New adventures in coffee brewing.

Pic of a Proctor-Silex Coffee Grinder

The new coffee toy.

I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a teenager and over those 30 or so years I’ve kept my coffee preferences pretty simple. While I will occasionally dabble with the concoctions at Starbucks, at home I tend to use your traditional drip coffee maker with plain old Folgers medium blend coffee and a little cream and sugar. When I’m feeling fancy I’ll use one of the flavored creamers from Nestle or International Delight, but I can get by just fine with a touch of milk. I’ve never cared for taking it straight black.

And while I consider myself a fairly serious coffee drinker, it’s true that I don’t drink it every day of the week. I tend to drink it more during the fall/winter than I do in the spring/summer and with the coming autumn breezes my coffee intake has gone up considerably. I also don’t own any French Presses or my own home Espresso machine or any of the stuff the really hardcore coffee drinkers tend to swear by. This includes, until just the other day, a coffee grinder.

Now if you listen to the hardcore coffee fans they’ll tell you that grinding your own beans just prior to brewing is the only proper way to truly enjoy coffee — you may as well serve them a cup of arsenic than a cup of joe brewed from pre-ground beans — and I’ve heard this repeated enough times over the years that I’ve had the intent to buy a grinder rolling around in the back of my mind for some time now. Being ADHD, however, meant that I never remembered that intent until I was someplace other than a store where I might buy one. It was the perpetual next-time-I’m-buying-coffee-I-should-look-at-a-grinder thing.

So you can imagine my surprise when I went to my mailbox on Monday and found a couple of packages waiting for me. I hadn’t ordered anything recently and I didn’t recall anyone saying they were sending me something so I had no idea what it could be. Turns out one was a Proctor Silex Coffee Grinder (pictured on the left) and the other was a bag of Aloha Island Surf’s Up Breakfast Blend coffee beans. They were gifts from my parents, who had come down the weekend previously for a visit. My dad is something of a kitchen geek and has a lot of cool cooking related toys so when we got on the subject of coffee I brought up the fact that I’ve been meaning to buy a grinder but have never gotten around to it. I should have realized that would have been like waving a red cape in front of a bull, but I honestly hadn’t expected him to go out and buy us a coffee grinder and some starter beans.

And now that I have the damned thing it occurs to me that I haven’t the faintest clue how to use it. Wait, let me be more specific: I know how to use the grinder itself as it just has a single button to press. What I don’t know is how many beans to put in it to equal out to what I would normally scoop out of my plastic can of Folgers. I’m assuming that I don’t want to put in too much otherwise I’m storing unused coffee grounds which would defeat the purpose of freshly grinding before brewing a pot, but I also don’t want to use too little for fear of ending up with brown water.

So I’m going to have to sit down and do some research. I’m sure there’s plenty of coffee snob websites out there with reams of info on how to properly grind your beans so it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn what I need to know, but as long as I have your attention leave a comment with your suggestions and/or links to your favorite coffee snob blogs. I’m also up for suggestions on various gourmet beans I should try if you have any you’d like to share.

17 thoughts on “New adventures in coffee brewing.

  1. Got a scale? I measured the four scoops of Folgers @ 35 grams, then I used that number to portion the beans for grinding. If I have a few left over at the end of the bag I just add enough Folgers to top it up

  2. Yah what Dad said works. Boy you just never know who is really paying attention to your conversation do you!! Enjoy your new toy!

  3. My parents always just took the coffee scoop and grab enough beans for how many scoops of ground coffee you normally use. Not sure that science is exact, but it worked for them.

    Me, I can’t really tell the difference between fresh ground coffee and instant. Its the fresh roast stuff that really satisfies my buds. But that is expensive and hard to do so I rarely get the treat.

  4. I use to be into the ground coffee thing. Then I hauled a few loads of coffee from Houston to Jacksonville,FL. I had never seen real coffee beans. They are a small white odorless colorless bean about the size of a pea and flat. What you see in the store is an enhanced bean. It has to have moisture, color, and flavor all added by technology. I use to see a commercial on TV about ( only our finest beans !!!..with that mysterious man picking a beautiful brown bean off the vine ) that is a Studio in Hollywood,CA.

    But I love my coffee in the morning and since I have tried it all, this is what I do.

    I have a very large thermos, and I fill it with water that is at least 200 degrees. I add 6 tablespoons of coffee at night and let it set for over 10 hours. I have no idea why it changes the dynamics of Folgers instant coffee, but it does. I do not like instant coffee that has not sit. I do use various flavored creamers ( coffee mate ) but I also like black coffee.

  5. I found a trick in just the last 2-3 years that improves coffee flavor: If you add creamer or milk, DON’T STIR. Let the difference in the liquids’ temperatures create the convection currents to mix the two liquids. This gives the coffee a smoother flavor. Works for any kind of brewed coffee. Makes no difference to instant.

  6. I’ve worked in the same cafe for 17yrs and I’ll tell you this about coffee…it’s not rocket science, it’s water and beans-don’t let anyone tell you different. Sure there are many thingies to do that can make it “better”, like grind right B4 U brew, but really, it’s just water and beans. Tell the coffee snobs to take the st*ck out of their b*tt, or offer to do it for them. Oh yea…and have a great day. Awesomeness.

    Kriss

  7. I should not have said exactly ” White ” because they were a tanned color. But very light in color. And no mistake…Completely odorless. At the bottom of this link is a fairly accurate picture of what I hauled.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_coffee_varieties

    The facility ( Warehouse ) in Jacksonville is a hub for Florida and South Georgia. They had probably 200,000 cubic feet of stored coffee beans. In totes weighing 1000 to 1500 lbs each. I would not call it stealing, but I swept out the trailer and had about 500 beans. I keep them in an empty water bottle. When I show them to people and ask ( What is it ? ) Know one has answered correctly.

  8. I go by the 1 scoop of beans per scoop of ground method. That’s been working for about 6 months now.

  9. First, take a look at http://coffeesnobs.com.au/

    As far as the amount of beans you use, a scoop of beans is always going to turn out less than a scoop of ground coffee. I would grind as many scoops as you used of pre-ground coffee, plus about 20%.

    Part of the fun of new tools in the kitchen is playing around with what you can do with them.

  10. I grind in pulses (blade-type) about 1/4 cup/maybe 1/2 cup at a time.

    Then, when it’s more or less like folgers in terms of grind (pretty medium-fine) I use a slightly rounded 1/2 cup measure for 8 cups of water (coffee cups, that is to say 6oz each, so about 48 oz water). I use pretty dark coffee though, so maybe a lighter grind will reuire more.

    In my experience, there too many variables to generalize, so the best thing to do is to pay attention to your tecnhique and measurements, so that you can make adjustements and gain a consistent delicious cup. I find that even a few tablespoons too much can really damage an-otherwise good cup of joe, by just over-doing the acidity.
    The whole point of good fresh dark roasted beans is to get the subtle and delicious flavors, which are lost (in my opinion) by over-doing it. More is not better. Make it dark by roasting it, not over-loading the filter basket.

    That’s my 2 pesos!

  11. Wow… In the morning, I grab a glass and pour some orange juice in it and I’m ready to go. Coffee is way too much work. πŸ™‚

  12. I need my caffeine. Until I can get caffeinated orange juice I’ll be going through the (small) bother of making coffee.

    Rumor has it that back in the ’90’s one of the big orange juice producers sold a caffeinated product for about 6 months, but I can’t find anything to confirms that rumor.

    Edited to add: Doing some more digging I did manage to find Vuka’s Awaken Energy Drink which is 50% juice (white grape, apple, pear and orange) with added vitamins and 160mg of caffeine in one bottle. That’s about as close as I can find to what I’d really like.

  13. @ Brooks LOL, yeah well, it’s all a lot simpler then it sounds; with eyes still closed I can get a pot going in like 60 seconds. I do love my coffee! Hey, if you’re gonna be physically dependent on caffeine, it might as well taste good. πŸ™‚

  14. I’ve been roasting my own beans for about five years now. There’s no better way to prepare coffee than with fresh roasted beans. In the first 12 hours after roasting, coffee beans lose 25% of their volatile oils which is what produces the odor and flavor, not to speak of the caffeine. Within 48 hours over half of the oils are gone.

    Stored as green beans, that is unroasted, coffee beans lose nothing. It is the roasting process that brings them to life. I typically store green beans for months before roasting and lose nothing. But as soon as they are roasted, they begin to lose flavor and aroma.

    Fresh grinding is necessary, of course, if you roast your own beans. This is a big plus in the flavor category. I only use a burr style grinder. It gives a more uniform grind and does less damage to the bean.

    Your coffee brewer should heat the water to about 191 degrees for the best brew. Use about twenty percent more unground beans than you would pre-ground coffee. Adjust to suit your taste, either a little more or less as desired.

    I only drink varietal coffees, no blends. Varietals are those beans that come from one source. My favorite is Sumatra Mandheeling, but also like Guatemalan Huehuetenango, Tanzian Peaberry, and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. They’re all available on the internet, and the green beans typically cost 50 to 75% less than roasted beans.

    Enjoy.

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