Fresh Ground Coffee

I’ve been using my Aeropress coffee maker for a couple of months now, making coffee a few times per week. After researching how to make a good cup of coffee I was looking forward to getting some fresh ground coffee once I worked through my brick of Publix decaf. At some point the Sunday paper came with a coupon for a free bag of Millstone coffee and even included the bag that you would take to the store. I scoped my Publix but all they had was pre-ground Millstone. Kroger had whole beans and a grinder, but the only type of decaf I saw was for Hazelnut flavor. With less than a scoop of the Publix brick left, I went to Kroger at Toco Hills today hoping they would have straight decaf. It turns out they did have it!

I have never ground coffee before. I remember Mom doing it when we were kids and would go to the grocery store with her, but not much more. I had looked at the machine earlier and noticed that you could vary the coarseness of the grind from French Press (big chunks) to Espresso (fine powder). In between that is Automatic Drip Coffee. The Aeropress says something finer than ADC is needed, but reviewers said an Espresso grind is harder to press the water through the filter.

So first I got my bag out that I had been saving for over a month and put it under the bean dispenser. I raised the bar to release beans and they came out pretty quick. Now it seems like when that bag came it said that I could put as many beans in the bag as I wanted for free, but the coupon itself turns out to say that I could get a free half-pound bag of coffee (up to $4). Well, the bag holds a pound, so now I had a full bag of beans and it’s not like I can put them back in the dispenser. While I was doing this, I noticed that the grinder was making a little noise even though I hadn’t put any coffee in yet . . .

So I pour some beans into the grinder and coffee grounds start coming out of the bottom! They’re just going out into space because the bag I have is what is supposed to collect the grounds. So I think I should put the bag underneath, but it still has beans in it. So then I would have a bag of beans and grounds which would be no good. So what I really need to do is dump the beans in the grinder as fast as I can and put the bag under the dispenser. This is crazy. So I dump more beans in there and the grounds come out about as fast as I can pour. I have a store circular on newsprint, so I use that to catch some of the grinds while I pour the rest of the beans, but I’ve already missed a lot of coffee. Then I put the bag under there and realize I never set the grinder knob to between ADC and Espresso. So maybe the last couple of ounces are the right grind. Then I dump all the coffee grounds from the store circular into the bag. I wound up with just over half a pound of coffee grounds and a big mess.

Once I was done grinding my coffee I realized there is an On and Off button for the grinder and the person before me had left it On. So all I had to have done was turn the thing Off and I would have been fine. Live and learn. Plus I still had to pay something for the coffee and I’m not at all sure the cashier rang the coupon up correctly, so I may have paid full price of something like $9 per pound for this stuff. It was $5 and change and I was supposed to get $4 off. That’s a lot more than the penny I’m used to paying for the Publix brick on mystery coupon day.

I have read where you should use fresh ground coffee as soon as possible and either buy only enough to last two weeks (which would be a couple of ounces for me) or freeze the rest. But today should be good. I’ve got freshly ground coffee and the stuff on the top is even ground to the right grain size. So I heated up some water for the Aeropress. I have got this down to a science now.

First I heat up 8 oz of water from my filter pitcher in the fridge (it’s important to have good quality water) in a measuring cup for 4 minutes in the microwave. This gets the water to a boil. But perfect coffee brewing temperature is 200 degrees, not 212 degrees. And the Aeropress people say to use water that is only 175 degrees. So what I do is take that water and pour it all into my mug and let it sit for a few seconds to warm up the mug and bring the water temperature down. Then I dump the water back into the measuring cup and put the Aeropress on top of the hot empty mug. Then I pour about 6 oz of the water into the Aeropress and stir for 20 seconds (the instructions say 10 seconds, but I’m only using one 2-tablespoon scoop of coffee instead of two in order to make it last, and I’m still using twice as much as I was using with my little Mr. Coffee). After I stir and maybe a third of the coffee has already drained into the mug (unavoidable), I put the plunger in the top and let it sit which stops anymore water from draining through the bottom. So the coffee steeps a little longer. Then I pour a couple of ounces of milk into the measuring cup along with whatever water wasn’t poured in the Aeropress and put that in the microwave for 30 seconds. While that’s going, I push the plunger down slowly and have squeezed out all the coffee and air by the time the microwave goes off. Now I can put in the milk and water mixture to get a full mug and then add some sugar. Coffee!

Yes, this is better coffee. It seems like good coffee has a richness to it that stays on your breath, maybe from the oils that are in the beans. And this definitely has that. The old grounds still taste like coffee to me, but they lack that aromatic richness. And this is even decaf. It’s still good.

Because the Millstone bag is paper, I dumped all of those grounds into the empty Publix brick bag, since at least it is foil. I roll the top of that and clip it to keep air out. Then that goes in a metal canister which hopefully will help keep the grounds fresh.

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