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Ask the Monk

Here are the Lonely Monk's responses to some frequently asked questions about coffee.

Is it really better to buy whole bean and grind it at home? - Denise

Denise, absolutely it is better to buy whole bean. One of the reasons that coffee loses its flavor is exposure to oxygen. When coffee is pre-ground much more of it is exposed to oxygen and thus the flavor dissipates more quickly. - the Lonely Monk

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What do you recommend on what hand grinder is best to use? - Jill

Jill, most hand grinders today are pretty cheaply built, but they also do a fair job of even grinding. The only thing you need to be careful of is "loose" burrs that will result in an uneven grind. You can do an internet search for "hand burr grinders" and find a variety from $40 on up. You will want a high end burr grinder instead of a blade grinder. My friend Aaron adds, "For the top of the line hand grinders check out Orphan Espresso. They designed and hand build two different models. One for espresso and one for drip. You get a great grind at a fraction of the price." - the Lonely Monk

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Lonely Monk, with a $100 budget, what kind of equipment do you recommend for making the best cup of coffee? - Aaron

Aaron, I recommend that you invest in a French press and the best burr-grinder you can get with whatever is left over. - the Lonely Monk

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Lonely Monk, I need to clean the basket in my espresso machine. Other than rinsing the basket after each use, I've never thought much about cleaning it. It seems many of the fine holes are now clogged leading to an incredibly slow flow into my waiting mug. What can I use to dissolve the clog and how often should I use it? - Max

Max, to clean your basket you can use a product called Cafiza. The cleaning instructions are on the container and I use it once a week. I would also clean your portafilter at the same time in the same manner. Depending on which espresso machine you own it might have a three-way solenoid, and this will need regular cleaning as well or it will eventually clog. - Lonely Monk and Aaron

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Dear Lonely Monk, why do so many people find the taste of burnt beans comforting in the morning?
- Jon

Jon, the burnt bean people are a different breed from those who love the full flavor of fresh roasted coffee. - the Lonely Monk


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