The Perfect Cup o’ Joe

In food on 03/19/2009 at 9:22 am

Just because the other half prefers tea and I only drink decaf doesn’t mean we don’t know how to make the perfect cup of coffee. When I’m craving that bitter, dry-mouth tongue feel, and flower-wilting coffee breath, I still make a nice steaming mug, especially when I’m trying to motivate myself to study.

Step 1 The beans

Roast your own. We get ours from Burman. They have a nice beginner’s roasting machine for $75 and a wide selection of green beans from all over the world. It does the job, and is simple to figure out. Just make sure you have adequate ventilation when roasting green beans. It’s quite the aroma. Our resident barista roasts and lets the beans cool in the freezer for 5 minutes, then peels the chaff of the beans by rolling them in a clean dishtowel. When they’re cool, store in Ziploc bags, preferably the kind you can vacuum seal.

If you are feeling lazy, buy your favorite roasted bean and keep it frozen and vacuum sealed. Please do not buy already ground coffee. You’ve already defeated the purpose of this exercise from the beginning. Reseal every time you brew.

When you are about ready to brew a cup, take 2 Tbsp of beans and drop into your coffee grinder to thaw before grinding, while the water is boiling. Grind right before you are about to steep them.

Step 2 The Coffee Grinder

If you have a cheap electric mill grinder, throw it away right now. You are burning your beans and they never get ground a uniform size. Get yourself a moderately priced burr grinder today. I got mine on Craigslist for $20, the supplier for much of my furniture and kitchen appliances. It’s a Capresso basic model. There’s a timer dial. Nothing fancy. Set it on the lower coarse grind section. Leave it there.

Step 3 The French Press

Don’t, for the love of Becky, use a drip coffee machine. The grinds just sit there, all soggy and sullen. They are most aromatic when agitated right after they get a hot water shower. Then they get happy and whirl around and let out all their flavors and oils to show you their appreciation. So, I got a single serving copper French press at Starbucks, back when we were still a two apartment household, to keep at our resident barista’s abode.

When the water boils, grind the beans and drop the coffee dust to the bottom of the French press. Fill to the brim, but leave enough room to stir. Stir the mix vigorously until a thin foamy head develops. That’s how you know the coffee is fresh. Let it sit for 7 minutes uncovered.

Step 4 The Milk

If you have never tried organic milk, now is the time. You’ve invested all this time into using the finest ingredients above, and now you’re gonna taint the beverage with hormone-laden unhappy cow juice? No, please don’t do it. I find half and half and brethren to be too thick a final product; whole organic milk all the way for me.

Grab a sturdy mug, put in your tasting of sugar and milk on the bottom. This lets the milk warm up and not cool down your coffee, like when you add it at the end.

Step 5 Enjoy

Plunge your French press now, and pour into your mug. Stir to mix. Unfold that morning paper, smell the printed ink, and sip sip sip. Heaven.

*** Clean your equipment after each use so old coffee doesn’t ruin your fresh brew, i.e. tap out any remaining grounds from your grinder, unscrew the French press lid and wash thoroughly. It’s worth the extra bit of effort ***

miracle potion

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