Please Explain: Coffee

Friday, December 06, 2013

Coffee Coffee: Many of us can't imagine life without it. (Julia Corcoran)

The devotion to coffee verges on a religion for many people. Jonathan Rubinstein, the owner and operator of Joe Coffee in New York City  and in Philadelphia, and Amanda Byron, director of coffee and roasting at Joe Coffee, talk about how coffee is grown and roasted, the variety of beans and methods of making coffee. They'll also describe how to make the best coffee at home.

Call us at 212-433-9692 with your coffee questions! Or leave a question below!


Amanda Byron and Jonathan Jonathan

Comments [48]

kayt from Brooklyn

After giving birth to a baby this January, I thought great I can have more than 200mg of coffee a day. Not so- breastfeeding. Then I discovered Joe Decaf Blend and my local Civil Service Coffee Bar in Bed-Stuy. It is amazing. I'm in it for the flavor and appreciate so much what Andrea and Johnathan said about decaf. I drink a lot of it- probably too much- OD on decaf!

Mar. 20 2014 10:27 AM

Anybody know why DD coffee - which is what I cut my teeth on 30 years ago - has gone from a delicious nutty flavor that would leave a very satisfying taste on the back of the tongue to the current, tasteless brew - at least the way it is brewed here in NJ.
I stopped at a DD in Connecticut during my Thanksgiving trip to Boston and rediscovered the taste that I used to love. Why is the DD coffee in NJ so bad?

Dec. 07 2013 10:48 AM
P from nj

one thing to keep in mind with Fair Trade certified coffee and child labor - in many coffee growing countries the school yeah is scheduled so the kids are off during picking season - if their parents are members of a Fair Trade coop, often the children will go work down the road at a farm that isn't certified; is it better for them to work for strangers than beside their parents?
Fair Trade is a brand name and not the answer to all questions having to do with equity in trade for agricultural products. it is more important to buy your coffee from a reputable and quality-focused roaster. in many cases the result of producing a top-notch product is that the product is worth more (fancy that)

Dec. 06 2013 07:22 PM

The Rancilio Rocky is the best prosumer grade burr grinder. For the $$ you can't beat it.

If you got the coin, the Mazzer Mini will grind your socks off. This is a miniature real deal.

The Rancilio Silvia is a true, brass boiler, full 58mm portafilter espresso tool. This machine requires some skills not for the Nespresso crowd. Worth every minute if the learning. It is totally mod-ready. Under $700 out of the box, you can't beat it.

All that said, Italians view the espresso as something to be enjoyed out, in the company of others - a social occasion ("another" social occasion, I should say!!).

At home, the Italians rely on the trusty Bialetti stovetop. Which, in the hands of a deft user and a decent roast can produce an outstanding taza!! Not a true espresso, but very satisfying.

Dec. 06 2013 04:08 PM
Greg from Greg - North NJ

As follow up post show; there IS a difference in coffee beans used to make espresso or any coffee for that matter. I totally disagree with Mr. Rubinstein on this and also note his lack of knowledge on different roasts styles(i.e. French vs. Italian)

Dec. 06 2013 02:15 PM
K8 from Glen Ridge, NJ

Love the flavor of French press but hate clean up. My personal method of brewing is called French dunk. Pre warm bowl, rinse filter/paper towel in water, load medium grind coffee and sugar into filter and put into a small modified stainless steel sieve, poor hot but not boiling water slowly over grounds, let sit 4ish minutes, pull out sieve slowly and dump paper towel full of grounds into compost and enjoy my sorry, bowl of coffee.

Dec. 06 2013 02:07 PM
tom LI

another interesting subject for many - getting the short shrift...! Come on WNYC!!! better time management...get those guests who lack personality and communication skills off earlier like the segment prior to this one..!

Dec. 06 2013 02:03 PM

Can we talk about the annoying universality of "latte art"??? Weather you're ordering a "latte" or not - caffè macchiato, cappuccino, cortado…ALWAYS there!?!?!?

…AND, all the bizarre gyrations the "barista" puts themselves through to achieve said decorations!!!!

I'm married to an Italian and spend months at a time in Italy, including Turin and Milano (arguably the birth places of the espresso machine) and have NEVER seen any of this ridiculousness!!

Dec. 06 2013 01:58 PM
member ed from maplewood from Maplewood, nj

I used to use a chemex but since using press pots or my pavoni, going back to the chemex I find i can taste the paper filter (I have tried both white and natural papers) . or the flavor seems to be changed. is this so?

Dec. 06 2013 01:57 PM
Thom from Brooklyn

Apart from desserts, do your guests enjoy coffee use in cooking?

Dec. 06 2013 01:57 PM
Daily grind

I see baristas in my local coffee shots go through mountains of espresso trying to get the correct grind on the beans. How often should the grind be adjusted in the average coffee shop?

Dec. 06 2013 01:55 PM
Alan from UWS

I use a small automatic espresso machine (DeLonghi Magnifica). It's pretty good, but how can I make it as good as possible?

Dec. 06 2013 01:55 PM
Leonard from Uptown, New York

Why doesn't anyone talk about vacuum pots for great coffee. I have purchased a few over the years on e-bay and think they make the best, most perfectly extracted coffee

Dec. 06 2013 01:55 PM

I have a double-wall French press that keeps it hot a lot longer.

Dec. 06 2013 01:53 PM
Dr. Mealy from NYC

As a decaffinated drinker, I am finding your show very informative. I do have a concern about "Fair Trade" According to Fair Trade USA "Fair Trade guarantees farmers a minimum price, and links farmers directly with importers, creating long-term sustainability." In some of the African and Latin American countries, children are used to harvest coffee and I am opposed to exploting children so that we can enjoy great coffee. I do not mind paying more for the "Fair Trade" label.
Thank you.
Dr. Mealy

Dec. 06 2013 01:53 PM
Edith rae brown from Long island

Is it possible to extract acid from the bean? Is it true that making coffee, it is the heat that creates the acid. I do see coffee beans that state they have no acid.

Thank u.

Dec. 06 2013 01:53 PM
A listener

Is it true that the small Krups grinders don't work well for coffee because they generate too much heat and ruin the coffee before it's brewed?

Dec. 06 2013 01:52 PM

aeropress! looks like a toy 9in fact, made by a toy company) but makes amazing coffee, siply and quickly. i hope they mention it and talk about it a bit, it's still largely unknown, but fantastic.

Dec. 06 2013 01:51 PM
Hal from Crown Heights

Everything you need to know is here:

Dec. 06 2013 01:49 PM

What is your opinion about Nespresso coffee and coffee makers?

Dec. 06 2013 01:49 PM

I hate all these gadgets to make coffee. Especially those silly machines with all those little plastic cups.
We use the Italian metal pots and get better coffee at home that almost any place that we've paid a lot of money for.

Dec. 06 2013 01:49 PM
Lenore Snyder from new york, ny

I am allergic to most flavors that are added to coffees - and I am finding that now almost all coffees that are in grocery stores and coffee shops have added flavors that give me a reaction - even when they are not advertised as flavored - they often have added flavor - which I assume is just to enhance the natural flavor. Where can I buy beans or plain ground coffee that does not have these additives

Dec. 06 2013 01:49 PM
Kobi A from Harlem, NY

Please inform the guests that the name "coffee" derives from the fact that it was first discovered and domesticated in a region of southwestern Ethiopia named Kaffa, which is also the name of the language of the people of that region.

Great show!

Dec. 06 2013 01:48 PM
Greg Holmes from Manhattan

Burr grinder or blade grinder????????!!!!!!!

Dec. 06 2013 01:48 PM
pamForbes from NJ

What role does formaldehyde play in decaffeinating coffee?

Dec. 06 2013 01:45 PM
Lucy from NYC

I enjoy the taste of coffee, but find that I can't enjoy it as often as I'd like because of acidity levels. Is there a way to get around that without adding other ingredients like milk, sugar, etc.?

Dec. 06 2013 01:45 PM
K8 from Glen Ridge

To above NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I once got a double pumpkin flavored latte by severe accident and thought the DD was trying to kill me!!!

Shout out to Sello Rojo (Red Seal) the kind of Columbian coffee you get at Columbian super markets the coffee that I equate to PG Tips for Tea.

Dec. 06 2013 01:45 PM
antonio from baySide

I was thought using some really pristine water would make a difference (figi, nirvana etc...); Does it?

Dec. 06 2013 01:44 PM

How do you become a coffee roaster? What's the career path?

Dec. 06 2013 01:44 PM


Coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity, second only to petroleum.

Dec. 06 2013 01:43 PM

Can you keep coffee beans at room temperature - for how long?

Dec. 06 2013 01:42 PM
Barbar from Atlantic Highlands, NJ

How could they not discuss Swiss Water Processed decaf versus standard chemical processed (95%) of all decaf?

Dec. 06 2013 01:42 PM


Porto Rico Importing Co. has a "Fair Trade", "Organic" espresso roast that is $9.99/#!!

Dec. 06 2013 01:41 PM

You can tell Joe's is not involved in Fair Trade. Fair trade indeed effects the quality of coffee. A better, fair price for the farmers encourages better production and a much better bean.

FYI: Vietnam is the #2 producer. Recently passes Colombia. Brazil is still BY FAIR the largest producer of all coffee. Specialty and mass production.

Dec. 06 2013 01:36 PM
jimuhh from NYC

Also: What's your opinion on the Aerobie brewing system?

Dec. 06 2013 01:36 PM
antonio from baySide

Do the guests believe one day we will have a decaf coffee which tastes good? Maybe engineered on a molecular level?

Dec. 06 2013 01:33 PM
tom LI

Whats the deal with fermented versus not...what some call upgraded coffee, that avoids the molds and bacteria that come from the normal ferment/spoil methods...??

Dec. 06 2013 01:33 PM

Okay, please tell me why the navel-gazing hipster coffee beans keep getting more expensive - exceeding $20/# whilst coffee futures are currently at a SEVEN YEAR LOW!?!?

ie. Gimmie's Leftest just went up to $20.

How much is caffeinated navel gazing worth??


Dec. 06 2013 01:32 PM
tom LI

Whats the deal with fermented versus not...what some call upgraded coffee, that avoids the molds and bacteria that come from the normal ferment/spoil methods...??

Dec. 06 2013 01:32 PM
jimuhh from NYC

Why does coffee brewed in a Melitta cone taste so different than that same coffee brewed in a Haribo cone filter?

Dec. 06 2013 01:32 PM
Penny from Downtown

Coffee grounds make the best compost, since they're so high in nitrogen. Why and how is there so much nitrogen in the bean as opposed to other plants?

Dec. 06 2013 01:32 PM
Peter Coe from Brooklyn

I drink a lot of espresso that I make using a decent quality Gaggia espresso machine. I notice some beans are better than others at creating the "crema" the creamy brown froth on a good espresso. What makes those beans better for crema, and what do I look for to find different kinds of coffee beans that have that property?

Dec. 06 2013 01:31 PM
Bill from NJ

How much of a difference is there between a typical low-end and a high-end coffee machine? Also, what should I look for when buying a coffeemaker? Any brands you'd recommend?

Dec. 06 2013 01:30 PM

Secret ingredient: salt in the grounds, to taste. :D

Dec. 06 2013 01:28 PM
Greg from North NJ

where can I get green espresso beans and how can I roast them at home? I agree with John - espresso in the US is very poor. Starbucks has made poor quality espresso a sad,sad standard

Dec. 06 2013 01:25 PM

Why is it so hard to get a decent espresso in NYC? In Italy I never have a bad cup, even in the "AutoGrill" on the highway. Here it's usually made from over-roasted coffeem and is either too watery or occasionally way too strong.

I go to places that make great drip coffee, but often don't seem to have the feel for espresso

Dec. 06 2013 01:09 PM
Michele A from Morristown, NJ

Get on with the coffee already! Can't wait for this segment. I drink DECAF due to caffeine gives me horrible heartburn. How do you brew a good cup of DECAF!


Dec. 06 2013 01:03 PM

Does any true coffee aficionado approve of flavored coffee?

Dec. 06 2013 01:03 PM

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