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  • Making Coffee With the Cowboy Joe Coffee Brewer

    I recently had the opportunity to test out the Cowboy Joe Coffee Brewer. The Cowboy Joe is a single cup plastic coffee brewer with a hole in the bottom that takes a standard 8-12 cup basket coffee filter. A plastic plug is placed inside a drain hole to allow the coffee to steep. Once the brew is complete, the plug is removed and the coffee exits directly into the mug.

    The lightweight and small size of the Cowboy Joe Coffee brewer makes it a candidate for traveling and camping. Unlike a french press or other brewers, there is no risk of breakage. The only concern I see is losing the plug. One idea I had was adding a little piece of bright color reflective tape to the plug, so it stands out more. And to keep the plug from running away from the brewer, you could use a string to tie it to the hole on the lip of the Cowboy Joe.

    #1 Place Plug Into the Drain Hole

    I place the plug handle so it is parallel to the ridges in the bottom of the brewer and then turn it one quarter or 90 degrees. This locks the plug into place.

    cowboy-joe

    #2 Add the Coffee Filter and Ground Coffee

    Place the basket filter into the Cowboy Joe. You can see from the photo below the filter ridges goes around the plug. Place the brewer over a mug.

    A tip I got from the Cowboy Joe website is to not use a mug that is too narrow as it can become tippy and is at greater risk of falling over should you bump it. Also, you want to have a mug that holds enough volume to both capture the brewed coffee and allows you to add additional water and or cream. The majority of mugs are fine.

    cowboy-joe-filter

    Since the Cowboy Joe is small there are 2 approaches you can take to brewing a cup of coffee.

    1. Brew a small 8 oz cup of coffee.
    2. Brew a more concentrated cup and then add water.

    Option #1 wasn’t for me. I’d rather have more coffee. To make the coffee more concentrated, you can either increase the dose or the steep time. I decided to use the higher dose. Now in other coffee brewing tutorials, we pull out the scale and weigh by grams to get the 17 to 1 ratio (water to coffee), but since this brewer is likely to be used when traveling, I am going to keep it simple. For a single brew, I used my trusty coffee can scoop which I’ve now had for over a decade.

    coffee scoop

    1.5 scoops is about 15 grams of coffee. Start there. I got good results using a basic drip coffee grind.

    #3 Add Hot Water and Stir

    Bring water to a boil, wait 10-30 seconds and then pour slowly until the water line reaches about 1/2 inch below the top of the brewer. I like to use the pour to make sure all the ground coffee is making contact with the water. If after the pour you see clumps of dry coffee, give a gentle stir.

    cowboy-joe-steep

    The coffee should steep for 3-4 minutes.

    #4 Remove Plug, Wait and Tilt

    The coffee is done brewing. Hold the brewer with one hand and then turn the plug and remove it. The coffee will begin draining into your mug. Once you can see the grounds, tilt the brewer so the side where you removed the plug is lower. This will allow the last bit of coffee to drain into your mug.

    #4 Add Water to Taste

    At this point, I add an ounce or two of hot water, just like I do for the Aeropress. This is optional. Experiment.

    Comparisons to Clever Dripper and Melitta Pour Over

    The Cowboy Joe at first glance is similar to the Clever Coffee Dripper and the 1-cup version of the Melitta Pour-Over. Like both, the brewer is placed directly over the mug. The Cowboy Joe and the Clever are full immersion coffee brewing, in that you control the steeping time, whereas the coffee immediately begins to exit with the Melitta. The standard Clever is larger and can brew more coffee at once, which means it takes up more space and is more at risk for damage when traveling.

    clever-and-cowboy-joe

    The Clever Coffee Dripper (L) and the Cowboy Joe Coffee Brewer (R).

    The Cowboy Joe like the Melitta is dishwasher safe. Just use the top rack. The Clever is not. The Cowboy Joe and the Melitta do not have any parts that can go bad. Although it has not happened to my Clever, there are reports that after a lot of use the parts that initiate the seal with the Clever get stuck. And as Chris Arnold pointed out in the Clever Coffee Dripper Review, there are some mug sizes that don’t work for the Clever. This is not an issue for the Cowboy Joe as the coffee is released when the plug is removed from the drain hole and doesn’t require a seal mechanism to be engaged.

    The Clever also has a lid to keep heat in during the brew. The Cowboy Joe doesn’t, but I’ve never once used the lid, so I don’t consider it a loss. However, if you were making coffee outdoors at a cold campsite, you might want to place something over the top during the 3-4 minute brew cycle to hold the heat in.

    Which is best? That will depend on your needs. What is most important to you? Volume, durability, portability or price? They all do a fine job of brewing. On my next trip, I will be leaving my Clever at home and taking the Cowboy Joe with me.

    Cowboy Joe Single Cup Direct Immersion Coffee Brewer

    Resources

    Cowboy Joe Single Cup Direct Immersion Coffee Brewer (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

    Melitta Ready Set Joe Single Cup Coffee Brewer (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

    Clever Coffee Dripper (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

    Coffee Brewing Guide – Our collection of coffee brewing tutorials.

    Cowboy Joe – Official site for the Cowboy Joe Coffee Brewer.

    Title photo by Marko Horvat.



  • Make Cold Brew Coffee Quickly with the Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer

    In several tutorials here on INeedCoffee, we show you how easy it is to make cold brew coffee at home. Soak coffee grounds in water for 12-36 hours, filter, and you’re done. The only step left is to chill the finished brew. So what makes one cold brewer better than the next? Volume, the quality of the filter, how easy it is to clean up, and how good it looks on your counter. That was it. Until now.

    Gourmia came in and solved the one variable everyone else took for granted: The Wait. Why must we wait 12-36 hours for cold brew coffee? Does it have to take so long? Can we speed up the process?

    The reason we wait so many hours for cold brewed coffee is that the coffee grounds are just sitting in motionless water, slowly releasing their flavor. Very slowly. What if throughout the brew cycle the water gently agitated the coffee grounds to accelerate the release of flavor? You could reduce the brew time.

    This is what the Automatic Cold Brewer by Gourmia does.

    Depending on how rich you want your cold brew, the Gourmia will softly push the water evenly over the coffee grounds for a period of 10 to 40 minutes. This is followed by an optional cooling cycle of around 6 minutes. What this means is that you can have filtered cold brew coffee from set up to finish in minutes.

    Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer

    Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer (Amazon USA

    The Equipment

    When you unbox the Gourmia Cold Brewer, you will see several parts. Don’t be overwhelmed. It is really easy to get started and the documentation is well-written. The first thing you’ll want to do is remove all the plastic wraps covering the different sections. Then wash and dry everything.

    Cold Brewer Parts

    This photo shows the different parts of the Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer.

    From top to bottom: Lid, Top Filter on the Coffee Basket, Ice Basket, Pitcher, Removable Fountain (inside Pitcher), and the Main Unit. Note that the Coffee Basket is used only during the brew cycle and the Ice Basket is only used during the chilling cycle. 

    Cold Brew or Cold Brew Concentrate?

    Before you start to brew, you will decide how strong you want to make your cold brew. There are four settings, each corresponding to a brew strength.

    • Light – 10 minutes
    • Medium – 20 minutes
    • Bold – 30 minutes
    • Concentrate – 40 minutes

    Gourmia recommends using a Medium-Coarse grind for all the settings, however, if you wanted to make a strong coffee in 10 minutes, just tighten up the grind to Medium. If you find that you’ve used a grind too fine and your coffee is too strong, you can always add water to bring the coffee to the strength level you prefer most.

    Brew Quantities

    There are three markings on the side of pitcher indicating different brew quantities. Each level has a different coffee requirement. This information is in the instructions, but I’ll reprint it here in case you’ve misplaced yours.

    • 10 ounces water – 25 grams or 5 teaspoons ground coffee
    • 16 ounces water – 40 grams or 8 teaspoons ground coffee
    • 24 ounces water – 60 grams or 12 teaspoons ground coffee

    The brew chamber can hold a lot more water, but don’t be tempted to make more than 24 ounces, because the basket that holds the ground coffee is limited to around 60 grams. Adding more water will only result in a weaker brew. You can add water post-brew if it tastes too strong to you.

    Step By Step Brewing Instructions

    The Gourmia Automatic Cold Brewer has two phases.

    1. Brewing Cycle
    2. Chilling Cycle

    Phase two is optional. You do not need to use the brewer to perform the cooling, but if you are having the coffee right away, use it. Otherwise, bottle the coffee and place in the frig.

    #1 Add the Removable Fountain

    Twist the Removable Fountain clockwise into the bottom of the pitcher before adding water.

    #2 Add Water

    Fill the pitcher with cold water up to the marking level you wish to make. 10, 16 or 24 ounces.

    Add water to Cold Brewer

    On this brew, I was making 16 ounces of coffee.

    #3 Add Ground Coffee to Basket

    Add coffee grounds inside the Coffee Basket and then place on top of the pitcher.

    Place Coffee Basket with grounds

    Add coffee grounds inside the Coffee Basket and then place inside Pitcher. 

    #4 Put on the Top Filter and Lid

    Put the Top Filter over the Coffee Basket and press into place. Then add the Lid and turn into place.

    Top Filter in place

    The Top Filter will fit snug over the Coffee Basket. 

    Lock Lid on Cold Brewer

    Secure the Lid on top. 

    #5 Plug in the Cold Brewer

    Confirm the cold brewer is plugged into a working outlet. You’ll see the LED Display if you have power.

    #6 Set Brew Time and Begin

    Pressing the left button will cycle through the brewing times in 10-minute increments. Set the time based on the brew strength you desire and then hit the right button to begin. If in the middle of a brew you decide you want to make the coffee lighter or stronger, you can adjust the timer.

    bold cold brew 30 minutes

    Here I have set the brew to 30 minutes (Bold) with the button on the left. Then I pressed the right button to initiate the cold brew. 

    At this point, the coffee has finished brewing. You can bottle it and place it in the refrigerator or if you’ve made a concentrate, you can add ice/cold water. Or heat it and drink it hot.

    (Optional) Perform Chilling Cycle

    The Gourmia has a chilling cycle that moves your cold brew near the basket of ice in a way that cools the coffee without melting the ice. The cold brew retains its brew strength and gets chilled.

    #1 Swap Coffee Filter Basket with Ice Basket

    Remove the Coffee Filter Basket and place inside the Ice Basket filled with ice cubes.

    #2 Add Top Filter Lid and Start Chill Cycle

    To start the chill, hold the left button down for 3 seconds. Once you see CH:LL, press the right power button. This will take about 6 minutes. During this time it may appear the machine is doing nothing, but the coffee is being circulated through the Removable Fountain by the ice.

    Chilling Cycle on Cold Brewer

    The coffee will not be super cold at the end of the chilling cycle, but it will be cool enough that if you do add ice, the ice will not melt right away.

    Troubleshooting

    If the coffee tastes too strong, just add water, ice or both.

    If the coffee is too weak, tighten up your coffee grind and/or extend the brew cycle time.

    Review

    The Automatic Cold Brewer by Gourmia is a pretty neat brewer. The cold brews I made at both the 20-minute and 30-minute settings were just as delicious as the cold brew I had in my frig that took 24 hours.

    Besides the extreme time savings you get with the Automatic Cold Brewer, another benefit is with the 4 settings, all the guess work on how long to leave your cold brew is handled for you. Being able to repeat your brewing results is will be easy to accomplish with the Gourmia.

    As much as I like other cold brewing methods, even the newer ones with better filters, I found that the Automatic Cold Brewer brews a cleaner brighter tasting cold brew. There wasn’t the sandy reside at the bottom of the pot when it was finished brewing.

    For those that love cold brew coffee, but don’t like to wait a day, this might be the coffee brewer you need.

    Resources

    Gourmia GCM6800 Automatic Cold Brew Coffee Maker (Amazon USA)

    Cold Brew Coffee is Not Rocket Science – An overview of the basics of cold brew coffee.

    Disclosure: This post was sponsored. INeedCoffee received equipment and compensation for this article. If you are interested in having a sponsored article for your site, product, or service, visit our Sponsor / Advertise page.



  • Buying Your First Home Coffee Roaster

    I started home roasting coffee in June 1998. Since then I’ve used a number of different roasters and methods. I’ll be the first to confess that I haven’t kept up on all the different machines available to home coffee roasters. What I have learned are the most important factors to consider when buying your first home coffee roaster.

    #1 Indoor, Outdoor or Somewhere In Between?

    The most important factor in deciding on a roaster is answering the questions: Where do you plan on roasting?

    Some coffee roasters work indoors. Many or most would be better set up in a garage, a patio, or a porch. The reason is roasting coffee produces smoke. More smoke that you get when cooking food. Coffee also releases a thin paper like chaff during the roast that can add to the cleanup.

    The darker you roast your coffee or the more volume you roast, the more I would encourage you to not to roast indoors. An exception would be kitchens with extremely good vents. Most dedicated home roasters will have some filter to catch the chaff. They also clean the smoke to differing degrees. Popcorn poppers won’t.

    The downside to outdoor roasting is if you live in a cold environment, you will need to come up with hacks to keep your roaster warm enough without creating a fire hazard.

    #2 Noise

    Coffee roasters can be somewhat quiet or extremely loud. Air roasters tend to be loader than drum roasters.

    Noise can be a problem for the new home roaster since you are learning how to listen for the first and second crack. The quieter the roaster is, the easier it will be to hear those cracks. As a general rule, drum roasters tend to be quieter than air roasters. They also tend to cost more, but they also last longer.

    #3 Price

    Home coffee roasters can be as cheap as a tray in an oven or as much as you want to spend. The Hottop Programmable is about $1000. Roasting coffee is an intense process. Don’t expect your roaster to last as long as your coffee pot. It won’t. Almost half the roasters I’ve owned have died shortly before or after the warranty expired. If the machine you buy has a 2-year warranty, expect 2 years of life and no more. Start saving for your next machine as soon you pull it out the box.

    #4 Volume

    Different roasters have different volumes. Some coffee roasters roast too little for some households. Although there is something to be said for starting off small while you are learning, you also don’t want to spend a lot of money on a small volume roaster that you are certain to outgrow.

    Decision Time

    Once you’ve answered those four questions, you can then drill down on the home coffee roaster best for you. CoffeeGeek has a section dedicated to extensive reviews of different coffee roasters. Keep in mind that most of the home roasters I know will experiment with many different roasting methods. It is too much fun not to experiment with new methods.

    Westbend Poppery Roaster
    Westbend Poppery 1500 Watt – Best For Beginners.

    The Poppery For Beginners

    However, if I were to plug a single home roasting method for the beginner it would be the Westbend Poppery 1500 Watt popcorn popper. It is not an indoor roaster, but it is super quiet and hands-on, so you can hear and see the coffee roasting.

    They are available on eBay for about $60. That is too expensive for a lousy popcorn popper, but a bargain for a solid coffee roaster. My Poppery roasters have outlasted every other coffee roaster I’ve ever owned. The Poppery does require access to the outdoors, as it throws chaff and produces smoke.

    I hope this helped. Knowing how much money you have to spend, your noise sensitivity, how much coffee your home consumes, and if you have access to a porch or patio with an electrical outlet will help guide your search for your first home coffee roaster.

    Resources

    Westbend Poppery 1500 (eBay)

    Roasting Coffee in a Popcorn Popper – My tutorial on roasting coffee in the Westbend Poppery

    Hottop KN-8828P Coffee Bean Roaster First Look – Overview of the Hottop coffee roaster.

    Home Roasting Coffee in an Oven – Tutorial on how to roast coffee in an oven.

    Behmor 1600 Coffee Roaster Tutorial – How to roast coffee using the Behmor 1600.

    CoffeeGeek – Roasters, Accessories & Misc review section.



  • The World’s First Coffee Pot: Turkish Coffee

    Turkish coffee is simple and romantic, the way it was first made as a coffee drink. Turkish coffee is not the kind of coffee you grab on the way to work. It is a coffee for quiet enjoying. Turkish coffee is especially good for those who love… life!

    Turkish coffee was invented as a drink during the 16th century in the Middle East–brewed in little pots called ibriks or cezves. From Egypt, it spread through the Middle East, and then into Europe and Russia. Today you’ll find Turkish coffee in Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants from New York to San Francisco.

    Grind and Pot Essential

    Essential to making Turkish coffee, of course, is the pot not the bean. Any bean can be prepared as Turkish Coffee. You simply need a good hand mill or commercial grinder that grinds to Turkish. Most grinders in America even if they say Turkish will not grind to the powdery fine texture needed for a good Turkish — finer than espresso. (See Coffee Grind Chart for visual explanation)

    A Turkish mill works the best.

    turkish mill

    Turkish Mill by Zassenhaus (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

    Next, you need the pot.


    Turkish Ibrik (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

    The ibrik was originally designed to brew coffee in hot sand in the desert, but a stove top will do fine. First, fill the ibrik 2/3 full with water, add sugar to taste (if you like your Turkish coffee sweet) and top it with a heaping teaspoon of finely ground coffee. The coffee seals the narrow top creating an oven effect.

    As the water begins to boil it will foam up through the coffee. Let it foam up three times. Stir. Pour slowly into two small demitasse cups and it’s ready for savoring. Pay attention to the foaming. It is the skill part of the process. If you don’t your ibrik will become volcanic and deposit your Turkish coffee on your stove…what a loss and what a mess.

    Coffee To Water Ratios

    Small Ibrik: 1 demitasse cup

    • Water: 3 oz.
    • Sugar: One level teaspoon
    • Turkish Coffee: One heaping teaspoon
    • Salt: Pinch (for hard water only)

    Large Ibrik: 2-3 demitasse cups

    • Water: 12 oz.
    • Sugar: Three level teaspoons
    • Turkish Coffee: 3-4 heaping teaspoons
    • Salt: One pinch (for hard water only)

    If your coffee boils in the ibrik it means there is not enough coffee. There should be coffee foam at the top. For the larger ibriks, you should just experiment with varying coffee quantities using the above suggestions. Preparing Turkish coffee is more about your personal taste than reading directions on the box. Relax and enjoy the process. If you’ve got further questions, you might need to chat with the dishwasher.

    How to Pour Turkish Coffee

    When pouring Turkish Coffee into your cups, pour the foam first and quickly, then slowly pour the rest allowing the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom of the ibrik. For more than one serving spoon a little foam into each demitasse before pouring the coffee.

    Variations/Conclusion

    Authentic Turkish blends are different in different regions of the world; for instance, most middle eastern Turkish is spiced with cardamom and rose water; in Greece, chicory; in Libya, coriander is added. So, in fact, you can prepare Turkish at home with any available coffee bean; all you need is a cezve or ibrik. You can find those at Middle Eastern groceries in major cities or on the Net.

    Resources

    Turkish Ibrik (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

    Preparing a Traditional Turkish Coffee – INeedCoffee step-by-step guide to making Turkish coffee.

    Coffee Brewing Guide – More coffee brewing tutorials.

    Title photo by Keith Hardy.



  • 3 Alternatives To Using a Keurig Coffee Maker

    You really do not want a Keurig Coffee Maker. Is making coffee really that hard? I don’t think so. If you are considering buying a Keurig Coffee Maker, please read this article. I have faith in you and I think you can handle a coffee brewing method that is both simple and one that will yield a much better tasting cup of coffee.

    With the brewing method alternatives described below, you won’t be using stale pod coffee. You can seek out whatever coffee you want and grind those beans just before brewing. What you will discover is the quality of your coffee will be much better. A Keurig is probably a fine option for the lobby of a tire store, but for your kitchen? No. You can do much better.

    Here are 3 ways to make a single cup of coffee that are better than the Keurig.

    #1 Porcelain filter (aka Dripper)

    Put ground coffee into a paper filter. Set the filter in the ceramic holder over a mug. Pour hot water and wait. Very simple and much smaller footprint than the Keurig. And at less than $20, it is also much cheaper. There are several different shapes and colors available for this style of coffee brewing.

    Pour Over coffee Porecelain
    Porcelain Pour Over Coffee Filter (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

    #2 The AeroPress

    The AeroPress makes a great cup of coffee. Penny for penny it may be the best coffee brewer one can buy. For step by step guidance, read The Upside Down Aeropress Coffee Brewing Tutorial.

    AeroPress Coffee maker kit

    AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

    #3 The Clever Coffee Dripper

    If you would like the rich taste of a French Press, but don’t want to deal with the cleanup, a Clever might be for you. Like a French Press, you control the steeping time, but unlike a French Press, it has a filter which makes for easy cleanup. For more information see our Clever Coffee Dripper article.

    Clever Coffee Dripper

    Clever Coffee Dripper (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada)

    Conclusion

    Making coffee isn’t rocket science. There is no need to buy an ugly pod machine that promises ease and delivers mediocre coffee. Get one of the three alternate brewing methods listed in this article and take control of your own coffee brewing. You’ll save money and your coffee will taste much better.

    Resources

    Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada)  – A nice coffee grinder that lasts for years is also a worthwhile investment. 

    Coffee Brewing Guide – Our collection of coffee brewing tutorials. In that guide, you will find many ideas for making coffee at home.



  • Best Coffee Grinders Under $100

    Is it possible to get a good coffee grinder for under $100?

    Not a great coffee grinder, but one that is just good enough to get the task done and not fall apart after a few months of use. I think it can be done. Going from purchasing pre-ground coffee to grinding your own coffee is going to elevate the quality of your home brewed coffee tremendously. Buying a coffee grinder is well worth the investment.

    This collection of recommended coffee grinders is for the budget coffee drinker that is not yet ready to commit to a more expensive model.

    Blade vs Burr Coffee Grinders

    Before we break down the best coffee grinder options, I need to cover the two different type of budget grinders.

    1. Blade grinders are also known as spice grinders. The beans are aggressively and unevenly chopped in the top chamber. How long you hold the button down determines the grind size. It is very inexact.
    2. Burr Grinders are also known as burr mills. Unlike the blade grinder, the coffee beans do not enter and exit from the same chamber. Burr grinders use two revolving abrasive surfaces to reduce the size of the coffee bean as they pass. The size is determined by how far apart these two surfaces are. The beans enter the burr, are ground, and once the proper size, the grounds exit the grinder.

    Blade grinders cost around $20 USD. Burr grinders start around $25 and can go into the thousands for a high-end commercial grinder.

    The Problem With Blade Grinders

    Many coffee drinkers buy a blade coffee grinder when they first begin grinding their coffee at home. Some coffee beans will be broken into larger chunks and some into smaller chunks and some pulverized into coffee dust.

    You do not want a blade coffee grinder. When you go to brew your coffee, the larger pieces will under-extracted and the smaller pieces over-extracted. This can result in a bitter coffee and if you do your best to avoid grinding too small, you risk having a weaker coffee. In many cases, preground coffee from a commercial grinder is going to be better than a blade grinder. It is a trade-off between freshness and proper extraction.

    Another issue with Blade Grinders is that in some households it does double duty as a spice grinder. This means unless you really clean the grinder thoroughly, you could get some unpleasant flavors the next time you brew. Do you really want to do a spit take of cardamon at 6 AM?

    Hand Coffee Grinders

    Many hand coffee grinders are priced about the same or a little higher than blade coffee grinders. They do a better job than blade coffee grinders. The bad news is you have to grind the coffee yourself. Your own muscle power. It isn’t hard to grind your own beans with a hand grinder, but it does take time and can be tedious. Most people I’ve talked to hate it at first, but after a week they don’t even think about it.

    I like hand coffee grinders for the office or for traveling. However, the first thing in the morning, I prefer the convenience of electric.

    I think hand coffee grinders are fine for a making one cup at a time, but if I were making a full pot of coffee daily (or a few times daily), I’d advise getting an electric burr grinder.

    The Best Coffee Coffee Grinders Under $100

    [$30 – $40: Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder]

    If you really want to go budget on an electric burr grinder, there is the classic Mr. Coffee Burr Grinder. It does an admirable job with medium and coarse grinds but fails at the finer grinds. However, if you are comfortable with pulling apart appliances, the Mr. Coffee can be modified to grind for espresso. See the tutorial Adjusting the Mr. Coffee Burr Mill for Espresso Grind for more details.

    The Mr. Coffee Burr Mill grinder doesn’t have a reputation for lasting a long time, but given the price point, that is to be expected. This would be a good first grinder for someone very tight on money. A word of warning, these devices can be loud.

    Mr Coffee Burr Grinder

    Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder (Amazon USA, Amazon Canada)

    [$35: Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill]

    Hario makes a lot of great coffee equipment and their hand burr grinder is no exception. The Hario Skerton is the gold standard for hand burr coffee grinders. I’ve seen many other knock-off hand grinders enter and exit the market, but not the Hario. And although it might be a little inconsistent for French Press, it can handle most brewing methods like a champ.

    Unlike an electric grinder which has settings, you will be responsible for getting your grind size just right. This will take some time and practice. Be patient and remember it is only $35. If you are frequently switching between brewing methods that require different grind sizes, you may want to buy two, and then set the burrs perfectly, and then leave alone.

    Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill

    Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)  

    [$45-$50: Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill]

    At the time of this article, the Cuisinart is the #1 Best Selling Burr Coffee Grinder on Amazon. This makes total sense. With 18 grind settings, it can grind for most brewing methods.

    The Cuisinart is known for excelling at coarser grinds, so if French Press is your go-to method of brewing, this might the right grinder for you. It is advised to clean this grinder regularly to prevent jamming and extend the life of the appliance.

    The Cuisinart also comes with an impressive 18-month warranty.

    Cuisinart Coffee Grinder

    Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

    [$100: Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder]

    The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is technically $99.95, so it is still under $100. The Infinity has 16 different grind settings: 4 each for extra fine, fine, regular, and coarse. The Infinity is the most sturdy of the sub $100 burr grinders on this list.

    There are reports of the grinder jamming up with darker roasts when ground fine or extra-fine. But this is the best-built coffee grinder under $100.

    Capresso Infinity Coffee Grinder

    Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

    Beyond $100

    What do you get when you spend more than $100 on a coffee grinder? A few things.

    • More consistent grind sizes when coarse.
    • The ability to grind fine enough for espresso or Turkish coffee.
    • Better built and will usually last longer.

    If you decide to go beyond $100, there are a few ideas on the Essential Coffee Gear page.

    Which Budget Coffee Grinder is Best?

    If you are making just a cup or two at a time and don’t mind spending a minute or two hand-grinding, get the Hario Skerton. It is also the best choice for traveling, camping, and for kitchens short on extra electrical outlets.

    If money is really tight, go with the Mr. Coffee Burr Mill, especially if it is on sale.

    The Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill is a good grinder at an excellent price. It has a long track record too. If you prefer to be closer to $50 this is your best burr grinder.

    Capresso Infinity Conical Burr is sturdy and makes less noise than many other grinders. It will likely outlast the other electric grinders on this list.

    The Capresso Infinity Conical Burr is the most sturdy of the bunch, makes less noise, and will produce the most consistent grind. If you have $100, get the Infinity.

    Resources

    Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder (Amazon USA, Amazon Canada)

    Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)  

    Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

    Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

    eBay Coffee Grinders

    Coffee Grind Chart – Once you have your grinder, use this article to help you find the right grind size.

    Ground Rules for Grinding Coffee – Some tips on operating a coffee grinder.

    Prices for this article were collected in December 2017 and are in US Dollars. 



  • Inanimate Objects Comics #67

    Same Difference (Coffee Comic)

    Love Ingredient (Coffee Comic)

    Feel that Way (Coffee Comic)

    At Least One (Coffee Comic)

    Previous: Inanimate Objects Comics #66

    Inanimate Objects by Todd Zapoli is licensed under a Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Feel free to add this comic to your website, provided you attribute by linking back to INeedCoffee.com (https://ineedcoffee.com).



  • Life is Coffee Comics #18

    Errors of Your Ways

    Errors of your ways Comic

    How Slow Time Goes

    How Slow Time Goes Comic

    © 2017 Life is Coffee



  • Home Roasting Coffee with a Heat Gun and Bread Machine

    The various devices used to roast coffee beans provide heat to roast the beans in different ways. The three methods are convection, conduction, and radiation. Listed in the chart below are some of the differences in the effect of these devices.

    There are at least three ways to determine the differences in the heat transfer process in coffee roasting.

    WAG, EG, and SP.

    WAG, aka wild ass guess, is perhaps the least reliable but gives one at least a starting point to understand the heat transfer process.

    EG, aka educated guessium, is an assessment of a WAG after having thought at length about it and researching the internet extensively until one’s eyes will not focus any longer to find an answer. SP, aka scientific process, is the most reliable, but it is a little too time consuming and costly in order to collect enough data to be accepted as a valid presumption.

    The chart below is EG certified.

     

    home coffee roaster comparision

    A Brief History of Time and Coffee

    And thanks to a real “SP” kind of guy, Stephen Hawking, for giving us an insight into time and coffee.

    Coffee beans in the green, stable state contain about 10% to 12.5% water, internally and externally. When roasting, the process to rid the beans of this moisture should occur in about three or four minutes and be completed before reaching a BT (bean temperature) of 212° F or 100° C.

    The Maillard reaction starts when the beans start to turn white then yellow nearing 130° C. The Maillard reaction is the process when the beans start changing from yellow to tan to light brown. This period changes the sugars and other compounds into a state that will allow the beans to become roasted enough to be an almost palatable beverage. The Maillard reaction usually takes about three to four minutes and is usually complete when the BT reaches 170° C.

    The final elimination of water and maturing of the roast occurs after the Maillard reaction is known as the Development Stage. This is when the beans roast enough to become a drinkable coffee and are at the commonly known point of the 1st crack stage of roasting; the 1st crack lasts from one to three minutes. The first crack is the final definition of the roasting process and most roasters agree that coffee beans should not be roasted into the 2nd crack for more than a minute.

    Corretto Home Coffee Roasting

    The Corretto roaster in action, average roast time10 to 12 minutes.

    The Crocodile Dundee Connection

    My first roast was with a heat gun and dog bowl. I quickly graduated to the popcorn popper and amassed a menagerie of poppers and modified poppers that lasted a couple of years. I was roasting up to ten batches of four ounces each (40 ounces) per session about every two or three weeks. I roasted so many times I finally started to understand the roasting process. After two years, roasting so many batches in about two or three hours sessions gave me an insight into the nuances of roasting, but exhausted my desire to roast.

    I had to have a shorter process of roasting more beans at a time and in less time. I looked around and settled on the “Corretto” style of roasting, which was promoted and invented by a group of Coffee Snobs in Australia.

    The process used a bread machine and a heat gun, which I already had and cost $10.00. I found a bread machine at the Salvation Army resale store. I waited for discount Friday and picked it up for $3.50. After a few sample roasts, which were only six inches above the dog bowl roasting process, I modified the bread machine with switches ($10.00) that made the paddle work all the time and rewired the heating element (that I never use) to work at the flip of a finger.

    Bread Machine Home Roasting

    Chris Bound of Texas has an elegant set up to roast his beans.

    Corretto Roasting Overview

    Now Corretto roasting does not require anything but a bread machine and a heat gun (and the nerve to roast a pound of green beans). The bread machine does not need to be modified, as I described above, to roast green coffee beans as long as it has a “dough” cycle that does not turn on the heating element.

    The dough cycle can be activated and will agitate the beans so they have enough motion to roast evenly and not scorch or burn them. The heat gun can be turned on high and the temperature can be regulated by moving the nozzle closer to or farther away from the beans as they roast. Placing the nozzle about six inches from the swirling beans is a good place to start. The roasting process will produce a lot of chaff and smoke so it is recommended as an outdoor project.

    Over the past two years, I refined my Corretto roasting by writing an Excel spreadsheet template to log my roasting data and give me information on the ROR (rate of rise), and also a neat graphic chart of the various roasting stages. I added a K type thermometer to give a real accurate bean temperature. l kept the lid on because it helped control the chafe.

    temp control

    A K type temperature probe records a very accurate bean temperature, and the router control allows an adjustment of the air flow and heat from the heat gun.

    With Corretto Roasting I am Getting Great Results

    I have read many articles that downgrade any coffee roaster that is not a big, round drum as being valid. I dare say that I can roast with the precision of any large drum roaster and get just as good a roast, if not better. Knowledge is in the expertise of understanding what you are doing, not in how you are doing it. Ansel Adams used a simple Brownie box camera to make some of his greatest photographs.

    I have often wondered why more roasters are not using the Corretto style of roasting, I finally figured it out. No one is making money off this style of roasting, and many think that nothing good or innovative could possibly come from the land down under. But note with exception that Mick Dundee, along with an unforgettable rear end view of Linda Kozlowski, as she is almost eaten by a real crock, are from down under.

    Even I used to refer to this style of roasting as BMHG (Bread Maker Heat Gun), but you have to give the Corretto guys their due. It is a great style of roasting and gets the job done of turning green beans into great coffee.

    Home roasted coffee

    A completed roast of Kenya AA.

    Best of Luck and Good Roasting ….SH

    Resources

    A Fireside Chat – Trout Doc YouTube channel that includes photos of both Corretto and popper roasting.

    Green-Bean-Logger (XLSM) – Excel file includes Logger, instructions, and a sample roast.



  • How to Make Pour-Over Coffee With the Gabi Drip Master

    When I first received the Gabi Drip Master coffee brewer (aka the Master A), I had no idea how to make coffee with it. I’ve used many other pour-over coffee brewers, but this one was unique. Whereas other pour-over coffee brewers task you with controlling the water flow over the beans, the Gabi Drip Master adds a clever twist. It is designed in a way that it collects the water poured and then evenly distributes that water over the beans for you in a more uniform manner.

    How well does it make coffee compared to other flat-bottom pour-over brewers? I’ll render a verdict at the end of the article. First, let’s make some coffee.

    The Equipment

    Putting the Gabi Drip Master together the first time is like putting together a puzzle. All the parts collapse into a tight space. We will need to unpack and assemble the brewer.

    gabi master A

    Open the shell and pull out the parts.

    Gabi Master A Part

    The part in the upper right can be opened to find another section.

    Gabi Dripper All Parts

    Here we have the entire brewer. On the Top Row, we have the Dripper and Waterspout. Underneath, is the Water Bottle and the Multi. We’ll go through each later. Now, all we need is a mug or jar to brew our coffee into.

    Measuring the Coffee

    Also included in the Gabi Drip Master is a scoop, which is incorrectly labeled as 15 grams. It doesn’t hold 15 grams. It holds 6-7 grams of coffee. The mislabeling won’t be a problem because we are going to keep the math simple.

    We are going to brew 10 ounces of coffee. This means 3 scoops will give us approximately 20 grams of coffee. Since 10 ounces is about 300 milliliters, this works out to a brew ratio of 15:1 (15 parts water to 1 part coffee).

    Probably the second most clever part of the Gabi Drip Master design is that the top chamber holds exactly 150 grams of water. This means two fills will meet our water needs. There is no need to weigh anything. The most clever part is the Waterspout, which will be covered later.

    This is a different recipe than the one included in the instructions. I think mine is better. Feel free to adjust the recipe for your tastes.

    Griding the Coffee

    Since this is a flat-bottom pour-over brewer, I used a Medium grind, like I would for the Kalita Wave or the Stagg Dripper.

    Brewing the Coffee

    #1 Connect the Water Bottle to the Waterspout

    The Water Bottle fits on top of the Waterspout. Connect the two. The Water Bottle will hold the water before it goes into the Waterspout.

    Set this aside for now.

    Gabi Connect Water Bottle

    #2 Rinse the Filter (Optional)

    The Gabi uses the same 155 series filter as the Kalita Wave. Place the filter in the Dripper and rinse with hot water. Throw out the rinse water. Because the Kalita Wave filter is so thin and there is a debate on if it is best to rinse that filter, I’m labeling this as an optional step.

    For my tests, I rinsed, because I had the brown filters, which to me impart more of a paper taste. If I had the plain white, I might not rinse. It all depends on if you can taste the paper in the brew.

    #3 Add Ground Coffee and Place Over Mug

    Add 20 grams or 3 scoops of medium ground coffee into the filter. Place the filter into the Dripper and then set the Dripper over a mug or jar. For this tutorial, I am using a jar.

    The Multi is a device used when the Dripper doesn’t fit your mug. If the Dripper fits your mug then you won’t need this part.

    gabi Add Coffee with Filter

    The Dripper here is sitting on the Multi, which is like a stand for your mug or jar. 

    #4 Place the Connected Water Bottle / Waterspout Over the Dripper

    Place the connected Water Bottle and Waterspout onto the Dripper. Now the brew stack is complete.

    Gabi Dripper Stacked

    Here the full brew stack. From top to bottom: Water bottle, Waterspout, Dripper (with filter and ground coffee), Multi, and Jar.

    #5 Add Water

    Heat water to 200° F. Fill the Water Bottle to the top. Wait until all that water exits completely into the Waterspout. Then fill it again. At this point, you will have added 300 milliliters of water, which is all we need for our 10-ounce cup of coffee.

    Gabi Pour Water

    Add hot water to Water Bottle.

    #6 Remove stack and Enjoy!

    Once the coffee has finished brewing, remove the stack and enjoy.

    Gabi Brewing Coffee

    The Waterspout is Pretty Cool

    What makes the Gabi special is the Waterspout. Instead of having a human try to gently and evenly pour water onto the coffee grounds, that task is handled by the Waterspout. It slows the flow of water into cascading drops that hit the grounds evenly.

    As the person making the coffee, my only task, once the Gabi Drip Master stack is set up, is to add enough water to the Water bottle. The Gabi does the rest. I’ve tried many different coffee pour-over devices and this is the first time I’ve seen this part handled for me. This is what high-end automatic drip coffee makers do so well, but at a much lower price point.

    Gabi Waterpout underneath

    This is a close-up view of the waterspout. 

    The Verdict

    When I first test a new coffee brewer, I expect the first few brews not to go smoothly, so I don’t use my best coffee. I use my worst coffee. It is better to make mistakes and throw out coffee you don’t like instead of wasting your best coffee. So for this brewer, I used a naturally processed coffee from Indonesia that just tasted odd to me. Bright, but not sweet, with a sour finish.

    To my amazement, the Gabi made this coffee that was underwhelming on the AeroPress taste magical. It was rich, sweet, and with a clean finish. No sourness.

    Then I pulled out my good coffee and made several more mugs of coffee. Each one was outstanding.

    I’m a fan of the Gabi Drip Master. When I first stacked all those sections together, I felt a little silly, like I was playing coffee Jenga, but the coffee speaks for itself. It tastes great. The Gabi Master is a great flat-bottom pour over device.

    Resources

    The Gabi Master A, Drip Brewed Coffee Maker (Amazon USA, Amazon Canada

    Dripper filters (eBayAmazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada)

    Stagg Pour-Over Coffee Dripper Review and Tutorial – Flat-bottom pour-over device.

    Kalita Wave Coffee Brewing Tutorial – INeedCoffee brewing tutorial.

    Coffee Brewing Guide – Our guide includes several different pour-over tutorials.

    Disclosure: INeedCoffee received a Gabi Master Dripper for this tutorial. 




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