Coffee Snobs

Things that will instantly put me in a good mood: Cole Haan sales, free yoga classes, and piping hot cups of coffee made from premium dark roasted beans.

I’ve been a coffee lover since I was a teenager; maybe 14 or 15. My parents are coffee drinkers, and I guess it was just natural that I turned to the black liquid gold on lazy weekend mornings. I’ve gone through all the phases–the flavored coffee creamers phase, a phase of ordering real cappuccino at restaurants, and, I’m not proud to admit it, but even the International Coffee phase. You remember, those tins of basically sugar and some instant coffee?

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a dark roast phase. With just a little bit of half and half. Real half and half.

It’s nice to go to a local coffee house and order sometimes (and it’s basically a necessity to find a Starbucks when I am travelling), but I really love to make coffee at home, where I can read the paper and have a muffin and take my time enjoying it. We have both a Keurig and a regular coffee pot. I use the Keurig on weekday mornings a lot, and we make a whole pot on the weekends.

When we were registering for wedding gifts (feels like 100 years ago), one thing I really wanted was an espresso machine. Target carries a fairly inexpensive model, and I got one for a wedding gift. I use it also about every weekend, but I’ve discovered it’s limitations over the past year or so, and I really want to upgrade it to a more expensive model.

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I recently watched an episode of Good Eats all about making espresso, and I learned a few things that I was doing wrong. First, you need to make sure you really pack the coffee grounds into the basket. I mean really pack them in. I found a small jar that fits the basket and I’ve been using that to form a nice tight little “puck” of coffee grounds. Second, be patient in frothing the milk. It takes five minutes or more. This is why it feels like it takes forever when you order a cappuccino or latte at a coffee house. Alton suggested using a meat thermometer slid through a binder clip on the edge of the frothing pitcher for the milk to make sure you get it hot enough. I used to heat the milk in the microwave before frothing it because it never got hot enough. There’s nothing worse that going to the trouble to make espresso for a latte, then pouring cold or luke warm milk into it. You have to be patient. It take sometimes five minutes or more to get the milk warm enough. I usually try to get it up to between 90 and 100 degrees .

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Our newest coffee-making fancy is a french press. Some friends made coffee in their french press when we visited last fall, and it was amazing. I’d never had coffee made in a french press before, or new anybody who had one, for that matter. Someone brought one into the Hubs’s office a few weeks back and they tried it out. He even took in a bag of whole bean coffee to use in the press. “You have a coffee grinder at your office?” I asked, skeptically. Apparently, it’s like a full-on coffeehouse there now, with their coffee grinder, french press and whole bean coffee. It puts my office’s Folgers in a Bunn coffeemaker to shame. A couple weeks ago, we finally bought a french press of our own, and I have to say that it does make superb coffee. You can beat how easy it is to make, either. I’m considering getting one for my office now, too.

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I recently read that k-cups, the plastic one-serving coffee pods made for Keurigs and other similar single-serve coffeemakers are becoming a huge problem. First, all of the k-cups sold in 2013 would wrap around the world 10.5 times.  That’s a lot of little plastic cups that wind up in landfills. Secondly, I’ve often wondered about BPA in the plastic itself. As someone who makes a conscious effort to avoid it, I sure do drink a lot of k-cups. When we first got our Keurig, I tried to recycle all the plastic cups. But we drink coffee faster than I was taking the time to empty them out and recycle them, and used k-cups piled up on my counter until I had time to empty them out. Those things don’t come apart super easily either. And, they’re expensive! Luckily, there always seem to be coupons for them, and I buy whatever is on sale at the grocery store with coupons. If I get them for 50 cents per k-cup or less, I consider that a good deal, but compare that to what a pot of coffee in a traditional coffee pot costs. Pennies. I bought a refillable k-cup when we first got our Keurig, but I didn’t use it much because it wasn’t as handy as grabbing a new k-cup and popping it in. There was an outer casing and an inner basket that came out, and you had to remove the part of the coffee pot that you put a k-cup in. And it was made out of plastic. Uh-oh. So, last year, I upgraded to this one from Amazon.

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Forgive the crappy quality.

Pricey? Yes. But I waited for it to go on sale. And most of it is metal, not plastic. Supposedly, the plastic parts are BPA-free. (Who knows what other nasties BPA-free plastics contain?) You don’t have to remove anything from your Keurig, and it’s pretty easy to make coffee. A scoop and a half and bam. One less k-cup in the trash. I still buy k-cups, but this is my go-to a lot of the time.

The next coffee apparatus I really want to try is a Chemex. They are almost prohibitively expensive for such a simple contraption, and I don’t want to sink that much money into something that I’m not sure how much better the coffee might be. Everyone I’ve ever heard of having one says its the best coffee they’ve ever tasted. If I ever find one second hand, I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. But I’ve never seen one being sold second hand, so maybe that should say something right there.

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