Coffee Filter. Best Coffee Pot.
December 4, 2006 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Coffee Filter. I'm not entirely happy with my current coffee brewer (Hamilton Beach Brewstation, 1 Year Old), and I am considering something new.

Does anyone have any specific recommendations? I grind my own beans using a burr grinder, no pre-ground. I've looked at some, but it is hard to tell if you don't see (and taste) them in action.
posted by benjh to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In general I find that coffee tastes the best when there's no heat under the brewed coffee (e.g methods such as manual drip, french press, espresso machine).
posted by winston at 4:48 PM on December 4, 2006

I'd try a french press. Bodum makes the easiest to find and they're pretty decent, but the IKEA model is even cheaper if you have a store near you.
posted by kcm at 4:49 PM on December 4, 2006

This Braun model is great in its price range. Built-in water filter, no extraneous controls, auto shutoff, thermal stainless carafe that keeps warm for hours and doesn't drip.
posted by gimonca at 4:54 PM on December 4, 2006

French presses are nice. Heating the coffee after it brews mutates the oils or something, and makes it taste terrible, so you would want to go with something like a French press.

You could also look into brewing coffee in the Vietnamese style, which is similar in style to a French Press... the water drips through the coffee, and you end up with an almost espresso-strength brew.

Here is some random guy's take on brewing Vietnamese iced coffee.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2006

I'm not sure if this is relevant to your situation, but if 1-2 cup capacity is enough, here's my favorite coffee maker: Melitta manual drip. I agree with the general criticism of heating coffee after the initial brewing, but I find french press coffee to be quite grainy. The manual drip with paper filter is a happy medium: very bold, full flavor like you get from a press, but without the graininess. And at $4, you can afford to just try it even if you're not sure.
posted by rkent at 5:33 PM on December 4, 2006

French press is good if you have an in-sink garbage disposal. They can be a bit of a pain to clean otherwise...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:34 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm a devoted french press girl, but if you need coffee for a crowd or don't drink it all at once, it can be a bit of a pain. Look for a machine that brews into a thermal carafe. Lots of brands make them now (I know Starbucks Aroma and Cuisineart off the top of my head), and it's absolutely true that coffee tasted better if it isn't held on a warm burner. Also, get a metal mesh filter. One of the reasons french press coffee is so great is that there isn't a paper filter absorbing all the fragrant essential oils.
posted by mostlymartha at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2006

I bought this Zojirushi thermal carafe drip maker last year and have been very happy with it.
posted by octothorpe at 5:58 PM on December 4, 2006

I've done the french press thing, and I've done various drip machines. French press tastes great and can be fun. The problem is that its a pain to clean up, it takes longer and the is just generally more of a pain. If you do go with french press, either get a thermal press (like this) or get a normal press and get a really good thermos. Otherwise a regular press will get cold really quick.

As far as drip, I second the Krups recommendatios - I have the "Impressions 600" and its great. No frills, water filter, it comes with a gold mesh filter, and a nice thermal carafe. Note that the carafe is nice but again will only keep hot for an hour or so. Its the best drip I've owned, as a lot of the past units have leaked or just make crappy coffee (especiall Hamilton Beach).

So now I use the french press when I have time and want to savor things, and the krups when I just want to get going in the morning.

Note that the best thing to do for taste is 1) filtered water 2) fresh coffee freshly ground 3) everything else.
posted by rsanheim at 6:05 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I can say for sure that when I get up in the morning, I do not want to deal with a french press. A good, hot cup of coffee, quick, easy, painless. But, by that third cup, I would still like it to be hot.

I've seen a Braun with Thermal carafe that looks promising. I'm also intrigued by the whole concept of single cup brewing, and the Keurig in particular, because it offers the ability to use your own coffee in a special pod they provide. Anybody use this do-it-yourself Kuerig setup?
posted by benjh at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2006

Chemex , easier to clean than french press, as fast as drip but much tastier. According to the hype, you can reheat without bitterness, but I've never tried that. I just use a thermal carafe.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2006

I'm currently on my second Cuisinart DCC-1200 and I swear by them. The end product is especially delicious with fresh ground beans. If you can use filtered water great, but it also includes a built in charcoal water filter. Makes a great cup of joe.
posted by edverb at 6:15 PM on December 4, 2006

I was in a relationship last year that lasted about twice as long as it should have. She was less into it than me, and I'm convinced the only reason she stuck it out was for my French press coffee.

About a week after we broke up, she called to tell me things were still a bit rough, but she had purchased one of these and that was helping her out a lot. She even takes the thing camping.

Follow these directions and buy lots of flowers and you too might stretch out a doomed love affair.
posted by Opposite George at 6:16 PM on December 4, 2006 [2 favorites]

s/than me/than I was/
posted by Opposite George at 6:22 PM on December 4, 2006

How cheap do you want? A guy at work has one of these things - it looks like a filter basket for a drip machine, except it's designed to fit over a normal coffee cup. You put a filter in it just like a normal filter basket. He makes the coffee in a separate cup and than filters through this little plastic thing. I bet you can find them for about three bucks.

As far as cleaning french presses, the easiest way I've found to do it is to put some dish soap in the carafe, fill about a quarter up with water, then add the plunger and plunge up and down a few times. Gets everything nice and foamy which penetrates the mesh in the plunger. Once it starts foaming over the edge, rinse it out.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:08 PM on December 4, 2006

I assume you've checked the other coffee threads. The French Press is good, but a bit of a chemistry experiment - getting the grind just right can be tricky. Like octothorpe, I have a Zojirushi. It makes good coffee, and the thermal carafe keeps it hot a long time.

But in my experience, the best coffee comes from my Aeropress. Consistenetly good, with the added bonus of quick clean-up. But, depending on how strong you like it, it only makes about one cup at a time.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:17 PM on December 4, 2006

This is an incredibly good earlier AskMe on how to make great coffee. There's a huge amount of knowledge there, everything you need to go from Folger's Instant to making gourmet coffee.

I was surprised it wasn't sidebarred.
posted by Malor at 7:20 PM on December 4, 2006

Oh, and in case you don't want to wade through that thread, I'll paraphrase myself: buy a French press and a stainless steel Thermos. Brew for 3-5 minutes, pour into Thermos, delicious hot coffee for many hours. More work than drip, but the extra few minutes will give you superb coffee all day.
posted by Malor at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2006

If you drink loads of coffee like my SO and I, or you brew for more people than just yourself, a french press isn't going to work out very well. They're great for when you just want a cup of fine, fine coffee, however. Cleaning them can be a bitch.

A hotplate will just eviscerate the coffee's flavor. Don't ever get a hotplate. Once the coffee is brewed, that's it. The best solution, then, is one that keeps the coffee as hot as possible after the initial brewing. So you need a thermal carafe.

The fresher the grounds, the better the cup, so you can get yourself one of those fancy grinder-brewer combinations if you like. Personally I can't be bothered cleaning up all the little coffee particulate, so I buy my coffee in bean form that's then ground up. Since I'm not allowed to buy one of those hulking grinding machines for our home, and since I hate dealing with the teensy-tiny grinders, this is the sacrifice that's been made.

Now, as you probably know, you should never refrigerate whole coffee beans. But once they're ground, they'll start to deteriorate far more quickly so refrigeration is a must (but never, ever freeze them). Why do I mention all of this? There's a point, I promise.

Some coffee brewers come with timers, but I'll have none of that because that means you have freshly ground coffee exposed to the elements, which means a not-as-fresh cup come morning. If you're at all like me, you want to keep a happy balance between coffee connaisseurism and raw convenience. So no timers, no grinders. Thermal carafe. And as much coffee as is humanly possible in one brew.

That's the last, crucial part: when manufacturers state "Brews 8 cups!" what they really mean is, "Brews about 3 real-sized cups". A typical 8-cupper means a cup each for me and my SO, and either a fight over the last cup or a meager half-cup each. No dice. After much (much) searching, we finally found a 12-cup thermal carafe that fit the bill. It's this Cuisinart . While it does come with a timer, I never use it.

Note also: the only negative reviews of this line of Cuisinarts are all because of the grounds holder. It swings out for refilling and clicks shut. If you don't click it shut, you could wind up with a shitload of coffee all over the place. Honestly, though, you'd have to be a complete idiot for this to happen.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2006

If you're not happy with your brewstation because it's leaking, call Hamilton Beach's customer service number - They replaced mine (It had the old-style off-white silicone gasket, not the new rubberish yellow one.).
posted by Orb2069 at 7:49 PM on December 4, 2006

If you really need push-button convenience try one of these superautomatics. (Random sales link, no affiliation.) I have had my Saeco Via Venezia for eight years, it is a robust machine and all you have to do is push the button (well, two buttons if you insist on turning it off). Fussbeans will toss their well-coiffed heads but the taste of the coffee or espresso from one of these is good enough for me.
posted by jet_silver at 7:50 PM on December 4, 2006

You could use the manual filter drip holder that was mentioned ( and balance it on a big funnel on top of a big thermos for one dollar from the thrift shop. But if you are a klutz like me, it's gonna make a mess once in a while. It's not one touch. But paired with an auto shutoff kettle, I get the first very fresh cup and the rest from the thermos.
posted by Listener at 9:21 PM on December 4, 2006

I wasn't aware that freezing was bad for coffee beans. If Civil_Disobedient is right, you could also store them with a vacuum sealer at room temperature. They'd stay fresh a very long time that way.
posted by Malor at 9:27 PM on December 4, 2006

I really like the Bodum Columbia French Press. It's a stainless (no breaking) vacuum (coffee stays hot) carafe with the usual press mechanism. I have the 12-cup, but they make an 8-cup and (I think) a 6-cup. Really good coffee.
posted by LeisureGuy at 9:33 PM on December 4, 2006

The Technivorm Moccamaster is the king of drip coffee makers giving you the correct temperature of the water, and producing the right amount of hot water for the right amount of time to produce the best coffee.
Don't bother with french presses, unless you really like cleaning and washing and extracting small particles of coffee grinds from various nooks in the plunger.
Also check coffeegeeks review of one of the Moccamasters (although I prefer one with a thermal carafe)
posted by arnves at 3:44 AM on December 5, 2006

I wasn't aware that freezing was bad for coffee beans. If Civil_Disobedient is right, you could also store them with a vacuum sealer at room temperature. They'd stay fresh a very long time that way.

Not sure it really works that well actually. I speak from the experience of using Illy beans in a vacuum sealed can, which I guess is the same principle. For literally no more than a few hours after opening the can they are fine (for espresso), then very shortly afterwards they taste terrible and stale, and will not produce crema. I have no idea why this should be, but I have heard of many others reporting exactly the same experience.
posted by bifter at 4:03 AM on December 5, 2006

I second edverb's recommendation, we've had our Cuisinart Brew Central for about a year and those four beautiful beeps (when the coffee's ready) never fail to make my morning.
posted by 10ch at 6:09 AM on December 5, 2006

I'm late to the coffee party, but let me put in a plug for the inexpensive Cuisinart Two to Go Coffee Maker. This thing has been a pleasant surprise.

It brews directly into one or two included 14 oz. stainless steel insulated travel mugs. There's a single button, so it's simple to get going in the morning. It brews very, very fast. The mugs are the best travel mugs I've ever had, even without the coffee maker. We bought two extra mugs (cheaply, directly through Cuisinart), which is great for making lots of coffee, or for long trips (my wife likes to make two for herself when she's got a day of driving in front of her). If you're going to be drinking at home and want a real mug, just treat the travel mugs as carafes.

Before this maker, I used a french press form all my coffee. I can be a bit of a coffee snob, to the point of roasting my own beans, so I was surprised by how much I like this so so convenient maker.
posted by ewagoner at 6:27 AM on December 5, 2006

Vacuum pots are my favorite way to make coffee, they taste great and look cool. Bodum makes one that contains a heating element in the pot, makes it as simple as an automatic coffee pot. I have this model but the small size may not be available anymore, which is a shame because the one downside to a vacuum pot is you really need to make a full pot.
posted by aspo at 10:28 AM on December 5, 2006

i already chimed in here but i'll chime in again.

when choosing a pot i think there are 3 important distinctions in type:
1: how much work do you want to do?
2: how much do you want to spend?
3: how much coffee are you making?

i dont know much about making lots of coffee. i think coffee should be fresh and made in small batches (a couple of large cups at a time). if youre going to go big, only advice is to get a brewer that has a thermal carafe and brews at the proper temperature (195-205 degrees). nearly all the standard drip coffeemakers i've ever seen won't brew hot enough.

sounds like you did yourself some good already by buying a burr grinder. assuming youre buying good FRESH (roasted less than 2 weeks ago) coffee (i cant say enough good things about the seattle mountain blend at costco - excellent quality and taste) youre already halfway there.

if you want to go cheap and good, get a mellitta pour-over brewer, as described above by rkent. it allows you to heat the water to the correct temp, then pour over the grounds yourself to ensure the grounds are wet evenly. i like my mellitta a lot, but i grew tired of it because you have to stay with the coffee the whole brewing time, and i'm a little too busy for that. 3 bucks plus filters. coffee loses some of the oils in the filter. up to you whether thats a good thing or not.

i bought an aerobie aeropress. i like it. makes great coffee very fast and doesn't require much work. 30 bucks. no oils, and makes great iced coffee. can even store the coffee a few days in the fridge.

i moved from the mellitta to a french press. coffee tastes a little better, more full-bodied and thick. assuming you dont over-extract, never tastes bitter. just make sure you use lots of good coffee ground medium, correct water temp (as above) and brew for 3.5 minutes. works great. a little of a pain to clean though. 20 bucks. lots of coffee oils.

last night i bought one of the vacuum brewers (the bodum santos, as aspo said above, the small ones are hard to come by, but still being made. i got mine at the sur la table in pentagon city mall in arlington, va). i love it. brews fast, cleanup is easy (assuming you have a garbage disposal), and you dont have to babysit it. i just brew the coffee then immediately put it in a pre-warmed thermal carafe until i drink it (that way the coffee doesnt burn on the heating element in the brewer). works great. these cost about 60-100 bucks. lots of delicious oils.

i still prefer the press pot when i have time since i have better control over the water temp and brew time (the vaccuum pot will brew a little hotter than it should, and i havent measured how long the coffee brews before dripping back into the pot. and if i were filthy rich, i'd get me one of them technivorm things. they are supposed to be awesome. perfect temp, brew time, and they wet the grounds evenly.

dont forget to read the coffee faq!
posted by kneelconqueso at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2006

We really like our Mr. Coffee model with thermal carafe. Haven't experienced the problems that the Amazon reviewers had, like water spilling all over or water filters not fitting into the gold mesh coffee filters.
posted by DakotaPaul at 5:00 PM on December 5, 2006

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