My Coffee Setup

I am obsessed with coffee as nearly everyone who knows me can attest. This post will be a primer of my coffee preferences and setup to achieve coffee perfection.

I typically make 2 cups of coffee at home before work while I read. Since my coffee setup is — intense — I cannot bring it with me to work so I may suffer through a Kuerig during the day. I have been trying to cut back my coffee consumption anyways so mostly it’s just 2 cups a day
.

pour-over-coffee_pour1

Not my home setup exactly — but close enough

The fundamentals of quality coffee are simple: brewing temp, grind size, fresh coffee.

The advanced techniques are really not that complicated but come down to timing, a bit of pour technique, and weighing your coffee/water for consistent ratios.

Setup:

Variable Temperature Electric Swan Neck Kettle – Necessary for control of both temperature to brew and precise pouring technique

Baratza Vario Coffee Grinder – Simply the best home grinder on the market. 440 distinct grind settings. Ceramic burrs for low heat transfer and long life. Produces a consistent grind every time with minimal coffee leftover in the chute (stale coffee grinds == bad)

Hario V60 Ceramic Drip Cone – Quality drip cone for 1-2 cup pours (I find the larger ones tend to over extract) Ceramic is nice to hold heat and have some weight for stability.

Hario V60 Coffee Filters – Natural (vs white bleached) is crucial here. Perfect fit for V60 drip cone helps make for smooth brew process.

Hario Coffee Drip Scale/Timer – 2 for 1 product for the technically savvy coffee enthusiast. Measuring your ratio of coffee to water as well as timing the water contact puts you in the coffee fanatic camp. This product feels a bit cheap but has lasted me ~2 years now with no signs of failing soon so I’ve been happy.

Coffee:
My coffee of choice comes from Intelligentsia – a roaster out of Chicago.  http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/

Really fantastic coffee with decently quick standard shipping. If you’re going to buy a nice setup like the one above you need quality beans. That said I have augmented with a bag of beans from the grocery store in a pinch. You can make a pretty incredible cup of coffee with Dunkin Donuts Whole Bean Original. But compared to fresh roasted Intelligentsia — it’s still an order of magnitude off. I really like their House Blend as my standard and usually order a smaller amount of their seasonal blend and a single origin (these change frequently so I dont want to recommend here). House Blend goes for $18 a pound.

OK so yes this is quite the setup for coffee. I will address the common criticisms I hear:

1. Time to brew – once you have the process down it takes me ~5 mins to brew including boiling water. 3 mins to boil with electric kettle (during which I measure and stage the coffee). ~2 mins to brew via the pour over drip method (video below). Sure it’s not Keurig fast but really not that time consuming.

2. Price – Yes the initial costs are expensive. If you total the price of the equipment I listed you get: ~$725. Intelligentsia House Blend costs 18 bucks per pound (pound yields 26 cups at 17grams per 10 ounce cup) The per unit cost of the filters is ~7 cents. So material costs are ~0.77 cents per 10 ounce cup. For my daily 2 cups thats $1.54. The grande (16oz) at Starbucks costs ~2 dollars. So a 46 cent differential per day yields approximately a 4 year break even point on my initial investment assuming no breakages (I am 2 years in currently). This does not take into account coffee quality and gas to drive to Starbucks and convenience of brewing at home and reading in bed whenever I want with an incredible cup of coffee.

3. Are you OCD? — Probably

Technique Video: Easy than explaining it via text

 

Russian Translation: Как я делаю кофе»  http://stoodio.org/kak-ya-delayu-kofe

Как я делаю кофе translated by Coffee health benefits

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21 thoughts on “My Coffee Setup

  1. I have not — I will check it out. I have experimented with many techniques and coffee (coffee roasters/brands, Aeropress, multiple automatic drip coffee machines/expresso machines. Have not come across the one above. Thanks for sharing!

      • Ultimately this is going to come down to taste preference. Also I believe by bean variety you mean roast/bean origin and not the actual bean type. (Arabica and Robusta) I usually would recommend a light/medium roast and a blend from a respected roaster — something smooth and repeatable while you learn the process. The benefit of a blend is that the roasters tend to keep the consistency the same vs. single origin coffees which will vary by location/time of year. This consistency will allow you to experiment with the input variables and fine tune your coffee making skills while keeping the coffee bean variable constant. Intelligentsia’s House Blend is a great blend for starters.

  2. Pingback: Ultimate Pour Over Coffee Home Setup | Enjoying The Moment

  3. This seems like the sort of thing that could be automated, with a thermostat, a webcam, an electronically-controlled (aim and flow) nozzle, and a computer. 🙂

    • I actually have a side project going on right now trying to do this very thing using a raspberry pi. Slow goings for now but I will blog about it when complete.

    • I find the aeropress makes a more concentrated cup (but really smooth) with less beans. So economically it is a better deal. Downsides to me are slightly more cleanup and a smaller yield of drinkable coffee. They say you can cut it with hot water to bring the total ounces up to a standard cup but I find that really messes the taste up. I guess I prefer this drip method mainly because it produces just as solid of a cup taste-wise with enough actual liquid to sip it for a decent length of time. (drinking coffee is an experience for me as opposed to just caffeine delivery).

      • Cool. Totally with you on the drinking as experience vs. merely for caffeine. I agree that diluting messes with the taste (I normally use an Aeropress) but my solution has been to double the quantity of beans I grind. Adding water, enough to create a 10oz. coffee, to that doubled press results in a proper tasting cup.

        Also, for the budget minded amongst us Hario makes a sweet little hand cranked ceramic burr grinder for about $30-35. I can hand crank enough beans while the water heats up that it doesn’t take any extra time. Downside is if you have guests and need to grind a bunch… then you would want something automated.

  4. I have a similar setup (same kettle, v60, and process), and appreciate your dedication.

    I find that I can make great coffee by using a less expensive grinder (gets replaced more frequently, but at $30 for a store bought burr grinder it makes sense — as Graham mentions, blades will overheat the bean; or if you can find a used Baratza for under $200, try that, but since the primary difference is that’s it’s commercial grade and meant for higher volume use, you can get away with a less expensive one).

    Either way, invest ($100-200 depending on size) on a Zojirushi hot water reservoir. You’ll have the perfect water temperature (which is essential) on-demand and cut your prep time significantly. Then, invest in single origin coffees (Intelligentsia is great, and have especially good shipping, Handsome is often better, and try some of the smaller roasters on the West Coast). So for $150 (v60 + grinder + scale + water reservoir) I have a similar same setup on a smaller budget, and get amazing results. Also, I suggest you spend the extra $3 per bag if you’re already spending $18, and get the best coffee in the world. It’s amazing, there are few other indulgences where the price differential between absolutely terrible and the best in the world is only 2 or 3x.

    One last comment, if you’re coming from a world (as I was) of milkshakes that happen to have coffee (frappaccinos, or anything at Startbucks), you’ll quickly realize that coffee shouldn’t ever be bitter, and you can precisly control acidity and body…and therefore doesn’t require any flavoring or sugar at all.

    • ” if you’re coming from a world (as I was) of milkshakes that happen to have coffee (frappuccinos, or anything at Starbucks), you’ll quickly realize that coffee shouldn’t ever be bitter, and you can precisely control acidity and body…and therefore doesn’t require any flavoring or sugar at all.” So true! and why i cold brew, same principal.

    • Thanks for your comment Joshua. The grinder price point is definitely the largest barrier to entry on my setup. I agree as long as you get a burr grinder you are probably 95% of the way there. Grind consistency and fine-tuning help especially if you dabble with other types of coffee processes (like I routinely do). I saved up for this grinder for awhile and was using a cheaper one for years before.

      Also totally agree on your comment about coffee never being bitter. That is the hallmark of terrible coffee. I have routinely made a cup for non-coffee drinkers or milkshake coffee drinkers (love that term) and made them drink it black. They have all been surprised by how smooth and sweet a well balanced cup of coffee is (and of course are immediately hooked).

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