Introducing…Big Noir Espresso Blend

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee

Big NoirFor the connoisseurs of espresso, cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos, The Make Good Coffee Co. wants to make it easy for you to have fresh and delicious coffee in your kitchen.  I want you to start your day with good coffee, and I want you to be able to serve good coffee to your family and friends.

The Big Noir Espresso is a carefully roasted blend.  It is a dark roast, but it is not burnt and will not taste burnt!  You get a smooth and smoky blend of South American and east African beans, with rich chocolate and caramel flavor and some berry sweetness.  Your espresso blend doesn’t need to taste like it was simply left in the roaster for too long.  Start your day with a full flavor espresso blend.

Check out: Make Good Coffee Co. Roastery Store
Buy: Big Noir Espresso Blend

The Roast Date is hand-written on each bag so that you know when it was roasted.  Each bag you receive will have been roasted within days of shipping to you.  That means fresher coffee with flavor that will jump out of the cup.  Don’t drink coffee that’s been burnt or has gone stale.

photo-1445077100181-a33e9ac94db0Shipping to all US points within 1-3 days.  Your fresh coffee will not sit for days at the post office.  It will be fresh when I ship it, and fresh when you receive it.  Going to the store to buy coffee is convenient.  Having it delivered to your address is more convenient.

I recommend buying two bags of coffee from the Roastery Store, for 2-4 weeks of fresh-roasted coffee at home.  When you buy two bags of any coffee and use promo code NOIR at checkout, shipping is free.  Fresh-roasted delicious coffee delivered to your front door, free of charge.

Life’s too short for bad coffee.  Ordering from the Make Good Coffee Co. is an easy way to have better coffee delivered right to your door.  Tell us if it isn’t better than the coffee you’re currently drinking, and I’ll give you your money back.


Cold Brew Coffee

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Gear

The good people at Espresso Works in Perth, Australia sent in this infographic about cold brew coffee.

Check it out to learn about how to make cold brew coffee, how it affects the flavor, and how it differs from iced coffee.

Cold brew coffee is new to me, but I plan to learn more and start experimenting with my own batches.  Stay tuned – you’ll be hearing more about it soon!


Should I buy coffee in 5-lb bags to save money?

in Buying Coffee


I can save almost 1/3 if I buy coffee beans in 5 lb bags from my local coffee shop, instead in a 12 oz bag which my family consumes in a week. Is the savings worth it, or will the coffee beans go stale in the 6-7 weeks it will take us to use up all the beans? We grind as much as we need daily in our Baratza Virtuoso, which we then use mostly in a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, although some of it also goes into an Aeropress & a French press,

Diane Allen



I love this question!
Coffee is perishable, so the more you buy, the less likely it stays fresh before you’re done with it.  I used to buy Costco coffee in 5-lb bags to save money.  I wouldn’t necessarily notice the degradation in quality as I went through that large a quantity, but when I finished it and bought a new fresh bag, I definitely noticed the difference.


Think of coffee as you would any other perishable item.  You likely wouldn’t buy fruit in bulk in order to save money if you knew it wouldn’t stay fresh.  I recommend only buying as much coffee as you intend to go through in the next 2-3 weeks.  Beyond that, what you’re saving in money, you’re giving up in quality.
This often leads into the question of whether you can save money on coffee by buying it in bulk, and putting some of it in your freezer to save it.  Coffee is sensitive to the smells that are around it, and it will absorb smells from the other things in your freezer.  Also, the dramatic drops in temperature to freezing, and from freezing, will also cause some of the coffee’s flavor to be lost.

How to Make Good Cafe Mocha

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Gear, Make a Good Cafe Mocha


I launched this website as an information resource for people to learn to make better coffee at home.  I knew it would help me get better and better at making good coffee at home, and through sharing what I learned, hopefully help you too.

What I didn’t expect, but what didn’t totally surprise me, is the love and interest in chocolate that came along with it!

From all of the similarities they share in where they are grown, the care that goes into preparing each one, their history, and flavor, coffee and chocolate are married.

I knew I had to get wise on how to make a good cafe mocha, that one drink that truly brings the two flavors together.

chocolatenut    Check out the newly revamped page on Cafe Mocha Recipes, how to make a good cafe mocha at home.

This page shows three different ways that you can do it, depending on what you have to work with.

1) With an espresso machine.  The authentic Cafe Mocha is made with espresso-brewed coffee.  If you have such a machine, you’re in business!  If you don’t, then read on because there are still options.

2) Make a cafe mocha from coffee.  If you can make coffee at home, then you only need a few extra ingredients to turn it into a mocha.

3) Quick and easy easy ways to make mocha. Six different tasty recipes that are easy for anybody to make.  Or, you can keep paying $5/cup at your local Starbucks :) .

Click here for Cafe Mocha Recipes.  Or share your recipes! Click here!

Visit Portland, Oregon!

in Buying Coffee, Coffee and You


I just spent the day in Portland, Oregon.  I moved to San Diego from Portland about six months ago, and I’ve missed Portland ever since.  I’m not a Portland native, but it quickly became an important part of my life.  Today was a chance to tour the city and my old favorite spots before meeting friends later tonight.

Here are the top four reasons that you need to visit Portland, Oregon:

1) It is the coffee capital of the USA!
Even if you want to side with Seattle or San Francisco as the country’s coffee capital, you can’t deny that these three cities together have set the country’s coffee landscape.  Portland has excellent and unique roasters almost a stone’s throw from wherever you are in the city.  When you’re here, don’t bother with the many Starbucks locations.  Those are for tourists.  If you insist on a chain, go with Dutch Bros, a Pacific Northwest chain of espresso stands where you’ll find friendly service and amazing coffee every day.

2) It is the beer capital of the world!
OK, I’m taking some liberties here.  It does have more breweries within its city limits than any other city in the world.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30, more than any other city.  It’s a city that appreciates a personal and well-crafted beverage.

IMG_2162     3) It is a quietly trend-setting city.
I felt so welcomed by the people of Portland when I moved here, and I didn’t know a soul when I arrived.  They are modest, and will never admit (or are possibly unaware) of the trends they’ve set.  There are literally hundreds of food carts in the city, and the trend was definitely made famous here – you’ll have difficulty finding an episode of Eat Street that doesn’t spend time here.  And if the country appreciates craft beer and care-roasted coffee more now than years ago, Portland is one of the reasons why.

4) It’s just a fun city.
The city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird”.  Spend some time here, and it won’t take you long to understand why.  Record numbers turn out for the city’s annual Naked Bike Ride.  Spend time downtown, and you’ll see something weird, whether it’s a clown on a unicycle with a completely straight face, or a man in a dress singing opera (and well).  Everything is just a little off, and it’s awesome.

The biggest complaint about Portland?  The rain.  I say get over it.  If it gets you wet, you’ll dry off when you get to where you’re going.  And when the sun is shining, I don’t know too many places more beautiful.  Portland will always have a special place in my heart.  I’ll always enjoy visiting.

As a coffee lover, you owe it to yourself to visit the mecca!


What is the proper grind setting to make coffee?

in Uncategorized

grindsettingsAccording to the Lumosity “brain games” app on my phone, my memory isn’t great.  Combine that with the fact that I brew by more than one method at home, and that my burr grinder has 18 different settings, it’s a wonder I can make good coffee at all.  Many coffee lovers struggle with what grind setting to use.  If you only brew your coffee one way, I have good news.  You’ll only need to remember one of the settings below.  Set your burr grinder to that setting, and never change it.

If you brew by more than one method and have a memory like mine, I’ll give you a quick explanation of the science of grind settings that hopefully helps you remember the right setting for your brewing method intuitively.

If you have a propeller grinder rather than a burr grinder, I strongly suggest making the small investment in a burr grinder.  Check back in a few days, where I’ll have a separate post written that I hope helps you realize the great benefits that proper grinding has on the flavor in your cup.

An Easy Guide
- Espresso maker or Aeropress: Use the Fine grind.  I don’t suggest messing with degrees of Fine.  Move the dial all the way to fine.
- Drip brewer or pourover (Melitta or Chemex): Use the middle grind.  When you buy pre-ground coffee at the grocery store, this is usually the default way in which it was ground for you.
- Press pot (French Press or Bodum): Use the Coarse grind.  Same advice as with Fine – just move the dial all the way to coarse.

cuisinartgrinder     Since I have every brewing method mentioned above available to me, it can get confusing.  To help you understand why settings differ by brewing method, here’s a primer.  The longer the brewing method, or longer the water is going to be in contact with coffee, the coarser a grind you need.  If you used a fine grine in your French Press, you would “overextract”, or draw too many solids from the coffee and have a drink more like sludge.

Conversely, if you used a coarse ground coffee in your espresso maker, the water is not in contact with the coffee long enough to draw enough solids from the coffee, making you a weak coffee.  Imagine in this example, the coffee at a microscopic level.  It is ground coarse, so each piece is bigger.  The water extracts solids from the surface area of the piece, but isn’t exposed to it long enough to get at the solids deeper than the surface.

Drip brewed and pourover coffee falls in the middle, and calls for a medium grind.

Mind your grind!  It’s important to the flavor in your cup.

Remember the woman who sued McDonald’s?

in Buying Coffee, Coffee History

Originally published on October 25, 2011

Marc’s note: Last night, I finally watched the 2011 documentary Hot Coffee, an in-depth look into the lawsuit against McDonald’s for serving coffee that was too hot.  It reminded me of the blog post below, and ironic that the documentary also referenced the Seinfeld bit.  Enjoy!

     When I buy a cup of coffee, I still notice the little icon on the cup that reminds us that the coffee is hot.  It always reminds me of the crazy woman that we all laugh at, who sued McDonald’s because for some reason, she didn’t think their coffee that she spilled on herself was going to be hot.  It led to the little “hot” graphic on EVERYBODY’s coffee cups, and even a parody on Seinfeld where Kramer burns himself in a similar way.

I was forced to buy Starbucks coffee at an airport recently, and noticed the hot warning.  It made me realize that I’ve heard different versions of how that woman’s story ends, but most often that a judge overturned the original decision to award her any money because her case was frivilous.  I looked into it a little further, and I’m ashamed to say that there is much to this case that we don’t talk about because it’s not as interesting a story.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the truth about that case.  It may not change your mind, but you should know the facts before passing judgement on this “crazy woman”:

- She was the passenger in the vehicle, different than what I remembered.  I had an image in my head that she was driving while preparing the coffee for herself.  This is a side point, as a spill is a spill, and it was her accident to spill it on herself.

- The coffee served to her was between 180 and 190 degrees.  This was the standard temperature for McDonald’s coffee at the time.  A vascular surgeon that testified in court determined that she suffered third-degree burns on 6% of her body,  including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas.  She was hospitalized for eight days, and underwent skin grafting in that time.

- She was 79 at the time.  This wasn’t the image I remembered.  Also, a side point as McDonald’s is not going to vary the temperature of their coffee for the age of their customer.

- I remember hearing outrageous amounts that this woman wanted from the big corporation for burning herself.  She sought to settle her claim for medical expenses only, and McDonald’s refused.

- During trial, McDonald’s Quality Assurance Manager testified that a burn hazard exists with any food product served to a customer at 140 degrees or hotter, and that the temperature of the coffee by standard could not be reasonably consumed as it would burn the mouth and throat.  Of course, nobody is expected to guzzle a cup of coffee as soon as it’s handed to them, but other testimony in the case indicated that coffee served at 155 degrees would have allowed the plaintiff time to remove the clothing that absorbed the coffee and scalded her.  155 degrees is still hotter than the temperature at which some chains were serving their coffee at the time.

- McDonald’s asserted that customers are known to buy coffee with the intention of consuming it at home or at work so it would have time to cool down.  This was countered with McDonald’s own published research that their coffee was being consumed by customers while driving and before reaching their destination.

- A jury at first awarded her $200,000, then reduced it to $160,000, stating that she was 20% to blame for the incident.  The judge called McDonalds’ conduct reckless, callous and willful.  None of us know how it was finally settled, because it was settled out of court.

There you have it.  I’ll reserve my opinion, because everybody here in the Pacific Northwest buys drive-through Americanos from espresso stands, and those are so hot, that the ‘baristas’ ask if you would like an ice cube in it so that you can drink it within an hour of it being prepared.

Thank you to the Lectric Law Library for the facts.

Myths About Dark Roasted Coffee

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee

     I used to say I was a fan of dark roast coffee, but I’m not sure why.  It might have to do with some of the myths around dark-roasted coffee that I’ll cover below.  The first person I met who had a hard opinion different than mine was Patrick Dunham, general manager of Fire Roasted Coffee in London, Canada.  In no uncertain terms, he made it clear to me that he did not like dark-roasted coffee.  I once saw him take a sip of a dark-roasted coffee, and then dump the rest of what was in the cup.

In a nutshell, your roaster buys raw green coffee through an importer, and roasts it to taste.  Every origin of coffee has its own unique flavor profile, which is what gives coffee its many dimensions of taste.  Every origin also has a specific level of roast that your roaster believes brings out the most of what makes it unique.  Here are some myths about dark-roasted coffee:

Myth #1: Dark coffee is “bolder”
Starbucks invented the use of “bold” to describe dark-roasted coffee.  In fact, bold doesn’t really mean anything except that Starbucks thinks a dark-roasted coffee will stand out in memory over a lighter-roasted coffee.  For that reason, they roasted all of their coffee very dark for many years.  Only recently did they respond to criticism and introduce “blond roasted” coffee. 

Myth #2: Dark coffee highlights its origin
The opposite is true.  When it comes to roasting, there are two dimensions to coffee: the uniqueness of its origin, and flavor that comes from the roasting process itself.  In other words, the more you roast, the more that different coffees will taste the same stemming from the roasting process.  The less you roast, the more of the origin’s uniqueness that you capture.  For that reason, many afficianados would argue with Myth #1 and say a dark-roasted coffee is less unique and therefore, less “bold”.

Myth #3: Dark coffee has more caffeine
Again, the opposite is true.  I used to believe this, and believed that espresso was the strongest in caffeine of all coffee.  Maybe I thought that because of how “bold” an espresso is!  The fact is that the roasting process roasts a little of the caffeine from the coffee.  The more you roast, the more caffeine is removed from the coffee.  So, a medium-roasted coffee has more caffeine that espresso.  Believe it!

Patrick was the first person to make me consider medium-roasted coffees, and after experimenting with many that he suggested, I’ve since become partial to those over dark-roasted coffee.  However, some people love espresso, and favor dark-roasted coffee.  Try both.  Your local roaster has chosen a certain roast profile for each origin of coffee to bring out the best in it.  They will help you experiment with different roast levels as you decide which origins and roast levels you prefer.  The very broad spectrum of flavor is just one thing that makes coffee great!

The Coffee Survey Results Are In!

in New Content

I truly can’t say enough to thank you for the support.  I received so much more participation than I was expecting in the recent survey.

For literally months, the survey was written but I was hung up on what incentive to give people to encourage them to participate.  That incentive led to questions of contest rules and laws, and use of trademarks if I was going to offer prizes.  And then, it hit me…make the survey short and ask that you simply help me make the site better by telling me about your coffee.  If you find the site informative and beneficial, help me make it more of both of those things. 

And you did, with overwhelming support.  Thanks again!  I thought it would be fun to give an overview of the survey results, and compare them to my own personal answers.  This website and blog have long been a reflection of where I’m at in my coffee life – let’s see where we’re all at together.

1. Where do you buy the coffee that you make at home?
An overwhelming majority indicated the grocery store.  Less than half of you indicated that you buy coffee from an independent local roaster, which is where I buy 100% of my bulk coffee.

2. When you buy coffee, how long will it last you?
This one was a mixed bag.  There was almost a perfect split between those buying a month’s worth of coffee or more at a time, and those buying coffee for 2-3 weeks at a time.  I fall into the latter category – I always aim to have a pound from each of two different roasters at any given time, and a pound will last me a week.

3. What kind of coffee do you buy?
Here again, an almost even split between ground coffee and whole bean coffee.  A very small number of you indicated that you buy pod coffee – in fact, more of you drink instant coffee than pod coffee.  The only times I’ve ever had ground coffee was as a gift.  For maximum freshness, I buy my coffee in whole bean form and grind only as much as I’m about to brew.

4. How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
A big majority of you drink between 2-3 cups a day, with few of you in the same category as myself of 4-5 cups a day.

5. How do you grind your coffee?
When you add how many of you are buying your coffee pre-ground, or instant, or in pods, the majority of your coffee is already ground when you buy it.  There was an even split between those of you using a propeller grinder, and those using a burr grinder.  My coffee bar consists of a burr grinder, but I always have a couple old propeller grinders on hand as spares.

6. How do you make your coffee?
The responses here were very well spread out, which was very interesting.  Many more of you use an espresso machine or stovetop espresso maker than I was expecting.  I wasn’t surprised to see the drip brewer as the top method – it really is the most convenient way to make good coffee.  My personal favorite, the press pot, came in second in your responses.

7. What do you add to your coffee?
A big majority of you add dairy to your coffee (cream or milk), but not necessarily sugar.  Much fewer of you add nothing to your coffee than those who add sugar.  It took me many years, but I’m finally a purist – straight black coffee for me.

Thanks again to everybody who participated!  I intend to use the survey results to better tailor the site and blog to this feedback, so that it is as beneficial and worth your time as I can make it.  Please don’t hesitate to send me your thoughts and ideas by email.  I always enjoy hearing from you with your questions and comments.

The Aeropress Brewing Method

in Brewing Coffee

     I recently met Jeremy Adams, the owner of Cellar Door Coffee, yet another amazing local coffee roaster in Portland, Oregon.  While I was there, Jeremy showed me how the Aeropress coffee maker works.

Read: Profile Cellar Door Coffee

I finally decided to give it a shot at home.  The first picture that you see at the top are of all of its parts.  Right away, you need to make sure you aren’t intimidated my many parts and a few extra steps.  Naturally, nothing is more convenient than the pod coffee makers that are popping up in everybody’s kitchens these days.  But if you want to make great coffee, it usually takes a few extra steps.

Jeremy let me know that there are people who swear by the Aeropress as the only way to properly brew coffee.  Let’s go through how it works.

Step 1: Preparation
Start boiling your water on the stove.  While that’s happening, insert one of the circular paper filters into the filter holder, and twist it into the bottom of the cylinder coffee chamber.

Step 2: Coffee
The Aeropress comes with a coffee scoop.  Grind two scoopfulls of coffee to a fine grind, and put this coffee into the coffee chamber.  Your coffee is now sitting on top of the paper filter.  The bottom of the chamber has a wide base so that it can now rest right on top of your sturdy coffee mug.

Step 3: Brewing
After your water is boiling, remove it from heat.  Let it cool for a few seconds since you don’t want to pour boiling water onto coffee.  Remember, “boiled coffee is spoiled coffee” (by the way, that rule goes for any method of brewing coffee – that’s why we don’t use percolators anymore).  Pour hot water into the chamber so that it mixes with the ground coffee.  Grab the flat stirrer that comes with the Aeropress and stir the water/coffee mixture for around 10 seconds.

Step 4: Plunging
Insert the plunger into the coffee chamber.  You’ll feel immediately that the rubber bottom of the plunger forms an airtight seal in the chamber.  Slowly push the plunger down, and the pressure will force the hot water through the ground coffee and filter.  You’ll hear the brewed coffee dripping from the coffee chamber into your mug.  When you can hear air being pushed out of the chamber instead of brewed coffee, your plunging is done.  This method is ideal for brewing small amounts of espresso, so if you’re making a coffee, fill the rest of the mug with remaining hot water from the kettle.

It takes a little extra work to attain quality in anything, and brewing coffee is no different.  The pod coffee maker and drip brewer are the next most common methods of brewing coffee at home.  These are both very convenient.  However, if you want to experience even more of what makes any coffee unique, it takes extra steps, whether that’s by press pot, by pourover, or by Aeropress

I am excited to have this new coffee maker in my coffee bar, and excited to continue experimenting with it.  It makes a quality of coffee that you cannot get from a pod coffee maker or drip brewer.

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