In Search of Great Coffee, Part I

Every morning I start off with a latte and following with one or two cups of coffee from a French Press. Like most people I guess how many tablespoons of coffee I should be using and then move it up or down based on how it tastes. Although I thought my current coffee was okay, it was not restaurant quality. Since I had a good grinder, fresh beans, and good coffee brewing equipment I was disappointed. Recently I saw an article in Americas Test Kitchen that reviewed coffee makers. When they talked about the optimum ratio of coffee to water, I had an “Aha!” moment. If I wanted a good cup of coffee, I needed to measure my coffee more precisely.

Since I had a scale that could measure low weights accurately, I decided to see how grams of coffee went into my coffee scoop. I was shocked to find out that it held 6 grams of coffee. For some reason I thought it was bigger. For my first coffee experiment I tried making my latte with two scoops. It was tricky to attach my portafilter to the espresso maker without spilling. The espresso was excellent. My days of drinking singles are over.

It was when I was working on my French Press coffee experiments that disaster struck me. My Baratza Virtuoso grinder stopped working. I removed the beans and the grounds and it still did not work. This is exactly the situation I bought an expensive grinder to avoid. So I wrapped it up, put it in a USPS Flat Rate box, and sent it to Washington for repairs. The repair is more expensive than what I spent on my first two grinders. The bad news about expensive grinders, you feel obligated to repair it. All was not lost. I still had some ground coffee so I tried 50 grams of coffee for 32 ounces of water. This is the 1.6 grams of coffee to ounce of water ratio that I got off Sweet Marias Tips on Brewing Coffee. It was good and rich but for a daily morning coffee, it was far too strong for me. After the latte and the coffee I was bouncing off the ceiling.

My next experiment was with some Kroger private branded coffee, Seattle Dark Roast. It was my emergency purchase after the grinder failed and had a medium to medium fine grind. A coarser grind would have been preferable for a French Press but beggars cannot be choosy. For this experiment I used thirty grams since I was working with a medium grind. The coffee had a little more sediment in the bottom of the cup than I am accustomed to but it was a nice strong cup of coffee.