Could All My Troubles Be Caused by My Coffee Grinder?

The past week or so, things have just been off.  My mood has run foul, Tawn and I have had a hard time coming to agreement on some decisions we would like to make, and things have generally just been funky.

Casting about for answers, I looked at the tides, the phases of the moon, and changes in the weather systems with an eye to determining what it was that was causing these unusual bumps in the road.  Then it hit me: the problem is with my coffee grinder.

You see, about a year ago we caved in and purchased an espresso machine.  A bit of a luxury item, yes, but one that really helped set the mood for the start of our day.  The machine, a Starbucks branded one, has performed well all year but a bit more than a week ago it seized up in what the instruction book called a “vapor lock.”  When opening the valve for the steam wand, water would instead come out the brew head.  We could get all the espresso we wanted but none of the steamed milk.

french-press-261x300-thumb.jpg After trying all of the troubleshooting remedies called for in the instruction booklet, I caved in and brought the machine back to the store where they are handling repairs.  Good service on their part so no complaints there.  But in the absence of our espresso machine I’ve been brewing our morning joe in a French Press.

French Presses are the glass containers with a plunger you press down after several minutes of steeping to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.  They have the reputation of producing wonderful coffee.  Some aficionados say that French Press is the ideal way to appreciate coffee.

But each morning we wound up with mouthfuls of grit in our coffee, small black flecks floating to the surface of the scalded milk foam. 

When I examined the grounds they appeared quite sizable. so I was confused as to why the coffee was turning out so poorly.  What I determined was that our coffee grinder, a Krupps model that is reportedly one of the higher quality grinders, grinds very unevenly.  In addition to some large chunks – half-bean size! – there are other parts that are pulverized to a fine powder.  The result was coffee that is still watery but also contains lots of sediment, a brew that does nothing other than put me in a foul mood.

Finally realizing what might be the source of all my troubles, I headed to the coffee shop, bought a half-kilo of coffee and had them grind it in their professional grinder.  Sure enough, the coffee was a uniform coarseness and when I put it in the French Press this morning, the resulting coffee was richly flavored and without any significant sediment.

I was happy.  Tawn left for work with a smile on his face.  I think things are looking up!


0 thoughts on “Could All My Troubles Be Caused by My Coffee Grinder?

  1. I use one of those French press too. Even though I strain it through a tea leaf strainer (I don’t have anything finer), I still get a lot of very fine grounds. I guess I have to get a coarser ground? But seriously, I hope things are looking up. Sometimes life’s little irritants can really put a damper on relationships.

  2. I should start using my French press haha.Maybe the addition of an after dinner drink could complement the morning coffee well? :)By the way, do you boil the water for the French press?

  3. I had no idea you had such a good setup going over there, wow.I’m very particular about my coffee; when I’m in a hurry I’ll french press it, otherwise I’ll use a manual gold drip filter. I follow the proportions and temperatures and procedures to the tee here.How soon before you get your machine back?

  4. I was so close to purchasing a French press so I could satisfy my need to have a yummy latte in the morning =) I can totally understand how a good cup of coffee can make your day (or how the lack of it can destroy it). It’s belated but I plan on writing an entry on the Dolce Gusto–it’s so amazing!

  5. I was going to ask if it was that time of the month but then I saw that someone already made that comment. It’s funny- that a bad coffee is root cause of some troubled days.

  6. @YNOTswim – Yes, I’m pretty sure it isn’t that time of the month.@arenadi – Not sure how long it will be.  This is Thailand so tough to say.  Tawn is pressuring them to just get us another machine but since it is out of warranty they just want to replace it.@Wangium – I do shake the grinder, actually, and still get an uneven grind.  Grrr…@lil_squirrel4ever – Looking forward to reading that entry.@Dezinerdreams – There are a lot of witty Xangans out there.  You have to be a little faster if you’re going to get your jokes in!  LOL

  7. its nice to read a post about coffee – i love and appreciate the stuff. your plunger must have holes in it if a half bean sized piece can go through it! i use a plunger because my ultra cheap espresso machine makes horrible coffee, and i’ve never had any pieces go through. all my equipment is cheap and it works fine. i am so tired now, but i dont crave coffee because i have work tomorrow.

  8. Can you say addiction (even if it is a rather acceptable one- hehehe)? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near you two if you decided to decaffinate! Especially going cold-turkey…I know, but I don’t drink coffee or tea. I just can’t get past the taste – not enough sugar in the world. Same goes for alcohol, just tastes too bad to drink.

  9. As I read your blog, I am enjoying my first cup of very pedestrian coffee, Mr. Coffee coffee maker and Folgers coffee, only complaint I get around here is that Shawna claims we make it TOO STRONG!!  I wonder how it would work if you used a coffee filter to stop the sediment or does that also stop other yummy things that you want in your morning coffee?? But I do agree with you that a good cup (or 2) of coffee is essential to a great start to your day!!! Ruth Ann

  10. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that relies on good coffee to get me off to a good mood during the day. Ever since I got my sexy bodum french press, I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of blends.

  11. @stepaside_loser – Actually it isn’t the half-bean sized coffee that’s getting through.  The problem is that my grinder grinds unevenly and I end up with dust-size pieces that get through and then half-bean sized pieces that don’t really contribute any flavor to the coffee.  I need a grinder that grinds evenly.@murisopsis – Hmmm… not so much an addicition as a habit.  I can stop anytime I want to.  Really.  I can.  Seriously.@Redlegsix – Well, adding a coffee filter would undoubtedly help but it is just easier to have the store grind the beans for me.  If I buy in small quantities they will stay fresh long enough.@TheLatinObserver – Hardly.  LOL@Rm2046 – Oh, you’re far from the only one.  Yes, the French Presses (two sizes!) we have are both bodum.  Great design, huh?

  12. The type of coffee grinder one uses is really much more important than most realize. There are two types of grinder that are on the market for the retail consumer – one that you see very commonly is a “blades” grinder. These are really not good for coffee as they rely on human judgment for the coarseness of the grind. They are wonderful, however, for grinding nuts and spices!The second, and superior, grinder is a “conical burr” grinder, which allows for much more consistent grinds, albeit some room for human error in selecting the proper grind for brewing method.There is one final notion with respect to coffee grinders, depending on how particular you are with coffee freshness. Some burr grinders do not “clear” the grind chamber after use, which means you will get remnants of the previous ground coffee in your current grind. The grinder that Peet’s recommends — and I admit, even though I am no longer with them they have superior knowledge with regard to process — is the Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. It is also close to $100! As I see it, as a normal consumer I sometimes prefer convenience over quality if the quality does not suffer too dramatically. If you find a store that grinds your beans in a consistent way and you can produce a quality cup each time, then go for it. For the coffee aficionados who strive for maximum quality every time, then the way to go is whole beans, stored no longer than 2 weeks, ground in a conical burr grinder just before brewing in a French press.A last morsel I will leave in my already tedious comment, is water quality. NEVER, EVER pour boiling water on the coffee grounds as it creates bitter and burnt coffee taste. 30 seconds off the boil, then steeped for 3 minutes in a French press yields a high quality cup!

  13. @rhapsodymuse –  Matt, I always know on whom I can rely for coffee information. =D My Krupps grinder is a blade type and when I’m doing espresso I can get good results mostly because I just keep grinding until it is nearly powder. For other types of grind I’m at a loss.@mmaaaaa –  New smell-o-vision feature Xanga has added.@stebow –  Thanks. I know you can empathize with our plight!@epiginoskete –  Glad you enjoyed it and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for a repair.@yang1815 –  Which pair of shoes did you wear? =P@jandsschultz –  It is the small things in life, isn’t it?

  14. Oh, by the way, W uses the same equipment as yours, grinding and making his coffee every morning. Darn on me…I hardly ever take note making a simple cup of coffee requires such exact science!

  15. too bad you both had to go through a bump in the road so to say.  Glad you are past it. I bet the aroma of the coffee is wonderful. I don’t drink it myself, but love the aroma. Have a good week end you two.

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