Any coffee dorks?

Ok, so we’ve got some decent beans ground by a fancy local cofee shop, chucked into a sem-pricey drip machine.

It’s not anywhere near the transcendent goodness of the local place though. All we drink is lattes and drip - what’s the trick to make these good? Obscenely expensive espresso machines?

Are you trying to make drip coffee or are you trying to make espresso?

You need to grind the beans first, Jason.

I have one of these, which I got for $250 with a year contract for $25/mo. espresso pod delivery. It rocks. (I got the powder blue)

Nothing beats a French press, er, a Freedom press. Dirt cheap, fast, bestest coffee!

Use a coarse grind, use a good amount of grounds per cup, add a pinch of salt, and if you’re feeling particularly discriminating bring the water to the boil and then wait a bit for it to fall to roughly 195 before pouring it over the grounds.

Firstly, Jason, grind your own. Don’t just get a pound, have the store grind it, and keep it in your freezer. The timing of grinding is crucial for a good cup of coffee or espresso.

For drip, you really don’t need anything fancy. You can get just as good a cup of coffee from one of those plastic cones with a melita filter as you can from a $300 coffeemaker. Those things are just giving you conveniences like timers and larger quantities. If you want to get fancy with drip, I’d recommend trying courser grounds with a French press.

But for espresso, well, you get what you pay for. When I first went to Prague, I developed a taste for espresso. After I got back, I was pretty unhappy with most local espresso. So I decided to buy my own machine. After doing a bit of cursory research, I realized a snooty guy like me wasn’t going to be happy getting some $50 machine at Bed Bath and Beyond.

That’s when I met Sylvia. Since then, I’ve been a very happy espresso drinker. And I’m certain I’ve saved money in the long run because I simply can’t abide a store-bought espresso from someplace like Starbucks where they use those dreadful automated machines. That stuff is utter swill.

Sylvia isn’t like those $1000 restaurant machines that monitors the temperature, but she can still pull a perfect shot. I recently learned something called “temperature surfing” to find the sweet spot for when to pull the shot.


I take my espresso fairly seriously, yes. I have a gaggia classic machine with a solis maestro plus grinder and order my beans mail-order from espresso vivace in seattle. Also have a full complement of demitasses, cappucino cups, a solid aluminum tamper, etc. These are all pretty reasonably priced; true “coffeegeeks” would most likely go for the rancilio silvia with the rancilio rocky.

The quality of the coffee and the grinder are by far the most important pieces of hardware. Don’t skimp on the grinder and always use freshly roasted beans. A week after grinding, quality drops like a rock.

The technique for properly pulling a double shot of espresso is pretty simple, just takes some practice to get it right. You use 14g of coffee tamped down with 30lbs of force and push through 2oz of water at 190 degrees F. This should take 22 seconds.

When properly made, it should be neither sour nor bitter and you shouldn’t need to add any sugar to drink a straight shot. The light caramel colored crema should stretch from bottom to top immediately after being pulled.

When he said “coffee nerds”, I thought he was kidding.

Eww, espresso pods, Kunikos? That looks like a nice machine, too. And you’re using pre-packaged pods? That’s like buying some uber-Alienware computer and only using it to play Doom 1.

Seriously, dude, grind your own. Then come over to my house and I’ll let you wear my beret.


I (heart) stusser.

In a non-gay way, natch.


I told you guys: when you go to Tom’s house, he offers you beer or espresso. Heheh.

The water is very, very important. If you want good coffee at home, you need something better than what comes out of your Brita pitcher.

For this reason Starbucks has triple filtered water at all their locations. Starbucks water is probably the best water I’ve had, except for that time in Prague.

Good, because apparently those types of relationships with stusser end very, very badly.

I can make and clean-up a single shot espresso drink before you’ve finished grinding, nevermind tamping and post-cleanup for grinds. It’s Illy coffee pods, they aren’t terrible. Heh.

I would say it’s more like buying an iBook and playing quick games of Bejeweled 2 on it.

Wait, wait, are we have a race, or are we trying to make good espresso? :)

You’re a terrible coffee dork.


The people here at work spend probably 20 dollars a day between the 3 of them (family) at Starbucks. A DAY!

I drink Costco brand coffee and oddly it is rather good.

Oh and this may help:

Freshness matters too. It’s better to buy your coffee in smaller amounts to avoid stashing it in the freezer. If you must store it there, make sure it thaws out before your grind it, as it’s the oils in the coffee that bring the most flavor.

Buy your coffee from a place that either goes through an asston of it, or has a company roaster, so you know the beans are fresh. I’m a big fan of Peet’s.

The illy espresso pods aren’t bad, actually. They’re just not very good, either. The francisfrancis is really photogenic, but it’s not a very good machine. Not that it really matters that much. Again, the most important points are grinding consistency, fresh beans, and proper technique.

That’s why I buy from espresso vivace. They ship half-pounds at a time. I go through 1 half pound per week, and have a standing order so I always have fresh beans. Peets espresso isn’t very good.

Water is important, but living in manhattan I have the best tap water in the world. I just pass it through a brita and it’s fine.

What I make is tons better than any coffee house. You don’t think they batch grind out a bunch of beans and slap it in the fridge for a week and forget to clean their machines as often as they should? :) Each pod is individually vacuum sealed so I don’t think they’re losing any flavor from oxidization. If I want to make good espresso, I will get the dual shot grind attachment out of the drawer and put in some ground espresso beans I got in Venice (which are still in a vacuum sealed bag at the moment).