Monday, January 10, 2011

The Basics On The Magical Bean

OK. I know not a lot of people go all glittery-eyed when they talk about coffee. I understand, albeit on a purely logical level, that not everyone even likes the stuff. I can comprehend, though it pains me greatly, that some folks choose other forms of gluttony to turn to in times of both joy and pain. I, my friends, am not one of those people.

So when someone asks me why their coffee tastes like the underside of a monkey's butt, or if there should be a ring like that around their carafe, my pulse speeds up and I swing into action. Of course, it could be the Starbucks Via I just mainlined, but that's not what we're discussing here, is it?

The conversation came up last week, and since it's one I jump into with such verve, I figured maybe it's time to just post what I know already, for the love of Juan Valdez.

If you're suffering from acidic, thick or just plain nasty coffee, let's start by looking at three things: 1) your pot; 2) your water and 3) your bean.

First thing you're going to want to do is run three--yes, THREE--pots of straight white vinegar through your machine. Use fresh vinegar every time, and follow the three rounds with two of fresh, cold water. If you can use filtered water, even better. (We have a Brita filter jug thingy in our fridge. Being the child-genius I am, I call it, "frig water".)

While the machine is still steaming hot, remove the filter basket so that you can see the spout or holes where the water drops from the machine onto the coffee.

Using a couple of paper towels or anything you don't mind staining (perhaps your teenage son's favorite t-shirts he keeps leaving in the hallway, four inches from the dirty clothes basket?), wipe the area the water comes out of until no traces of ick (and there will be ick, I assure you) remain. If you've never done this, you may be in for a rude awakening and will probably start to make this little procedure a regular weekly thing. (Your tongue will thank you.)

Run one more pot of clear, cold water through the system.

Now you're ready to make a pot.

I love, adore, would roll around in ... who are we kidding, HAVE rolled around in ... a roast called, "Highlander Grog". It's sweet but not in the beginning, it's deep, and it will someday change the way the world drinks coffee. For my budget, I am in love with the Cameron's brand I get in the "grind yer own" section of my local supermarkets. I'm guessing it's the rum that calls to me.

To the best of my knowledge, you can't buy a decaf version in any local grocer's, but I do know that Luna Coffee on University in Fargo will happily make you a decaf batch. They've even been so sweet as to make a half-pound batch for me, God bless them!

Now if you're married to the decaf and just want to be able to pick something up at the store, invest in a nice orange bag of Dunkin' Decaf. I have yet to visit a local grocery store here in F-M that doesn't carry it. Shoot--the Safeway in Ephrata, WA had it.

Always try to buy whole beans. (Unfortunately, the Dunkin' comes already ground, but I forgive it due to it's tasty nature.) Get yourself a cheap $12 grinder and grind your own beans in small batches. Keep what you've ground in an airtight container. I love the OXO line they carry at Kohl's.

Don't let the coffee sit under used grounds. The bitter part of the bean really gets cranky and likes to drip acid into the pot.

Don't let a fresh pot sit directly on the burner. If it takes you a while to drink it, consider investing in a good thermos or airpot. Even better, get yourself a brewer that keeps the coffee in a warming tank.

If this doesn't improve your coffee enough to make ya happy, take it one step further and buy yourself a French press. The one I linked to is an 8-cupper and that's a lot of coffee, but you'll get the idea.

The French press doesn't keep stuff warm, but it takes less than 5 minutes to make a pot, it's kinda like doing a science experiment, and the method makes for some seriously tasty, foamy, brown crema -- and that's what you want! Make sure you follow the directions (which are SUPER easy) and you'll really taste a difference.

Finally, if you're willing to drop a few bucks, I highly recommend a Keurig. Call me snotty, but I am not a big fan of any of the pre-loaded, disposable k-cups, always choosing to grind and brew my own with a "My K-Cup." I love that they even sell this thing -- it's like they know who I am.

Phew! That's a lot of coffee information, isn't it? It's all tested by yours truly. I love coffee and am passionate about giving everyone who wants one, a chance to discover a love for it as well.

Just remember: good beans, grind your own, fresh, cold water, don't let the acid drip in and clean that spout thingy. Play by these rules and folks will stop over just for a cup o' yer joe.

As Martha would say, that's a good thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you and my mom are not the same person? For real?