506 Roasts

Life, Love, Coffee….and everything in between

Month: June, 2012

the (bi)daily grind

We’ve had the same coffee grinder since before we were married, and the truth is I hate it!  Technically, its a burr grinder which is supposed to be better than a blade grinder.  While it certainly grinds more uniformly than a blade grinder, our “trusty” Braun grinder has some very poor qualities about it as well.  This is the one piece of coffee equipment that I’ve most wanted to replace, but have yet to do it!  This got me thinking about the different types of grinders out there…

If you really enjoy coffee then a blade grinder shouldn’t even be an option, especially if you spend a lot on high quality beans!  Basically, blade grinders overheat the coffee and don’t even grind the beans uniformly…it’s just not good.  Now, a good quality electric burr grinder will cost quite a bit, but this isn’t your only option.  There are all kinds of manual burr grinders which do a fantastic job, although I don’t own one (yet!).  There’s the Turkish coffee mill,

A typical Turkish coffee mill

the beloved Zassenhaus mill,

Zassenhaus 156 ( quick tip…look for a high quality vintage one!)

and the Hario brand mills.

The sacrifice is that you have to crank the mill by hand which can take quite awhile, but these mills have been known to outperform high end electric burr grinders, especially for espresso.  Speaking of the Turkish coffee mill, I found a seemingly high quality one at an International market in Raleigh for a mere $14.95…I’m kicking myself for passing on it!

Everyone out there who is as passionate as we are please share some cool ideas for grinders, we are always open to try new things!


A short brew thru

The variety of coffee preparation methods can be a little bit overwhelming. To some, the french press might be a little exotic, but for those who really love great coffee, its a staple.  The stovetop moka pot has also gained significant popularity recently, however numerous methods exist which can offer a superior cup of coffee when compared to a standard drip brewer.  Some of these methods actually save you money versus buying a drip brewer, which is certainly advantageous if you’re willing to put in a little effort for your coffee.

A sampling of our coffee brewing equipment

Bonmac coffee filter cone

The most cost effective and (arguably) the most simple coffee preparation method is by the use of a pour over filter cone. These can be purchased for as little as $10. Except for paper filters (or a reusable one) that’s all you need if you have a way to heat water. For a Melitta-type filter cone, the idea is to add ground coffee to the filter cone, which sits atop your coffee mug, then add hot water to the filter cone. A small hole in the bottom of the filter allows water to pass at the proper rate so that amazing quality coffee is produced with minimal effort.

Cona vacuum brewer size D

One of the more exotic methods being enjoyed today is the vacuum pot. This one is on our wish list of coffee equipment. The idea is really cool and the results are supposedly optimal if done correctly. According to SCIENCE, over-extraction of the coffee grounds is impossible, and the coffee is brewed at exactly the right temperature. Water is poured into the bottom bowl, while the coffee grounds are placed in the top bowl (funnel).  When the water is just starting to boil, you place the funnel into the bottom bowl and wait for the majority of the water to ascend into the funnel, then wait about a minute for the coffee to infuse. It’s a little more involved than most methods (with the exception of the lever espresso machine), however you see the whole process right in front of you because the brewer is made of glass!

As for espresso, there are several options, depending on how involved you are willing to get. If, like me, you’re lucky, you can find a vintage espresso machine for cheap and enjoy high quality espresso anytime you want.  However, there are reasonable alternatives to searching for a cheap vintage espresso machine or popping for a brand new one. The most common alternative is the moka stovetop pot. This isn’t true espresso, however, the results can be impressive and some prefer the taste of well made moka coffee to a proper espresso. But, if you’re looking for true espresso on the cheap (and on the fly), then this cool gadget could be what you’re looking for. I’ve never tried this one, but it looks awesome. The Mypressi Twist is a C02 powered portable espresso machine. I might take one of these instead of my moka pot next time I go backpacking!

Mypressi twist