Cheapest way to get into specialty coffee at home

  • Get beans from Superior, Stacks, or little pecks.
  • Have the coffee ground in store for pour over
  • Use this pour over cone (Plastic V60 02, plastic is better for heat retention)
  • Use these filters (white V60 02 filters, untabbed)
  • Use whatever kettle you have
  • Use this method for brewing

Next steps

  • Use this grinder (Baratza Encore) or this one (OXO Conical Burr grinder) and grind each dose before brewing
  • Use this kettle (Bonavia Variable Temp Gooseneck) and brew at 210°F

Even further

  • reddit.com/r/coffee
  • Home-Barista forums
  • James Hoffmann on YouTube

Amazon links are affiliate links

Spring Coffee School at SMCo.

Superior Merchandise in Troy has announced their spring semester of coffee classes. In addition to learning about brewing at home, they’ve added a fun sounding Intro to Home Roasting class. This will be held on the back patio and will show attendees a demo and tasting of coffee roasted in a hot air popcorn popper, and talk about the process from green coffee to roasted coffee.

The class shedule is as follows:

April 3: Intro to Coffee Tasting // 6PM // $25
April 10: Advanced Coffee Tasting // 6PM // $30 (“Intro to Tasting” class strongly suggested*)
May 1: All Things Aeropress // 6:30PM // ($25, $50 with aeropress)
May 15: Brew Better at Home // 6PM // $30
June 5 (raindate — June 12): Intro to Home Roasting // 6PM // $25

Learn more about Coffee School and other fun events they’re putting on SMCo.’s events page.

Coffee School at SMCo.

Superior Merchandise has a bunch of great educational coffee classes set for the next few months. If you’re serious about upping your coffee game but haven’t gotten around to tackling it, or have had difficulty brewing at home in the past, this is for you.

Tickets are currently on sale via Eventbrite. Get that coffee game maximized before the holidays.

Drop Coffee Takeover at Superior Merchandise

Starting July 2, Drop Coffee will be taking over all things coffee at Superior Merchandise. Similar to a tap-takeover, SMCo. will be serving Drop Coffee’s entire line by pour over, batch brew, iced coffee, and espresso until they run out.

Some background from Kinfolk’s excellent interview with Drop co-owner Joanna Alm:

What do you take into consideration while roasting your coffee?

We strive to bring out all the good natural flavors of the coffee in the roasting process without adding any roast tones. It’s crucial for us to keep all the natural flavor of the coffee throughout each step of the production chain, from the cherry to the final cup, regardless of the brew method. This is a bit controversial on the coffee market, but it’s the only way to achieve our aim to get most out of the product.

Drop Coffee is has ranked top four in the world the past three years at the World Coffee Roasting Championship. Coffee from Drop is generally difficult procure in America, and even more rare to see their entire line being offered in multiple brew methods, as well as retail bags you can bring home (which are gorgeous boxes).

SMCo. will have the Roaster Takeover as a recurring series, and I’m extremely excited to have these hard to find coffees being offered so close to home. This commitment to raising the bar and pushing the boundaries of what cafes do and offer is one of the reasons why SMCo. is the best coffee shop in our area.

Coffee in Albany [Updated 2020]

I’ve written about coffee for a while, but there has been a substantial change in the coffee options in the past few years, so it’s worth looking at as a whole. Especially since some of what I’ve written in the past is not true anymore.


Preface

I drink my coffee black and have been doing so since 2008, so keep that in mind when reading my recommendations. If you normally add cream or sugar to your coffee, you’re most likely used to drinking coffee that is roasted with the intention of hiding bad favors, rather than being roasted to highlight the nuanced flavors of each specific coffee (similar to single-estate wines that highlight the characteristics of each grape/region). Those who add sugar and/or milk tend to prefer dark roasts, as a light-to-medium roasted coffee won’t have the “strong coffee flavor” which is able to cut through the milk. This “strong coffee flavor” is generally just the flavor of an over roasted coffee bean (usually just carbon), which is not representative of that specific coffee. Lighter to medium roasted single origin coffee’s goal is to bring out and highlight certain desirable characteristics of each specific lot of coffee, and is typically listed on the bags as crazy taste descriptors such as root beer, jasmine tea, prosecco, or guava. Try one sometime.


Cafes

Here are the places I’d recommend getting coffee that have a spot to sit and read a book or chat with a friend.

Superior Merchandise Co., 4th St, Troy

Superior Merchandise bill themselves as a “design shop + coffee bar”. They recently added a bottle bar where you can buy rare Nordic beers to take home, and they also have two beers on tap, a bunch of bottles, cider, and canned wine (it’s surprisingly good). In addition to this, they have the strongest coffee program of any shop in the area. Everything from their cheapest batch brew to their $5 signature drinks is well considered and well executed. Their coffee is now roasted in house as Touchy Coffee, with rotating select guest roasters as well. They have also hosted coffee classes about brewing at home with different coffee apparatuses such as the Kalita Wave or Aeropress. They even bring in extremely rare, pricey coffee from somewhere in Scandinavia once a month for the aptly titled Scandinavian Saturdays.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St and Broadway in Albany, Troy, Newton MA

The focus at Stacks is coffee. They are a multi-roaster shop which is still quite rare in this area. That means they have many different coffees from many different companies. They have a small selection in their bakery case of goods from local bakers. Their espresso is among the best in the area, and they usually have more than one option ready to go for espresso. It’s typically their house blend espresso as well as single origin or espresso blend from a featured roaster. I’d recommend avoiding the house coffee (you can get guest-roaster batch brew at the Broadway location), and opt for an Americano with either the house espresso or guest espresso, or a pour over if the shop isn’t too busy. As mentioned, they do pour overs on the Wave or Aeropress, iced pour overs, cold brew, macchiatos, etc., and even pumpkin spice lattes if that’s what you’re into.

3Fish, Madison Ave

3Fish is attached to the Downtube bicycle shop on Madison Ave, between Lark and Willett. After a fire, and a renovation, 3Fish is now a great centrally-located cafe. They have coffee from Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. They also have soup, pastries, and toast if you’re hungry. There’s also a nice patio out back, as well as raised seating behind the bar, between the coffee shop and bike shop.

little pecks, Broadway, Troy

little pecks is a cafe attached to the Lucas Confectionery wine bar in Troy. They have coffee from Portland, Maine’s Tandem Coffee Roasters that you can get as a batch brew, pour over, or espresso. You can also buy bags of whole bean coffee from them. Pretty much everything here is good, and the space in the garden is a great place to spend time with friends or a book.

As my focus for this listing is specialty coffee, I can not in good faith recommend Tierra, Uncommon Grounds, Hudson River Coffee House, Delaware Trolley House, Emack and Bolio’s, Bonobo, Stagecoach Coffee, Iron Gate, Mug Shots, or Daily Grind solely for their coffee.


Beans

There’s plenty of spots to grab a bag of high quality, freshly roasted coffee beans and not have to pay for shipping.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St & Broadway Albany and Troy

They have a few shelves of coffee (and brewing supplies) from a revolving selection of guest roasters, as well as their house-roasted coffee.

Superior Merchandise Co, 4th St, Troy

Always stocked with fresh bags from whatever roasters they currently have on bar. You can try a cup of each before buying your bag via pourover if that’s what you’re into.

little pecks, Broadway, Troy

Retail bags from Portland Maine’s Tandem.


Making your own coffee at home

If you are looking to make your own fussy coffee at home I’ve got you covered.

Last updated: May 4, 2020