Good Coffee

Dear Coffee,

I have a confession to make. When we first met, I didn’t really like you. I was young, I was naive, I thought that you would help my image. And I liked the boost you gave me. I used you, I’m sorry.

And all those cups of diner swill I drank to keep me going on all-nighters? They meant nothing.

But that’s all over now. I’ve come to appreciate you in all your glory, your robustness, your smoothness, your subtle nuances and quirks.You’ve been good to me, Coffee, I’ll be good to you.


It’s true. I started drinking coffee in cafes as a pretentious pre-teen. “Espresso, no sugar, that’s right, I’m that sophisticated.” That didn’t last long. I think my young innards were beginning to corrode when I realized that it looked just as cool, and tasted much better, to drink lattes. Later, when we couldn’t go to bars, and later still after we had, my friends and I would haunt a couple of diners that let us hang out almost all night, drinking what the said was coffee and creating skyscrapers of empty creamers. I shudder at the thought. In those days, I needed caffeine to sleep.

Now, however, I am old. Okay, not that old. But I have matured. And I have never lost my appreciation for a lovely layered latte at an independent coffee house. I have become a coffee snob. I won’t turn my nose up at coffee offered to me by host/ess, I haven’t become terribly rude. But I won’t generally order coffee when I go out to eat, for example, and I have become rather obsessed with the art of making my coffee at home.

If you like coffee and want to love it, there are a few things you can do:

  • get rid of your drip coffee maker. really. I’m sorry, you probably have a nice one, and maybe it was a present, but it has no business touching your coffee.
  • find good coffee. if I can get my hands on beans roasted locally, that’s my first choice. Next would be a smaller company, like Kicking Horse Coffee – certified organic, fair trade, and absolutely delicious. Reasonably priced, widely available, and soooooo good. I generally go for Kick Ass, a dark roast. Last choice, though not a bad option by far, is Kirkland Signature House Blend from Costco. It has little to no street cred, granted, but it’s actually good. Certified fair trade, roasted by Starbucks, it’s a medium roast, and smooth. It’s my default coffee, economic times being what they are, it’s the fairest to my budget, and I don’t feel I compromise on quality.
  • grind your own beans. seriously. just do it. a burr grinder is ideal, but those can be a little pricey. I have a blade grinder, which any coffee aficionado can give you a million reasons to smash with a sledgehammer. what can I say? I already had one when I discovered that it was evil. just pulse it, and give it a little shake once in a while so grounds don’t end up stuck to the sides, and for goodness’ sake, look at what you’re doing! blind grinding=coffee dust, which is a travesty.
  • pick an extraction method. there are a lot of them out there. I have a french press that I got at Ikea for $10. it’s awesome.
  • learn how to use it. I’m going to talk about french press, since it’s my extraction method of choice.

French Press = deliciousness

CoffeeGeek has a really well done post on this, so I’m not going to totally rehash it. Click the link, be enlightened, don’t let his vehemence prevent you from learning the tricks.

Honestly, I’m a little more relaxed about it than CoffeeGeek is. I barely boil a liter of filtered water, and grind a heaping 1/3 of a cup of beans to the most uniform coarse grind I can. Pour the water over the coffee, give it a few stirs to get the bloom out, set the timer for 4:44 on the microwave. After it beeps, a couple more stirs, even pressure on the plunger, and a steady pour so as to leave as much of the fine sludge behind as possible. Important note: Pour all of the coffee. Put it in a travel mug, a thermal carafe, whatever you can, but for goodness’ sake, don’t leave it in the pot!!! The grounds may be at the bottom, but the coffee will keep brewing, and your lovely libation will end up tasting like battery acid after a while.


~ by Trillian on 09/20/2010.

7 Responses to “Good Coffee”

  1. If you’d like something a little easier to clean up than a French Press, there is a gizmo called an Aeropress. It works much the same way, but you don’t need to fish the grounds out of the bottom. They’re only 30 bucks or so, too.


  2. I believe most coffee sins can be hidden in a nicely steamed cup of milk and a dash of vanilla sugar.

  3. Oh dear i am a coffee cretin. In the absence of Kirkland coffee, (as you mentioned) I have lowered my standards to purchase beans from a supermarket. I do not know the origin of of them, and they were likely roasted before WW II. AND I ground them. Ackk. I am mortified.

  4. Thanks for your post! I just wrote few myself about coffee – real espresso and cappuccino made in Italy – Hope you’ll have time to read it. Let me know!!!!

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