There are two logistical problems in making a good cup of coffee. First, roasted coffee beans are best for only 1 week after it’s roasted. 14 days after roasting, over 80% of the aromatic volatile compounds have evaporated. That expensive $15-to-20/lb coffee has already lost its complex flavor, and no amount of fancy packaging can change that.
The second logistical problem; ground coffee loses it’s precious oils within seconds for being ground. Obviously, you should grind only what you intend to brew within the next 1 minute.
Fortunately when you buy green coffee beans, it stay fresh for at least a year. I have tried a number of websites, but keep coming back to Sweet Maria’s. They cost a little more than other sites I’ve used, but they give you excellent information about the coffee you are buying, and their ratings are helpful. For example, see the following Ethiopian Coffee (be sure to click “View Cupping Scores” to each coffee’s pluses and minuses).
I roast my green coffee beans in a hot air popcorn popper. I roast between 1/2-cup and 2/3-cup at a time; roast time is about 6 minutes. When almost done; dump into a colander where they will continue to darken as they cool. Stir occasionally when cooling. Beans are best if they are allowed to rest for 1 or 2 days; but many times I use them as soon as they are cool.
Just how much does it cost. Generally a pound of green coffee costs about $5; about $5.50 including shipping.My last purchase averaged $5.75/lb because I bought a few super-premium coffees. But about 20% of the weight is lost in evaporation during the roasting process; therefore a pound of home-roasted coffee costs $6.60. per pound.
To brew, I use a French Press when at work. But at home I make cappuccino. I measure out the exact amount of whole beans (usually by volume, not by weight). I grind the coffee to the appropriate fineness. In my case, setting 3 on my Gaggia MDF.
Once the coffee beans are ground they must be used within a few seconds, as their precious oils evaporate quickly. Once in the portafilter, tamp down to between 30 and 50 pounds of downward pressure. It’s best to use a tamp so that the pressure is the same every time.
And finally, I drink.
A pound of beans makes about 36 double espressos, so the coffee cost is 18-cents. Adding 5-oz of milk for double cappuccino increases the total cost to about 25-cents. Now, remember that 5-oz of milk is steamed to has a much greater volume, requiring perhaps a 12-oz cup. So really, there is little justification for the $4 price tag at Starbucks.