Category Archives: Top Posts

Two Step Burnt Ends – Easy Same Day Brisket

Let’s say you want brisket for dinner. With an 8 to 12 hour cook time followed by an hour or two rest period, you’re looking at a total of 9 to 14 hours total. Let’s just average that out and 11 hours. Add an hour prep time and let’s say, brisket takes… 12 hours.

This means if you want a 6 PM dinner, you need to be starting at 6 AM. I’d still say that’s a little risky because things could take longer but for this scenario, let’s say 12 hours/6 AM start.

This is okay, but, depending on if you’re a morning person, getting up at 6 AM on a weekend may not be the on your wish list. Translate that to a week day when you’re not at home and it becomes even more difficult because you can’t tend your pit.

To resolve these issues, I present to you my two step burnt ends technique.

Step 1: Prepare and smoke a brisket. Here’s my complete brisket process. Slice the leaner part of the brisket and… eat it. Cube the thicker, fattier part and save for a later date.

Step 2: Prepare the “burnt” ends and smoke separately at a later time. Since this part of the process is 2 to 3 hours, it can easily be completed day of for a lunch or dinner.

Cubed thicker/fattier portion of the brisket. These were cut after resting in the refrigerator overnight. That makes them very easy to cut and they stay together well.

In a gallon bag frozen for later use. In this case, I knew I’d be back to them in a week to 10 days so I just used a gallon zip loc. For longer periods of time, vacuum sealing would be the way to go.

Fast forward to step 2 cook day. The brisket cubes are thawed and tossed in Tuffy Stone’s Cool Smoke Spicy BBQ sauce

Placed on a quarter sheet pan to be returned to the smoker

On the smoker. I usually do about 225 for 2 to 3 hours based on taste and feel.

Burnt ends!

Conclusions

This gets you freshly smoked brisket in 2 to 3 hours and makes cook times more manageable. It’s also a great way to break up huge briskets into manageable portions. If you have a hard time getting through a brisket, this lets you prepare meal size portions with very manageable cook times.

My Brisket Process – Complete Illustrated Write Up

My process is based on Aaron Franklin Brisket process – Amazon author page – with a few tweaks

  • Trim brisket fat to 1/4″ or less
  • Apply rub – I usually use my rub recipe – this is a deviation from Aaron’s method.
  • Let brisket warm for an hour.
  • Warm smoker to 200 degrees F – this is a deviation from Aaron’s method – I do this to try and maximize smoke ring and smoke flavor
  • Hour 1: 200 degrees F
  • Hours 2 and 3: 250 degrees F
  • Spritz at the end of hour 3 with half apple juice, half water
  • Hours 4, 5 and 6: 260 degrees F
  • Spritz Hourly
  • Hour 7: 280 deg F
  • At the end of Hour 7: Wrap with butcher’s paper
  • Hours 9 through 12: Gradually increase temperature to 275 to 285
  • When the brisket an internal temp of 200 start to taper off the temp, reducing 5 to 10 degrees every hour
  • Pull the brisket when it reaches an internal temp of 205 deg F – this is another deviation, Aaron goes by look at feel.
  • Rest the brisket for at least an hour,

Chart via How to Smoke Brisket With Barbeque Pitmaster Aaron Franklin

If you interested in the specifics here is a write up on the process, including a really helpful chart from MasterClass

Aaron has also has a MasterClass on his method

aaron franklin brisket masterclass

Related: My Rub Recipe

My BBQ Rub Recipe

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My Process for Smoked Ribs… 3,1,½

Smoked Ribs!

Ribs have been a go-to of mine since I started smoking. as far as cuts of meat, Ribs are by far the thing I’m most likely to smoke. Like a lot of backyard cooking enthusiasts I’ve tried many different methods with varying results.

3, 2, 1?

I would say the 3/2/1 method is one of the most used techniques out there. 3 hours unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped, 1 hour unwrapped. I know this produces good results… for other people. I’ve done it dozens of times and personally struggle to make a consistently good rib, bouncing around between not tender enough and more often way too tender. With the latter, it’s common for me to have rendered most of the fat out of the ribs only to be left with fall apart meat that’s lost most of it’s flavor.

I think the two hours wrapped is generally too long, again for me… I have know it works for some and if it works for you that’s great!

3, 1, 1/2…

After a lot of playing around, I’ve finally settled on a 3, 1, 1/2 method. A lot of the credit for this goes to Aaron Franklin – Amazon author page. I have made some adjustments based on my equipment and tastes. Additional resources at the end of this write up.

The basics of this method are 3 hours unwrapped, 1 hour (or less) wrapped and 1/2 hour unwrapped. This is actually a hotter faster method compared to what I used to do.

Walk-through of this method…

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Hands on Review: Bar5F Food Grade Spray Bottles for Spritzing!

I find that spritzing during longer bbq cooks helps retain moisture and leads to a better end product. Depending on the mixture you’re using you could also gain some flavor and color.

Prior to getting this bottle I had been using super cheap bottles acquired at a big box store. The price was right, but the quality was not. They lasted a couple cooks before the sprayer fell apart.

I went look for a higher quality food grade bottle and sprayer.

There are plenty of sprayers out there, but, it’s more difficult to find one that’s appropriate for food use. Prior to order these online, I looked for one at my local (large) home improvement store and found exactly 0 that were marketed for use in cooking/BBQ/grilling or rated for food contact.  Would some of them be okay for food use?  Probably, but I personally don’t want to take a chance when it’s something I’m eating.

Hands on Review Bar5F Spray Bottles for Spritzing

I got two sprayers. They have a 16 oz capacity and were listed as BPA free and food grade when I purchased them.

Ribs ready to go on the smoker.

I’m a big fan of Rubbermaid’s Commercial’s utility tubs. I literally have a stack of these, in different sizes, for different things around the house.

I use the 4.625 gallon size to thaw meat, trim, apply rub, carry around cook day tools and more. These are NSF rated and big enough to hold larger cuts of meat. They catch excess rub and drips and make clean up easier. With handles on every side, they’re easy to carry and move. You can also spin it around as you’re trimming or applying rub for easy access.  See my Hands on Review of these great tubs.

My BBQ Rub Recipe

After the first spritz. For both ribs and brisket, I’ll start spritzing hourly at about hour 3.

I generally use half water/half apple juice for spritzing.  Here’s the bottle sitting on my recteq RT-700End Result!

On my plate

Conclusions

These feel well constructed and worked well for spritzing.  Like most spray bottles, keeping at least a few inches of spritz solution in these is key. The dip tube goes all the way to the bottom, but can bend a little bit. If a small amount of solution remains when used close to horizontally the pickup tube will not have anything to draw from. This is a vast improvement over the cheapies I had been using and I’m super glad to have something that’s food rated. I’ll update this over time as I learn more about how these hold up.

Update

I have periodically noticed some poor spraying from this. Getting partial sprays and just not feeling the way it should.  I’ve figured out… that this happens when I tighten the sprayer on too tight. That ends up being a pretty tight seal and I think what’s happening is it’s not spraying as well because air can’t get in. Tip: I’ve found that loosing the the sprayer cap a little bit fixes this. It continues to spray great when I do this.

Bar5F Empty Plastic Spray Bottles 16 oz, BPA-Free Food Grade, Crystal Clear PETE1, Red/White M-Series Fully Adjustable Sprayer (Pack of 2) – I was looking for a quality sprayer for spritzing after the cheapo one I got at a big box store broke after just two cooks

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Hands on Review: Rubbermaid Commercial Products Bus Box! – NSF Rated for Food Contact

I’m a big fan of Rubbermaid’s Commercial’s utility tubs. I literally have a stack of these, in different sizes, for different things around the house, including homebrewing.

I use the 4.625 gallon size to thaw meat, trim, apply rub, carry around cook day tools and more. These are NSF rated and big enough to hold larger cuts of meat. They catch excess rub and drips and make clean up easier. With handles on every side, they’re easy to carry and move. You can also spin it around as you’re trimming or applying rub for easy access.

Hands on Review Rubbermaid Commercial Utility Tubs

A look at the 4.6 gallon tub. These measure approximately 20.4″ x” 15.6″ x 5″

The bottom

A look at the imprints on the bottom

Close up of the Rubbermaid Commercial Products logo

NSF certified logo imprint on the bottom

These are generally available in two sizes (and multiple colors). The 4.6 gallon is on the left the 7 gallon is on the right. I’ve found the 4.6 gallon size to be right sized for BBQ-ing and grilling. The 7 gallon works too, but it’s a bit oversized for BBQ, when it comes to my needs. If you’re doing huge quantities of food, the 7 gallon is worth a look.


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Note that multiple variations of these products may be available, as such a different version may appear at the link

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Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Size Comparison

Thank you to BBQ Finds Reader Jeff for this photo! – Connect with Me!

Weber’s Smokey Mountain Cooker comes in three sizes….

I’m a huge fan of Weber’s line of products and their customer service. I’ve owned many of their products including the Smokey Mountain Cooker. Although I’ve since moved on to a different primary smoker, I found the Smokey Mountain Cooker to be one of the best smokers for the money.

Here are the general dimensions and capacity of the three sizes of Smokey Mountain Cookers. These may change slightly with model year adjustments.

22″ Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

  • Dimensions – Lid Closed (inches): 48.5″H x 23″W x 24″D
  • Total cooking area (square inches): 726
  • Diameter (inches): 22

18″ Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

  • Dimensions – Lid Closed (inches): 41″H x 19″W x 21″D
  • Total cooking area (square inches): 481
  • Diameter (inches): 18

14″ Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

  • Dimensions – Lid Closed (inches): 31.4″H x 14.7″W x 14.7″D
  • Total cooking area (square inches): 286
  • Diameter (inches): 14

Price, promotions and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. rp:wsmc tag:rp

Reverse Sear Ribeye on Recteq Bullseye RT-380

What is Reverse Searing?

I would say the standard way to cook a steak, chop or similar is to cook on high heat to sear the meat then, if necessary, apply indirect heat to finish off the meat.

With a reverse sear, the order is… reversed. Low temperature is applied first to add smoke flavor and then high heat is applied at the end to sear the meat. This allows the meat to absorb flavors that would otherwise, overcook or dry out the meat if done in the standard way.

In order to withstand the reverse searing process, I recommend a larger piece of meat. If you have a thin steak, it’s going to cook too quickly.

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My Brisket Knife Mercer Culinary’s Model M23210

I use Mercer Culinary’s Model M23210 10″ Knife to cut brisket. It’s serrated and made from high quality Japanese steel. The handle is polypropylene.

Previously I had used the “chef’s knife” from my kitchen knife set. That knife, at times, would cause brisket to shred instead of cutting a nice neat piece. The M23210 is super sharp and makes quick, neat work of cutting brisket.

For safety… I also picked up the 10″ x 2″ Mercer Knife Guard which fits the M23210 well.

What are Other’s Saying?   Search this product’s Amazon reviews for “brisket – may include reviews for other sizes or variations

Also Consider…

Pink Kraft Butcher Paper Roll – 18 Inch x 100 Feet (1200 Inch) – Food Grade Peach Wrapping Paper for Smoking Meat of all Varieties – Unbleached, Unwaxed and Uncoated – Made in USA – note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link

aaron franklin brisket masterclass

Aaron Frankline Teaches Texas BBQ, MasterClass

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Recipe: Jack Stack BBQ’s Cheesy Corn Bake! – from Jack Stack

jack stack cheesy corn bake recipe

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Jack Stack BBQ, you’re probably familiar with their Cheesy Corn Bank. It’s pretty amazing.

Jack Stack used to make this recipe available on their website, that was years ago.  From what I can gather, it has since been pulled down.

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Recteq RT-700 “The Bull” Compatible Third Party Grill Cover

Unicook Heavy Duty Waterproof Barbecue Gas Grill Cover, 55-inch BBQ Cover on my Recteq RT-700 “The Bull”

When I bought my Recteq RT-700 “The Bull” the OEM cover was backordered. I did order it, but it took quite a while to arrive.

Since I keep the RT-700 outside I wanted to have something to protect it so I looked for a compatible non-OEM option. Doing some digging, I stumbled on Unicook’s Heavy Duty 55″ Cover.

See picture above for this cover on my RT-700

It works great. Of course it doesn’t have a tailored section for the vent, but there’s enough room in the cover to make up for that. I’ve found that it’s high quality and easy to put on.

Unicook Heavy Duty Waterproof Barbecue Gas Grill Cover, 55-inch BBQ Cover, Special Fade and UV Resistant Material, Durable and Convenient, Fits Weber Char-Broil Nexgrill Brinkmann Grills and More – note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link

Thoughts on Recteq RT-700 OEM Cover vs Unicook

The Unicook ripped after months of good use. So I pulled out the Recteq OEM cover that I originally ordered with the grill. Although this is new, you can see it’s… old because of the Rec Tec spelling.

recteq Wood Pellet Grill Cover for The RT-700 & RT-1250 | Full Length Heavy-Duty Premium Pellet Grill Cover for All-Weather Protection – note that multiple variations of this product may be available, as such a different version may appear at this link

A few thoughts…

  • I’ve been really happy with my Recteq brand cover for my smaller RT-B380. It’s made of high quality material and is super easy. It flops on and flops off. Literally the easiest grill cover I’ve had the pleasure of using. It’s like this cover wants to be on the grill. 🙂
  • I’m happy to say that the OEM RT-700 cover is made from the same or similar high quality material.
  • Unlike the Unicook, this is designed specifically for the RT-700
  • It fits like a glove.
  • But maybe… I little too much like a glove. So far I’ve found it a little cumbersome to get on. With all the cut outs and such, it takes more time to get on.
  • One of my first times putting it on, I almost poked a hole it in trying to get it installed correctly.
  • I’m sure it will get easier, but, my point is that although the Unicook isn’t specifically made for the RT-700, it’s actually easier to get on each time.

Quality-wise, I would give the edge to the OEM cover. Ease of use, I would currently give to the Unicook.  Again, I think this will get easier over time.

Price, promotions and availability can change quickly. Check the product page for current price, description and availability. top:rtcover tag:tpr

Hands on Review: GRILLART Grill Brush & Scraper

GRILLART makes grilling accessories including several grill brush and scraper models.

This is a hands on look at their 18″ bristle free stainless steel grate scraper and brush.

Hands on Review GRILLART Scraper and Brush

A look at the stainless steel scraper blade. It features notches on each side to clean individual grate wires.

A closer look at the galvanized twisted wire. Note: I purchased this in June of 2020. It’s been outside, in the elements, constantly since that point. The galvanized twisted wire remains visibly rust free over two years later.

Hanging from my Weber grill. This brush is about 18″ in total length.

A look at the handle

The end of the handle features a loop for hanging

Hey, look, it’s hanging.


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My Rub Recipe

What is now my BBQ rub recipe started out as a recipe I picked up 15+ years ago. I’ve tried to find the source to quote it, but have been unable to figure it out. It’s changed markedly since then with a couple major changes and loads of tweaks over the years.

It’s not the only rubbed I use, but it’s what I use most often. I don’t think there’s one right rub, especially from person to person, but this one is tried and true. I’ve used it on everything from brisket to ribs to chicken and typically will add some to my pit beans.

As you can see from the photo above, I’ve mostly settled on Badia brand spices. They’ve got a great selection, great quality and are, generally, a great value for the money.


Saving Money on Spices

My biggest tip on saving money buying spices is… buy in bulk. If you look at the per ounce cost between a small shaker and a big container, the difference can be drastic


Secret Spices…

Of course, none of the spices are really secret, because they’re pictured above but a couple that really stand out are…

Flatiron Peppers – I first became aware of these year’s ago when on vacation in Estes Park, Colorado. I’ll get super specific and say that I was at the Country Market of Estes Park. A small grocery store, deli and gas station.  One of the owners was giving away samples. We chatted and tried their peppers and have been hooked ever since.  Regular red pepper flakes just don’t do it any more.  We have and use all their varieties but for my rub I use two Four Pepper Blend and Dark and Smoky. Tip: as each of these shakers gets more and more empty the small powdered peppers at the bottom are much hotter.  For the rub, I’m looking for the large chunkier pepper flakes as I don’t want to blow anyone away with heat.

Gebhart’s Chili Powder – I’ve tried a bunch of chili powder for different things and Gebhart’s is just my favorite.

On to the recipe, when I have a link to a specific spice, I’ll include it…

My BBQ Rub Recipe

1/2 Cup Sugar in the Raw

3 TB Kosher Salt
4 TB Gebhart’s Chili Powder
2 TB Chipotle Powder
2 TB Ground Pepper
2 TB Smoked Paprika
2 TB Lemon Pepper
2 TB Celery Salt
1 TB Garlic Powder
1 TB Garlic Flakes

2 TSP Flat Iron Four Pepper Blend Pepper Flakes
2 TSP Flat Iron Dark and Smoky Pepper Flakes
2 TSP Cayenne Pepper
2 TSP Celery Seed
1/2 TSP Cinnamon

Savory Option: There isn’t a whole lot of sugar in this rub, but there is a little. If you’re looking for a completely savory option, leave out the sugar and the cinnamon. The cinnamon isn’t sweet, but I think it gives a slight impression of sweetness.

After adding most of the 1 and 2 tablespoon additionsAfter adding most of the spicesEverything combinedLike a lot of people I like to re-use spice containers for storing and shaking my rub. I really like the larger Badia containers for doing these as they have much larger holes compared to a lot of the brands. Lids for McCormick and such generally have small holes that are unusable for rub. As you can see Badia’s are nice and large.
In the shaker! Tip: My rub (and probably a lot of rubs) have spices of different sizes. The heavier spices are going to tend to sink to the bottom. Shake the container thoroughly before applying and periodically as you work your way around.

Tip: wrap your rub shaker in food wrap when it comes to applying. This allows you to grab it with meaty/contaminated hands. When prep is done, discard the food wrap and whammo!
Some St Louis cut ribs trimmed, membrane removed and ready for rub application. I use a Rubbermaid Commercial Products FG334900GRAY Standard Bus/Utility BoxHands on Review – for this. It’s food grade, large enough to hold a lot of meat. Applying rub in this, saves rub and saves cleanup time and hassle.

Rub applied. Tip: I use NItrile gloves when applying rub. Not only can I discard those when done to help prevent cross contamination, they protect my hands from spices. I love delicious smelling hands and all, but that can get to be a bit much. Also, I wear contacts. Even after multiple hand washings I would be able to tell you that this rub has a little bit of spice in it… when it comes time to take contacts out
.
End result, look at that beautiful mahogany color

Longer term storage of rubs and spices

I’ve found that spices store pretty well in the containers that they come in. But, if you’re making larger batches of rub or storing for longer periods of time, you may want to add some extra freshness protection.

Putting food wrap directly on the bottle and then replacing the cap gives a better, more oxygen resistant seal.

Vacuum sealing + storing in the freezer is probably the best way to store larger amounts of spices for a longer time.

The video below shows me sealing some of my rub using an Inkbird Vacuum Sealer

This vac sealer sealing some of my BBQ Rub. See: Hands on Review via my Homebrewing website Homebrew Finds

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Hands on Review: Kingsford Charcoal Kaddy – Charcoal and Wood Pellet Storage – includes Capacity & Weather Resistance Trials

This is a hands on look at the 32 quart Kingsford branded charcoal kaddy.  I picked this up for wood pellet storage.

Hands on Review Kingsford Charcoal Kaddy:

A look at the bottom. There is a lip on each end to raise the containers a bit, giving them some airflow.  This reads Made in the USA and Buddeez. This is a Kingsford branded container that’s manufactured by Buddeez.


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In Search of Crispy Smoked Wings

I’m very happy with my smoked briskets and ribs. I’ve done a lot of these meats. Through trial and error and learning from other, these generally turn out delicious.

Not that there’s one right way, but for these, there are some pretty clear guidelines out there that can get you close in short order. For ribs, there’s the classic 3-2-1 method, for brisket Aaron Franklin’s Method provides a methodical approach that makes for outstanding brisket.

For chicken wings, the picture isn’t as clear. I posed the question on Twitter, and walked away with some great ideas. In fact… lots of ideas. The path to the perfect smoke wing, varies, just like a lot of smoked weeks, but I’ll say, I think there may be more and more varied paths on this meat as compared to some others.

This post is a chronicle of my journey to get a great wing off my smoker.

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Removing Pellets from Your Pellet Grill?…. Bucket Head Shop Vac!

5 Gal. 1.75-Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum Powerhead with Filter Bag and Hose (compatible with 5 Gal. Homer Bucket)

There are a few good reasons I can think of to remove pellets from your pellet grill/smoker.

  1. You want to switch to a different type of pellet for a particular cook.
  2. You need to clear some sort of a jam or fix a problem.
  3. You’re storing your pellet smoker and want to remove pellets to avoid potential problems.

Maybe some pellet grills have a way to easily remove pellets, but mine (Recteq RT-700)… does not.

Looking for solutions I cam across the Bucket Head Shop Vac.  The Bucket Head attaches to any standard 5 gallon bucket and… vacuums. When I need to remove pellets from my pellet smoker, I just vacuum them out.  When I’m done I detach the Bucket Head from the bucket and put a regular lid on for storage.  It works great!

I only use this for pellets so I don’t have to worry about cross contamination with dirt and such.

5 Gal. 1.75-Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum Powerhead with Filter Bag and Hose (compatible with 5 Gal. Homer Bucket)

Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

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Hands on Review: ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE!

The Thermapen is a thermocouple thermometer produced by ETI, Ltd and sold by ThermoWorks. It’s used by restaurants, home cooks, homebrewers, grillers, bbq-ers and more.

Here’s an in depth hands on look at the latest iteration, the Thermapen ONE starting with a history of the Thermapen, accuracy and response time tests and lots more.

History of the Thermapen

The Thermapen was introduced in 1992. The original invention of the Thermapen was by Electronic Temperature Instruments Limited (ETI, Ltd.) of Worthing, England. Each subsequent version of the product has been engineered and manufactured by ETI, Ltd.

Thermapen was the first thermocouple thermometer designed for commercial and home kitchens. Prior to that time all other thermocouple thermometers were designed for science and industry; and were much larger, handheld devices with separate probes. These were generally priced at about $200 or more (after purchasing a probe).  Keep in mind that’s in pre-1992 dollars.

thermapen historyFrom left to right – Original Thermapen, Thermapen MK2, Super Fast Thermapen (now sold as Thermapen Classic), MK4, Thermapen ONE

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The Case for Better Coffee – how to make a better cup

French Press Starter KitPictured: French Press Starter Kit – via La Colombe

A good number of years ago, I had the pleasure of watching Alton Brown’s Good Eats on the subject of coffee.  It explained many things and helped me understand why I was struggling to produce something that I would call a good cup of coffee.  Since I have had the pleasure of traveling to Central America many times and have furthered my love and appreciation of a good cup of coffee.  I’ve gone from drip to french press to pour-overs to roasting my own green coffee beans to making espresso in my home that rivals or often time exceeds the brew that’s coming out of many coffee shops at a fraction of the price.  Here are some tips to take your cup to the next level no matter where you are in the spectrum.

  1. For the pre-ground drip coffee maker crowd – Use the right amount of coffee.  Generally speaking, you’re looking for 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water.  If you like your coffee weaker than that… dandy.  Make it using 2 tablespoons for 6 ounces and dilute it to taste with hot water.  Using too little coffee draws unwanted and bitter compounds from the coffee.  Use the right amount of coffee.
  2. Start with good water.  If your water is overly hard or otherwise unpleasant pick up a filter or consider using bottled water.
  3. Grind your own.  The biggest bang for the buck improvement in my opinion is grinding your own beans.  Green coffee beans have a shelf life of years, in fact some think that green coffee beans get better as they age.  Roasted coffee beans have an optimal shelf life of 2 weeks or under.  Ground coffee has a shelf life of… minutes.  Ground coffee has a lot more surface area (compared with whole unground coffee) to interact with oxygen and stale/oxidize.  Also fresh beans release CO2.  That CO2 helps to drive important oils and flavors out during the brewing process.  Ground coffee left to sit, releases all its CO2.  Leaving no CO2 left to help drive the flavor extraction process.  All pre-ground coffee is stale. Amazon Best Sellers in Coffee Grinders
  4. Get the grind right.  Each brewing method calls for a specific grind size.  That grind corresponds with the speed of the method and helps extract the right flavors and compounds.  Choose the right setting for your equipment.
  5. Get fresh beans.  Look for a busy coffee roaster that includes roast dates on the bag.  Busy means beans aren’t sitting around too long.  In my opinion… I suggest running away from bins of coffee beans.  These are open the air and are most likely stail.  Who knows how long they’ve been sitting there.  Run from the bins!
  6. Skip the drip coffee maker.  Most drip coffee makers do not get hot enough for optimal brewing.  A pour over brewer is generally inexpensive and gives you control over your water at a reasonable price.  You can be certain your water is hot enough by heating it yourself in a tea kettle.  In my opinion a freshly ground pour-over coffee is an economical way to get a great cup of coffee that outclasses most drip machines.
  7. If you want to make the jump to espresso… plan on saving up.  A quality setup is pricey.  Expect to spend $400+ for just the grinder.  I started with a cheap espresso maker (real cheap) and had terrible results, I moved on to a Rancilio Silvia and a Rocky Grinder and have since moved on to a Rocket Espresso Appartemento.  A great cup of coffee can be made relatively inexpensively with fresh beans that have been recently ground using a method that allows you to heat up the water to the right temperature – french press, pour-over, chemex and more.  Inexpensive and quality espresso setup are mutually exclusive terms in my opinion.

If you’re happy with your cup of Joe, that’s what counts.  If you’re not and looking to improve consider some of these ideas.

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