The world of coffee (yes there is such a thing) has
evolved rapidly during the past years. Less than 10 years ago, you had a “Mr.Coffee” coffee maker on your kitchen counter, you thought all espresso coffees were made equal and you thought that buying a coffee was a great way to “roll up the rim to win” a television or, most of the time, a doughnut.
Nowadays, the average coffee consumer is better informed. Some know that big coffee shops sell you a lower quality product for a higher price, others know that the coffee grinder is at least as important as the espresso machine when pulling an espresso, and all (should) know that the capsule espresso machine is the devil’s invention to make us purchase his stale coffee for 10 times it’s value and pollute our environment by making humanity consume
millions of capsules everyday.
But now that you know so much about coffee, what will you do with all that knowledge?! Well…that my friend, depends on your coffee drinker profile. What I mean by drinker profile is to define what is the amount of time and money that you’re willing to put in to enjoy a cup of coffee. Finding that will greatly help you to choose the proper equipment for your lifestyle and budget (being the most appreciated extraction method amongst coffee consumers, this post emphasizes on information related to espresso coffee).
The majority of coffee purists will tell you that any espresso machine under $800 and grinder under $500 are not even worth trying. Well I say we let them spend $5000 for their set-up while we enjoy very decent coffee for a fraction of the price.
In this post, we talk about occasional coffee drinkers.
Are you an occasional coffee drinker?
If you are, you drink about 1-6 coffees a week and buy your coffee at the grocery store (and sometimes freeze it because you know you won’t finish the bag before a while). Basically, you don’t necessarily need a coffee to start your day.
- DON’T FREEZE IT! Buy the smallest bag you can find and keep it properly closed on the counter for up to 1 month. Freezing the coffee will greatly affect its taste because of the beans’ natural humidity that will expand and destroy the aromatic oils during freezing.
- Stay far away from French roast/Dark roast. They generally are over roasted coffee beans that have a burnt taste (oily beans doesn’t mean good coffee. It just means that the beans were over roasted and that the aromatic oils escaped the beans, so these oils will clog your grinder instead of ending in your cup as a nice thick crema)
- Try some micro-roaster coffee! You’ll generally find them at specialty coffee shops and online. You can identify them by looking for coffee bags giving you a roast date, information on beans’ origin and sometimes recommended extraction parameters. Micro-roasters put their efforts toward quality and freshness of the products instead of quantity. Here’s an example of a great company in Montréal (Cie de café Kittel).
- Entry level espresso machine with pressurized portafilter (for ease of set-up and use) (e.g. Saeco Poemia)
- Don’t forget the grinder! It is as important as the machine (probably more) (e.g. Saeco Burr Grinder, Baratza Encore).You may have bought the best coffee in the world, but if you don’t grind it on the spot (ground coffee starts to loose its flavour 15 minutes after being ground) with a burr grinder capable of giving you a consistent fine grind (an inconsistent grind produced by a “blade spice mill” will cause water channelling during extraction, producing bitter espresso and weak crema), you may as well use the cheapest coffee you can find because the taste difference between both will not be worth the price. Once extracted both coffee will be bitter, lacking crema and have a burnt taste (the heat generated by the blades of the spice mill burns the coffee grounds).
- Recommended budget: 175$ for the espresso machine, $150 for grinder. If this is more than expected; try discovering the world of coffee with affordable Presses and Drippers (e.g. AeroPress, Chemex, Hario V60). Don’t forget the GRINDERRRRRRR.
The next post will cover hurried coffee consumers and advanced coffee drinkers. Click here to read it.
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Everyone can pull it off!