types and dial in different proportions, brew temps, and so on for each bean type. It's pretty killer. It's still too much, but it makes a great cup of coffee.

Most places that use it charge the standard price for a drip cup for it too. Or they should, at least.

Lastly, I echo some of the sentiments in the comments: if you're looking for an inexpensive way to make coffee that is AMAZING, the Aeropress is the way to go.

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Just had a Guatemalan Peaberry myself this morning. I'm generally a fan of Guatemalan coffees: a nice balance between the bright acidity of East African beans and the earthiness of SE Asia coffees, and always with a nice warm chocolate base. The Guat peaberry tastes more like a Kenyan or Rwandan but still with the chocolate.

From where / what roasters are you guys getting this stuff?

Well, I had the Guatemala yesterday at Barefoot Coffee, one of my favorites in the area. Two mail-order retailers that I've had good experience with are Alliance World Coffee (old friends of mine) and Rare Coffee (friends of an old friend). But buy local if you can.

Anybody ever tried this coffee?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

I haven't, but I know a few that have. Their thoughts: it's great, but no more great than some of the other well-regarded auction-lot coffees out there. It probably just comes down to personal taste, I'm sure.

But, then again, people sometimes drink Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain (two--in my opinion--overpriced/overrated beans) and force themselves to assume it's amazing because they paid a fortune for a small batch.

I agree. Good coffee, in my opinion, is well worth seeking out, but it doesn't have to be (and often isn't) expensive. You should be able to find all the great coffee you'll ever want for less than $12/pound...$15/pound at most.

Edited by Jeff Kolb

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But buy local if you can.

Absolutely. There are countless roasters in the U.S. alone that are fantastic.

I agree. Good coffee, in my opinion, is well worth seeking out, but it doesn't have to be (and often isn't) expensive. You should be able to find all the great coffee you'll ever want for less than $12/pound...$15/pound at most.

The most I ever paid for a pound was $16 and change for an Intelligensia auction lot, a Kenyan coffee. It was worth it...subtle hints of grapefruit, and it smelled slightly of roasted pine. Ahhh. If you're paying over $17 or $18 for coffee, you're probably being taken advantage of.

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Roasted pine? What does roasted pine smell like? I don't roast pines all that often, so I'm intrigued.

It seems a bit strange to me. It's one thing to say a wine tastes "oaky"--many wines are stored in oak barrels. But to describe a coffee as having a "roasted pine" smell? Is coffee stored in roasted pine crates? I'm just having a hard time connecting the dots.

Roasted pine smells like, well, if you were burning pine wood. My favorite type of tea -- Lapsang Souchong -- is smoked over pine or cedar fires.

The smell is so subtle in the coffee that it's not as distinct as, say, wine. But coffee does have those little nuances that make each good single origin or blend taste different from one another. That this coffee smacks slightly of grapefruit has surprised a few people ("doesn't coffee just taste like, you know, coffee?"). The slight pine aspect is almost like an afterthought, something that gets the synapses firing and dredges up memories of crackling fires in the winter.

And why it smells like that...well, I can't tell you that. There's a well-regarded textbook that digs into the 'science of coffee' -- the chemical composition and all of that. But coffees sometimes smell and taste like some things (grapefruit and smoldering pine) because they were grown in the same soil as certain citric fruits or types of trees. It's complex stuff that I don't try to understand. I just accept it and love it.

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No -- I can understand that it would smell like that if there was a pine-wood component to the roasting process. Dots connected.

I'd still quibble that, like "oaky" wine, it's not a relevant description, as most people, or at least those as thick as I am, wouldn't be able to relate to the "smell of roasted pine" without more explanation.

I'm sort of with you on that -- I've been developing my coffee-tasting palette over the past few years, and still find some of the terminology laughably high-falutin'. I don't think I'd use "smells of--" *waft waft* "--pine needles and--" *waft waft waft* "--elderberry" in casual conversation. But hey, it's there, so to just say it as "this here coffee tastes good" without defining it further seems like a disservice.

It's also worth noting that some of the words and phrases popularized by certain large coffee chains are heavily misused and often feed public misconceptions. Let me tell you, dark roasts do not equal "more caffeine" or "bolder flavor."

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i also enjoy the tanzanian peaberry, though celebes kalossi is still one of my all-time faves (preferably as a medium-dark roast).

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A sad day has come. My limited supply of Ecco Caffe's Reserve Northern Italian Roast is almost gone. I got a small batch of this in an auction at a barista jam in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago for much, for much less than I probably should've.

This roast was a Cup of Excellence winner (basically the Pulitzers of the coffee world). It was rich and complex, to the point that I have a hard time articulating how good it is.

Sniff.

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Let's go "down market" and discuss ... the Flavia system.

Yes, the Flavia system, advertised on the radio as a genius product that allows office workers to choose their coffee flavor and make individual cups of joe. Trouble is, shooting hot water through a measley packet of coffee grounds produces a less than stellar cup of coffee, regardless of coffee bean type.

Here at my new work place, the employees are actually happy with the Flavia system. Apparently the previous coffee -- probably that awful Joe Ragans coffee most offices had in the early 1990s -- was so bad that the workers feel only gratitude for the Flavia "upgrade."

I come from a place where they bought Starbucks blend at the local Costco, under the Kirkland brand. Individual pots were brewed throughout the day. If you were the only one who wanted a cup late in the afternoon, you could make a whole pot and pour out the rest of it. No one cared. It was still more cost-effective than having employees leave the office throughout the day to travel to Starbucks.

So I've been readjusting my coffee palate. No, the Flavia coffees aren't generally good, but the Sumatra is by far the best. I also like the Costa Rica blend, and even the Kenyan Dawn can be good on occassion. I drink the French Vanilla, even though it has a powerful artificial flavor. My only other option is Breakfast Blend, which many folks here like best because, in the words of its most ardent fan, "It tastes just like Maxwell House!"

Maxwell House has come a long way since the days when I used to drink it (late 1980s/early 1990s), but I'd never single it out as the benchmark against which other coffees should be judged. I can barely stomach the Breakfast Blend.

Those are our only coffee options. We have something called Creamy and Choco -- flavor packets that allow us to make mochas and cappacinos -- but they're basically corn syrup. I try to avoid them.

Anyone else want to discuss office coffee? We may have done so previously in this thread, but even if so, it's time for an update.

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Roast your own coffee beans at home with a hot-air popcorn popper!

The site linked at the bottom (Maria's) offers green coffee beans in pricings from ~$4 to over $17 per pound.

This is very intriguing to me. I'm going to have to watch local tag sales for used poppers and maybe give this a try!

This is very do-able, and I have some (extremely limited) experience with it. My good friend Russ, owner of the coffee shop I used to manage, did this for about a year to learn the ins and outs of roasting. It paid off when he and his wife bought an industrial-grade roaster, and are now cranking out awesome coffee daily to sell by the pound.

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Anyone else want to discuss office coffee? We may have done so previously in this thread, but even if so, it's time for an update.

Oh, I'd love to.

Geneva's public relation department

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Oooh. One of my favorite subjects. :)

I'm a big fan of Tanzanian Peaberry, Sumatra Gayoland, and Ethopian Yirgacheffe. And fortunately, it's getting easier and easier to find "good" coffee even in smaller areas of West Virginia. I like medium-to-darker roasts, and I'm not a huge fan of straight espresso. I drink coffee with half-n-half, no sugar.

Even though I like my french press, my all-time favorite coffee maker is my vacuum Bodum. I think someone mentioned one of these earlier in this thread (I mostly skimmed entries) and I don't know about prices now, but I got mine about four years ago for $35, at a little coffee shop near my house.

And yeah, there's little point in buying good coffee if you're going to buy it pre-ground.

Also, just rereading the last few posts on office coffee-- I honestly think that the reason so few people that aren't cafe-goers think they like coffee is because all they've tasted is "coffee sludge." I know people who have been "coffee-haters" until their first cup of good, fresh-ground, well-roasted, recently-brewed coffee house or home-brewed coffee.

Edited by livingeleven

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I'm a big fan of free coffee. I don't care if it's instant, generic pre-ground in a yellow bag, whatever, as long as it's free.

At my current workplace I have to pay for coffee. This is the first time in my worklife this has happened, and I developed a 6-cup per day habit of whatever happened to be in the office coffee pot. Did I mention it was free?

It's not anymore. The cheap stuff is $2 per cup in the cafeteria. Starbucks is $4 per cup. Those are the options. Doing the math, you can see that my former habits would now cost me anywhere from $12 to $24 per day. So I'm now down to 2 cups per day of the cheap stuff. Still, that's $20 per week, $80 per month. For freakin' coffee, which ought to be as free and abundant in America as air or drinking water.

I hate capitalism. Hate it.

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There are few things more frustrating in America than expensive prices for cheap coffee. More than anything this is true with Starbucks. I've worked at Starbucks. The house blend stuff is not the best coffee, and they don't even grind it fresh. :(

I'm sorry, Andy. Fortunately (unfortunately?) the place I work doesn't even have coffee on-hand, so it's more of a fend-for-yourself atmosphere. Could you bring in your own coffee in a big travel mug?

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There are few things more frustrating in America than expensive prices for cheap coffee. More than anything this is true with Starbucks. I've worked at Starbucks. The house blend stuff is not the best coffee, and they don't even grind it fresh. :(

I'm sorry, Andy. Fortunately (unfortunately?) the place I work doesn't even have coffee on-hand, so it's more of a fend-for-yourself atmosphere. Could you bring in your own coffee in a big travel mug?

In theory, yes. There's nothing prohibiting me from bringing in my own coffee. But the reality is that I have to tote a laptop, my lunch, and (often) an umbrella with me across the wilds of several city blocks from my parking garage to the 19th floor of where I work, and I would need a third hand to carry the gallon-sized mug I would need. Actually, I would love a third hand.

And I'm slightly (only slightly) exaggerating. I really can tell the difference between good coffee and mediocre or bad coffee. And I'd prefer the good coffee. But all things considered, I'd settle for bad free coffee over expensive good coffee.

Welcome to Arts and Faith, by the way. Glad you're here.

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Thanks!

And yeah, I know what you mean. There are days when, no matter how much I enjoy a good cup of coffee, I'll take the bad coffee for free. Free is good, especially right now.

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It's not uncommon in the D.C. metro area to hear of organizations, such as the one that currently employs me, that upgraded their office coffee to keep employees from steppin' out to Starbucks on a regular basis. It comes down a productivity question -- do we want our employees walking, or sometimes driving, off the premises to feed their coffee habit, or do we want to provide coffee that's doesn't give everyone who drinks it an upset stomach?

My employer upgraded to the Flavia System. That's right: Flavia was an upgrade. What preceded it must have been a version of that truly horrible office coffee that every place had back in the 1980s and 90s. I count my blessings.

Other employees still go to Starbucks. There's no pleasing them.

EDIT: I see that these thoughts repeat much of what I wrote in my March 10 post above. I have a 3-month limit here at A&F on allowing myself to repeat what I've written earlier.

Edited by Christian

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http://www.sciam.com/podcast/episode.cfm?i...71DF&sc=rss

Sleep-deprived rats that merely smelled coffee had genes activated in their brains that eased stress. Steve Mirsky explains, with reporting by Harvey Black.

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