Monday, February 19, 2007

A Better Method to Decent Coffee

A couple people in ScotLUG have been talking about making coffee.

I thought I would share my current method of Coffee Production.

Maybe I should preface this post with a couple admissions. I have spent a lot of time making and drinking coffee. I have used a variety of machines from large cafeteria coffee makers to smaller domestic models. They all had their faults. Large machines can generate a lot of coffee (usually too much for home consumption) and they teach you a lot about the problems of running hot water through plumbing and then trying to drink it.

Although Scottish kettles are free from scaling, this is a problem in other areas. When I travelled around Canada and the UK, I would come across coffee shop staff that had neglected the cleaning of their coffee machines. Calcium scale on the pipes of coffee makers produces horrible tasting coffee. So the first thing I did when I developed this system was eliminate the plumbing.

I hate two things about home coffee machines: the hot plate and the pause feature. The hot plate slowly produces coffee syrup. Heating coffee after you produce does not improve the taste. In fact, it is the worst thing you can do to this liquid. The volatile substances that produce that unique lovely coffee taste is driven off by heat. So, by heating your coffee you accelerate this process.

The pause feature is a nightmare for two reasons. First it ruins a decent pot of coffee by allowing people to grab a cup halfway through the brewing process. Secondly, it can turn a coffee machine into a flooding device by the coffee grounds plugging up the valve that stops the flow of coffee. The contact time of the water and the coffee grounds is part of the decent coffee equation. It is much more important, than the size of a valve designed to stop the flow of coffee. Coffee machine pause features are evil.

So, this system has eliminated the plumbing that would need to be cleaned, and it removes the hot plate and pause mechanism. It keeps the coffee hot and produces enough for a couple people, or one person all day. It uses readily available components:

One Thermos carafe

One Melita Coffee Cone

Some tools to alter the cone’s base

Coffee and Coffee Filters

This produces a pot of coffee in about 4 minutes, it stays hot all day (especially if you preheat the Thermos), and the clean up process is extremely easy.

There is supposedly a pre-altered Coffee Cone in the states that screws into the Thermos Carafe. Unfortunately if you cannot find one of those you will have to make your own. This involves either a sharp knife, a pair of metal snips, and a file. I just used an Olfa knife and a bastard mill file.

One consideration is the size of the threaded opening on the carafe. If there is not sufficient gap between the internal bottle and the plastic threads, you will never fit the cone base to the thermos.


plaiche said...

Hey Mr Lithic,

Just read an old thread on slashdot regarding open source and a comment of yours has me curious...could you share the name of this abandoned Hlep Desk software you us (used)? Is it available somehwere handy?

THanks & regards,


MrLithic said...

You can find it at

I believe it is abandoned - check the forums. I tend to use RT therse days.