Coffee…how to make a good cup every time

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m kind of a coffee snob.  I love a good cup of coffee so much that every morning I bring a thermos of it to the office so I don’t have to drink the nasty stuff at the coffee bar there (my coworkers used to think I was crazy, but since I share my thermos with them, they’ve decided that I am completely normal after all).  At home, we have three coffee makers, four Bodum pots, and a little espresso machine.  One of our coffee makers is a Keurig, which makes absolutely delightful coffee, but is rarely used because we hate those little plastic containers that go directly to the landfill.  The Keurig also has a little reusable container that can be used to make your own little K-cups, but it’s kind of a hassle, so we don’t use it much.

To make decent coffee, start with fresh beans.  We buy ours from our local grocery store, and World Market, but really you can find good coffee anywhere.  I rarely use the flavored beans.  Go ahead and use flavored beans if you like them; for me though, they just taste a little “off.”  I think the most flavorful beans are Sumatra and Italian Roast.  I also like Salvadorean coffee, but try to find that at the grocery store.  Grind the beans yourself, in a little grinder.  An electric grinder can actually heat the beans if you grind them too long, so be careful that you only grind the beans just long enough to get them to the grind your coffeemaker specifies.

You don’t have to grind your own beans to get a good cup of coffee.  We purchase a very good pre-ground coffee from our local grocery store (it’s the store brand, and is also “naturally” decaffeinated).

When I’m making enough coffee for the thermos, I use a Cuisinart electric coffee maker.  It’s the kind that grinds the beans, although we usually just grind the beans in a portable electric grinder.  We use unbleached coffee filters and cold water.  We don’t let the brewed coffee sit for more than 15-20 minutes in its carafe on the burner, because that gives the coffee a bitter burned taste.

We clean the electric coffee maker every month or so by running clean white vinegar through it (if you haven’t cleaned your coffee maker in awhile, try this, and you’ll be surprised at the gunk that comes out of it).  We keep the coffee-maker’s components and glass carafe clean by washing everything in hot soapy water.  Never place the pieces in the dishwasher, because it gets so hot that it warps the pieces.

For smaller batches of coffee, we either use the Keurig, or we get out the Bodum glass coffee maker.  The Bodum is particularly nice when we’re making several types of coffee and tea at a time (for instance a pot of decaffeinated, one of Sumatra, and some loose tea).  The Bodum makes a delicious cup of coffee, and is so easy to use and clean.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep the coffee hot, so you’re pretty much stuck with drinking it all at once.  Be sure to use boiling water in the Bodum (we keep an electric water heater on the kitchen counter at all times, just for making coffee and tea).  Pour the used grounds into the trash (or your compost pile)…never down the drain (unless you want to give your plumber some work).  Wash the Bodum well after each use, and be very careful about using abrasive cleaners on it.  If you scratch the glass, you’ll make it more susceptible to cracking when you pour in the boiling water.  You can wash the Bodum in the dishwasher (we’ve never had a problem with its pieces warping).

Forget about those chemically-enhanced artificially flavored creamers that you can buy at the grocery store.  They taste great, but do you really want that crap in your body?  Either suck it up and learn to like your coffee black, or use real cream or milk and sugar…it tastes better, anyway.  Dave has a special love for hazelnut syrup that we purchase at World Market (don’t get the sugar-free kind).

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