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1) What coffee are you using?

2) When was it roasted?


3) How fine are you grinding? Pics?


4) Did you grind before brewing?
.

5) How hot is your water?



6) How long are you letting it sit?
1)The coffee is from Guatemala, washed and patio dried.


2) When was it roasted?

Not sure

3) How fine are you grinding? Pics?

They have grinding machine at Whole foods, I use the coarse setting

4) Did you grind before brewing?

I grind the whole beans at whole foods before I buy them.

5) How hot is your water?

195-200 degrees.

6) How long are you letting it sit?

10 minutes.
 

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1)The coffee is from Guatemala, washed and patio dried.
Origin is irrelevant, as pertains to this issue, but your next answer is what I was looking for. :)


2) When was it roasted?

Not sure
If it's roasted by Whole Foods, it's pretty fresh, which is key. If it was off the shelf (as opposed to out of the bins that they roast on site), it's not fresh. Coffee goes stale within a month (being generous here, 2-4 weeks is more like it); stale coffee brews crappy flavored coffee. Try to buy fresh roasted stuff that has the roast date on it. I wouldn't buy anything roasted more than a week prior to purchase, and use it within 2 weeks.

Now...if it was roasted by WF, out of the bin...it's fresh, but poorly roasted. Air roasters do not generally develop the coffee fully, and those roasters are pre-programmed, set and forget units, and to be frank, the results suck. WF in Los Angeles has Intelligentsia on the shelf. That's much better.

3) How fine are you grinding? Pics?

They have grinding machine at Whole foods, I use the coarse setting
This is a problem. Remember when I said coffee goes stale in 2-4 weeks? That's as whole bean. Whole beans = less surface area exposed to air, which means it stays fresh longer, less oxidation. When you pre-grind at the store, you are increasing the exposed surface area to oxidation, the delicate flavor oils and molecules get trashed, and your cup of coffee sucks.

Grinding before brewing is paramount. If you're really lazy, you can grind every 3 days MAX; after that, nearly anyone can taste the difference. So, buy this grinder stat:

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder: Amazon.com: Kitchen & Dining

And enjoy fresh ground coffee.

4) Did you grind before brewing?

I grind the whole beans at whole foods before I buy them.
See above.

5) How hot is your water?

195-200 degrees.
Measured, or guestimated? Most people boil water, let it sit 30 sec, then pour. 212 degree water, after 30 sec, is like 210 degrees. In SoCal, it takes 4-6 minutes for 212 degree water to cool to 195-200. I use this:

http://www.amazon.com/Rattleware-7-Inch-Easy-Steam-S10/dp/B0016C4SXQ/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1350832133&sr=1-5&keywords=barista+thermometer

6) How long are you letting it sit?

10 minutes.
Aside from the coffee issues detailed above, you are clearly grinding too coarse. WF's grinder settings may be way off; their French Press setting may be producing boulder-sized grinds, leading to extreme under-extraction. FP should require 3-4 minutes brew time, no more. So, when you buy the Baratza, start coarse, and slowly work your way down until it gets hard to depress the FP plunger, then back off a bit. After that, adjust to taste.

:) I really should become a vendor here, this is silly. But yeah, LA has lots of good coffee now: Handsome, Intelly, Verve, and yes, myself. :D
 

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I'll go ahead and post entry level options for espresso. Like I said, the grinder is paramount. Espresso is coffee brewed at high pressure, and the coffee provides the resistance against the water. If the grind isn't fine enough, or uneven, there won't be enough pressure, or the coffee will extract unevenly, or over extract (making it sour or bitter). The more expensive the grinder, the more even the grind, the better the espresso. I can't overstate the importance of the grinder enough.

So...the very best option for a beginner setup is the Baratza Preciso, both because it has the ability to adjust precisely, and because Baratza is a phenomenal company to deal with, should you need service. Absolutely outstanding. It's also compact, comparatively, and looks pretty sweet on the counter.

Amazon.com: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso Coffee Grinder: Kitchen & Dining

Here's a review:

CoffeeGeek - Baratza Virtuoso Preciso

Another option is the newly redesigned Cunill Tranquilo. One bonus to this is that it has an eDoser: push a button, and it grinds and deposits directly into the portafilter, like a $1000 Mazzer.

Cunill Tranquilo Classic Grinder (Doser or Doserless)

If you have the budget, there are far more expensive grinders. Mazzers are the gold standard, and built like tanks, lasting a lifetime. The grind may be better, but not a deal breaker, compared to the Preciso/Cunill; build quality is the main think you're buying.

Mazzer Mini Electronic Type B Coffee Grinder - Mazzer Coffee and Espresso Grinders from Whole Latte Love


Now, machines: in my vast range of experience (I'm not kidding here, I've owned far too many machines starting from a $50 Krups, and working up), the best beginner option is a cheap Gaggia, and between a $200 Gaggia, and a $1200 HX machine, there are no options worth considering. Gaggia is Italian, and makes good machines that are easy to learn on. Other options in that range are less forgiving, more expensive, and don't provide better results in the cup. The Rancilio Silvia is a very common recommendation for beginners, and again, I can't stress enough how strongly I'd recommend AGAINST that machine. Having owned one for 4 years, I speak from experience. Silvia is the most inconsistent, frustrating machine ever, and she's $700. Avoid. So, Gaggia:

Gaggia Espresso Pure Espresso Machine from Whole Latte Love

BTW, the Gaggias all have the same internals, from the $200 unit to the $400+ units. The difference is the stainless exterior, and possibly a 3 way solenoid valve. I wouldn't spend the extra cash.


Now, if you can drop $1200, you can buy an HX machine (heat exchanger), which allows you to steam and brew simultaneously, and provides very noticeable improvements in the cup. I own an Astra Pro, and this is the machine I recommend. You'll have to spend $500-1000 more to beat its performance, and build quality is unmatched. There are only 2-3 HX machines at around the $1200 price point, and none compare to the Astra, it's simply built better, with a bigger boiler, better metals, better pipe fittings, better wiring, better pressurestat, etc. If you are interested in one, I can refer you to Astra for a good deal.

Hope that helps. If you need more info, let me know.
Great Info here!

Thanks for writing that up, I appreciate that.

Where would you recommend me going to see these in person?

any stores carry these? (dept stores?)

I would like to perhaps keep the budget at 500 max, as this will be my first machine and as i am not fully sure I will wake up and take upon the habit every morning to actually make it!

Thanks in advance
 

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I love coffee....cant function without one in the AM. I have some family that lives in Hawaii so they ship me over some Kona coffee they get from the plantations over there. I really enjoy it.
 

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I've always had a hankering to try coffee, but never bothered. Anyone have any good recommendations for someone who's never had it before, something that taste good haha.

-Markus-
 

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I've always had a hankering to try coffee, but never bothered. Anyone have any good recommendations for someone who's never had it before, something that taste good haha.

-Markus-
You can make just about any coffee taste good (or ruin it) depending on your personal tastes. Add enough creamer, sugar, or milk and you can usually make it appeal to anyone willing to try it. Some may argue it's not coffee, but for a quick fix I will always goto Dunkin' Donuts. I love their Hazelnut iced coffee with some skim milk and sugar in it.
 

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Great Info here!

Thanks for writing that up, I appreciate that.

Where would you recommend me going to see these in person?

any stores carry these? (dept stores?)

I would like to perhaps keep the budget at 500 max, as this will be my first machine and as i am not fully sure I will wake up and take upon the habit every morning to actually make it!

Thanks in advance
My pleasure!

Stores don't usually carry either, and I really try to discourage visiting stores anyway: inevitably, some dumbass salesperson will talk you into what they think is better (ie, what they actually carry), and you'll walk home with a nightmare setup. Keep in mind I have used the items I recommend, and speak from agonizing, painful experience. In addition, I am a coffee roaster, and it's my job to know this stuff. Learn from my mistakes and experience (and realize I do not make a dime off these recommendations).

The Baratza/Gaggia combo is right around $500. You'll want a tamper, as well, but those are cheap. You could buy the Baratza Virtuoso (non-Preciso version) for $220 or so, but...never skimp on the grinder, unless you absolutely can't swing the extra $70. What happens is people eventually want to upgrade machines, but their grinder is not up to snuff, so they have to drop another $300-$1200. Spending the $70 now means you won't have to do that later, and you'll know the grinder will never be holding you back.
 

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poison - have you had the aged coffee beans they serve in Tokyo? (i know a few state-side guys are beginning to age the raw beans; but, in Tokyo, you can buy 10/20/50 year-old coffee.) theory, like any aging/fermenting (tea, etc) is that the bean gets much more complex in flavor.

curious if you've tried them or not.

- chuck
 

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I have had aged Indonesians, and Monsooned Malabar coffees from India. In my opinion it creates a 'different' flavor, but age is the enemy of coffee. Because the flavors molecules and aromatics of coffee are partly oil-based, rancidity is an issue, and most of the flavor components degrade fairly quickly. This is why the trend in the US is toward packing green beans in plastic or mylar, and even freezing them, to preserve the delicate flavors the growers work so hard to cultivate and leave intact on the way to us roasters.

I do enjoy pu-erh tea, however. :)
 

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Haha! I just ordered 30kg of the 2012 Honduras Cup of Excellence #2 coffee. I always provide something good, but this is exceptional.
 
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