Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wake Up and Smell the Contentment

Coffee. I even love the word.

You can smell it from your screen, no?

I'm not sure when I actually started imbibing the sweet grounds-probably some point in college. I recall Stella's located in Collegetown which was your typical undergrad hang out. They had yummy concoctions with names like the Girl Scout (tasted like a jacked up thin mint cookie) which probably contained very little actual caffeine but somehow kept you awake to finish that final by morning.

Now that I have moved on to the finals of real life, my knowledge and quest for better and more coffee has grown. It's all about options...

  • French Press: This is the way to go. Always grind your own beans to order and keep a tea towel wrapped around the base to keep it pipin' out. Warning: a french press makes strong coffee (hello!) so if you aren't the type to add cream and such, ease up on the amount of beans. We own about seven of them in various sizes and I don't regret it. As for the juice, nothing beats the Oregonian in origin Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Strongtree of Hudson, NY (formerly Sweetwater). If you can't come across these artisans, go for brands that list things like Organic, Shade Grown, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Fair Trade. Oh, and roasters/owners who talk about their coffee like it is a fine wine. These are all steps in the right direction.
  • Single Serve Machine: I snubbed my nose at this method at first but have recently (as in last night) been convinced of its validity. A water filled machine which uses a prepacked cup full of grounds to make a single serving of coffee with no mess to clean up.  If you want a quick cup in the morning before you race out the door or want to offer a cup of joe to a drop in visitor, a Single Serve can't be beat. Our household chose a Keurig Special Gourmet Edition B60 model which made a surprisingly aggressive and flavorful cup this morning. My only complaint is the "k cups" used are not recyclable or biodegradable, but they now offer a reusable filler cup where you can use your own grounds. A bit more effort and mess, but slightly less eco-guilt.
  • Espresso: Fell in love with the muddy goo back in Spring 2004 when my family took a week long trip to Italia. It was cheap, it was hot, and it did the trick. Plus...their "American" style coffee was pathetic. The best method is to take a packet of Raw Sugar (yes, the whole thing), quickly stir to dissolve, and just as quickly gulp it back. Espresso in Italy is not a sipping beverage and you have the potential of getting laughed at if you do.
  • Vacuum Coffee: A science project sort of way to brew coffee. My Mom introduced me to this space aged machine. It is messier to clean up than your average coffee maker, but seeing the process is a show in itself and the coffee comes out well balanced and smooth. I love the Bodum Clear Santos version.
  • Dunkin' Donuts: OK, I know this seems out of place, but honestly, they have REALLY good coffee. If only they would stop using Styrofoam cups. Boo.
Speaking of Styrofoam cups, these are not and they are awesome in function and design:

You can buy them at a fantastic price and various colors at World Market.

On a side note, two of my monster plants (more about the greenery later) growing in/taking over the front window are coffee plants. Their names are Java the Plant and Caribou. I keep hoping for a sprouting of coffee berries, but so far no luck.

Gotta go. Down to the last drop...time to move on to the second cup!


  1. What a great entry...interesting to read, informative (I learned about vacuum coffee) and I'm glad you gave Strongtree a plug...since you're so good with pictures (love the cups) you ought to get one of Chris and Nora of Strongtree and post it as well. Keep up the good work.

  2. i echo Richard's comments...and I love the front picture! is that from St. Marten?? I want to go wherever that is!

  3. I should get a shot of Chris/Nora. Perhaps I will have a post dedicated to their coffee!

    Yes, it is indeed St. Martin - that was our view every day from the Grand Case Beach Club. Ultimate relaxation!