(Coffee blog update:)
I love coffee. I love the aroma of a fresh pot brewing in the morning. I can hardly wait for that sound our Mr.Coffee pot makes when it’s nearly done. (Sort of like the noise from several people all at once trying to suck the last delicious drop of a milkshake through a straw.)
I must have at least two cups of coffee each morning in order to function at all, but then so do 150 million other Americans over the age of 18. Coffee consumption in this country has soared in the last 25 years which, I suppose, can be traced back to specialty coffee shops, led by Starbucks, that began springing up everywhere offering espressos, lattes and cappuccinos as well as brewed coffees made from freshly roasted magic beans just in from South America, Hawaii or some other tropical climate country.
I’ve never gotten into the fancy foamy stuff but my taste buds have become a whole lot fussier since first sampling some of the exotic blends offered at those shops. I’m a cheapskate, though, and cringe at the prices they charge so I’ve been on a quest for several years to come up with that rich coffee-shop flavor AT HOME for a fraction of the cost. I think I’ve found it but am open to suggestions. First, let me retrace my long journey. I come from Scandinavian stock and Norskies are notorious for seemingly excessive coffee consumption. My mother was such a coffee junkie that she’d usually skip the electric percolator opting instead for a plain old coffee pot on top of the stove, tossing a few scoops of Hills Brothers right into the boiling water. She enjoyed chewing on the coffee grounds that wound up in the bottom of her cup..main-lining the caffeine right into her system.
I had no idea what it tasted like back then. You see, I was one of those who swore I’d never drink the stuff. It was an attitude that remained until I reached high school and got a part time job right across the street from our house washing bottles for a dairy testing lab set up in the basement. On Saturday’s, the lady of the house invited employees up to her kitchen for coffee..which meant a big plate of freshly baked frosting-covered cinnamon rolls the size of a Frisbee. To drink, she offered milk or coffee. Now, the bottles I had to wash contained milk samples from dairy herds across the area. If a box of samples sat around for more than a day or two, the contents turned all sorts of rotten; sometimes just a gelatinous glob that would burp a little as I dumped it down the drain. Other times it had turned to the consistency of a yellowish green moldy cheese with a Limburger essence. Anyway, after cleaning a few hundred of those I was in no mood for a glass of milk with my roll so that’s how and why I first became a coffee drinker.
At Keloland, my desk was just a few steps away from the coffee machine and I consumed it by the gallon. The only time it tasted worth a hoot, though, was in the first ten minutes after brewing and even then it suffered from flavor deprivation because the grounds were meted out in those stingy little pre-measured pillow packets. Never enough coffee in them..plus some people, while making a pot, would just toss that bundle into the basket not caring if it ended up wadded in a corner. The end result was a rust colored hot water concoction that some..not knowing the difference…would gleefully drink anyway.
Most church basement coffee is like that; pale and tasteless. I’ve also never had a good cup of coffee from the little machines in motel rooms..never. Yet, when we go down the hall for the free continental breakfasts the coffee out of the big brewer can be pretty good. I’ve also found that coffee at large banquets tends to be very good. I think it has to do with the time it steeps in those Thermos- pot-type carafes they put on your table.
A lot of restaurants, too, seem bent on saving money by serving up cheap bland coffee. Maybe they intend it that way so customers won’t loiter around all day and night taking up valuable booth space gulping down free refills.
Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I’ve searched for years trying to come up with a consistently delicious cup of rich..never bitter..full bodied coffee that I can make at home without a lot of fuss. We have tried just about every commercial and exotic brand. We’ve ground our own beans, used distilled water, even unbleached filters but the results have been..well.. erratic and labor intensive..not to mention expensive.
We’ve finally decided that 100% Colombian coffee delivers most of what we’re looking for. It has the fewest number of quakers which in the world of coffee are those underdeveloped beans that make the brew bitter. We also are more generous with the amount of grounds used in our Mr. Coffee machine: 3 heaping tablespoons per pot. (ten cups)
We have been using Folgers brand for some time but when the price jumped to 12 DOLLARS A CAN, I decided to try the HyVee brand of Colombian instead and save a few bucks. To be honest, we couldn’t tell much difference but it was just enough for us to go back. Now, I’ve been experimenting again since Folgers and other main line commercial brands have decided to put their 100% Colombian grinds in much smaller plastic cans..reducing the contents by at least a fourth. Oh, the price is a little lower but I’m feeling gouged and open to suggestion on other brands. (NOTE: I’m looking for convenience as well as good taste so if you think I’m a lost cause unless I grind the beans, use a French Press or crack eggs into the grounds..you’re probably right because I’ve tried those things and found the result not stunning enough to justify the effort in our house.)
Linda is usually up before me and makes the coffee and it’s always fine. If I don’t like it the way she brews it..well..you know what I can do. If I get up first, I make it the same way. If I were to fire up an electric bean grinder it would be the same as pull-starting a 30 horsepower Evinrude over the kitchen sink. The steaming cup I bring to her bedside could have the aroma of an angel’s breath and taste of Valhalla mahogany creme but could never compensate for the stink eye I’d receive for disturbing my beloved’s slumber.
So, I’m interested in your comments about coffee. Do you have any tips on making a really good brew? Contrary to what I had thought, In Hawaii, they say darker roast is not desirable..it’s burnt. Do you prefer light, medium or dark? Have you ever found a truly rich tasting decaf coffee? Right now all this coffee talk has me feeling the need for caffeine.
“Linda, I’m finishing up a blog here. Would you mind putting a pot on? Thanks, hon. You’re a peach.”