Basic basic: Americano or Coffee

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
TeeGreeThree
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#1: Post by TeeGreeThree »

I'm a brand newbie. My head is already swimming reading some of these intro FAQs. Let me back up, and ask a simple question to set me on the right path.

First, I should preface this by saying that I drink mostly decaf. Not by choice, it's the only thing I can tolerate. I add a bit of caffeine by mixing in a tiny bit of regular caffeinated, but decaf is always the bulk of my coffee beans. So the quality of my coffee is limited by that, no matter what.

I have two ways I've made coffee, and I would like to start upgrading, but first I think I need to choose a path:

I've made drip coffee using a cheap coffeemaker and a baratza encore for a few years. It's been eh, passable, not great.

More recently I've been making Americanos with delonghi dedica to make the shots. At first I was using ESE pods for convenience. It was eh. Recently I had a local coffeeshop grind me some decaf espresso beans and used that instead, and it reminded me, oh right, coffee can actually taste somewhat good.

So now I'm interested in going further, and starting to attempt to make actually decent coffee drinks at home (as far as my decaf limitations will allow).

My question is: should I continue down this Americano path, which means an espresso path, which from what I've read is much much more difficult than the traditional coffee methods (meaning drip / pour over / etc)? Or should I give that up as a fools errand, and just try to make a good cup of traditional coffee via drip / pour over / etc.

I prefer the process of making Americanos. I even occasionally drink actual espresso - that's my favorite drink, just during the flow of my work day I tend to need to nurse my coffees longer than an espresso allows, so I go with Americanos. But if it's going to be a nightmare trying to get a good Americano as opposed to a regular coffee, I could be talked into going that latter route.

Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts... and then I have many more questions to come...

drH
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#2: Post by drH »

Are you planning to upgrade your equipment?
In the decaf world I've had great experience with those from Onyx - so much so that I drink them just because they're good.
I'd focus on getting a good grinder and getting to a pour-over taste/coffee that you enjoy. Once you feel happier there, maybe experimenting with something like a Robot or Flair can tell you whether an Americano can compete.

In my personal experience, decaf has usually been better as a pour-over, but I haven't tried espresso with the Onyx blends.
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TeeGreeThree (original poster)
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#3: Post by TeeGreeThree (original poster) »

Yes, I'm planning to upgrade my equipment. I'd prefer to go the espresso/Americano route... unless I just shouldn't.

bgnome

#4: Post by bgnome »

TeeGreeThree wrote: My question is: should I continue down this Americano path, which means an espresso path, which from what I've read is much much more difficult than the traditional coffee methods (meaning drip / pour over / etc)? Or should I give that up as a fools errand, and just try to make a good cup of traditional coffee via drip / pour over / etc.
If you have the Dedica and the Encore, why not just use them? You should be able to get passable shots from the pressurized portafilter and decide if you enjoy them enough to invest in better equipment.

TeeGreeThree (original poster)
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#5: Post by TeeGreeThree (original poster) »

Sorry, wasn't clear, kind of a long story but:

The dedica is one location. The Encore is in another location, with the cheap coffee maker. I can't bring them together.

My thought is I'll buy a decent espresso grinder to start using with the dedica, and see how it goes. Unless you all tell me it'll just be much easier to get good results via the regular coffee route.

Sorry, maybe this was a dumb question...

drH
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#6: Post by drH »

Espresso is definitely fun. It sounds like you have a reasonable plan...just make sure to get a grinder that can work for espresso and brew to keep your options open.

BruceWayne

#7: Post by BruceWayne »

Also, most decaf coffees require a finer grind for espresso than regular beans. Make sure that the grinder you get has enough fine adjustment to dial in the beans. Since I really can't drink much more than 2 double shots in the morning and expect to sleep, the bulk of my consumption is decaf.

justgrindit

#8: Post by justgrindit »

If you enjoy americanos then by all means, go the espresso way. I'm the same, most days I preffer americanos or long black (double shot americano). On occasions I do try filter/brew coffee and I enjoy it but it not the same. Like everyone said before, a good grinder is key. A good manual grinder may be an option.

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yakster
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#9: Post by yakster »

I'm not a fan of Americanos or Long Blacks, I've only had a very few I enjoyed. I prefer either strong brewed coffee or straight espresso, so I brew a pot of coffee in the morning and get my Robot out for espresso in the afternoon. My family usually requests Americanos when I get the Robot out and they seem to enjoy Americanos (with creamer) more than the brewed coffee. I'd focus on making what you prefer.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

jpender

#10: Post by jpender »

TeeGreeThree wrote:I prefer the process of making Americanos. I even occasionally drink actual espresso - that's my favorite drink, just during the flow of my work day I tend to need to nurse my coffees longer than an espresso allows, so I go with Americanos. But if it's going to be a nightmare trying to get a good Americano as opposed to a regular coffee, I could be talked into going that latter route.
I don't think it has to be a nightmare. I got my very first espresso machine a few years ago (a Robot) and was making tasty long blacks aka Americanos on the first day. I'm not convinced that espresso is really more difficult than pour overs or machine drip methods. In my experience all coffee methods require that you develop skills. There's always a learning process, no matter what, and sometimes it's frustrating.

I've only bought decaf once in the last twenty years. It was by accident. I didn't even realize it until I'd consumed most of the 12oz bag. But it was wonderful coffee, just as good as the caffeinated version of those beans sold by the same roaster. For sure, there are fewer options for decaf but that taught me that high quality decaf is available.