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Quality Coffee on a Budget

Hello gents. I've been a coffee drinker for several years now. And when I lived with the parents, my dad would always make it a point to have a good blend of beans on hand. Well I have been out of the house for some time now, and am pretty sick of the mediocre coffee I've been forcing myself to drink. So I come to you, the experts, to give me some advice. First off, let me just say now, that I am broke. I'm looking at a $50 max startup budget for this endeavor. My current setup is a black and Decker coffee maker, and ugh, Maxwell house. My SWMBO bought me like 4lbs of the stuff. So, in terms of economy, it looks like a French press and a manual grinder is the way to go. So my question is, what should I be looking at/ trying to avoid? I was going to just go with the cheapest stuff on amazon, but figured I would regret it. My next question is, what should I look at as far as beans go? I usually like a sweeter roast. One of my favorites growing up was kona blend. But I am willing to branch out a bit. All help is much appreciated.
 
We use a Mr Coffee (don't laugh) and we buy our beans from Costco and grind them fresh before we leave. They have a lot of nice variety there
 
There's nothing wrong with a coffee pot like mr coffee. It gets the job done. Start with what works for you. You can get adventurous (or more advanced) in your machines when you have more time.

My personal experience as a manager of a coffee house in the past and as a entrepreneur of my own coffee shop and now a successful restaurant is that the best coffee comes from French presses but they are more labor, time, and coffee users. I don't use mine anymore. I set the timer on my black and decker. Also. My setup uses a 12 quart thermos not a hot plate.

To find cost effective coffee try costco. However you are buying bulk. Just try the sales in the coffee aisle to find what you like. Try TJ max or Marshall's for discounted coffee. You can find great coffee like Blue Mountain for $6.


Explore and find your tastes. I'm not loving Kona just a personal taste. I tend to enjoy coffee from the South Pacific. Bold and or dark. Don't forget that dark does not mean bold.
 
If you can't get the taste you desire out of the Mr. Coffee a Melitta dripper and filters should only run you $5 +/-

http://www.goodmans.net/i/6756/melitta-64012-coffeemaker.htm

Filters are available at your local grocery store and you may even find the dripper at your grocery. #4 or #6 for a pot #1 or #2 for a cup or two.

The real improvement will be finding a specialty roasting house near you and using fresh roasted beans ground just minutes before you make your coffee.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Joliet,+IL+coffee+roasting

If you want to step up a grade or two you can order a Bee House dripper. These take the Melitta filters (still available at your local grocery) but they are heavy ceramic so you can heat them up for a more constant brewing temperature

http://www.beehouseteapot.com/coffee-dripper.htm

Get the large one if you want to make a "pot of coffee" the small one for a single cup of coffee
 
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Thanks for all of the advice guys. The reason I have been looking at a different machine is that my B&D has this weird "taste" to it, regardless of what coffee I am using. I have tried flushing it out, and can't seem to get rid of it. Maybe its the water I am using, not sure really.
 
Trader Joe's carries a variety of high quality, reasonably priced coffees. You can grind the beans at the store before leaving or leave the beans whole and grind them at home as you prefer. Just try different blends, or even combine some of the blends, yourself, til you find what you like.

Re: coffee makers, the cafe press that you mentioned or the Melita drip that someone else mentioned are both excellent, inexpensive methods.
 
Thanks for all of the advice guys. The reason I have been looking at a different machine is that my B&D has this weird "taste" to it, regardless of what coffee I am using. I have tried flushing it out, and can't seem to get rid of it. Maybe its the water I am using, not sure really.
I'm not sure what kind of water you have, but you should use at least filtered (e.g. Brita) water, if not bottled water, for coffee.
 
Well sounds like that is at least one source of my problems lol. I have been using water straight from te tap. So I will head out to trader joes tonight and take a look around. Will most likely pick up a brita filter as well.
 
Thanks for all of the advice guys. The reason I have been looking at a different machine is that my B&D has this weird "taste" to it, regardless of what coffee I am using. I have tried flushing it out, and can't seem to get rid of it. Maybe its the water I am using, not sure really.
If you are on city water this water quality report for the city water system should be helpful to determine if that is your problem

http://www.visitjoliet.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=2330

Compare it against the insanely long water FAQ located here: http://users.rcn.com/erics/Water Quality/Water FAQ.pdf
 
You did not say whether you live in the same region as your parents or moved far away. As the mineral content in tap water can vary greatly across the nation and affect the taste, though you should have also noticed that when drinking a glass of water.

Besides the french press idea, I second the notion of a plastic pour-over like the Melitta . If you can get coffee from a local roaster that is your best bet, if not then maybe some 8 o'clock from a supermarket that has high turn over of stock, or some Trader Joe's house blend. You will have to experiment to find what works best for you.

A small hand grinder like the Hario Mini Mill can fit your budget along with the brewer, but is more suitable to use for a pour-over brewing, though it can work for french press.
 
Ok. I'm going to ask the question. What have you looked at? What are you considering as a machine? Also, what is your routine for coffee? Do you take your time in the morning or are you on a rush to go?


Your habits will help determine your setup. Do you have time to grind beans or boil water for a French press? Do you like to set a timer for the coffee to wait for you in the morning?


Things to consider. Do you need a grinder? How much to spend on your "machine"? How much to spend on coffee?
 
have you tried cleaning the machine with vinegar? I mean hey, if you are broke and it just needs a descaling....
 
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Sorry it took me a while to get back to the forum. To answer some questions. I moved about 15 minutes away from the parents. The town I live in uses filtered ground water, as opposed to the lake Michigan water I was using before. As far as routine, I get up a couple of hours before I need to leave the house, so I usually have plenty of time. So far I have just looked at the machine offerings at my local Walmart, as well as a couple of French presses on amazon. As far as coffee, lately it has been a lot of Maxwell house and folgers. I also tried eight o'clock not too long ago. It wasn't too bad. Also, I did try scrubbing my b&d coffee maker with some vinegar. As well as flushing it out with water.
 
I cannot help with equipment, but as far as beans go, find a local roaster and get freshly-roasted beans. Even the whole beans that grocery stores carry are stale. Freshly-roasted coffee makes a big difference. Do not be scared away by the price. Even at $15-ish a pound, a cup of coffee will still cost less than a quarter, which is much cheaper than McDonald's or Starbucks.
 
I cannot help with equipment, but as far as beans go, find a local roaster and get freshly-roasted beans. Even the whole beans that grocery stores carry are stale. Freshly-roasted coffee makes a big difference. Do not be scared away by the price. Even at $15-ish a pound, a cup of coffee will still cost less than a quarter, which is much cheaper than McDonald's or Starbucks.
For any fresh whole bean in the grocery, you are looking for glossy, oily beans. Dry beans mean stale beans. The bagged coffee (be it ground or whole bean) are in airtight sealed bags that are good for six months and often have sale items with good discounts. I love the Pete's coffee. Bold rich flavors.
 
BTW, at the risk of giving you information you already know, you have to use a much, much coarser grind for French press coffee than for any kind of filtered coffee. If you have ever tried to make French press coffee with finely ground beans, you will understand why.
 
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