Friday, January 30, 2009


Yes, I'll admit it, I'm a coffee freak (nut, bean, whatever?) I've been drinking coffee for a really long time. In the "olde" days, it was coffee that my grandmother brewed (we lived upstairs in a semi-detached 2 family house in Forest Hills), or should I say, percolated. I'm pretty sure it was Maxwell House or Chock Full o' Nuts, the heavenly coffee. Probably like an ounce of coffee and 6 ounces of cream along with 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar. And it was damn good to this yet-to-be enlightened coffee drinker; and, as I said, it was a long time ago - I'm a child of the '50s and '60s, after all.

So, fast forward a few years, and look what that is some of my coffee paraphernalia.

Starting way over on the left, a small French press, accompanied by a few of my Moka pots, which I have in every size and shape imaginable, a Vietnamese coffee maker, a couple of drip filter makers (because I break them a lot), an old Neapolitan brewer, 2 grinders and the queen of the show, the Rancillio Silvia espresso maker, or as she's known in the biz, Miss Silvia (that's the shiny gal in the middle of it all).

No matter what, Significant Eater and I always start our day off with a cup of drip - it's quick, easy, and delicious and even when slightly hungover, quite doable.

Now, there are just a few rules about coffee - and don't believe anything anyone tells you if they're not following these rules...that's my totd (tip of the day)...

1. Freshly roasted coffee - or coffee roasted within the past week to 10 days - 2 weeks at the most. Properly stored, coffee may last longer, but that means properly stored, and check out those 2 little mason jars of beans - that's how you store it...not in the fridge, not in the freezer, but at room temp (to really be insane, you could suck the oxygen out of those jars, but let's not go overboard here). BTW, if you're storing coffee in the fridge or freezer, every time the door is opened, condensation forms. Not good for the beans and that's why room temp is best.

2. Freshly ground coffee - if you don't have freshly roasted coffee, this doesn't matter, but then who cares anyway? Coffee needs to be ground right before you brew starts to go stale from the minute it's ground, trust me on this. You can open up a can of ground coffee, or use those pods (god forbid), but there is no way that the coffee will ever be as good as freshly ground. Have you ever tasted wine that's been open for a week or more - well, the same thing happens to coffee. Might be good for that beef stew, but not for drinking.

3. Good water, freshly heated. Need I say more - coffee is about 95% water folks, so it better be good. If you don't like the way it tastes, how can it make good coffee? And don't use water fresh off the boil - it needs to cool down 10 or so degrees, otherwise it will extract the not-so-great tasting components of the bean. Espresso is a whole other story, but we can talk about that later.

Once you've followed these rules, you can use any method you like to brew your coffee (well, any method except percolating) and it will be better than most of the coffee you've tasted.

Now, I've tasted lots and lots of different coffee from a whole mess of different roasters. I was home roasting for a while, but the neighbors thought a Charbucks had moved in, so I abandoned that. Blue Bottle, Stumptown, Gimme, Ritual, Terroir, Peet's, Counter Culture, et. al. all roast some pretty fine coffee. But my favorite of them all is the coffee from Intellegentsia, headquartered in Chicago. They roast to order and usually ship the day after an order is placed. So, I can place an order on Monday and have coffee that was roasted on Tuesday in my hot little hands by Thursday. Not bad - not cheap, either, but really, what is these days? It's worth it. It's great. Try it.

Oh, and for our second jolt (and third and fourth, if it's the weekend), that's when Miss Silvia makes an appearance...nothing like a shot of Black Cat to perk one's self up.


  1. shit i needed two espressos and a shot of heroin to get thru that! C'mon, help me out, I got the attention span of a baby hummingbird...

  2. coffee, water, gotcha. Try the best, Orinoco, which I previously posted about on: