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Foolproof Coffee

By Edited Oct 29, 2014 6 19
Coffee with Kady
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

So, true story: I have always found a way to make the cheapest coffee taste great.

My father began this family tradition long ago. His tip? Add a dash of salt on top of the coffee grounds (for filtered coffee). Amazingly this does help with the bitter aftertaste. Not great for those on sodium-reduced diets, though.

For years, I kept my secret under wraps. But one day, our cat Kady convinced me to share my coffee secrets with the world.

At first, I began to shoot video snippets at my local grocery store, but their security guy asked me what I was doing. So proudly I told him, "Oh, I'm writing an article about how to make cheap coffee taste great and I need some footage."

Oddly, he didn't look impressed. Instead he asked me, "Are you going to be showing products in our store with their prices?"

"Yeah," I continued, "I'm going to show people how they can make the cheap coffee taste like the overpriced stuff you're peddling over here."

Well, blah, blah, blah . . he quoted something about legalities and permission and pretty much told me I couldn't do it.

Crushed but not defeated, I found suitable photos to depict the first part of my article. (So THERE, tough-guy security guard for an unnamed grocery store).

Oh well, I got over it . . sorta. And so, here it goes.

Healthy groceries
Credit: greggavedon.com on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

My Typical Broke Student Scenario

In college, I tried to eat healthy. So on the weekends, I'd get out my "to-do" list and stick to my meagre grocery budget. Yeah, I even clipped coupons.

Sure, I felt good about buying healthy produce until the dreaded moment when I realized I was down to my last $6 and was completely out of coffee.

OMG, Panic Sets In, You Run

And Produce Goes Flying Out of the Cart

Day 3/365 - Ride in the Shopping Cart.. (Explored)
Credit: Caden Crawford on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

And You Become a Different Person

Need coffee. Can't live without coffee. 

Because you know that broccoli isn't going to wake your sorry ass up in the morning.

Everything is Going Dark Now

But You Made It to the Coffee Aisle

Supermarket Aisle
Credit: Martin Howard on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Ever See Anyone Use These Machines?

Ask for Assistance? From who? No one's around

Organic or not
Credit: Charles Hutchins on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Rose's Foolproof Coffee

Makes: 24 oz | Prep: 5 mins | Total: 9 mins

Kady watching me drink coffee
Here is how to make a 1 lb. bag of cheap whole coffee beans taste as good as those fancy-schmancy gourmet coffee beans that cost three times as much.


5 tbsp. of coarsely ground coffee beans
30 oz. (3-3/4 cups) boiling water
Optional: Unsweetened evaporated milk and/or sugar
Boil about 4 cups of water first and take it off the burner to cool a few degrees. Ground coffee will taste burnt if you use water at the boiling point (of 100 C or 212 F). It tastes better if the water is 96 C (205 F).[2]
Add coffee beans to grinder (fill chamber about 2/3 full for best results). Pulse for 3 seconds, stop, and pulse for 3 more seconds. Keeping the grinder on for more than a few seconds tends to heat up beans a bit and releases more of the acidic flavours, I find.
TIP: Store coarsely ground coffee in an airtight container in the fridge. I usually make enough for one week.
To your 34 oz. Bodum French Press, add 5 level tbsp. of ground coffee and pour 30 oz. (3-3/4 cups) of pre-boiled water over the coarse grinds. Note the water level so that you won't need to measure the next time (mine is just under the metal rim, as shown in photo).
My French Press Method with Cheap Coffee
NEVER stir it (esp. cheap coffee).
Leave your French Press uncovered for a full four minutes. Set a timer if need be. 
At the four minute point, grab a large spoon and scoop out all of the coffee grounds floating on top.[1] Add the French Press lid and plunge the remaining grounds as usual. 
Note: It will plunge quicker and easier than if you usually leave all the grinds in the French Press beaker, so be careful not to push down too hard on the plunger or hot coffee might spurt out.
Pour into coffee cup(s), add unsweetened evaporated milk and/or sugar or enjoy it black. Makes two 12 oz. cups or three 8 oz. cups of coffee.

The Benefits of French Press Coffee

Environmentally-friendly: There's no electricity used to brew your coffee and no need for filters. You could bring your French Press camping and boil water over a campfire.

Inexpensive and long-lasting: French Presses range from around $10 - $50. With proper care, they last for decades. (I've had my Bodum French Press for over 20 years).

Better taste: Since the coffee isn't "cooked" on a warming plate or boiled via percolating, there's much less chance you'll have an overcooked, burnt, or bitter tasting brew. Plus I feel it's wise to avoid anything with plastic parts (like in some brands of coffee makers) whenever possible.

Bodum - the Gold Standard for over 70 years

In 1944, Peter Bodum started the company in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1974, Bodum became known for its Bistro French Press coffee maker. Four years later, their home office was moved to Switzerland and the company expanded to produce a wide range of products ranging from coffee makers to kitchen tools.

Today, Bodum is led by the founder’s son, Jorgen Bodum. Their high quality kitchen products are sold in more than 55 countries.[3]

Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker

Bodum Chambord 8 cup French Press Coffee Maker, 34 oz., Chrome RoseWrites 2014-09-11 5.0 0 5

Bodum Chambord 8 cup French Press Coffee Maker, 34 oz., Chrome

Bodum Chambord 8 cup French Press Coffee Maker, 34 oz., Chrome
Amazon Price: $53.50 $39.95 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 29, 2014)
In 2004, the Bodum Chambord coffee press won the American Culinary Institute's award for Best French Press coffee maker. I love everything about my Bodum except for the lie that it makes "8 cups" - it doesn't. Coffee grounds mixed with water produces about 3 cups.


Oct 30, 2014 6:14am
Thanks for the tips. Your kitty looks like he/she has already had a few cups
Oct 30, 2014 6:35am
Ha yeah, you're right. She was getting a little stressed out when my man-servant was taking the photos. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
Oct 30, 2014 6:52am
Classic, Rosalita, and I truly don't think I coulda done it better myself. Here's the deal on me and coffee : I love it more than life itself, it is the ambrosia of the gods, and while my consumption rate is down, I still nail a pot a day. Last year my wife and I found an old electric GE brand percolator. I thought it was neat and displayed it. After awhile I asked her, "Does this thing work?" (I was on drip coffee then). Turns out it did! We also have an old hand-cranked coffee mill her great-grandparents had owned. Guess what? THAT worked, too! So. It was with great joy I went out and bought a bag of coffee beans, ground them by hand, and brewed a pot of joe in a 1960s' era percolator. After that first cup, I'll never go back to drip coffee and I am still asking myself why the hell we went to that junk in the first place. It takes no more time fir me to grind beans (85 turns of the crank gets me enough for a robust brew) and to let it perc than a drip coffee pot. The net result is better than ANY drip coffee could do.

Anyway, I have put a dash of salt in my grounds over the years. I've heard of people putting crushed egg shells in there, too (the calcium in the shell neutralizes some of the acids, though I've never done with that one myself).

Great article, funny, well written, and on a fantastic subject: coffee.
Oct 30, 2014 7:29am
Wow, gee thanks Vic.

Freshly ground beans make a huge difference. I recently discovered that the ideal temperature of the water is actually less than the boiling point (96 C / 205 F). So, many claim that percolator coffee isn't as good as French Press (but hey, who am I to say).

I also heard about the crushed egg shell thing - I think there's some truth to it, but apparently the shells need to be dry and then crushed (and who the h*ll has time, really).

Another fad (I call it a fad because for me it's just too much work) is "Swedish Egg Coffee." You need to mix coffee grounds with an egg (shell and all) and add 2 tbsp. of water until it looks like mud. Then you have to boil water on the stove, add the muddy mixture, add more cold water to make the grounds clump and blah, blah . . too complicated for me.

Yeah, drip coffee in a coffee shop isn't too bad but for some reason it never tastes as good at home (I think it's the plastic parts in those home coffee makers that alter the taste).

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I drink about 4 cups a day, just can't think straight (or wavy) without it.
Oct 30, 2014 7:45am
We have a press as well, and while the "finish" is good, with the "silkiness" that goes with it, it uses way more beans. (Christ, do I need to get a life or what??)
Oct 30, 2014 7:50am
True and whatever keeps you happy is the main thing. Hey and this IS a serious topic (esp. for writers). Apparently, Beethoven counted out 60 coffee beans for a cup of coffee - course I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what "they" say.
Oct 30, 2014 7:50am
True and whatever keeps you happy is the main thing. Hey and this IS a serious topic (esp. for writers). Apparently, Beethoven counted out 60 coffee beans for a cup of coffee - course I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what "they" say.
Oct 30, 2014 10:25pm
Hey RoseWrites, maybe reason the percolator tastes bad could be because you're getting the "filter" flavor in your coffee. This is just a guess however. The reason I say this is because I just read yesterday that for a pour-over, you should wet the filter first, then pour that water out and THEN add grounds. I tried it this morning for the first time and noticed that the water had a yellowy-brown tint to it...and I don't want the coffee filter ruining the taste of my coffee...And I imagine the same thing is happening with the percolator. So maybe wet the filter in the percolator and maybe it'll taste better? I haven't tried it yet, but I intend to try it tomorrow morning!
Nov 2, 2014 9:34pm
Yeah, I don't bother with filters or a percolator (although Vic might try that suggestion). And you make a good point. I think unbleached coffee filters are/were popular for that reason too. Rinsing the filter seems like a good idea. Thanks for sharing that suggestion and for dropping by.
Oct 30, 2014 7:50am
Sorry 'bout the duplicate posts.
Oct 30, 2014 8:27am
Not a problem--kitty looks miffed cuz he/she ain't gettin' no java in those pics!
Oct 30, 2014 10:26pm
Great article! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
Nov 2, 2014 5:27pm
Enjoyed your article. For some reason I have never been able to develop a taste for coffee. I love the smell outside at a campsite, but seems that the smell and the taste are two different things! ha
Nov 2, 2014 9:37pm
Oh freshly ground coffee is wonderful - it's the best reason to buy a coffee grinder. And you are certainly not alone - I've met lots of people who tell me the same thing. They love the smell of coffee shops but order tea instead. Once of the best things about a French Press is you can use it at a campsite (boiled water over a fire, if need be). Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
Nov 2, 2014 9:38pm
This comment has been deleted.
Nov 2, 2014 9:39pm
Oops typo . . "Once" should be "One" sorry.
Nov 19, 2014 6:17am
Great article! Great tips...and thanks for the giggles as well. I too love my java, AND need to count my pennies. I've done 'the salt thing' before, but had forgotten it as lately we use a Keurig in our house. I use a refillable filter basket and buy bulk coffee to brew that way. Its been eons since I bought a bag and ground my own. I think I'm going to aim for that and buy a French Press again in the near future! Again, thanks Rose.
May 18, 2015 7:29pm
Hey no problem (sorry to be getting back to you so late, I missed this comment for some reason). I'm so used to my French Press that I doubt I'll invest in a Keurig (or similar machines). And I like that I can take my French Press on the road with me too.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Take good care,
May 16, 2015 7:20pm
I loved this article. Personally, I don't "do" caffeine, although sometimes I will use a French press to indulge in some Swiss process water decaf.
May 18, 2015 7:33pm
Oh gee, thanks. I really should "cut back" on the caffeinated stuff and try some decaf in my French Press sometime.

I'm so glad you write on InfoBarrel. I've been extremely busy lately (with other stuff) but I always look forward to reading your work.

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  1. "Canadian Coffee & Tea Expo 2005." Brazza. 11/09/2014 <Web >
  2. "How to Brew "The Perfect Cup" of Coffee." BlackBearCoffee. 11/09/2014 <Web >
  3. "Bodum - History." Bodum. 11/09/2014 <Web >

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