Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ready Set Joe!

I wrote here about how I have found that I could make a good cup of coffee with my 12-cup drip-brew coffeemaker while using a lot less coffee than I've been using in my beloved Aerobie AeroPress.

The other day I found Melitta's Ready Set Joe Single Cup Coffee Brewer (uses #2 Melitta filters with Flavor Pores, either white or natural brown - $3.99/100) at the Kroger grocery store after looking for it at half a dozen other stores (and failing to find it or its larger sibling), so I snatched up two of them for $2.99 each, one for home and one for the office. All they had was black, but it also comes in red (and maybe other colors as well). (Note: The new Ready Set Joe design replaces the older version by adding openings that let you see how much water has dripped into the cup, instead of totally covering the top of the cup; it also eliminates the side coffee-cup-like handle.)

As much as I've liked my AeroPress, I find that the Melitta makes a better-tasting (IMO) cup of coffee, with less effort and less cleanup (and less coffee needed per cup). I currently use an AeroPress scoop (~37 ml, vs. 30 ml for standard 2 TBSP coffee measure), ground at drip grind, and slowly pour (and repour) hot water after it's boiled in my teakettle into the filter until I've created about a 10-11 oz. cup of coffee.  As the water drips through, gently keep pouring more water into the filter, being sure to wash down the grinds from the sides of the filter so all the coffee gets thoroughly brewed. Keep a second cup right next to the one you're brewing over so you can remove the Ready-Set-Joe when your cup has the 10-11 oz. you want and set it on top of the extra/overflow cup so it can keep dripping if it still has water in it.

I suspect that letting the water cool down a bit might make the coffee a little less bitter, if one prefers their coffee that way. Also, some suggest stirring the coffee slurry in the filter that you get after you first pour in the water. I don't know if this makes much of a difference if you slowly and carefully soak the grinds thoroughly. It can definitly foam up if the coffee is really freshly-roasted, so be careful as you fill the filter with water; the #2 filter is not very large, and you don't want it to overflow/overfill.

The nice thing about this system is that, like the AeroPress, it gives you total control over the coffee-making: i.e., the grind, the water temperature, and the brew/drip time. Automatic dripmakers largely take the water temperature control out of your hands, though some let you adjust the brew/drip time by an adjustable dial for the strength of the coffee. And make no mistake about it - the water temperature can make a huge difference in the taste. Brew two cups, one with water just after it boils in your tea kettle, and another after you wait 30 seconds after your hot water boils, and see how different they can taste. Some coffees taste better if brewed with hotter water; sometimes it depends on how old the coffee is - e.g., I may do a 20-second wait-to-pour with a fresh bag of beans, yet find that if I'm using the same beans 2 weeks later, a hotter water temperature is needed to make it taste better.

The paper filter, as in the AeroPress, absorbs the cholesterol-raising chemicals in coffee, yet the micropores (unlike the AeroPress) seem to (or supposedly) allow more of the coffee oils through, making for a better-tasting cup of coffee. All I know is that I like the coffee better than a French Press or the AeroPress.

Better-tasting coffee, at a better per-cup price. How cool is that!