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Confessions of an uneducated Brit

 6:39 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Forgive me forum for I have no knowledge of coffee outside the jar of Nescafe Classic but now feel it is time to learn more...

I've heard much about fancy coffees, percolaters, filters, roasts, and many other similar terms but I have no idea what they mean. I've seen fancy coffee grinders, coffee pots, and things which look like pickle strainers, but are apparently for coffee.

So - can anyone make it simple? I want to obtain a good strong black coffee ideally suited for programming, and I want to avoid high levels of financial investment.

Remember I know nothing... I've never even touched a coffee bean so make it simple!



 8:32 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

VVV, my wife and I have a percolator, two cafetieres, and both an electric and a stovetop espresso maker. We developed a taste for good coffee on Mediterranean holidays a few years ago. The problem is that we have never found any method that makes coffee quite like what we get over there. The result is that we always go back to the old Gold Blend or whatever.

(I can't remember the last time we used any of these machines but it's probably about three or four months ago.)


 8:40 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

ha, great topic!

personally i'm stuck with gold blend because i drink so much, i'd be ill if i knocked that much 'real' coffee a day :)

however i think the key is not so much the equipment - one of those espresso machines available from department stores and gadget shops will do the trick - but rather getting hold of decent coffee that you like ... there are loads and loads of different brands and blends.


 9:39 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Be careful. I went through an experimental coffee phase a couple of years or so ago, and ended up drinking so much that my heart started going all funny. I just drink Kenco Decaf now :)


 10:50 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK, confessions of a caffeine addict...

Here's what I'd recommend.

1. Get a cafetiere (called by some a French Press, but one of those plunger type things). They are simple to use and not too expensive.

2. Get a grinder. Not an electric one (which heats up the beans too much which can cause a loss of essential oils which add to the flavour). A simple hand cranked one is very satisfying to use.

3. Buy coffee beans. This will be down to personal taste, but if you want black coffee, it's likely you'll prefer a darker roast. Try and buy from a specialist coffee store, quality is generally higher than supermarket own brands.

4. For a cafetiere, use a fairly coarse grind, not the finer grind many sellers will tell you is OK for cafetieres.

5. Experiment with different beans, mix and match your own (my current blend is a mix of old brown java and mocha).

Follow the instructions that come with the cafetiere from there on.

One tip to tell if you have decent beans: when you've added the water, watch the top carefully... if they are quality beans, you will see the top slowly expand. Apparently this is the beans releasing C02 and is called the 'bloom'. For some reason, it is less apparent with cheaper beans.

Visit Thailand

 11:33 am on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

ringsoft offers some good advice. I used to drink a lot of coffee but switched back to tea as I find it far more enjoyable, easier to make and les stressfull on the old ticker.


 3:45 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know what the relative caffeine levels are (coffee v tea) but I have a mug that I use for tea, which holds almost one UK pint and sometimes I drink two of them.

I drink my tea naked, with no milk or sugar and I find that I can drink it hot, lukewarm or even cold. This is ideal when you get involved with the keyboard and forget about your tea. You can go back to it anytime. ;)


 3:49 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I drink my tea naked ... ideal when you get involved with the keyboard

Never thought I would ever see those specific words in that combination before... :)


 3:55 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I drink my tea naked

That's gotta smart when you spill it ;)

Seriously, I make a pot of coffee (a Mister Coffee machine) at the start of the day, usually Maxwellhouse "Lite" (less caffine), then put the pot in the fridge, heating cups in the microwave as the day wears on. Use a little cream, no sugar.



 4:06 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tea IMHO should always be drunk without milk or sugar, and it should be earl grey preferably.

Coffee should never, ever be instant! You may as well drink brown paint. I too can't take lots of caffeine so I only have coffee on weekend mornings, and it must be proper coffee, in little tiny cups.

We have an old percolator which we bought in a jumble sale for 50p. I think it's pretty easy to use (although I usually get my other half to do it!), you just put coffee in one bit, water in the main bit, and leave it cooking on the stove for a while. A plus point is also that your whole house gets a lovely coffee smell :)


 4:25 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tea is a vile brew similar to muddy water, which as a child I was virtually forced to drink, since I moved away from my parents home for very many years now I have only drunk coffee, or camomile infusion before retiring.

I have tried filter coffee, cafetieres etc and although some can be acceptable you never get the full flavour that you get with proper espresso based coffee. I am very lucky in that my lovely wife bought me a fantastic machine for my birthday earlier this year. It is a Jura (Swiss)bean-to-cup machine and it is fantastic to use. You fill it with beans fill it with water, switch it on and in a few seconds you can have fresh espresso, cappuccino, or long coffee. It grinds the beans makes the coffee, cleans itself and tells you when to empty the internal grounds bin. It is faster than using a kettle to make instant coffee. I am in love with it.

When we first got it I overdosed on espresso and cappuccino but now I limit myself to two mugs with breakfast and one or two after my evening meal. That way I can sleep at night again. Quality not quantity.


 4:51 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

go get a Gaggia for the best in espresso & cappuccino I have my shots throughout the day and can't work without at least one fix an hour :) as for the decaff stuff YUCK stick with the full fat :)


 6:07 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Holy smokes! I just looked up what a Gaggia costs!

I have a trusty Espresso/Cappuccino machine made by the "Mister Coffee" company, which I bought 2 years ago for about 10% of what a Gaggia costs.

Your mileage may vary.


 6:25 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

So - can anyone make it simple? I want to obtain a good strong black coffee ideally suited for programming, and I want to avoid high levels of financial investment.

One non-word: Bunn.

The way these work is you pour the water in the first time, it remains heated in the back chamber. The pot is "on" all the time, you only turn the front warmer on and off. They come with a (quart?) container to perfectly measure the amount of water to pour in.

Get up in the AM, a paper filter and one tablespoon of coffee in the basket, full the container with water, and pour it in the Bunn, and it begins dripping IMMEDIATELY. You have a full pot in about 2 minutes.

This is the Best Coffee Ever. It does not "boil" the coffee - the hot water steeps it as it goes through the basket and the warmer just keeps it warm. No burnt cafe-style liquid tar.

I said one tablespoon - these are extremely efficient too, making a good black pot in no more than two tablespoons, most coffee makers will require up to 4.

A home Bunn will set you back less than $70, we've had ours for over 8 years and is as vital as . . . air.


 9:11 pm on Jul 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I drink my tea naked


I just realised what I said. I bet a few of you had some wonderful images of old BDW in his birthday suit ;)

(not a pretty site I might add!)


 9:15 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>Holy smokes! I just looked up what a Gaggia costs!

true they are not cheap - but you can't take it with you :)


 9:22 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all your advice... however I am still someway short of actually knowing what to do to produce this much-loved coffee. Is it necessary to have a complex set of equipment or can it be produced without (as you can make tea in a saucepan if you wish)? I'd hate to spend a fortune and then find I don't like the taste or something!

What's the simplest and lowest investment way to make coffee?


 9:31 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Coffee bags?


 9:38 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

When you have a long night coding I would much recommend green tea over coffee any day.

If you have to work into the late hours coffee will make you restless when you eventually go to sleep. Green tea much better.

It's also a good detoxifier - especially after a few beers.

Go for the real stuff such as Sencha, Gunpowder. Don't drink the poncey stuff such as those laced with chamomile and extract of welding rod.

The taste does take a bit of getting used to - best to start of with a weak brew and build up. You also don't use milk or sugar.

I buy in bulk from well UK high street tea / coffee shop. You can usually get good deals such as 3 bags for 8. Should last a couple of months.


 11:11 am on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>What's the simplest and lowest investment way to make coffee?

in that case buy yourself a grinder & cafetiere it shouldn't set you back anymore than 40 then start trying out the beans


 12:48 pm on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

green tea over coffee

For me it's Chinese black tea (they call it "red" tea) rather than green tea. It's made in exactly the same way, without milk or sugar. But not easy to get.

Having said that I do love coffee! Columbian for preferance.


 8:00 pm on Jul 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>> I drink my tea naked<<<

I use to drink my coffee naked till my wife put a stop to it.
Said I was scaring the dogs! KF


 5:01 pm on Jul 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mmmm...Coffee. I live in Vancouver and after Seattle I think we drink the most coffee per capita. I rarely see someone without coffee and we have a coffee shop on every city corner.

Tell you what, we'll educate you on coffee if you can teach us what the heck a "pickle strainer" is!

Easiest and cheapest way to enjoy coffee is to purchase a $30 coffee maker, appropriate filters...and pre-ground coffee in tins. Of course you'll have to experiment with different roasts, blends, grinds etc, but over time you'll find one that you enjoy the most.

Or, for freshest coffee, you can buy the beans (as suggested above) and grind them yourself. My dad does this and he drinks 10 cups/day. It replaces his old smoking habit, so we don't say anything ;)

Funny enough, there are many teas out there that contain far more caffeine than some coffees do. Weird stuff.


 5:31 pm on Jul 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Easiest and cheapest way to enjoy coffee is to purchase a $30 coffee maker, appropriate filters...and pre-ground coffee in tins. Of course you'll have to experiment with different roasts, blends, grinds etc, but over time you'll find one that you enjoy the most.

I will second this advice.

Start off with brands like Maxwell House and Folgers. Try others when you are ready to adventure other tastes.


 6:27 am on Jul 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can't drink the stuff anymore ( same weird heart things as someone else), but when I was searching like you, I sampled cups of coffee at coffee shops, grocery stores etc. After trying numerous roasts I asked what it was and just bought the beans and made it at home.

What did I use:
- 4 cup coffee maker
- filtered water
- coffee grinder
- My favorite roast = ooo la la!


 6:42 am on Jul 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

TEA is much better.

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