Seeking some advice from coffee aficionados here on the board.
I use a coffee grinder and french press and buy my beans from a small shop downtown. The thing is, every time I do it the coffee turns out weak. It tastes better and smoother than the Starbucks, but also definitely more watery. I use maybe 2 cups (14 oz) whole beans per cup, is this too little?
Or is this just a case of my palate adapting from the strong cheap stuff I usually drink at school?
Any blend of beans you would recommend for more of "punch"?
Switch to espresso?
You may not be getting the water hot enough when you run it through the press.
I'm sure there must be a misunderstanding--two cups of water is 16 fluid ounces---and you use FOURTEEN ounces of BEANS? As in, nearly a pound---for two cups? Are you making coffee or mocha candy? :-)
Get a Colombian brand of coffee--it's a little more expensive, but it's worth it. Richer...just better all the way around. Grind the beans a tad more coarsely for French press, but don't feel like you have to use a French press. Percolated coffee (and even automatic drip coffee) are also good. Don't be afraid to try different "off" brands, particularly if you're having them ground, and use just a tad more coffee than you think you need (heaping measures rather than level, for example).
There's a few things:
1) Starbucks = shit. It's like McDonald's, it's shit, but it's a known quantity of shit you can get everywhere.
2) Starbucks coffee is generally espresso, and not coffee. Coffee has more water. Have you ever tried coffee from Starbucks?
3) Starbucks has a tendency to burn their beans, and under draw their espresso. It's going to be more bitter and acidic than home brewed coffee.
4) Different beans produce different tastes and different strengths. Experiment with your beans some. Robusto beans are more bitter than Arabica beans, but have more caffeine. Most store brands/Folgers/Maxwell House use Robusto. Most whole beans bought from a coffee shop are Arabica. When I was able to buy beans I got 2/1, Arabica/Robusto mix. More caffeine than Arabica and a smoother taste than Robusto.
5) You should brew your coffee to taste. Acidic/oily/bitter != strong, it just means it tastes like shit. It should take away your jitters, but at some point adding coffee to the pot becomes a waste of coffee and makes it taste bad.
6) Different brew methods are going to produce different tastes. Espresso draws water straight through packed grounds. The French Press steeps the coffee like tea. Drip through a filter removes some of the oils. Your mass consumption coffee, from cafeterias for instance, are usually brewed in a percolator. Percolated coffee for mass consumption suffers from a few problems; it's basically drip coffee without the filter, they're usually set up by non-coffee drinkers who dump half a pound of store coffee in them, they're brewed at 5am and let sit all day while the water boils off. Each single act will leave the coffee bitter and acidic, put all three together and you get what you get.
7) Different grinds are also going to produce different tastes. Play with the size of your grind.
8) Using a Press you can steep to strength. The longer you let sit before pressing, the stronger it will be. I use two table spoons in my press, and let sit a little longer. But, I'm not in an area I can waste coffee by just adding more.
9) If you like a stronger taste, try a French Roast. French Roast = roasted twice = burned beans = tastes like shit. Thanks France.
10) Don't ever use caffeinated water to brew coffee.
Couldn't have said it better.
I think Starbucks gives you Cafe Americano when you order a coffee as opposed to drip coffee like you'd get from a diner. At least that's what they do here in Ireland.
Thank you all for the good response! Really informative.
Also, clearly I hadn't had my morning coffee when I made the initial post (and my comprehension of Imperial measures are clearly impaired, too). Thank you again for the advice :)
Guatemalan Antigua, my all time favorite
I just bought some of that since they were out of Sumatra and will give it a try in the morning. The Barista said it was his all-time favorite.
This is not a gentlemanly retailer . . .paper cups, drinking on the street . . how barabaric!!!!
i disagree about mixing in Robusta beans - they're a lower grade of coffee bean, less complex tasting, coarser - they're cheaper, and higher caffeine. But if you need more caffeine, just drink more good coffee - you don't need to get it all at one shot...
Good Arabica beans can't be beat, and there's an enormous amount of variation among the various growing areas - you'll like some better than others. Differences of soil, climate and growing conditions make as much difference to coffee as they do to wine grapes.
The thing that matters most to how strong the coffee tastes is the roast. It sounds like you might not be getting a dark enough roast for your taste, which is why you're trying to compensate by using an incredible amount. (Was that a typo?)
When you buy the beans, look for ones that have been roasted dark, and that are covered in their oil. Don't buy beans that look medium or lighter brown and seem dry on the outside - that's a lighter roast, and won't have the strong taste you want. Don't be afraid to give the beans the sniff test - good coffee beans should have a really strong, complex smell - not at all like McDonald's coffee. The beans should have been roasted within a day or so. Store them in the freezer when you get them home.
My favorite beans are Sulawesi. I used to get organic ones from a local roaster, but we recently got a Fairway market nearby, and they roast every day, and are a fraction of the price. If there's another dark roast that's fresher than the Sulawesi, I get that. Not crazy about Sumatra - tastes too earthy for me. You should try different beans to see what you like. I avoid blends - maybe it's paranoia, but I think that blends are the way roasters "lose" lower quality or not-as-fresh beans. Remember - freshly roasted is the key - the oils start to go rancid if the beans have sat around a while.
I make about 16 fl oz of coffee at a time, and use about 1/2 cup of whole beans. Go by the instructions for your grinder to know how long to grind them. For French Press, the grind is on the coarser side.
Hope this helps.
Well, hopefully we have the corporate bashing out of the way.
In a small defense of "the S company", in my neighborhood, at least, you only get a coffee at Mickey D's if everything else is closed. Starbucks coffee tastes burned? Gentlemen, you haven't had a cup, not espresso, but a regular house blend black coffee, from Peet's or Philz. Those chains can be rather inconsistent, and I've had some stuff at both places that was pretty bad.
Excuse me, but the Starbucks to-go cups aren't "gentlemanly"? I hope that comment was tongue in cheek. I've never bothered to consider the "gentlemanliness" of a to-go coffee cup.
I think the OP is on to something when he says he's unfamiliar with "Imperial measures." It really sounds like he may be using 14 cc of beans, not 14 ounces (volume). Agreed to check the type of beans he's buying. He might be buying a mild roast that's not as robust as he'd prefer.