Poor person's freshest coffee choice - Page 2

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#11: Post by lagoon »

Another vote for roasting at home.

Green beans are much cheaper, usually under $10 a kilo

You can even start roasting using a cast iron wok, or try one of the other options mentioned.

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#12: Post by Sal »

LuvsMyEspresso wrote:Super interesting to read this ... my figures are surprisingly close to these -- two years in. I love the fact the keeping the costs so (relatively) low allows for the occasional splurge as you mentioned. I'm expecting some Gesha in the mail this week!
I keep a record of EVERYTHING I buy for my coffee hobby. My spreadsheet is very long with 18+ years of purchase ledger. I don't want (or can't) spend thousands of $$$ on coffee equipment. I do own a fair number of coffee paraphernalia in my possession, but none of them are super expensive. The most expensive piece is currently the Sette 270 grinder. I had a Cafelat robot which I paid more than Sette, but after a year of experiments, I concluded that I do not enjoy espresso. So, I sold it. I still have a cheap Delonghi esspresso appliance which I use occasionally to make milk drinks.

I also have two Vario (original version) but got them very cheap on eBay. The current roaster is the 4th electric roaster, Fresh Roast SR700, bought used. I have a secondhand (free) original Behmor 1600 which I fixed myself that I use for larger batches of roasting occasionally. My first two electric roasters were $159 Zach & Dani's Coffee Roaster which was replaced with the same $159 Nesco Professional Coffee Roaster (different name but the same roaster). I also used manual roasting basket, oven top popcorn popper, and repurposed heat gun for roasting with some degree of success and failure. Most recently, I backed crowd-funded Bunafr Roaster but still have not seen the final product yet.

Even with all the purchases I made past ~18 years, my average roasted coffee cost including everything coffee I have purchased over the years (roasted coffee, green beans, cups, brewers including several espresso appliances, grinders, and all roasters, etc.) divided by the total lb weight of roasted coffee I consumed is currently $15.13/lb. That comes out to be $0.45/cup (14g dose/cup). And I can say with 100% certainty that my cup is the best coffee (for me).

I bought green Geisha last year... not the most expensive greens, but certainly more expensive than most of the greens I have purchased, but I don't even like the flavor of Geisha. Yeah, it was a bright, floral, champagne-like flavor profile. But nothing like a coffee I enjoy, earthy, bold, full-body, chocolaty cup.
I am a home-roaster, not a home-barista...

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#13: Post by lancealot »

Happy Mug sells 2# bags of Bigfoot Espresso for $25. That is the cheapest roast to order coffee I know.

Nossa Família is running 25% off until tomorrow. Use code NOSSATHX23. I recommend Theodoro's Italian Roast. It's a medium roast Brazilian. Standard chocolate and nuts. 5# is $78 with 25% off you get it for like $59. They are doing free shipping on orders over $25.

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#14: Post by jpender »

The OP is currently buying coffee for $8/lb. Finding freshly roasted coffee at that price isn't very easy.

Roasting your own it's possible to go that cheap but there are start-up costs, a learning curve, and it takes time. Time has value, even if it's a hobby you love. What are you worth, $25/hour? If so $8/lb is not trivial to achieve.

Does the coffee have to be fresh? Buy some old Italian coffee on Amazon. Lavazza Super Crema you can get 2kg for $35. That's $8/lb. It's not the greatest coffee and it might be 8 months old but it's okay. Probably better than the stuff you're drinking now. Or maybe not.

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#15: Post by baldheadracing »

I was going to suggest something like Lavazza or Kimbo or similar as well. Apropos of nothing, I just ordered a kilo of Lavazza for milk drinks and ristrettos.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

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#16: Post by Pressino »

If there are any Trader Joe's stores in San Diego I recommend checking out their coffee offerings. Ditto for Costco. Prices are quite reasonable at both and their coffee IMO is pretty good.

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#17: Post by TomC »

If you can't home roast, consider Nicoletti, 5 pounds of freshly roasted espresso blend delivered for $52. It may not be shipped the day it's roasted, but will be within the week it was roasted. Makes a solid northern italian espresso/milk based drink.

https://www.amazon.com/Nicoletti-Coffee ... 854&sr=8-4
Join us and support Artisan Roasting Software=https://artisan-scope.org/donate/

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#18: Post by Milligan »

It sounds like the OP may be buying from those clear self-serve coffee bean dispensers at the grocery store? If so then trying some of the pre-bagged coffee would likely help a lot. Those beans in the dispensers are exposed to air. I have no clue why they still do that.

I've gotten the 2kg Lavazza bags off amazon before when they are on sale. They are hit or miss on the roast date but serviceable in milk drinks. You could also see if local roasters sell their test batches at a steep discount.

One last consideration is cutting the milk out of the equation and spending more on coffee. An 18g dose out of 1lb of coffee is roughly 25 drinks. At 8oz of milk per drink, that is nearly 2 gallons of milk used per lb of coffee. You could effectively double your coffee budget if you cut the milk out. Only if you enjoy straight shots of course (plus help the waist line :lol: )

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#19: Post by DaveB »

Lately I've been alternating Northbound's American Beauty and Prana blends in 5 lb bags, which ends up costing $12.20 and $12.60 per pound shipped - using the 15% discount code BREWITYOURSELF. It usually arrives no later than 2-3 days after roasting. I set aside 2lbs (roughly 2 weeks worth) and freeze the rest in 16oz canning jars.
Von meinem iPhone gesendet

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#20: Post by HilarityDuff »

TBQF I am a little surprised at the number of people recommending options more expensive than what you're currently paying for beans. jpender's comment about the start up cost and time investment of home roasting rings very true to my ears. I also work in the nonprofit sector. Those of us who are underpaid (no matter the industry) are very likely to be limited in other nontangible resources: namely time and mental bandwidth to acquire new skills.

Discussion thus far has been very focused on the nature of various "cheap" coffees themselves. Makes sense given where we are. I can't help but notice that you are explicitly prioritizing cost ahead of any specific quality of the bean other than freshness. This also makes sense to me. If you're trying to maximize freshness and minimize cost then you need to understand the industry, not the bean.

I am generally reluctant to talk about my experience as a coffee professional. It was a brief few years of my life and relative to my time as a hobbyist it isn't much. However, once upon a time I was a buyer for a coffee department the moved a lot of product through those clear open air bins. I'm not trying to give advice specific to my prior employer (let's just say it's a national coffee brand I am HAPPY to have moved in from :roll:) rather general advice for grocery chains in the US.

Let's sketch the path the beans take:
Roaster -> Distributor -> Retail -> Customer

Even the company I used to work for, which owned both the grocery stores and the roaster (separate brands, have you figured it out yet?) used a semi-independent distributor to move the coffee to retail. Although, after the buyout I'd guess that this has changed. This distribution warehouse is pretty opaque. Even though there is a roast/expiration date on the bags there is no good way to get a picture of how the beans are being stored or for how long. I have been back of house in grocery stores where temperatures routinely stayed at 85°+ over the summer. Coffee and wine, just sweating. Often for weeks, months. Breaks my heart. I'd imagine grocery distributors could be the same or worse. Other than temperature, another big thing I'd be worried about is pin prick holes in large bags going unnoticed and accelerating staling. Not to mention contamination, yuck.

A decent retail coffee buyer would have the agency to "loss" a bag with a hole in it. They might not have the agency to control storage conditions at the distributor level or even at retail. Space is money and oversized back of the house storage is inefficiently monetized. But we already know the coffee isn't the best. Whether your local coffee buyer is bad, decent or great they are the single person who holds the most information about how to get the best out of your retail environment.

Try to talk to this person and gather as much information as you can about what's going on in your particular store. Anytime you see someone stocking the department try to ask questions. "Is the buyer in?" is a great place to start. Small food companies often self-market directly to buyers on the retail floor. Be respectful of their time, of course, but know that this type of question is not unusual on its face. Another insight I can give you is that senior employees in this industry generally work earlier shifts. You could also likely do this over the phone but that is store/employee dependent.

Once you have the ear of your buyer, building a relationship with them should give you the insights you're looking for. Keep in mind that this very well could be someone who is grocery professional rather than a coffee professional and that coffee might make up a pretty small portion of their work. If you aren't in a position to acquire this information socially or for whatever reason you're not sure you can trust the buyer then there are a few things you could do when you are already shopping.

Things to consider in no particular order:

1. Is your store high traffic?
While you are trying to estimate product turnover, it's easier to gauge the store as a whole (other people in the aisles/lot.) Think of other grocery stores in the area. Are you going to the busiest one?

2. How much does the appearance of the beans/bins themselves change between your trips?
Honestly, I'd just snap a photo of the section every time I was shopping it. If you are shopping every other week this may be of limited value. If you're there weekly or twice a week you'll get a pretty clear picture of how things are moving. You're looking for the changing quantities of the beans over time as well as the appearance of the clear plexi. Plexi fogs as the coffee oils deposit. This reality, plus "fifo" retail principals (first in, first out) means that the inside of the bin is likely only cleaned when emptied. Bin empties, clean if necessary then refill. A good buyer/stocker shouldn't be mixing batches, no topping up. But of course, not all buyers are good.

3. What day of the week are you doing your shopping?
Obviously I don't know much about where you're doing your shopping. However, I can tell you with near certainty that your local grocery store's busiest day is Sunday. Slowest is likely Tuesday or maybe Wednesday. That means an empty bin is most likely to be refilled in the first part of the week.

4. What "big names" are stocked in your department?
I'm not talking about retail coffee brands per se, but how the coffees themselves are named. Given that these departments are geared towards lay people, the names that have the highest recognition could be the ones that move the fastest. My experience is that appellations popular in the early days of specialty in the states still move more than others. "Colombian Supremo" moved faster than a generic Colombian coffee. Similar with Blue Mountain blends, Kona blends, etc.

5. How do the roasts that you enjoy change with time?
Coffee at this price point is generally roasted medium or dark. How coffees at these different roast levels change over time is discussed at length on this board in other places. A lot of this is preference as well.

If I've misinterpreted this question and you are just soliciting recommendations for coffees around that price point then I can tell you I routinely see Dunky's run promos with whole bean coffee down to 3lbs/$19.99.

I hope that this gives you some food for thought about how you might like to approach this.