I will probably get some flack for this, but I must admit I have been an avid Starbucks drinker for some time now. I usually just get the back coffee and bring my own travel mug (trying to be somewhat eco friendly). Recently, however, I said to myself, "self, you are spending a little too much at the S-Bucks, why don't you upgrade the coffee pot and brew at home." So I did. I may have a few too many ways to brew, (french press, drip machine, and pour over) but I tend to lean towards the drip machine for the everyday brew. Also, I said "hey, Starbucks beans may be good but I could get more bang for my buck somewhere else." So I headed over to my local Trader Joe's and got a tub of Colombia Supremo blend. Here is where my issue is that I would like some advice on. I just can't seem to get a stronger brew out of the beans that I have. My ratio is 1 to 1 as far as 1 tablespoon for each "cup" marked on the pot. I want to find some alternatives to s-bucks coffee beans but still maintain a strong and rich taste. Are there any sites you guys turn to for this? I am somewhat limited in local roasters where I am, as there are not many of them. Would it be worth my while to give them a call anyway and see what kinds of things they are roasting up? Thoughts, tips, and suggestions are very much appreciated!
You might find this helpful - there is a section here about how to roast your own beans:
I'm unclear on why you're looking to leave Starbucks beans behind if you like them. If you're grinding whole beans and brewing them at home the cost per cup of coffee is already very low, regardless of what beans you buy (buying beans in bulk increases the savings, if you know how to store them properly). The real savings was in switching from buying coffee brewed at the store to brewing it at home, and I think any further savings based on beans will be minimal compared to those from the initial switch.
As for alternatives, Stumptown Coffee is pretty good, but I'm not sure they are cheaper than Starbucks.
Good point. I want to see what other options could be available that people are using on a consistent basis. Whether that is a local roaster, online company, or some other retailer.
There are two things meant when people talk about coffee being strong or weak. One is simply the caffeine content, but that's not the one people usually mean. The other is the intensity of the flavor.
In general, a darker roast gives a stronger flavor. When you buy beans, look for the ones that are roasted almost black, covered with an oily film, and that smell really intense. Make sure they've been roasted at most a day ago, because the oil will go rancid after a while. Store them in the freezer.
Where to get them? I haven't bought at Trader Joes, so I can't say what their good dark roasts are. Whole Foods in my area does a so-so to OK job. The best I've found is Fairway Market, but I think they're only in NY and NJ right now.
I like Colombian beans OK, but prefer African or Asian beans. My current favorite is Sulawesi, roasted dark, almost a French Roast.
I used to mail order from Peets, a LONG time ago, but their quality really went down a lot. Starbucks beans are third-rate, as far as buying whole beans are concerned.
Finally, yes, it absolutely would be a good idea to call local roasters, and tell them what you like - they can probably suggest something they have that would satisfy your tastes.
Edit: I almost forgot... Avoid blends! Blends are what roasters/sellers use to "lose" lower quality beans, or ones that were roasted longer ago and are past their prime... Buy single variety beans, and only buy ones you can see/smell before packaging up, or only from a roaster that you trust.
Do not store coffee beans in freezer because it drys them out fairly quickly. Store them in the refridgerator. Purchase small amounts that will last for a week or so for fresher taste. Buy whole beans only and do not grind until you want to use them. Oh, and buy from the roasters not stores as you don't know how long the beans have been sitting there.
As stated above try the darker roasts. Watch for blends unless you like them, which I don't. You can also try different beans from various locales to see which has the flavor you like.
NOTE: I've heard the darker the roast the lower the caffine content.
I have my coffee beans in an airtight container sitting next to the coffee pot on the counter. I have heard about the lower caffeine content for darker roasts. Maybe there is a good medium roast that still has a lot of boldness to it.
I roast a pound a week on my grill, and it's the best coffee I've had. I end up spending about $5-8 per pound, which is better than a lot of what you'll find in stores.
I did a write up on how to do it here: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/06/20/how-to-roast-coffee-at-hom...
Before I roasted, I bought whole-bean Eight O'Clock Coffee. It was the cheapest AND best whole bean I could find. A rare combo. Good luck!
Water temperature of the drip machine may be part of the problem. Hotter water = stronger flavor. Also using a wire screen filter instead of paper makes a stronger brew, it lets the oils through which get trapped by the paper.
Forgot to mention the coarseness or fineness of the grind. It's a surface area thing. Finer grind = more surface area for same amount of beans. Another example. . . put room temp beer or soda in a cooler with just ice. . . it takes along time to get cold. . . fill the cooler with water and ice (enough to cover bottles or cans) and it will get cold in 20mins or less. Or crushed ice vs. cubes more surface area. The beverage with crushed ice will chill colder faster. . . but the ice also melts faster.
I've heard good things about Tonx although can't vouch for them myself as they don't ship to the UK.
Here in England, Square Mile roast some amazing beans. Really good stuff.
I personally favour a drip machine. I love french press, but can't be bothered with the cleanup to drink it on the regular. I too struggle with the intensity, often making it too weak. If that happens I just add another half a scoop of beans.
Forgive me if I missed it, but you also didn't mention if you're grinding at home? If you are, there's a whole other science to grinding which I haven't mastered. If the booklet that shipped with my burr grinder is to be believed, you want a finer grind for drip than you would for say a french press.
I'm interested in home roasting but put off by the prospect of having to sample rank coffee when I screw the roast... can anyone put my mind at ease so I can take up a new expensive coffee related hobby?
I took the advice from the AoM article about roasting your own beans and purchased a metal popcorn popper that I use in tandem with my coleman stove. Everything I've roasted has been totally drinkable. Unless you burn the shit out of them or take them off too early - chances are you'll enjoy it. Do some reading. With my method, I roast for about 2 minutes after the 1st crack starts and depending on how many beans or the exact temp it ends up at City or Full City usually. I'm roasting probably 1.5 pounds at a time, at unknown temp. The whole process is done within 15 minutes.