Jump to content
DonRocks

The Don Rockwell "Idiot Kit" - Go From Coffee Nothingness to Competency, Literally Overnight

Recommended Posts

I've recently gone from "zero," to having the most fully stocked coffee-making supply kitchen anyone would ever want, including:

* subscriptions to coffee beans, coming 4 bags a month through the mail

* a Japanese Hario kettle, perfectly designed for hand-pours

* a Hario plastic cone, designed specifically for hand-pour dripping

* 100 paper filters that go in the plastic cone

* 2 nylon filters that go in the plastic cone (which you can wash, rather than dispose of)

* a bean scoop that scoops out a standard amount of unground beans

* a double-meshed French Press Cafetière, lined, insulated with 18/10 stainless steel

* a thermal plastic carafe that will keep a liter of coffee hot or cold all day

* a Virtuoso grinder, which will quite possibly last me 20 years - it weighs about 20 pounds (buy it from Qualia)

* two "his and her" hi-tech Japanese insulated stainless steel mugs (in midnight blue and pink-lavender)

So right now, I have everything I need to make hand-pours or French-pressses.

I got the kettle, the Cafetière, and the mugs from Amazon Prime

I got everything else from Qualia Coffee in Petworth through their mail-order program

I especially recommend the bi-monthly beans program from Qualia Coffee - they send them out the day they're roasted.

In just a few weeks (delivery time), I went from having nothing, to having - short of an espresso machine - the very best of everything, and Joel Finklestein handled it all for me.

The quality of my coffee in the morning now is absurd, and I've only been making it for several days.

Over the course of less than one year, all my equipment will have paid for itself, all the while drinking world-class coffee.

And the beans will still be rolling in, educating me about coffee each time they do.

For less than the price of going to Starbucks in the mornings, I'm getting the best coffee education someone could get.

And I'm supporting one of the greatest family-owned, mom-n-pop businesses in all of Washington, DC.

Write Joel, and ask hi to set you up with this. If I'm his only bean customer, his program will fail, and I'm *much* too selfish to let that happen!

Joel, is there any way we can make this package available, maybe call it the "Don Rockwell Idiot Kit?" for people like me, who have nothing, want the best, and have a few hundred dollars to spend?

PM RoastMonkey and he'll take care of you.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I give Don full credit for this idea, which I think is brilliant, to put together a starter kit for people who want to brew better coffee at home (or at all). We generally don't stock a lot of retail items, but I am sourcing all the pieces someone might need. I have a shipment of inexpensive (roughly $22), but accurate gram scales coming in next week. We already carry Baratza Encore grinders and can have anything in the Baratza line drop shipped direct to you at Manufacturer Advertised Pricing (which Baratza is rigid about maintaining). We carry a selection of Hario brewing cones as well as paper filters and the nylon filters which are manufactured exclusively for us. Everything Don got from us, plus a bag of beans, fits in a USPS flat rate box that ships for $17.90.

Perhaps even more exciting is that we have started working on a series of brewing tutorial videos to help newbies get the most out of their gear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I give Don full credit for this idea, which I think is brilliant, to put together a starter kit for people who want to brew better coffee at home (or at all). We generally don't stock a lot of retail items, but I am sourcing all the pieces someone might need. I have a shipment of inexpensive (roughly $22), but accurate gram scales coming in next week. We already carry Baratza Encore grinders and can have anything in the Baratza line drop shipped direct to you at Manufacturer Advertised Pricing (which Baratza is rigid about maintaining). We carry a selection of Hario brewing cones as well as paper filters and the nylon filters which are manufactured exclusively for us. Everything Don got from us, plus a bag of beans, fits in a USPS flat rate box that ships for $17.90.

Perhaps even more exciting is that we have started working on a series of brewing tutorial videos to help newbies get the most out of their gear.

Joel, just to let you know, I live alone, and have 1-2 strong (very strong) cups of coffee in the mornings, and that's it for the day. The beans from my first shipment (*) were roasted on June 16, and I received them the next day. I literally - five minutes ago - *just* finished the last of that shipment. However, my second shipment - which I haven't yet opened - came yesterday, so the timing and amount were absolutely perfect for me, and I'll open my goodie-bag tomorrow, and see what surprises await inside.

(*) My first two bags of coffee beans were Uganda Bugisu AA and Bali "Blue Moon," and they were both fantastic - completely different from one-another (even a total beginner would be able to tell the difference), yet equally compelling in their own way. I am *so glad* I got on this program, and I got a couple extra things through Amazon (described in my post up above) that others may be interested in as well (I really went overboard supplying myself with the best of everything, and I started from Absolute Zero in terms of equipment because I had just given my old equipment away). The only other thing that I possibly could have bought would be an espresso machine, but I'm perfectly content with hand-pours and French presses for now.

I cannot recommend highly enough the bean-subscription program of Joel's (which is a different thing than what he's referring to in his post). It's not inexpensive, nor should it be, but if you want to go from "nothing" in terms of owning equipment, knowledge (which will accumulate over time), and experience; to "the best of the best," literally overnight, then combining the two programs (equipment + bean subscription) is perfect, and I mean *perfect*. Joel, I cannot thank you enough for doing this. Again literally overnight, I went from scrounging for coffee every day, cursing humanity while standing in line at Starbucks, to having the best coffee in the area without getting out of my pajamas. It is an *awesome* lifestyle change that's worth triple what I paid for it, and I paid plenty because I bought a high-end grinder (this grinder is something that you can just lift, and you immediately know it's going to last for ten years - even though it's small, it weighs as much as a dump truck, and all this equipment is built so that I can get everything immaculately clean in a matter of fifteen seconds). I also cannot recommend my Zojirushi thermal mugs enough - they are technological marvels; the only drawback - and coming from the world of wine tasting, it's a *big* drawback - is that you can't smell the coffee as you're drinking it, but they fit in your car cupholder, can be cleaned in mere seconds, and keep the coffee piping hot for hours (yes, hours).

Feel free to call me Customer #1, and use me as a reference. I'd give you a five-star review on Yelp, but you know I can't do that. What I can do, however, is write something in the Professionals and Businesses forum, and, in fact, I will, and it will show up on page one in Google searches (why more people don't use that forum to support their friends and relatives is something I will never understand - I think people simply don't realize how powerful the recommendations are - I've been thanked by every single individual I've written recommendations for, and they found the recommendations on their own; I didn't tell them I wrote them).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Curious what the pricing is for the bean shipments and whether you have a separate espresso bean option Joel? I am currently getting my beans from Blue Bottle (used to be Tonx) and am happy with the program, but if I could save money and/or support someone more local without sacrificing quality I would be happy to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the prices are posted on our web site here. The subscription is $50.50 a month and includes a shipment of two 10 oz bags every two weeks (12 payments/yr for 26 shipments/yr). We chose the 10 oz size (20 oz per shipment) with the hope that people wouldn't end up with a backlog of coffee, finding themselves in the situation of trying to finish their previous shipment while the new one gets less fresh. For the subscriptions, we ship the same day it is roasted, but it a roasters selection of beans and there is not currently an espresso-specific option.

All of our current offerings are also available by mail order a la cart, mostly at $12 or $13 per 12oz bag. We ship everything within one day of roast. We can ship two bags for $5.70. Ordering more doesn't bring the shipping cost down. In terms of espresso options, are inventory changes constantly. If you want recommendations please just PM me when you are ready to order.

I should note that our roast style is different than Blue Bottle. We don't roast darker, but we roast longer. Like other specialty roasters, our goal is to bring out as much of the complexity and individuality of each coffee we source, but to my taste, other roasters emphasize acidity at the cost of body and we have tried to find a different balance of flavors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should note that our roast style is different than Blue Bottle. We don't roast darker, but we roast longer. Like other specialty roasters, our goal is to bring out as much of the complexity and individuality of each coffee we source, but to my taste, other roasters emphasize acidity at the cost of body and we have tried to find a different balance of flavors.

Interesting, and thank you for all of this info. My BB subscription is currently on hold because I did have a bit of a backlog so I may order a few bags a la cart in the meantime to compare. Have to look bag to see what amount works for me per month to see if your subscription service would work. Appreciate it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That looks like a really nice setup. I have a Frieling Stainless Steel French Press but the SterlingPro looks nice (I don't think they were making it when I was in the market for a stainless steel french press). Does the double filter make a noticable difference?

I haven't even used the French Press yet - I've been making hand-pours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great, Don, but for people not wanting to spend $300-400+ just on equipment?  For my daily coffee I rely on:

- An Aeropress, regularly available on sale for around $25 (fun fact: the Aeropress is the only other product sold by the Aerobie people.  They make coffee presses and flying discs, that's it!)

- Hario Skerton manual ceramic grinder (also around $25-30).  Yes, it requires you to crank the handle, but that takes less than a minute for a single cup, and I like the routine of it all.  $0.50 of nuts and washers + a power screwdriver or drill on low speed does the job a lot faster for larger servings.

- Any cheap kitchen scale ($8-10) for the correct serving of beans if you want to get really technical on dosage.

- Returnable milk bottle for batches of cold brew concentrate ($2 for the lost deposit)

I don't brew more than a cup very often, but for when I do a sub-$10 french press from the clearance section of TJ Maxx/Marshall's; I tend to think that most presses are interchangeable and you aren't getting much more performance for the expensive ones as long as you clean them regularly. You don't need to spend a ton of scratch to make great coffee at home.  Save your money for the beans!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is great, Don, but for people not wanting to spend $300-400+ just on equipment?  For my daily coffee I rely on:

- An Aeropress, regularly available on sale for around $25 (fun fact: the Aeropress is the only other product sold by the Aerobie people.  They make coffee presses and flying discs, that's it!)

- Hario Skerton manual ceramic grinder (also around $25-30).  Yes, it requires you to crank the handle, but that takes less than a minute for a single cup, and I like the routine of it all.  $0.50 of nuts and washers + a power screwdriver or drill on low speed does the job a lot faster for larger servings.

- Any cheap kitchen scale ($8-10) for the correct serving of beans if you want to get really technical on dosage.

- Returnable milk bottle for batches of cold brew concentrate ($2 for the lost deposit)

I don't brew more than a cup very often, but for when I do a sub-$10 french press from the clearance section of TJ Maxx/Marshall's; I tend to think that most presses are interchangeable and you aren't getting much more performance for the expensive ones as long as you clean them regularly. You don't need to spend a ton of scratch to make great coffee at home.  Save your money for the beans!

Yours is a great post too, Ted - the only thing I want to emphasize is that I splurged on the grinder, which represented the majority of my expenses. A lot of what I bought is fru-fru and optional - I said, "To heck with it," and decided to treat myself. I will add that I've probably saved $100+ in the past 6 weeks from not buying coffee (although the beans I purchase aren't cheap).

- Any cheap kitchen scale ($8-10) for the correct serving of beans if you want to get really technical on dosage.

BTW, if you *really* want to save money, all you need is a standard plastic scoop which costs pennies - this is actually what I use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, if you *really* want to save money, all you need is a standard plastic scoop which costs pennies - this is actually what I use.

Even though the plastic scoop was the least-expensive thing I bought, I don't even use it anymore - I've developed a feel for how much I need to grind, and just pour it straight from the bag into the grinder. But you need a scoop to get started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×