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In the Kitchen: Coffee

2011 January 31
by Dylan

I probably should be doing work instead of writing this up, but I’ve got an overwhelming feeling of boredom right now, so why not? I’m going to attempt to turn this into a weekly feature, but think of this as something along the lines of ‘kitchen essentials.’ Anyways, I thought it would be awesome to write about one of my favorite beverages–coffee.

First of all, what’s not to love? When waking up in the morning for work or class, nothing is quite as energizing as a strong cup of coffee. That jolt of caffeine always seems to hit the spot and get me out of whatever state of exhaustion I’m in. Brewing a good cup of coffee is easy, and the minimal effort it takes is well worth it. To me, three things are absolutely necessary when we’re talking about coffee:
  1. Coffee – Alright, let’s start with the obvious. Put away your Folgers, Maxwell House, Eight O’Clock…whatever pre-ground nonsense you’re buying isn’t going to cut it. I suggest taking a trip to your local coffee joint and picking up a bag of whatever roast sounds best. You’ll get a couple of benefits from buying local: 1) The quality is going to be significantly higher, since the coffee is either roasted on-site or contracted with someone local, and 2) You’re supporting a local small business.
  2. Coffee Grinder – I alluded to it earlier, but purchasing coffee that’s already ground takes a significant toll on the flavor. Buy whole bean…always. Besides, the ground stuff is generally ground too finely to be properly steeped. Coffee grinders range in price from $10 to $300 for a really, really nice burr grinder. I’m not a huge fan of burr grinders because they tend to be noisy and quite messy. I recommend this Mr. Coffee grinder. It’s cheap ($15), easy to clean and gets the job done. It’s got a auto-off feature on it too so you can adjust how finely you want the beans ground. Grinding whole beans on the spot really gives the coffee a much different taste than if you were using pre-ground coffee, and it’s a huge improvement.
  3. French Press – People who know me really well know that I generally tend to consider the French press the Eighth Wonder of the World. I own a coffeemaker and use it when I’ve got a lot of people who want coffee, but when I’m making coffee in the morning, I always go with the French press. It’s absurdly easy to use–put coffee in the glass chamber, pour hot/boiling water on it, place the top on and let it steep for 5 minutes, and finally–push down the plunger. Really, it’s that easy, and the taste represents a huge improvement over anything you could make with an electric coffeemaker. Like grinders, the French press is inexpensive and is essential to a great brew. I use this one made by Bodum.
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