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Thread: cheap coffee snob virgin

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    cheap coffee snob virgin

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight

    Im only new to the whole coffee thing.

    I recently started to use a french press at home with a bag of ground coffee that I was given (and now running out of). I am now trying to work out how to keep making and drinking good coffee at home on the cheap (ie: not buying expensive machines).

    I have read alot on this site and am trying to work out if I buy some roasted coffee beans if it would be ok to use a cheap little electric grinder to grind the beans for immediate use (one serve) or if I would be better off buying an expensive grinder. I gather that the grinder is fairly important but is it really going to be a problem if i dont get an even grain as I guess I just want a larger grain for the plunger.

    I was also wondering about storage if I buy some whole roasted coffee beans. I dont drink a lot of coffee (yet). At the moment I was thinking that I would grind up the necessary amount for immediate use and store the beans somewhere suitable.

    And something else I was wondering is the whole home roasting thing. Maybe one step at a time for me??

    Any advise on getting started would be great.


  2. #2
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Short answer, yes a cheapie grinder will do OK for a plunger (in most cases). A better grinder will always make for a better coffee, but sometimes finances just dont allow for it.

    Long answer, If you can stretch the budget, by all means buy a better grinder. However, if you can only afford up to the $100 mark, or you dont want to spend a great amount on a grinder (EG: $200+ is probably entry level for anything decent), youre probably not going to find anything that will last you through any significant part of the coffee journey. Better to make do with the cheapie and save up for a nice one later on.

    As for storage. Dont grind and store. Ground coffee is best used within a few minutes. Youre better off getting an airtight container and storing whole beans away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

    Home roasting is great fun and can be started with a popper, a heatgun /bowl/ spoon, a heatgun and old breadmaker etc. GET INTO IT! Youll love the results.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Hi 10ett and welcome to CS and the "whole coffee thing"!

    Using a propellor grinder, regardless of what you use to make your coffee, isnt going to give you good results. Unfortunately, no matter how sharp the blades, these tend to smash the beans and at the same time, smash the already smashed beans into powder. And smash has mash in it. You end up with inconsistency that would be noticed immediately if using a better grinder.

    When people come in-store and told me they were using a prop grinder at home, it presented a dilemma - do I grind for them and the coffee goes stale, or should the beans be kept whole and suffer an awful fate at some later stage? I recently ground a pack and the feedback was that it tasted better than using the prop, even toward the end of the bag.

    Do some research on the forum re the grinder - there are plenty of reviews for various price ranges.

    As for the buying the beans, start by looking for a roasted on date - if you cant find it, dont buy it. Many of the sponsors on the left of the screen supply freshly roasted beans, and I doubt youd go wrong with any of them...just comes down to personal taste.

  4. #4
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    That is a genuine dilema, Dennis: fresh but mashed, or consistent but stale. Ive often pondered that myself for relatives... and have yet to come up with a viable answer.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    May i suggest the EM0450 and the Sunbeam Ristretto?

    A conical burr grinder and a pump driven machine... for under AUD250.

  6. #6
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1211871315/0#3 date=1211880121
    That is a genuine dilema, Dennis: fresh but mashed, or consistent but stale. *Ive often pondered that myself for relatives... and have yet to come up with a viable answer.
    I roasted and ground some beans for a guy at work to give to his parents for Christmas.
    Must have been better than the alternative, as Dennis has said, becuase he asked for more for a recent visit to them (north coast of NSW - long trip - doesnt visit often).

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Hi 10ett,

    If you want to keep everything on a budget, you can either have very good brewed coffee very easily or mediocre espresso with a lot of heartache (at best).

    Personally, if I were you I would pick up an EM0450 for french press or pourover drip cone. Both of those are easy brewing methods to more or less get right, theyre quick to set up, cheap to buy and relatively easy to clean. Pourover drip tends to give you a cup that has less body because the paper filters are better at filtering out suspended solids than the filter in a french press. It also tends to give you more acidity. Paper filter is almost unbeatable in terms of ease of cleaning. The metal swissgold filters are 15 seconds more work to rinse and allow more solids and oil through than paper, leading to a slightly richer brew. French press is actually a lot more irritating. Its not enough to just rinse it out; the filters tend to be very good at trapping coffee oils, which will go rancid. It is vital to clean them by soaking them in an appropriate detergent - I use cafetto.

    If you are shopping for a cheap espresso machine, get one with a 58mm portafilter and a deep basket. Time and time again on these forums I have seen people with basic machines enjoying creating ristretto style shots, particularly as bases for milk drinks. This is a fair bit easier than pulling a decent espresso. Which one is "better" is a matter of personal opinion, though I think that its fair to say that a ristretto shot is a lot less sensitive to the actual coffee that you are putting in. This makes it more forgiving for a beginner, but also makes the differences between different coffees less obvious.

    As for roasting, I think that you can pretty much dive right in if you are brewing your own coffee. It is quite easy to make decent brewed coffee once you have a good grinder and have mucked about with different grind sizes, amounts of coffees and steep times (if your method allows for that). You will get the brewing method down pat very quickly and be able to appreciate what you are roasting. There is a relatively large window of opportunity in which you can stop your roasts for brewed coffee and still get a decent cup.

    Roasting for espresso is a totally different story. The espresso extraction process is surprisingly difficult. Its actually a lot harder to dose a consistent amount from your grinder than you would think and with the cheaper machines, you might have to jump through some hoops to minimise the impact of the limitations of your equipment. Believe me, if you havent made espresso before, it will probably take somewhere between a month and a year to get really consistent ... the lower figure being for someone who spends time and cash on training and practice, the higher figure being for someone who only makes themselves one or two a day. Until you have a decent level of consistency, trying out lots of different types of coffee can actually hinder your ability to improve your espresso making technique because it makes it hard for you to be sure whether or not the flavour change is due to a change in beans or technique. Then it also happens that there is a smaller window of opportunity to stop your roasts for espresso-based coffee, and the optimal resting time before you can use your coffee for espresso can vary quite widely. For these reasons, with espresso its probably best to try out a few different commercially available blends, settle on one that you like and stick with it for several months. Then you can start experimenting with different commercially available blends to build up your palate and then you can start home roasting.

    Of course, you can always do both brewed coffee and espresso. A pourover drip filter brewer and some filters costs peanuts and you can use it to satisfy your inevitable and understandable need to explore the world of different coffees and home roasting whilst you improve your espresso technique.

    Hope that helps,


  8. #8

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1211871315/0#6 date=1211892932
    *It is vital to clean them by soaking them in an appropriate detergent - I use cafetto. *
    I had a laugh, I reckon if i had a dollar for everytime ive heard you say the word cafetto in the past week Id have... well... enough for around 250grams of beans but you get the point ;) ;D

    If I were on a budget Id get the best grinder I could (sunbeam 450 asa minimum) and with my next pay check buy an aeropress. *Then let the journey (and wallet emptying/wife screaming at me) flow from there :D

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Re: cheap coffee snob virgin

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Thanks for all the advice. All very helpful. Seen as in the long run I will inevitably get sucked into this as a hobby I might try and buy a cheap but reasonable grinder to start with and go from there.

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