I seem to have a bit of a coffee problem, as you’ll see from this picture taken from my desk:
I’ve been asked a few times what everything is, so I though it would be easiest just to document it all here, complete with links to buy the stuff for yourself. Yea, my affiliate code is in there, but it doesn’t cost you any more, and like once a year I manage to get a $12 gift card to Amazon for the effort!
Here’s my current collection of coffee makers.
I stumbled upon the AeroPress one day after getting tired of cleaning our drip coffee maker after making myself a single cup of coffee. “I’m just making one cup, why am I going through all this trouble? There must be a better way!!!” I though, although probably not so coherently. Anyways, it had about a million positive reviews on Amazon, and I figured that for $20 if I didn’t like it, no big loss. I don’t like it at all. I love this thing. Cleanup when you’re done making a cup takes all of five seconds, and you put the super light little cylinder away in a much smaller place then the drip maker requires. Now, I will admit, there was a little learning curve and the first cup I made tastes like hot water, but once you get it down, it’s money. I don’t use any elaborate method, basically just the instructions it came with plus one or two wrinkles:
- You need to get a fine grind, which means you’re gonna have to get beans and grind them. The pre-ground stuff is, I think, too course. You’re also going to have to play around with your grinder to find the best settings. None of this should really come as a surprise.
- I like to pour just enough water in to wet the beans, and agitate slightly with the stir to get them all wet. Then I fill up to whatever number is appropriate for the volume of coffee I’m making. It adds maybe 10 seconds to the total process, but I swear it makes a difference.
I was so happy with the thing, I got a second one for work, which I use pretty much every morning I’m making coffee for just myself. Yes, people will look at you like you’re doing some sort of weird science experiment, and you’ll have to explain it to people, but I think that’s a small price to pay for better coffee then that K-cup machine could dream of spitting out.
UPDATE: In the summer months, it also makes a fantastic iced latte.
Occasionally at work you’d like to make coffee for more then yourself. Or, I did, anyway. No better or faster way then with the tried and true Bodum Brazil french press. I gather this thing has been around forever, and I think there’s a reason for that. It makes great coffee, is very compact, and is quite easy to clean. No real advice here except to follow the directions (brew for four minutes and grind your beans coarsely). The only downside is that it’s just a glass container, so the coffee you make should really be consumed once it’s done. Not surprisingly, this is never a problem for me. Like the AeroPress above, I now own multiple of these, but it happened in the opposite order. I bought one for work, and liked it so much that I picked one up for home and the shore as well. Also in common with the AeroPress: it’s like $20. How could you go wrong?
Drip Coffee Maker
I think nearly everyone and their mother has this Cuisinart drip coffee maker. Especially if you at some point registered for a wedding. After a few years, it’s still reliable, although I think ours is in need of a good scrubbing at this point. Great for entertaining, as the hot plate will keep the coffee warm for a while. Not my favorite thing for small batches of coffee for all the cleaning/speed reasons above. The top in particular, around the hinges, can be a bit of a pill to clean, and you will curse the day that you accidentally dump grinds into the water tank.
I have 3 grinders, they’re all burr grinders so I can control the coarseness of the grind, and they all do their job with varying levels of irritation and noise.
The Home Grinder
At home I have a Krups grinder that is my favorite of the the three. The best part about it is that is’r relatively small, works quickly, and has a very easy to adjust grind setting on the side. that’s key as I’m always going back and worth between the AeroPress and the french press depending on volume of coffee, and they require basically the opposite grind. The downsides are that occasionally the beans get stuck in the hopper, and you have to give it a little shake to get them moving again. Also, although it lets you set how many cups of coffee it will grind beans for, I think that’s extremely inaccurate, and I wouldn’t trust it. It’s loud, but I assume that’s pretty much the case for all electric burr grinders, and although the grinds get staticy and stick to the sides of the container, it’s nothing a few taps won’t fix.
The (Old) Work Grinder
After a quick fling with a hand grinder at work (turns out that’s not something I’m interested in doing to start my work day), I picked up this Capresso grinder on Amazon for around $30. At the time, it was the cheapest burr grinder on the site, and got pretty decent reviews. It grinds the coffee to my selected coarseness just fine, and like the Krups, it’s loud and fast. The cons: the lid just lays on top, so I hold it to keep the noise down a little more, a minor inconvenience, and the big one: you set the coarseness with a dial on the side which I find is a pain in the ass to move because it’s pretty stiff, and there’s not much surface area to hold on to. As for the pros: I’ve never had the beans get stuck in the hopper.
3 MONTH UPDATE: Don’t buy this grinder!! Not only has the price gone up by around $20, mine died after 3 months of ~once daily use. I’ve since replaced it with another cheapo burr grinder from a different manufacturer. (Clearly I have not learned my lesson about getting what you pay for yet.)
The (New) Work Grinder
Since the Capresso died abruptly after a few months of light use, I had to pick up another burr grinder for work (not making coffee was clearly not an option.) Continuing my hunt for an acceptable cheap burr grinder, this time we’re giving Tru a shot. It’s too early to give it a full review, but my first impression is that is can grind much finer then any of my other grinders (like so fine the aeropress became a real chore to press the first “fine” setting cup.) The grind catcher all seems to make a lot less mess then my previous one, which is nice since this isn’t the kitchen counter, it’s my desk.
The Hand Grinder
I had originally purchased this grinder for work, but quickly discovered that I’m not really feeling up to the effort first thing Monday morning at my desk, which is how I ended up with Capresso above. However, it is a great grinder if you’re willing to put in a little effort. It doesn’t produce static like the electric grinders, the grind itself seems infinitely adjustable (just know, the finer the ground, the more work you’re doing), it’s fairly rugged, and it comes with a nice lid if you’d like to save some of the grinds for an afternoon brew. This grinder has found a new home down at the shore at the in-law’s place, where it accompanies a non-breakable Bodum french press. And you know what is a fantastic way way to start a Saturday morning at the shore? Quietly hand grind some beans, and make a pot of great coffee!
Some coffee related accessories I’ve found myself using.
I don’t know if anyone else shares this affliction, but I seem to be unable to open a bag of coffee without also completely destroying the integrity of the bag. To combat this, I picked up two of these nice seal-able stainless steel containers for my beans. Functional, and they look nice too! Of note: it comes with a little filter, which I haven’t bothered replacing yet. I doubt it makes much of a difference.
Although we have a hot water machine at work, it’s not quite hot enough. Enter a simple solution: fill up this Pyrex with hot water, then microwave for an additional 2:00 to get it up to brewing temperature. Note: although microwave safe, I’ve heard it’s not the best idea to hit these things with rapidly changing temperatures.
Inexpensive, and faster then microwaving or boiling water, this nice looking kettle brings up to a 1.5 liters of water up to just boiling quickly, and pours cleanly into whatever coffee making device you’re using. You can spend like 5x this on a kettle, but I’m not sure what more it’s getting you.
I’m far from qualified to be a coffee critic, but since I’m lazy, I like to get my coffee from Amazon. Here’s my quick take on a few of the beans I’ve tried:
Equal Exchange Organic Coffee: Mind Body Soul
This is probably the most fragrant bag of beans I’ve ever opened. Crack it open a hair, and I swear that people from a room away start asking where the fantastic smell is coming from. The taste was great as well, what in my mind I’d call a medium strength and full body, and I’ll definitely be buying more of it.
Equal Exchange Organic Coffee: Love Buzz Blend
Very similar to the above “Mind Body Soul”, with just a hit less chocolate smells and tastes, and a bit stronger. I think the Mind Body Soul is a bit better as a general purpose bean, but if you like to put a little light creme in your coffee, like I do, this one works well to still bring a stronger coffee taste through the creme.