All this talk about third wave coffee got me thinking a little bit about some of the hurdles of stepping up your home brewing game. I believe there are two main ones, you can't taste other people's coffee made at home and for the large part home equipment cannot be seen first hand except in very few choice places.

The first hurble in my opinion is taste, it's probably a pretty easy guess that a lot of the people that find a blog and a site this already really like coffee. To push it a little further they have probably had an experience where their eyes were opened to what coffee could be. That being said, it's pretty hard to know if you are drinking the best that is out there sometimes or if what you are brewing in your kitchen is any good.

I run into this problem  a lot, not trusting my own coffee I am tasting. I have the fear that I am not always getting everything I could out of a bean, especially if it's a coffee that a lot of other people have liked. I will take Redbird espresso for an example, lots of people like it, I went so far as to buy a five pound bag of the roast since it's a reasonable price, $50, and it's reputation. However, after going through that bag  I was underwhelmed. I got some nice coffee from it, but far from the raves of the masses.

So was it that I just didn't like the coffee or did I just somehow fail to brew the coffee to it's potential?

This brings me to my next point, did I fail to make the coffee right because the equipment at my disposal is inadequate?

This last one is really hard, most of the purchasing for coffee equipment has to be done without ever seeing or using it. I would say that there are a lot of things out there that we can buy that are hundreds of dollars, even thousands of dollars for an espresso machine that as a coffee enthusiast that you buy on faith. There are very few products that you buy on that sort of faith. Looking around my house I do not think there is a single other item that I have bought more just on dumb faith than anything else other than my coffee equipment.

The real horrible part of it is that it's really hard to know what is going to work for you and what is not going to work for you. Example; Baratza grinders there are many people that upon looking at them online compared to say something like a Mazzer Mini don't want to spend that money on something plastic. Mind you Baratza grinders are some of the most recommended home friendly grinders out there yet that plastic 'look' does them in to that person. These remarks always make me snicker a little bit because if you have ever had the opportunity to hold and look at one of these grinders they feel very solid/sturdy more so than what their pictures give off. Predictably some of those people that just swallow their gut reation and buy one are very happy they did.

I believe these pitfalls really hinder people from going out and buying a quality burr grinder like a Baratza or Capresso Infinity for their brewed coffee. Being able to see and feel the substantial difference between what is out there and what you see at Target give you an idea. For those of you on the fence with something like a quality grinder, search out a place you can see one of these. Perhaps a local coffee shop has a Baratza grinder to look at, check baratza.com for locations, or even going to a place like Williams and Sonoma or Sur La Table, should provide you with some good insights.

Obviously, check out a site like coffeegeek.com and look around.

Above all else go to coffee shops regardless of their location and try them out. You might be wasting a few dollars getting a poorly extracted coffee from some person that has no idea what they are doing, but at least you tried it. And who knows that might be the coffee that might push you to the edge as it was just that little bit better than your own brew. Local roasters are turning up everywhere just look at the Roaste roasters, Billings Mt (Revel Coffee) San Antonio TX (Brown Coffee Co) Irondale AL (Red Bike Coffee) they are all over the place, so there might be one closer to home than you think.

It's a little work but I think it pays big dividends.

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Comments

Submitted by GmanJenks on
I think the thing I struggle the most with is knowing when I have the best a bean can offer. If you find a sweet spot are you happy and you go with it or do you keep playing with the variables to try and find a sweeter one...

A little of both to be honest, sometimes I get to a spot that I will like for a particular coffee but is not the favors that other describe so I will try to change it a little. However, ifitsabout what other describe I stay there.

Sometimes I would tweak the parameter, but not that much, unless I am unsatisfied with it. In my opinion, the optimum potential of the beans is one that tastes soooo goood and makes you crave for another one. At that stage, i would say the bean has reached its potential. You could tweak it further, but only to get another flavor dimension and not worth the effort in my opinion.

I have the same problem in that I don't know how good my coffee really is, especially espresso. I'm the only person among my friends who drink espresso and I don't know any decent shops where I can go and try it. But in the end whats most important is how much I enjoy the coffee I make.

I guess I am one of those people that is always searching for something better, or I am just not confident enough in my espresso making ability to trust when I hit that mark or not regardless of how good I think it is at the time.

It sucks. Even tho I have plenty of good shops around me even then I know they can have off days too, so I would need someone that knows what good espresso should taste like on my side taking a sip and then telling me that it's good for me to believe that I have reached the goal. Obviously, I know what tastes good to me, but reaching that mountain top seems at times like an unattainable goal.

Submitted by Chamie on
...but I know how I like my coffee. Maybe it's the reverse coffee snob in me, but I just can't be too bothered with other people's opinions. When I've occasionally bought a coffee I don't like, I don't wonder if I'm brewing it wrong -- I just chalk it up to a difference in taste buds. That's why my own coffee roasts will never win awards, but I enjoy them anyway.

those are really probably the wisest words, and akin to not falling for the hype or reputation of something. if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck its probably a duck.

Submitted by jbviau on
It *is* pretty hard to find quality home equipment on display locally. Although I hear more shops are experimenting with using, say, Baratza grinders instead of the usual Mazzer-class machines. MadCap in Grand Rapids, MI, is one example (with 3 Varios running, from what I've heard).

It seems like Baratza has made some in roads in coffee shops, which is good I do see them around routinely too. So hopefully the grinder part will get fixed too bad Williams and Sonoma stopped carrying them.

Submitted by wakeknot on
this is all good advice - it is hard to figure out what to do with coffee without touching, feeling, and tasting from the brew to the equipment.

I hope at some point to make it over to Great Infusions, a coffee equipment site, they are located about an hour and half away they should allow me to see and use a lot of the stuff i hear/see.

Submitted by donnedonne on
once u learn basics of brewing, it's a piece of cake get pourovers or whatever at local cafe to compare. given the quality of equip. available now to home consumer, it's a fair comparison

Hurdles of home brewing

| by

All this talk about third wave coffee got me thinking a little bit about some of the hurdles of stepping up your home brewing game. I believe there are two main ones, you can't taste other people's coffee made at home and for the large part home equipment cannot be seen first hand except in very few choice places.

The first hurble in my opinion is taste, it's probably a pretty easy guess that a lot of the people that find a blog and a site this already really like coffee. To push it a little further they have probably had an experience where their eyes were opened to what coffee could be. That being said, it's pretty hard to know if you are drinking the best that is out there sometimes or if what you are brewing in your kitchen is any good.

I run into this problem  a lot, not trusting my own coffee I am tasting. I have the fear that I am not always getting everything I could out of a bean, especially if it's a coffee that a lot of other people have liked. I will take Redbird espresso for an example, lots of people like it, I went so far as to buy a five pound bag of the roast since it's a reasonable price, $50, and it's reputation. However, after going through that bag  I was underwhelmed. I got some nice coffee from it, but far from the raves of the masses.

So was it that I just didn't like the coffee or did I just somehow fail to brew the coffee to it's potential?

This brings me to my next point, did I fail to make the coffee right because the equipment at my disposal is inadequate?

This last one is really hard, most of the purchasing for coffee equipment has to be done without ever seeing or using it. I would say that there are a lot of things out there that we can buy that are hundreds of dollars, even thousands of dollars for an espresso machine that as a coffee enthusiast that you buy on faith. There are very few products that you buy on that sort of faith. Looking around my house I do not think there is a single other item that I have bought more just on dumb faith than anything else other than my coffee equipment.

The real horrible part of it is that it's really hard to know what is going to work for you and what is not going to work for you. Example; Baratza grinders there are many people that upon looking at them online compared to say something like a Mazzer Mini don't want to spend that money on something plastic. Mind you Baratza grinders are some of the most recommended home friendly grinders out there yet that plastic 'look' does them in to that person. These remarks always make me snicker a little bit because if you have ever had the opportunity to hold and look at one of these grinders they feel very solid/sturdy more so than what their pictures give off. Predictably some of those people that just swallow their gut reation and buy one are very happy they did.

I believe these pitfalls really hinder people from going out and buying a quality burr grinder like a Baratza or Capresso Infinity for their brewed coffee. Being able to see and feel the substantial difference between what is out there and what you see at Target give you an idea. For those of you on the fence with something like a quality grinder, search out a place you can see one of these. Perhaps a local coffee shop has a Baratza grinder to look at, check baratza.com for locations, or even going to a place like Williams and Sonoma or Sur La Table, should provide you with some good insights.

Obviously, check out a site like coffeegeek.com and look around.

Above all else go to coffee shops regardless of their location and try them out. You might be wasting a few dollars getting a poorly extracted coffee from some person that has no idea what they are doing, but at least you tried it. And who knows that might be the coffee that might push you to the edge as it was just that little bit better than your own brew. Local roasters are turning up everywhere just look at the Roaste roasters, Billings Mt (Revel Coffee) San Antonio TX (Brown Coffee Co) Irondale AL (Red Bike Coffee) they are all over the place, so there might be one closer to home than you think.

It's a little work but I think it pays big dividends.

Category: BLOG

once u learn basics of

April 10, 2012 | by donnedonne

once u learn basics of brewing, it's a piece of cake get pourovers or whatever at local cafe to compare. given the quality of equip. available now to home consumer, it's a fair comparison

@wakenot

April 4, 2012 | by intrepid510

I hope at some point to make it over to Great Infusions, a coffee equipment site, they are located about an hour and half away they should allow me to see and use a lot of the stuff i hear/see.

good advice

April 1, 2012 | by wakeknot

this is all good advice - it is hard to figure out what to do with coffee without touching, feeling, and tasting from the brew to the equipment.

@jbviau

March 28, 2012 | by intrepid510

It seems like Baratza has made some in roads in coffee shops, which is good I do see them around routinely too. So hopefully the grinder part will get fixed too bad Williams and Sonoma stopped carrying them.

Right

March 25, 2012 | by jbviau

It *is* pretty hard to find quality home equipment on display locally. Although I hear more shops are experimenting with using, say, Baratza grinders instead of the usual Mazzer-class machines. MadCap in Grand Rapids, MI, is one example (with 3 Varios running, from what I've heard).

@chamie

March 24, 2012 | by intrepid510

those are really probably the wisest words, and akin to not falling for the hype or reputation of something. if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck its probably a duck.

I may not know art...

March 22, 2012 | by Chamie

...but I know how I like my coffee. Maybe it's the reverse coffee snob in me, but I just can't be too bothered with other people's opinions. When I've occasionally bought a coffee I don't like, I don't wonder if I'm brewing it wrong -- I just chalk it up to a difference in taste buds. That's why my own coffee roasts will never win awards, but I enjoy them anyway.

@hoonchul

March 21, 2012 | by intrepid510

It sucks. Even tho I have plenty of good shops around me even then I know they can have off days too, so I would need someone that knows what good espresso should taste like on my side taking a sip and then telling me that it's good for me to believe that I have reached the goal. Obviously, I know what tastes good to me, but reaching that mountain top seems at times like an unattainable goal.

@samuallaw

March 21, 2012 | by intrepid510

I guess I am one of those people that is always searching for something better, or I am just not confident enough in my espresso making ability to trust when I hit that mark or not regardless of how good I think it is at the time.

I have the same problem in

March 21, 2012 | by hoonchul@hotmail.com

I have the same problem in that I don't know how good my coffee really is, especially espresso. I'm the only person among my friends who drink espresso and I don't know any decent shops where I can go and try it. But in the end whats most important is how much I enjoy the coffee I make.

For me

March 20, 2012 | by samuellaw178

Sometimes I would tweak the parameter, but not that much, unless I am unsatisfied with it. In my opinion, the optimum potential of the beans is one that tastes soooo goood and makes you crave for another one. At that stage, i would say the bean has reached its potential. You could tweak it further, but only to get another flavor dimension and not worth the effort in my opinion.

@gman

March 20, 2012 | by intrepid510

A little of both to be honest, sometimes I get to a spot that I will like for a particular coffee but is not the favors that other describe so I will try to change it a little. However, ifitsabout what other describe I stay there.

I think the thing I struggle

March 20, 2012 | by GmanJenks

I think the thing I struggle the most with is knowing when I have the best a bean can offer. If you find a sweet spot are you happy and you go with it or do you keep playing with the variables to try and find a sweeter one...

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