11 January, 2013

The Most Important Thing About Moving

a guest post by Annette
We were handed the key to the new space today. We have to choose paint and carpet colors. We still must order warehouse shelving. The service order for Comcast is in, electric and gas will switch on Feb. 1, the storage container out back will be removed Feb. 8.

But the most worrisome of items to coordinate, the topic of hottest concern here is: should we get a new coffee maker, and if so, what style? 


While we have a Francis! Francis! espresso machine, she has only a single boiler, which is a pain and a wait for steamed milk or hot water for Americanos. Our current warehouse is located within quick driving and biking distance from three coffee outlets, so the blood-need for caffeine can be filled quickly. But the new space, although not far from here, means several lights and turns (especially nearly impossible left turns) to get anywhere; the coffee will be cold by the time we return to the shop. 

Here are the options:

The Keurig system. The pros are: it is clean (no grounds!) and quick, everyone can have his/her favorite flavor, and you could dispense hot water for tea if you bought a large enough unit. The cons are the K-cups are ridiculously expensive and the coffee is not hot enough, unless the machine is hard wired into the water supply. We could save on the coffee itself if we got a "refillable K-cup," but that would negate the whole "no grounds!" argument.

Good old Mr. Coffee and his offspring. Pros: it's inexpensive, and sometimes you can coax a good cup out of it with a brand as inexpensive as Folgers, and they're not just ugly white or black any more. Cons: grounds, the horrible smell of old coffee in the pot... and some staff members would quit if we went with that. 

Double boiler espresso machine. Pros: hot water on demand, no wait for steam build-up for frothing milk, and it looks cool as hell. Cons: Costly upfront cash outlay, too much maintenance what with backflushing, new gaskets, etc. And then there's the grounds, as it's my experience that no one except me empties the knockbox (though we do have a grassy area out back for a garden, and espresso grounds are supposedly great for the soil). 

French Press or Pour Over. Pros: nice individual coffee to your taste and simple to prepare. Cons: grounds, constant clean up in the bathroom sink, and the French Press system is fussy (boil, pour, stir, wait, press, or is it boil, pour, wait, stir, press?)

Short of some enterprising soul's opening a coffee shop in the warehouse district, none of these options is ideal. Maybe we can talk the banana-bread commercial bakery next door into opening a coffee bar. Your thoughts?

70 comments:

jimmy said...

Those "K-Cups" aren't recyclable, either. They're hugely wasteful.

Ashley said...

We rock a Keurig at work here, and seems for 30ish people it works well. Just don't forget to get decaf k-cups for those that don't drink caffeine!

matt dudek said...

In my experience, k-cups make awful coffee, and if people are going to quit over a Mr. Coffee, I don't want to think about what they'll do after their first k-cup.

In my experience, the Mr. Coffee option is the most flexible, dependable, with the least maintenance. So long as you buy good beans, clean the machine once in a while, and have a good proportion coffee to water.

Pour over is great. French press is great, but messy and gets cold quickly if you keep it in the carafe.

Anonymous said...

Decaf? What is this thing called "decaf"?
Annette

Eric said...

I have used a Chemex for many years and find it makes wonderful coffee almost without exception and Mr. Coffee prices. However, like a french press, it takes a little time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Bunn. A commercial unit with hot water dispenser.

SW said...

A second for Chemex. Simple, makes a great up, and allows for individual differences.

Combine it with a large capacity Zojiriushi hot water kettle, and a burr grinder -- and you're golden.

And, you can compost both the grounds and the filters.

Dave said...

if you want tasty coffee, invest in a nice burr grinder and a swan-neck kettle and do individual pour overs. If you've got overwhelming interest in espresso drinks, and the patience to really invest time in learning to use a nice double-boiler or heat-exchange machine, you've still got a major investment in a burr grinder coming your way.

Mike Binnix said...

Spring for a high quality drip machine that drips to a thermos and keep a good supply of beans on hand from Baltimore Coffee and Tea across town.

Pros: no "burnt coffee" smell
Cons: you still have grounds and cleanup, but never as bad pot that boiled off too much water on the hot plate.

sjauch said...

Perhaps one of these:
http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/behmor-brazen-coffee-brewer

Behmor Brazen Brewer

It's a nice drip machine which allows you to customize the brew times & temp. Also has a setting for bloom. Imagine it's like a auto pour over machine.

Just don't go K-cup. That's sad.

johnson said...

Hario V 60. No mess, easy clean, tuneable cup, ready in minutes. It's like a chemex that needs less cleaning.

Wes said...

Why are you limited to only one type of machine? -Wes

Mike Binnix said...

Wes has a good point.

Anonymous said...

We already have the orange Francis! Francis!, so this is a second machine we're obsessing over. Greedy, but necessary.

Annette

Max said...

I agree with @Wes. If it were me, I'd set up a high quality drip maker, and supplement with a Hario drip set up for those who are more particular...

6-3-2 said...

Nepresso? Similar to the Keurig but I don't believe it needs to hard-wired into the water supply. The capsules are also recyclable. Some machines have a milk frother too. They're really wonderful and can be trailed at the Sur La Table store.

joe said...

Combination of airpot brewer (Bunn or Zojirushi) for the hurried masses (like Mr. Coffee, but keeps coffee hot without subjecting it to ongoing heat that makes it turn nasty), and coffee cone(s) and a burr grinder for the coffee fiends to make their own. And yeah, put a used-coffee-filter/grounds-only waste bin next to them; grounds are like Miracle-gro.

http://www.amazon.com/VPR-APS-Pourover-Airpot-Coffee-Brewer/dp/B00305H6WW/

http://www.amazon.com/Hario-VDC-02W-Dripper-Ceramic-Funnel/dp/B000P4D5HG/

http://www.amazon.com/Capresso-560-01-Infinity-Grinder-Black/dp/B0000AR7SY/

Bicycle Ryder said...

No to the Keurig. It's not coffee. It's candy! Plus, there's too much plastic.

I'm a fan of the French press. Each employee gets there own and take care of their own stuff.

Compost the grounds. Cleaning a French press is easy (and optional).

Also, don't forget tea. Sprinkle a few loose tea leaves in boiling water.

So now all you need is hot water. Maybe an (all-metal) electric kettle?

Bicycle Ryder said...

French press. Each employee gets their own and takes care of it.

Cleaning a French press is easy (and optional).

Don't forgot tea, too. Loose leaves in hot water (eat or swallow a leaf if it ends up in your mouth).

Keurigs coffee is not coffee. Its candy. And there's too much plastic involved.

Now all you need is hot water. Try an (all-metal) electric kettle.

Done!

Will said...

Easy decision: get a couple of these:

http://www.sweetmarias.com/clevercoffeedripperpictorial.php

These are full immersion drip brewers. They work great.

Joe Platzner said...

Clever Coffee Dripper

No Question.

Steve said...

AeroPress.
These are small and inexpensive and make a great cup of espresso/Americano for those without a real machine or who want a simple back-up process.
The paper filters are very cheap and the grounds get compacted into a puck shape that is easily tossed into your bin... or compost.
Clean-up is easy with a quick rinse and a little soap.
Oh, and an electric kettle to heat the water.
Great for tea, as well.

Karl Fundenberger said...

A pour-over bar might offer the best coffee and also accommodate multiple drinkers.

Scott said...

No brainer - supplement the Francis! Francis! with a double boiler beauty!

Fussy? Hell ya! And your point is?....

Form and function, need I say more?

C said...

+1 on the Aeropress. I used to work at that big coffee company in Seattle and we had access to every contraption capable of brewing coffee. You name it, we had it. Chemex, French press, Keurig, Nespresso, pour over stands, etc., etc. The best by far was the Clover machine which allows you to control everything to the second and degree. However, they're insanely expensive (as in price of a decent used car!) and no longer sold to the public. The Aeropress is a very close second. Less silt than a French press and also not as fragile. Also the easiest to clean.

Jeff said...

How about super-automatic espresso machine? I had a keurig and it was terrible, replaced it with a Saeco Syntia super-automatic espresso machine, and it changed my life:

http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/saeco-syntia-stainless-steel-compact-espresso-machine

It's easy to use like a keurig - pour whole beans in the top and fill the water tank, then just push a button to choose strength and size of shot - short shot for espresso, tall shot for regular cup. It also has a steamer that takes about 15 seconds to ramp up and then a minute later you have steamed milk and foam for a latte or capuchino.

I purchased a refurb model from Seattle Coffee Gear and it's been going strong for about a year now. Coffee snobs may balk at it not being fully tunable to make the perfect shot, but it's significantly better than keurig but just as simple.

Andy Read said...

Go all out; why not? Burr grinder, and the most productive machine you collectively want. Sounds like you'll be glad you did it.

But if most of you just like drip, go simpler and spend the remaining cash on some food-prep equipment to lively up your lunches.

Tim Joe Comstock said...

Miss Annette:
Why not just tell everybody to bring their own dang coffee to work in big thermoses (thermosii? thermosae?)then spend the money on a kegerator. Load it up with Yuengling or Little Kings and I'll come work for ya cheap.

Glad I could be of help.

tj

alanj said...

Can't go past a Carimali Uno! Has a boiler etc but is a nice size having a single group set. And get a naked porta filter as well :)

Anonymous said...

TJ: Come to think of it, Chris and Scott have been spending a bit too much time on how to stock a bar...
Annette

Anonymous said...

I'd get some of these:
http://diycoffeeroasting.com/shop/clever-coffee-dripper/
or a large capacity filter cone.
And an electric kettle and burr grinder.
Paper or bamboo filters are cheap. Stainless carafes are indestructible.

Espresso makers are fine if you have one person fetching espresso at your beck and call, but that's probably a little too bougie.

I've wondered about the differences Mr Coffee makers and filter cones- they are both essentially pour overs. There's more elegance with a pour over and a kettle, but the gitrdone expediency of a mr coffee maker is hard to beat and cheaper to purchase and maintain since you are not having to buy an externalized water kettle.

Keurigs are wasteful even with the stupid K-cup.

gypsybytrade said...

Miss Annette: TJ might have at least a small glass of wisdom in his giant keg of nonsense. A cold brew at the end of the day is a better "carrot" than a hot coffee in the morning. Sipping coffee probably costs VO several hours of productivity every day. Rewards-- cold beers on the end of a stick-- may be more effective.

Seems people are more interested in coffee than bikes these days. Nice post, (Miss) Annette.

nicholas

MrEss said...

Maybe "Mr. Coffee + keep your existing Espresso machine"?

Seems like Mr. Coffee is good at everything the Espresso maker is bad at, and vice versa.

Unknown said...

I would also add a +1 on the Aeropress.

For drip coffee go with the Technivorm Moccamaster. A little more expensive but worth it. I have had the KBT 741 for about 4 years and it still makes the best drip coffee I have ever had. Check out the reviews at Seattle Coffee Gear. http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/technivorm-moccamaster-kbt741-black-or-polished-silver?gclid=CMiL5uKa47QCFYKK4Aodo1wAcQ#Reviews

msrw said...

The pod machines don't produce the best possible coffee. The via media is probably a heat exchanger machine like a Andreja Premium from Quickmill. All the benefits of a double boiler machine, but much less complicated.

Anonymous said...

A commercial coffee maker with hot water dispenser sounds like a good idea to me.

A samovar would provide you with nice hot water on demand for coffee or tea. Melitta and Chemex make good manual coffee makers. Combine all this with vacuum flasks and you've got hot coffee and tea all day with minimal clean up.

If you want something unique, you could always get a Cona or Bodum vacuum coffee maker.

http://www.megaforce.ca/products.php
http://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/
https://shoponline.melitta.com/product/640616/COFFMKRSPROVERGLASS#.UPHwt1GwUzQ
http://www.cona.co.uk/cona-products-dining.php
http://www.bodum.com/us/en-us/shop/detail/1208-01/

Gary said...

I don't know much about coffee machines (don't drink the stuff) but I am sure interested in seeing what "nearly impossible left turns" look like.

You may find this left-turn illustrations and video of use:
http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2009/08/22/smart-moves-left-turns-on-big-roads/

Anonymous said...

Nespresso

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Matt Dudek (and others) that the Keurig machines aren't worth bothering with. We had one at work and I could never get a good cup out of it regardless of what coffee I used or how much water I told the machine to use. I got close by using Folgers K-Cups and adding 1/3 hot water to the coffee-like beverage it dispensed. Close, but only acceptable because it was easier than driving to the 7-11 down the street.

A Mr. Coffee (or similar) is inexpensive and delivers decent results if you use it right. It'll be a nice compliment to the espresso machine too. I find I get the best results by using good coffee, using much more coffee than you'd typically use, and leaving about a pint of water in the carafe during brewing. That gives me a strong and flavorful cup without being acidic or overly bitter.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Mr. Coffee type with built in grinder. The best affordable option.

MT cyclist said...

At work I use an Aerobee press in conjunction with a plug-in tea kettle. Makes a good, strong cup in a matter of minutes without the plastic waste of a Keurig, and you get to use the coffee of your choice.
When I visited Rivendell's HQ last June, they offered me a nice cup of espresso. Can't remember what kind of machine they used, however.
Good luck on solving this important workplace issue

Robert Linthicum said...

At risk of being the buzz-kill, might I suggest that this be an opportunity to switch from coffee to water? Think of the time, energy, and resources you would free up. Headaches for a few days (for the addicts), and then freedom.

Anonymous said...

If you have a gas stove, try this:

http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-Brikka-Stove-Espresso-Maker/dp/B00066N8E8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358147109&sr=8-2&keywords=brikka

It has a pressure valve, which helps it generate the crema missing in other Bialetti stovetops. (Don't get the 4-cup, less crema) The best double shot of expresso for under $1000-

We grind our beans with this:
http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BCG800XL-Smart-Grinder/dp/B0043EWFAM/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358147216&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=sunbeam+smart+grinder

Great value burr grinder.

We previously had an expresso machine, but we now have a few Bialetti Brikka 2 cups instead.

Anonymous said...

Keurig??? Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!

A Nespresso maybe, but not a Keurig.

Maybe you should consider adding a coffee shop in the new space, sounds like there could be a market for it.

Anonymous said...

In terms of $/coffee happiness, nothing comes close to a burr grinder. A $300 burr grinder and a $50 stovetop espresso maker blows away a $30 whirling blade grinder and a $1200 espresso machine.

Anonymous said...

Tassimo by Bosch has a bar code reader that sets the brew for what ever drink type and company brand you wish to use. We use one at work in the office and so far it's a good machine.

Tom said...

Get a drip maker and a good burr grinder. Make sure you have an insulated carafe instead of a heated one.

No No No Pod coffee!

Anonymous said...

What about an aeropress?

Anonymous said...

aeropress!
especially as an alt coffe making device

Anonymous said...

rrylopI enjoy the smallest and simplest version of the keurig (without the resevoir) and use the refillable filters with freshly roasted coffee. It works great in an apartment and I am able to avoid the waste of the k-cups, but I cannot endorse the commercial size keurigs. I have also had mixed results using the refillable filters in larger units with pre-determined settings for water levels and cup size... so beware. Methinks they have greater water pressure than the small unit when injecting water into the k-cups/filters but no matter how much/little or how loose/tight I pack the fresh coffee, water would overlow the top of the filter and drip over the sides resulting in a weak and watery cup of coffee. Whatever you choose, I dig the idea of composting your spent coffee grounds into a garden outside the office

Anonymous said...

I would only recommend something I would use myself everyday so:

http://www.technivorm.com/products/

I think you will find the Mocca Master to be easy to use and clean, as well as brewing at the right temperature every time...

Tom

JP said...

French press is fantastic coffee, but lots of cleaning.

You should buy an Aeropress or two - small, inexpensive, every person is responsible for their own coffee, and very easy to clean. Flavor is comparable to French press.

Individual chemex/pour overs are great too. Do both!

The key is that every person must be responsible for their own prep and cleanup, for the system to work well.

Anonymous said...

Bunn - 10 cups in 3 minutes. Not fancy but way better coffee than mr. coffee. I've gotten 15 years from my home model with very minimal maintenance.

lawschoolissoover said...

Pour-over. Minimal waste, and I think the grounds (if you're using good coffee) smell great.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, I've never heard of most of your suggestions, and I've spent waaaay too much time steeping myself in the minutia.

I think we're all turned off by Keurig and its competitors, though I did learn that some K-units crush the pod for you for later recycling.

As we have a perfectly good espresso maker (in which we use espresso pods) I can't justify another, even the coveted double-boiler system. Plus, it's like owning a car with the ongoing maintenance and parts.

While the Aeropress is intriguing - and I certainly prefer pucks to loose grounds - my gut says a drip brewer with a thermal carafe. Or I just may completely cheap out and go with a Melita plastic cone and non-bleached paper filters, which is simple and foolproof to boot. When you really need coffee, maybe simple is best...

Annette

Tim K. said...

I don't picture VO as the type of environment to rock a Keurig. Too much plastic in the disposable k-cups, coffee comes out weak when you use the reusable My K-cup option.
A pour over method using good unbleached coffee filters allows each person to make the coffee as strong as they want. You could also potentially compost the coffee filters or find a suitable way to dispose of the waste in an eco-friendly way.

Anonymous said...

K-Cup all the way. Dark-Magic is awesome as is the Italian Roast both by Green Mountain Coffee. As far as I am concerned it makes very acceptable coffee. My Keurig has helped me kick the Starbucks habit. K-cups are recyclable if you cut the top off and empty the coffee out after each use. Not much more of a pain then a french press or expresso machine. Coffee essential and made easy by Keurig. Good luck on the move!

Anonymous said...

+1 for the Aeropress. I've been using one at home. It makes great coffee and the cleanup is super easy.
Demo video at http://vimeo.com/40980282.

For hot water, I would use the Bonavita electric gooseneck kettle as it would be convenient and you can make hot water on demand for both coffee and tea.
http://www.amazon.com/Bonavita-Variable-Temperature-Electric-Gooseneck/dp/B005YR0F40

And don't forget to get a good grinder. Baratza's are some of the best and will last regardless of what method (I'm ignoring the Keurig) you decide.
http://www.baratza.com/baratza-grinder-information/

Keith Krome said...

Miele coffee system. My significant other recently got a CVA615 coffee system in exchange for work. Impressive system, has made me more of a coffee drinker. Roasted beans in the hopper, water in the pitcher. Can do espresso and froth milk for those who need it. No filters. The grounds get dumped into a bin. There is a plumbed in version. It has a microprocessor, and keeps track of the number of cups made. Ours has 5600 cups made so far. it had 5000 when we got it. Not a lot of experience with it, but look at them. And get a Bunn unit for traditionalists.

Anonymous said...

There are generic K-Cups to keep it cheaper. Prheat your mug in a microwave. We will never stop using our Keurig, unless something better comes along.

bmike said...

expand. get the bakery to offer some french or japanese creations retail. buy a good machine. learn to use it.

coffee, bikes, pastries.
win, win, win.

you'll be the cool kid on the block.

MDGColorado said...

Get a Cuisinart drip machine with a thermal carafe. Or, a much easier alternative to a French press, an Aeropress. I use an Aeropress every morning.

Anonymous said...

Another Chemex fan here; great coffee, ability to make a strong brew without the bitterness, easy to make, and easy to clean up!

Anonymous said...

Yet another vote for Aeropress - Amazing coffee - check out reviews on Amazon or coffee snob websites. Its amazing how much people gush over this sub $40 coffee maker, and all the praise is deserved.

Anonymous said...

Hi - belated...

We have been (ab)using the Saeco Odea Giro.

Very easy usage. Only "maintenance" is adding coffee beans/water and emptying the coffee "waste" (marc)

Ondrej said...

I would get a second espresso machine, that seems like the cheapest way to have quick, good coffee. A quick mill works for me, I also read good things about rancilio. $500 and you are set.

Anonymous said...

AEROPRESS-easy clean up, great cup of coffee. Pour over is nice too. Either way, it's cheap and usually ends up a better cup of coffee than a cheaper espresso machine and way better than Keurig or Mr. Coffee...

Hank G. said...

Technivorm Moccamaster is a Dutch Drip coffee maker that is about as good as it gets for a simple filter/drip machine.

Manages to maintain a consistant water tempurature and do what a drip machine should do with industrial simplicity.

Perfect for an office. About $200.

Anonymous said...

Choose the bunn machine with hot-water... and also have a box of #2 filters, some plastic pour-overs, and a grinder on hand. Let people choose their own adventure.
I'd happily take that orange francis francis off of your hands. My blue one, although it still makes a good espresso, tends to leak water all over my counter.

Anonymous said...

After 13 years with a hard-core commercial espresso machine, I decided to make the jump, clear off my counter, and simplify. I bought a Nespresso Citiz with additional milk frother. I'll never look back. For $249 complete (sales are frequent), you can't go wrong.