Friday, December 11, 2015

Coffee Brake: Let's Talk Coffee

I'll admit that I might have a little problem when it comes to coffee.  First, I drink it every day...sometimes at night too, and when I'm not drinking coffee, I'm thinking about it.  In fact, right now as I compose this fine piece of blogiterature, it's 10 o'clock in the evening and I'm drinking a white Russian...which, as any good fan of The Big Lebowski can tell you is made from Vodka, Kahlúa (a coffee liqueur), and powdered non-dairy creamer. So my question to the greater DT audience is: what is your preferred method of caffeine delivery?  Discuss!



Given the choice, I'd take my everyday brew from Caffe Strada in Berkeley, but it'd be a brutal morning commute to my So Cal home, so I tend to frequent the local Peet's, Coffee Bean, and Starbucks when needed, but I can't say I've ever turned down a cup of diner coffee from a Denny's or wherever.  For my morning home brewed cup, I use a cheap drip coffee machine, local tap water, and freshly ground beans.  I don't always use the good stuff, but given the choice I do prefer something like Peet's Guatemala San Sebastian (it is a high end single estate grown coffee with a medium body, a bright taste, and finishes with chocolate overtones)-- however, I do believe in checking the ground-on date before buying any coffee and adhere to the 30-30-30 rule.  Use the coffee within 30 days of roasting, brew within 30 seconds of grinding, and consume within 30 minutes of brewing.  One of these days I'll pickup a nice french press (or maybe an old school percolator setup) and experiment, but for now I'll stick to the drip and an occasional cappuccino from a low end Gaggia setup.

What's your take on the coffee bean thing?



24 comments:

  1. Doesn't matter so much the type as the volume and delivery system. My must haves are an automatic coffee maker that holds 12 cups, ready to go when I arrive downstairs to let the dog out. I reach for my Thermos double walled stainless steel cup with a locking lid (Been looking for a replacement for 10 years and they don't exist). It holds about 12 oz. I've got health stuff so the coffee has to be decaf, the creamer has to be Soy Creamer and 1/2 pack of PureVia is Stevia. (Its amazing what you can get used to coming down off a 2 Starbuck Venti w/ Half-n-Half) I will consume the entire pot between 6am-10am, then that's it for the day.

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  2. Cup of Stumptown (Portland roaster) at the local shop every morning after I drop the kid off. Of course, to keep things on theme, what I should really be drinking is Torque Coffee's Apex blend (seriously, that exists, they're in an old body shop in Vancouver, WA)... it's really good, but further away from home.

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  3. "what is your preferred method of caffeine delivery?"

    That's easy......IV.

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  4. In the morning before work we make a pot of Peet's Major Dickason's Blend or Brazil Minas Naturais. At my day job office the drip coffee is crap, but they have provided a Nespresso machine for our enjoyment. I put a bit of creamer in the bottom of the cup and make my own mini cappuccino. If I'm at a fancy coffee shop it's a large latte. Never any sweetener. Used to drink everything black but after I developed a cerebro-spinal fluid leak earlier this year, I couldn't take it anymore, and went to adding a bit of milk to tone down the bitterness.

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  5. 2 cappuccinos in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Love it!

    I have an inexpensive delonghi machine but hope to be able to buy an official maker some day.

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    1. Do not, under any circumstances, begin researching espresso equipment on coffeegeek.com - you've been warned - but if you do, and you feel things slipping away, here's an interim position:

      - Baratza Encore or Maestro refurb grinder $99
      - Hario V60 cone, 2-cup, with Hario filters $10
      - Aeropress $25
      - Electric kettle $30
      - Milk frother of some kind, the little battery powered ones are fine $5
      - Maybe an instant read digital thermometer while you're dialing things in
      - Kitchen scale, digital, also helpful early on

      Total for that should be $175-ish and you can make seriously great coffee.

      For beans, go medium roast (no darker if you want to taste coffee rather than charcoal - blame the French - ever smoke a Gauloise?), freshest/local-est you can find, 30-day supply max (10 days is even better).

      And here's my best secret: use twice as much coffee as you think you need.

      I am the worst coffee snob I know, and this keeps me quite happy at home. I know I'd go down the rabbit hole on espresso and roasting equipment to the tune of nice Miata money. So I stick to brewed and Aeropress lattes at home, carefully control my variables to fine tune, buy the best beans I can get, and sample great coffee when I travel. It's very satisfying and fantastic bang for the buck.

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  6. Local roasted Kenya, or Kona beans if I'm at my coffee shop. I prefer drip coffee. The silt you get in espresso/press pot coffee makes me feel like I'm having a heart attack. One coffee phenomenon that I find particularly funny is the pour over. Unless I'm missing something a drip machine is a pour over machine.

    I could write a pretty good essay on caffeine side effects, addiction, withdraws, etc... after I have a good cup in the morning of course.

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    1. I love my pourover. Zero hassle and perfect results. I drink one big mug of very strong medium-light roast per day (plus occasionally a Greek/Turkish or a latte in the afternoon) so it has to be right. 30g of beans, usually 50:50 Costa Rican and Sumatran, from a variety of roasters so I don't get jaded. I only buy a couple of weeks worth at a time, and grind fresh for each cup. Our tap water is great, goes into the electric kettle, then pour over the grounds when just off the boil. Drip machines can't get the water temp, not do they wet the grounds evenly, and then on many of them it sits cooking on a burner. Try a $5 Hario V60 plastic 2-cup cone and matching filters -- a very minimal investment and you will be amazed, or I will buy it off you for what you paid for it and have me a spare.

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    2. KBZ, Tanors makes one that is identical to the Hario V60 and a few bucks cheaper on Amazon.com (buy it here and get the Hario V2 filters here.
      I might have to try this instead of a french press... -Vince

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    3. Agree with the Hario pourover method. You have exact control. I had a very nice Cuisinart drip maker and with a pourover the coffee is noticeably better. There are some drip makers that get the water hot enough and have mini sprinklers to make sure the grounds get properly soaked but they are crazy expensive.

      I get mail order Blue Bottle coffee once a month and then buy some from local roasters too (Lamplighter and Black Hand, in Richmond VA). I tend to pack it in a thermos and take it to the office, where the coffee is complete crap. How you can afford to have bad coffee in an ad agency, I don't understand. We live on the stuff.

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    4. @Vince - get the plastic Hario - ceramic is overkill, top heavy, breakable - - French press is ok, but there's the mud - filter is smooooth

      @bozatwork - is that the Technivorm? - those do look great

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    5. I might give it a try, after looking at the Hario stuff it looks very nicely made. Simple, elegant. For me it would probably just be for a treat though as opposed to an every morning thing. I don't think that I have the presence of mind ~before~ the coffee in the time before work to get that right, hah!

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    6. @kaibeezy Yeah that moccamaster model. Only knew one person with it and it made a tasty cup, but I can afford the five minutes to do it by hand.

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  7. I prefer that it be delivered by the hottie barista down at the local Italian place where I go almost every morning for my first coffee, preferably in a bikini or even better than that would be to my bed while naked!

    Or just an americano.

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  8. Being a long time Seattle-lite, I used to drink dark Starbucks Corporate Coffee. About 6 years ago we were on the Big Island and the Condo we were staying at had breakfast by the pool with Kona Coffee. After getting back to the mainland, I couldn't stomach the Charbucks, so I drink Kona drip at home out of a cheap Queasy-Art machine. At work I'm stuck with Charbucks or Seattle's Best (Mediocre) Coffee out of an iCup machine.

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    1. Vince and I do our best to represent our adopted Bay Area home and support Berkeley's finest (Peet's, not the BPD).

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  9. I only brew coffee once a week. Cold in the fridge using a Toddy and that stuff is amazing. 12oz of coffee ground and 7 cups of water is the best mix. The best part is that you can pick your strength because it makes a concentrate. I do about 25-30% concentrate and just use a keurig machine for hot water.

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    1. Concur. The cold-brew I've had has been terrific. Completely different dimensions of flavor. Smooth and sharp, great with cookies!

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  10. George in the Great White North (Toronto): My must haves are also an automatic Braun (20+ years old) coffee maker that holds 12 cups and uses Melitta filters and coffee, ready to go for breakfast and lasts me all day. When I travel (often), I fill my double-walled stainless steel Thermos. It holds about 12 oz.

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  11. Never been a fan of Kona coffee have played with Sarks out of San Fran and some Running Pump Roasting red bean "EL SALVADOR MONTANA" also Poverty Bay brewing here in Washington is PDG

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  12. Peets is GREAT..........until you find little hole in the wall spots on Kauai. Jeez, too far to go every AM from SoCal. Now I'm driving the Vario grinder with all kinds of controllers I never thought about until this year. The grinder is the most important piece of the puzzle. I always thought it was no big deal until I made the switch. I'm such a dummy for blowing off this issue until 2015. Too bad I missed the earlier years of great coffee. This year also brought Rancilio (w/PID gizmo) machine to the countertop. Can you say "thick as a brick"? It is their el cheapo model BUT way better than I have ever had.....and french press in a pinch is fine too.

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  13. The wife and I prefer Bird Rock Roasters, which is a small shop over in the Bird Rock section of La Jolla. Next time you're in San Diego, Vince, you should go check them out. It's a also a good place to hang out on a Saturday morning, drinking a cup and listening to music.

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