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I didn't like coffee when I first gave it a try in my early teens.  I loved the smell in the morning when my Mom started up the electric percolator that was common during the sixties, but the first time I tasted it, it was a disappointment.  It was bitter.  And my parents were Maxwell House drinkers...which, according to their ads on TV, "tastes as good as it smells."  During college, I mostly drank tea.  Coffee was an inexpensive energy drink that I relied upon mostly to fuel 48 hour "all-nighters" when a term paper I had put off until the last minute could not be put off any longer, and chemical boosts of the illicit variety were not readily at hand.  I would make instant coffee and sit at my typewriter for hours on end, composing as I went along.  I never even owned a coffee maker until after college.

When I went into the Peace Corps in 1979 I was sent first to Costa Rica for 3 months of training.  It was there that I first began really drinking coffee, and saw a coffee brewing "technology" that was completely foreign to me.  Every kitchen there (in a community of people of quite modest means) had what looked like a homemade filter that consisted of a small net on a hinged arm (think of a fish net for aquariums) that was mounted to the wall in the kitchen.  This homemade filter looked like it was made from nylon stockings or something.  Grounds were put into the sock, and boiling water from a tea pot was slowly poured through, with the coffee dripping into a small carafe below.

After training I served in Ecuador, where virtually every small restaurant I would go to had a cruet of cold, strong coffee liquid, almost condensed, on the tables.  If you wanted coffee, the server would bring you a cup half filled with hot water, and you added coffee from the cruet to your taste.  It was drinkable.

I thought I would conduct a short tour of how we have gotten our morning fix over the centuries, and some of the devices we have invented for that purpose.

First, here's a little music to get things percolating.  A minor hit in 1962, this song took a riff from a popular Maxwell House coffee commercial and turned it into an instrumental using the Xylophone as the lead instrument:

The origins of coffee, most people know, are in Sub-Saharan Africa, around Ethiopia.  Coffee lore has it that Ethiopian goat herders noticed that their animals would prance around and become quite energetic after eating the berries from the coffee bushes that grew wild there.  The herders began chewing the green berries, sometimes mixing them with animal fat, for a "pick me up."  That was sometime around 300 AD, give or take a couple hundred years.  It wasn't until around 500 AD that Arab traders brought the coffee bean to the Arabian peninsula, and by 600 AD the first coffee houses were established in Cairo and Mecca.  We can thank the Arabs for the first major breakthrough in coffee making technology, though it took at least 500 years to happen...roasting.

Previously, a weak tea was made by simply steeping the whole, green coffee beans, along with leaves from the plant.  In the 1100's the Arabs discovered that by roasting the beans over an open fire, and them grinding them, a much stronger and better tasting beverage resulted.  The first coffee making device was invented, basically a metal pot with a long handle called an Ibrik.  Ground coffee and water were brought to a boil, and then poured into a cup.  As ancient as the Ibrik is, it is still commonly used throughout the Middle East and Turkey to make what's called by most "Turkish Coffee", which sounds much more elegant than "Cowboy Coffee."  (In fact, it is...Turkish coffee adds cardamom in addition to sugar, and is quite good, even if the grounds in the cup are a bit annoying)

This improvement in coffee making led to a rapid expansion in its popularity throughout the Middle East and into Turkey.  Turkey, especially, embraced the beverage and it became enmeshed into their culture at that time.  And Turks might take umbrage to the attribution of roasting coffee to the Arabs.  Some claim it was the Turks who can rightfully claim credit for the innovation.  What is a fact, however, is that by the mid 1400's, coffee was so important in Turkish culture that a law was passed making a husband's negligence or refusal to provide his wife with her daily quota of coffee legal "grounds" for a divorce.  

Coffee making technology stagnates again for a few hundred years, but is finally introduced to Europe by Italian traders around 1600, by way of the port of Venice.  Catholic priest at the time were highly suspicious of the "Muslim drink", and thought it to be a "gift from Satan."  They petitioned Pope Clemente VIII to ban its consumption, but the Pope reportedly asked to taste the brew before making such a decree.  After taking a few drinks, he sat the cup down and said "Now, that's good coffee."  (No, he didn't...I'm making that up)  Actually, he is reported to have said, upon declining to issue a papal decree banning the drink, "This beverage is so good it would be a sin to let only pagans drink it!"  Or something along those lines.  Whatever his exact words, the Pope's blessing led to widespread acceptance and popularity of coffee throughout Europe.

Coffee came to Colonial America onboard the ship with Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607.  Coffee had to be imported from England, and was roasted and ground here in the colonies.  A typical roasting technique was to use a horizontal metal drum, which would fit into the oversized fireplaces of the era, and rotated over a wood fire.  After roasting, the coffee had to be ground using one a various types of hand crank grinders that were used at the time.  How would you like to have to use a hand crank grinder every morning before you get your daily java fix?

Incidentally, "Java" derives from the Dutch who smuggled a coffee plant out of the Yemen port of Mocha in 1690 (Yemen was the first major coffee growing region), and transplanted to their colony of Java in the East Indies.  Similarly, a French Naval officer smuggled a coffee plant to the West Indies in the early 1700's, and introduced it to Martinique.  From there it spread throughout the Caribbean Basin, Central and northern South America.

For all practical purposes, there weren't many innovations in coffee making from the 1500's until the early 1800's.  Sure, there were various improvements in mechanical grinders, but roasting was still mostly done at the local level.  While roasting improves the flavor of coffee, it also shortens its shelf life, and transportation technology was such that coffee beans were almost entirely sold unroasted, in bags, and roasting was done regionally, if not actually at the household level.  We have the French to thank for the next leap forward.

Much design tinkering had gone into the actual shape of the vessel that coffee was brewed in, in order to deal with the issue of grounds.  But at the end of the day, everyone still boiled their coffee in a metal pot, of some shape, before pouring it into a cup.  Designs were made that included a wide bottom, to collect most of the sediment, which then narrowed before bulbing out in the middle before narrowing again.  Thus, when one poured the brewed coffee, the grounds which didn't remain at the bottom of the pot would mostly settle in the middle when it was tipped, and the spouts were similarly curved to trap floating grounds.  Various mediums were tried to strain the coffee through, but mostly with unsatisfactory results.  Cotton, and other cloths, imparted an off-flavor to the coffee.  Only hemp proved to be a good straining medium.

In the 1700's the French came up with the idea of using an oversized "teabag", made from linen, into which the grounds could be poured before steeping in boiling water.  The linen imparted no flavor, and trapped all of the grounds.  And had to be washed from time to time.  The French also came up with the idea of a two-chambered coffee pot...the first "drip coffee."  Then, in 1818 a Frenchman invented the first percolator.

Now things start to take off.

The French (not the Italians) also invent the first espresso machine, using steam pressure to brew the finely ground coffee.  It was introduced at the 1855 Paris Exposition, after about 8 years of design tweaks.  The first vacuum percolator is introduced in France, but it is made of glass, and has a tendency to shatter if heated to  too high a temp.  In America, inventor James Mason patents the first American made percolator in 1865.  The main difference between the vacuum percolator and the first stovetop percolators is that the desired water temp remains constant in the vacuum percolator, while in the stovetop models boiled water is recirculated over the grounds, which results in bitter coffee.  (That's why so many more people used sugar, at least, and cream in their coffee in years past)

The French also came up with the "French Press" coffee brewer, in which the grounds are placed in a filter compartment, lowered into water that has been heated to the optimum temperature, and then extracted from the water using a rod to prevent bitterness.  This was in the 1890's, but it remains a popular coffee maker.

After 1900, it really moves.  Paper coffee filters are innovated and patented by German housewife Mellita-Bentz.  Instant coffee is invented in America by chemist  Satori Kato in Chicago, it is further refined and popularized by English chemist George Constant Washington, who was living in Guatemala at the time and was inspired by observing the dried coffee residue at the bottom of his cup.

Once rail transport was ubiquitous and had shortened commercial transportation time to a matter of days, Hills Bros. is the first coffee company to market pre-ground, pre-roasted coffee to the mass market, leading to the demise of local coffee roasters/grinders around the country.  There are various innovations in the mid 20th century with respect to espresso machines, mostly by the Italians.

In 1971 Starbucks opened its first store, in Seattle's Pike Place Market.  In the following year a man by the name of Vincent Marotta invents a machine that has become omnipresent to this day...the Mr Coffee coffee maker.

Does it make the best coffee?  No, it doesn't.  Is it easy?  Yes it is.  Americans mostly agree...they prefer easy to good...or best possible.   You can still buy a French Press, and though I've never used one, I'm told it yields superior coffee.  The problem is, it doesn't do so while you are brushing your teeth, taking a leak and/or jumping in the shower.  The same is true with most of the other high end coffee brewers out there that are mainly new fangled design interpretations of older coffee making technologies.  They are hands on, at least to some extent, and require some babysitting.  My sister bought a new machine last year for her home that looks like a home version of a commercial machine.  You fill the water receptacle, pop in a foil capped coffee packet, close the lid, which pierces the foil, and within a couple minutes you get one cup of coffee.  It's fast, convenient and expensive.

Not my idea, exactly, of a better mousetrap...but then I drink many cups of coffe throughout the day.  

By the way...for those of you who, like me, have always been confounded by what the markings on your coffee maker say is "8 cups", and what your experience says is more like 3 cups (or mugs) aren't crazy.  Coffee makers long ago settled upon a measuring convention that calls "one cup" of coffee something markedly less than the measuring cup in your kitchen cupboard.  It is not "one cup."

I'll finish this diary with, what else?  A tip of the hat to an old lady that at least some of you all remember...This commercial takes me back some...and it certainly wouldn't play today, but I love vintage commercials:

Originally posted to Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 03:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  but the Pope might say (12+ / 0-)

    "OK I'll have a Boston Creme and a cruller with that."

    I will vote for Obama, and every Democrat I can vote for, in 2012.

    by Food Gas Lodging on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 03:52:29 PM PDT

  •  you trained in Costa Rica? (8+ / 0-)

    you must have been at CPH! I worked there as a trainer in the nineties. If you hated it, and many trainees did, please don't blame me.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 03:52:46 PM PDT

    •  I was there in 1979, in a town called (13+ / 0-)

      La Guacima...just a short bus ride from Alajuela.  I don't remember what the training center was called, but they moved from La Guacima shortly after I left to a new location closer to Alajuela.  Many of the townsfolks in La Guacima were sad to see them leave, as they placed volunteers with families during their training period and paid good money for their room and board, and we spent every dime of our training stipend at the local cantinas and pulperias and salons.

      We were good for the local economy...and then we disappeared and moved elsewhere.

      The Germans will experience the same thing as we downsize our military footprint there.  But that's another diary.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:00:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some of the best... (23+ / 0-)

    ...and some of the worst coffee I've ever had was in India.

    South Indian coffee in the traditional style is wonderful, although it's generally made with too much milk and sugar for my taste.  When I was living in India and was able to get dark-roasted peaberry coffee, I ground my own and it was wonderful.  I would drink two full ibriks of Turkish coffee each day — one in the morning, one in the afternoon.  Sometimes I'd add some ground cardamom — the only flavoring agent I really love in coffee.  Mmmmmm.

    On the other hand, I remember going into a very very very fancy restaurant in Mumbai in the late 80s.  The menu advertised "Kona" coffee, so I decided to take a chance.

    Ghastly.  Worst I've ever tasted.

    I called the waiter over and asked for the manager, who approached rather obsequiously.

    "Excuse me," I asked, "but have you boiled this coffee?"

    "Oh, yes, Sir!" came his reply.  "All day long!"

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:20:13 PM PDT

  •  I don't know that they made better coffee, but (14+ / 0-)

    for my money the most beautiful coffee pots, from a purely design perspective, were made during the Art Deco period:

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:47:34 PM PDT

  •  from a letter by Abigail Adams to her husband John (24+ / 0-)

    dated July 31, 1777:

    There is a great scarcity of sugar and coffee, articles which the female part of the state is very loath to give up, especially whilst they consider the great scarcity occasioned by the merchants having secreted a large quantity. It is rumored that an eminent stingy merchant, who is a bachelor, had a hogshead of coffee in his store, which he refused to sell under 6 shillings per pound.

    "A number of females—some say a hundred, some say more—assembled with a cart and trunk, marched down to the warehouse, and demanded the keys.

    "Upon his finding no quarter, he delivered the keys, and they then opened the warehouse, hoisted out the coffee themselves, put it into a trunk, and drove off. A large concourse of men stood amazed, silent spectators of the whole transaction.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:55:57 PM PDT

  •  and no, for the record, the brunette in the (6+ / 0-)

    Folgers commercial is not a young Kailie Joy the best of my knowledge.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:13:56 PM PDT

  •  First coffee I had was in a saucer (16+ / 0-)

    After much pestering of my mother and grandmother I was allowed a little bit of the nectar in a saucer. It was great! I wanted more! "umm no, you have enough energy as it is young man. We need this to keep up with you." It wasn't until I was 16 or 17 that I began to appreciate coffee. My grandfather was a mess sgt in WW2 and he made coffee from the old on the stove percolator. It was battered and stained, but it made some of the stoutest stuff I have ever encountered. It was he that taught me how to make it and I was one of the few he allowed to do so. He would call coffee that was less than his standard "scared water".  I have had what you call Cowboy coffee and sometimes they would toss dried out egg shells after it had come off the fire to settle out the grounds. When prepared well it could be some of the best.

    Nowadays I use the French press. It is actually faster than some of the drip machines I have used. While they are still gurgling and making steam I am sipping and perusing the pundits. A nice hard working burner under the speckled blue pot and fairly fast it is ready to go, typically before the computer is finished loading.

    Hmm. I think I might have to go make some.

    Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

    by cactusflinthead on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:16:15 PM PDT

    •  my grandfather's coffee was so-so, but his (11+ / 0-)

      pancakes were beyond compare.  He worked as a cook on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in his prime...and knew his way around the kitchen.  

      I have a collector's streak to me, and have often considered collecting vintage coffee pots...especially the art deco ones...they're gorgeous.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:32:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was always curious, when reading the Betsy- (4+ / 0-)

      Tacy books, about the way they made coffee at the turn of the century.  The book mentioned that Tony, a high school boy who frequently came over for Sunday supper, "knew how to be useful, mixing in an egg with the coffee."  

      Perhaps the author meant dried egg shells, as you mentioned.

      ...sometimes they would toss dried out egg shells after it had come off the fire to settle out the grounds.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:17:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps Steinbeck has the answer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "...I went into my house and set coffee to cooking and, remembering how Roark Bradford liked it, I doubled the dosage, two heaping teaspoons of coffee to each cup and two heaping for the pot. I cracked an egg and cupped out the yolk and dropped white and shells into the pot, for I know nothing that polishes coffee and makes it shine like that."
        John Steinbeck, --Travels with Charley

    •  Your grandfather reminds me of mine ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... he was an engineer on the Illinois Central railroad from the late 1930s to the early 1970s. He made coffee in a blue granite wear pot on an open flame gas stove. His secret ingredients were a pinch of salt, egg shells to settle the grounds, and before he poured a cup, he stirred the pot's contents with a fresh stick taken from outside. That stuff was so thick I swear it was like brown jello!

      Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me, "how good, how good does it feel to be free? " And I answer them most mysteriously, "are birds free from the chains of the skyway? " (Bob Dylan)

      by JKTownsend on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:39:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  HAHAHA (0+ / 0-)

        I think they went to the same school of coffee making. We always said his was so stout it would float a spoon.

        Putting on the spectacles of science in expectation of finding an answer to everything looked at signifies inner blindness. -- J(ames) Frank Dobie

        by cactusflinthead on Thu Jul 05, 2012 at 03:44:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is social history at its best, Keith (16+ / 0-)

    Really well done.  Sure there might have been more about Brazil and the like, but for that, there's books, like Mark Pendegrast's recent Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World.  I'd send you an invitation to History for Kossacks but I'm just an editor, so Kosmail the group if you want to join us!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:29:22 PM PDT

  •  Simply fascinating. Thank you. I have been (13+ / 0-)

    converted to an espresso machine that I use for a triple cappuccino in the mornings.

    After years of American perc and drip coffees I gave it up for fresh brewed tea.  Then my step-daughter started serving lattes and convinced me to buy a machine for home use.  

    The first time I brewed my own, using a Lavazza pod I was amazed.  I had no idea coffee was supposed to taste that way.

    "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

    by Susan Grigsby on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:40:53 PM PDT

    •  Wow...thanks Susan (9+ / 0-)

      I have one rule of thumb when composing a diary...Is there an interesting story there...anywhere.  Granted, my interests veer towards the esoteric...but I like to think of myself as an everyman.  If I can glean the hook...I think someone else will, too.  

      I would have liked to have done this diary with Translator...who I have cajoled to do a joint diary with for some time now to no avail.  He could have added some interesting asides into the chemistry of caffeine, for example, or any number of other offshoots.

      The only shortcoming of DKos that I can pinpoint is this difficulty of engaging in that sort of collaboration, and publishing a joint diary.  There are any number of writers here that I would truly relish the opportunity to bounce ideas off of and create a nice, literate, interesting diary with.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:51:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know, you could start a Group. Call it (8+ / 0-)

        something like the Kos Kollaborators and allow people to sign up as Editors.  That would allow them to see and add edits to an existing diary in the group blog.  

        But that would only allow you to work together to discuss (via Kosmail) and write a diary.  I don't know how you could publish it with joint credit.

        It's definitely a great idea, though.  You might want to suggest it to the Help Desk and see if they have any thoughts on how to accomplish it.  

        "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

        by Susan Grigsby on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:25:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't forget Chemex (11+ / 0-)

    which, in the US, was responsible for leading me and many others to throw out our percolaters and go for drip coffee (and eventually Mr. Coffee.

    I have a French Press, and AeroPress, and electric drip and an espresso machine and almost always use the "Mr. Coffee"

    It makes very good coffee, is much easier to clean up, and the only one that makes a large enough batch for me.

    FWIW The biggest improvement that I know of to increase your coffee enjoyment is to roast your own beans.

    It is easy, and will save you money over stale store pre-roasted beans.

    If altar boys could get pregnant, contraception would be a sacrament.

    by tiponeill on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:57:01 PM PDT

    •  Now you did it (7+ / 0-)

      I never thought about roasting my own. Do you have a good source for the green beans?

      •  Sweet Maria's. (5+ / 0-)

        Watch out though -- there are two Sweet Maria's selling green beans on the net.

        But roasting your own is a GREAT deal.  The only problem is your first few batches will probably be less than ideal.  

        If you have the money, buy a good home roaster machine.  If you don't, do what I did for years and used a hot air corn popper, the Westbend Poppery.  Cheap.  It takes about five minutes to roast.  You have to stand over the beans and stir them once in a while.  They will make a popping sound when they are ready.  

        Read the instructions on roasing and they will call this first and second crack.  First crack means you have light or medium roast.  Second crack means you're venturing into dark roast territory.  You want to dump the beans out sometime between first crack and second crack.  Let them cool, then bag them.  They won't make good coffee for a day or two because they have to degas, but after a few days, if you do a half-decent job, you'll get the very best cup of coffee that you ever had.

        The other benefit of roasting your own is that you can buy the real top flight no bullshit coffee beans, with the name of the growing and the season.  Usually the green coffee beans cost about a third of what you would pay for the same beans roasted.

        Here are some instructions for coffee roasting with a home popcorn popper.

      •  Dean's Beans (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, LSophia

        Check them out here.

        I buy green beans and roast them in a popcorn popper I bought at a yard sale.

        "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Upton Sinclair

        by beverlywoods on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:27:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  my hand crank popper (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Quicklund, LSophia

          says "R.S.V.P.'s Perfect Popper" on it and looks like the one here:

          $3 at the yard sale, no electricity, and roasts great coffee.

          And speaking of using no electricity - hand crank grinders can work well and are pretty easy to use if you get a good one.

          "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Upton Sinclair

          by beverlywoods on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:41:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Excelent tips! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            beverlywoods, LSophia

            Just these replies from you and Dumbo, plus the description of your roaster has given me the confidence that this is a Quicklund-doable project. Thanks so much.

            Home-made bread, butter, jam, and now roasted coffee... the future for breakfast is looking superb.

          •  That's a great idea! (0+ / 0-)

            I got into roasting my own coffee once because I landed a gig art-directing the first mail order catalog for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf back in 1983.

            It was quite a small outfit back then and the owner ran everything. He taught me a lot about coffee. I tried roasting my own beans on the stove top with a cast iron frying pan and nothing else. They roast quite unevenly, but I loved the aroma and the flavor. The owner thought I was nuts for such a sacrilege.

            In the 90s, I found a used Melitta coffee roasting machine. But, really, who wants all that noise in the morning? Same with electric coffee grinders. Just can't handle the sound. It's much more pure to use a hand grinder and count to 150, like I used to do.

            I don't do coffee anymore, but if I did, I'd get an old hand mill from maybe like this one.

      •  Captain's Coffee (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I buy my beans from Captain's Coffee.  VERY good customer service.  The only sell what they drink.  Not the lowest prices, but reasonable and worth the good service.

        I have an on-line roast log that anyone is free to use.  My roasting improved dramatically when I started paying attention to how batches turned out.

        Coffee Roasting Log

        I started out using popcorn poppers.  They worked very well, though the batches were tiny.  

        It can actually save money and you get the best and widest variety of coffee.  Do it!

    •  For those who have never used one, here's (8+ / 0-)

      a video tutorial on using a French Press.  After watching this, I just might have to get one and give it a try.

      Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

      by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:45:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very helpful tips in this video (4+ / 0-)

        that I hadn't known:

        * The water added to the press shouldn't be boiling, but closer to 200o, or boiled water that has sat for a minute.

        * Add water halfway to the top of the press, then let it sit before adding the rest (filled to the bottom of the metal ring)

        * Let sit for 3 1/2 minutes before pressing the coffee.

        One shrieks for three hours to millions of inexplicably loyal fans. The other... rock band... Canada.

        by bsmechanic on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:18:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The water should be boiling. (3+ / 0-)

          It won't be boiling by the time you take it off the fire and put it into the french press, and unless you pre-heated the press, it will lose several degrees immediately from contact with the glass.  

          NO MATTER what the guy in the video says.

          Since there's no heater on your french press, it's also getting progressively cooler throughout the three to four minute brewing process.  

          He doesn't tell you in the video that as soon as the brewing process is done you need to remove the coffee from the press.  You can't just leave it sitting there.  The beans are going to continue extracting, and you're going to get a nasty overextracted flavor.  So dump it into a thermos bottle or serve it to guests as soon as time's up.

          •  Heat trick ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Keith930, LSophia

             -- Do not put ground coffee into press first.
            -- Pour boiling water into about 1/3 of the press to warm the glass.
            -- When water has cooled for 1 minute, empty the water in the press, add the ground coffee.
            -- Follow the rest of the instructions as indicated.

            I like my coffee hot and this gives me a great pressed coffee with the little bit extra warmth that the pre-heated glass offers.

            I learned to drink french pressed coffee in Greece many years ago and returned to the states with my favorite press carefully wrapped. All was well until about 3 years ago when a friend's dog counter-surfed the press onto the brick floor. I have been thru several of the Bodum  presses and just recently found one to my liking.

            Also ... do not be cheap buying your press. Once you find 'your' press the cost will be worth it.


            French pressing for more than 30 years.

            •  Very important to wash it right away, too (0+ / 0-)

              and make sure the oil and grounds get off the press.  I used to wash mine and then give it a rub with a damp cloth or paper towel.

            •  If you pour it into a thermos... (0+ / 0-)

              preheat the thermos jug as well.  The coffee will stay hot longer.

              I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). Roar louder!

              by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 12:18:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The water should be at 195 degrees (0+ / 0-)

            when it hits the grounds.  Or so I'm told.

            •  The boiling point of water is 212 degrees. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              It won't get any hotter than that because boiling caps the temperature through evaporation.  Transferring the water to the grounds takes a certain amount of time.  I used to struggle to find a way to get the hot water to the coffee in time to NOT get a weak cup of coffee.   I found it was better to use a covered tea pot to boil the water to keep it hot.

              Despite what they say about temperature, I think it's far better to err on the side of too hot than too cold.  Too hot, you get bitter notes.  Too cold, you get lame coffee.  I'd rather risk a little bitterness and then scale backwards.

      •  Moody household coffee: (0+ / 0-)

        - Boil water.

         - When water boils, check with child for coffee grinding.

         - Child volunteers to grind fair-trade, dark roast Trader Joe's coffee. Enjoying noise, she grinds it fine.

         - By this time, water has cooled enough for French pressing. Grounds, then water in the French press for the length of one or three Apoptygma Berzerk songs while I check email and argue with RWNJs on Twitter.

         - Yes, grounds are too fine for French pressing. FRENCH PRESS ANYWAY. Two tablespoons of turbinado sugar and fill the rest of the mug with milk.

         - When Mrs does this, she makes it double-strength, puts half as much stronger coffee in and replaces milk with ice cream.

        Are you on the Wreck List? Horde on Garrosh.

        by Moody Loner on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 10:37:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Chemex (0+ / 0-)

      As far as I am concerned, using the Chemex is the only way to guarantee top quality coffee every time. We also bought one of those big grocery store model grinders and grind our beans only when we are ready to brew.

  •  One of my favorite Things About Coffee: (9+ / 0-)

    Bach wrote a whole cantata — about coffee.

    Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering) (aka The Coffee Cantata) (BWV 211) is a secular cantata written by Johann Sebastian Bach between 1732 and 1734. Although classified as a cantata, it is essentially a miniature comic opera.

    In a satirical commentary, the cantata amusingly tells of an addiction to coffee, a pressing social problem in eighteenth century Leipzig, where this work was premiered.

    The cantata's libretto (written by Christian Friedrich Henrici) features lines such as "If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment, I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat"—a sentiment that would likely have been appreciated by the patrons of Zimmerman's Coffee House in Leipzig, where Bach's Collegium Musicum, founded by Georg Philipp Telemann in 1702, would have originally performed the work.

    Bach wrote no operas: the cantata was written for concert performance[1], but is frequently performed today fully staged with costumes.

    Here's a portion:

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:37:07 PM PDT

  •  My brother lived for about a year... (12+ / 0-) the early 80s, studying music with a grizzled old mountain fiddler in North Carolina.  He told me about hanging out with his teacher and the old man's cronies, and about how they made coffee:

    They would take one of those old railroad percolators, put a lot of coffee in, and boil the hell out of it.  As they drank the coffee, they'd add more water, pour more coffee on top of the wet grounds, and continue boiling the hell out of it.  One of them told my brother that good coffee should be "strong as stud-horse piss with the foam carded off," which is not the first thing on my mind when I ask for a cappuccino.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:44:38 PM PDT

  •  MMMMM Coffee (5+ / 0-)

    I've sometimes noted that it's a lot like men.

    For example, when I met my husband, he was dark and hot, but in the photos of his youth he was tall and blonde.  These days he's large.

    I think tall and blonde is my favorite way.  Personally, sweet is fine in men, not so great in coffee.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:41:49 PM PDT

  •  No coffee wars yet? Let me start ... (8+ / 0-)

    I go with organic Kona from small estates. Grind fresh every morning, and use a French press carafe with the ground coffee, but rather than press, I pour through a #2 filter into my 16 oz. mug, that - naturally - says "Kona" on the side.  

    Other favorite beans and brewing methods out there?

  •  G'morning, Joe! (3+ / 0-)

    Classic piece of Schiller's Reel from classic Saturday Night Live, starring Peter Ackroyd and Teri Garr:

    Thank you, Keith930... very comprehensive diary on my favorite beverage. My preferred poison is whole bean French Roast, normally brewed, with the occasional preference for freshly French Pressed coffee.

    One shrieks for three hours to millions of inexplicably loyal fans. The other... rock band... Canada.

    by bsmechanic on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:04:09 PM PDT

  •  Here's another vid on making Turkish coffee (4+ / 0-)

    The "Turkish Coffee" that I have had was made by an Israeli friend, who also added cardamom.  I think that may be more of a Middle eastern thing than a Turkish thing, but the coffee itself, I have to say, is superior to espresso...but that is purely subjective.  We all like what we like, and there's no "one best way."  But unlike espresso, Turkish coffee requires no special machine.  And the result is delicious.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:20:40 PM PDT

  •  Opening new markets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I was growing up in South Florida in the '50s (it may have even been into the '60s when this happened), we started seeing TV ads, origin unknown, telling us that Miami needed a mountain (all South Florida TV originated in Miami). "For years people have been saying Miami needs a mountain."

    After a period of time (extent lost to me now) we were informed that the people had spoken and a mountain was indeed coming to Miami. NB: South Florida is as flat as a pancake. I used to tell people the highest elevation anywhere there was a pack of matches someone might have dropped on the street. Go look at an aviation map at airport elevations. They're all 9'.

    And keep in mind, most of the people with whom I was in school at the time were transplants from up north and most of us had experience with pretty decent hills, if not mountains. We damn sure needed a mountain, we knew.

    Anyway, after another interval, we learned that Folgers, "mountain grown" was about to be introduced in this previously 8 O'Clock coffee area and that we wouldn't just be whelmed, we'd be overwhelmed. Not how it worked out, I don't think, but I hadn't learned to drink coffee yet. That's another story.

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      I went to Berkely in the 70s and the fabulous coffee there was a revelation.  I also heard that, ironically, Peets supplied coffe to Starbucks in the early years.

      •  Not exactly (0+ / 0-)

        but the original founders of Starbucks, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegal and Gordon Bowker did learn roasting from Alfred Peet before moving up to Seattle.

        Howard Schultz didn't get involved until later - he was instrumental in pushing the "coffee bar" concept, which had met with some success in some quarters.  ;)

  •  I am loving (4+ / 0-)

    your dairies Keith930 they are as good a a great cup of coffee. Thanks for this one. Portland is a coffee lovers paradise. Lot's of small local coffee companies that roast on site here. My favorite beans are French Roast and if I'm feeling wild Ethiopian beans.

    I buy fair trade organic as big coffee plantations often use lot's of pesticides. I support small co-operative farms? that are owned by actual growers not multinationals.

    I grew up with instant coffee drinking parents and had my first expresso at a beatnik coffee house on Sunset Strip in LA where I sipped it watching Thelonious Monk's play the piano. I was fourteen and after that amazing experience bullied my mom into making at least real coffee.  

  •  drank Costa Rican "sock coffee" today! (4+ / 0-)

    Doing research in Monteverde right now. The current method, in most households and restaurants, is to use a special-made cotton sock with a metal ring sewn in the top, mounted on a wooden or wire stand. It doesn't make the very best coffee, but its pretty damn good, easy to clean, and is entirely eco-friendly.

    Back home in Portland I use a LeLit espresso machine. Americano with heavy cream is how I roll.

    Great history lesson!

  •  while i've heard of turkish coffee (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, foresterbob, LSophia

    when i was actually there, at a carpet dealer, they served that apple tea in glasses.

    i never had coffee as a youngster as my mother didn't drink it, so it was years before i actually drank it and it has to have cream and sugar. a few years bacl i had one of those one cup coffee maker and using that i sought the perfect cup of coffee. my idea of perfect was no oil floating on top. just recently i bought a real, kitchenaid coffee maker for one 16 ounce cup. i didn't grind beans each time, but i did use cold purified and osmosed water from a machine at the store. i liked my cups of coffee, i've never gotten to make it for any one else, tho.

    my favorite coffee brand is millstone.

  •  Nice diary! (8+ / 0-)

    But I gotta say that a french press does, indeed, make coffee while you shower. Of course you still have to boil water first. But if you boil the water and grind the beans (course grind please), you can then pour the water over, take your shower and then press the coffee when ready (assuming your shower isn't more that five minutes or so).
    Having worked at Starbucks, back when they made their east coast expansion, I learned a lot about coffee and brewing.
    1) make sure your grind matches the brewer. The longer the grinds are in contact with the water, the coarser the grind. This means a cone shaped filter requires a fine grind, since the water moves through the grinds quickly (think grits). A flat bottomed filter makes the water "pool" so you need a coarser grind (think cornmeal).
    2) as for pots, percolators and french presses need coarser grinds because the water is in contact longer. A "drip" make might have a flat or cone filter (as does something like the old Mellita makers) or a flat filter, so be sure to get the correct grind for your pot.
    3) A great brewer is the Bunn, which will brew a 10-12 cup pot in about three minutes. It does so with a flat bottomed filter, and  fine grind - a departure from the above mentioned grinds for regular home brewers. Makes a great pot in record time.
    4) another methods is "cold brewing". This involves a special maker where there is a filter that sits on top of a pot and you pour cold water over grinds (coarse) and let it steep for along while. Then you let the coffee drip into a glass container and stick in the fridge. When you are ready for coffee, simply dilute with hot water or add water and heat. This is also good for iced coffee because the coffee is concentrated, and cold, so you can dilute to taste, add ice and then milk and/or sugar if you like.
    5) If you want espresso, you need a really fine grind - almost like sand, since the water is pushed through at a high rate, quickly, and a finer grind will get the best extraction.
    6) as for bean roasts, there are a few ways: a "cinnamon" roast is a medium roast and will give you a brighter, more acidic, cup, while a darker roast will bring out more of the bean's flavor and mellow the cup. Regions have a lot to do with coffee as well - Africans are fruitier, Indonesians more earthy, and central Americans lighter and more acidic to the tongue. My fave roast was the Sulawesi, from Starbucks, not always readily available, but worth it when it is.
    7) Always look for arabica coffees. They are, by and large, organic, even if not designated as so. Arabicas are shade grown and so do not require a lot of care. they are lower in caffeine and a better bean all around. Robustas are grown on plantations, like farming, and tend to be higher in caffeine because the plants have to work harder to fight bugs and disease.
    Finally, there is a theory out now that green coffee is the new weight loss "miracle." Studies have shown that people consuming green coffee extract lose weight faster than a control group. Might be worth trying, but I still like my coffee freshly brewed (Bunn) with a bit of half 'n half and just a touch of stevia.
    Coffee. Gotta love it. I love me some tea too, but I can't start my day without coffee. A a matter of fact, I sometimes find it hard to make coffee before I've had a cup (kind of like looking for your glasses when you're not wearing them). I know, that's silly, but have you ever poured your grind in the cup instead of the filter? I have!
    Sorry for the long comment! Time for bed. After all, gotta get up in the AM to!

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:34:33 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the history. As a coffee drinker of (5+ / 0-)

    many decades, I found your diary quite interesting. Over the years I've brewed coffee many different ways. The one I've been using for years, I now know after reading your piece, is a variation of the Turkish method. I finely grind french roast and dump it into a pan that has a cup of cold water in it. I then heat it on a medium flame just until the water boils. I then use a strainer lined with a paper  towel to strain it through directly into the cup. It is not quite espresso but I can vary the strength depending on how much coffee I use. It takes less than five minutes and is fresh and a little bitter. I prefer a slightly bitter flavor. Not as harsh as perked coffee but not as smooth as the french press method, which is a little bland in comparison. Thanks again.

  •  i switched to a siphon coffee maker (4+ / 0-)

    last year to try and get away from plastic. should've done it long ago. the only trick is to boil the water in a tea kettle, then transfer it to the carafe and finish brewing. it might be less convenient but it makes the best coffee i've ever tasted. i don't think i could ever go back to a drip coffeemaker.

    you need a burr grinder to go with it, but if you really love coffee, these could be the best two investments you could ever make.

  •  Funny you should mention (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, foresterbob, LSophia

    "Mr. Coffee". Joe DiMaggio was their spokesperson in the 70's and they flew off the shelves. They were made by Roberson Appliances in a small factory in Castile, New York. Originally made individually almost by hand. As demand increased, I specked out their operation and almost completely automated it with the same number of workers and their output was easily 10 fold. I remember getting a bonus of like $2000 for the sale. Plus they gave me 4 Mr. Coffees to take home. I put one in the shop, gave one to the office girl, and the other two home. At the time they were pretty cool and everyone had to have one.

    ObamaCares RomneyScares

    by raster44 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:04:16 PM PDT

  •  I've been drinking the good cheap stuff (4+ / 0-)

    I've been getting a "deal" with the Eight O'Clock brand.
    They are 3 dollars less for their 11 oz. package than the rest of the brands on the shelf and this coffee tastes great. I like the taste better than Taster's or Folger's.
    I buy the whole bean Hazelnut and I only use one scoop per cup of coffee that I am brewing. I don't need to drink my coffee too strong.
    This brand is the best for the price in my biased opinion.
    Great motivator for getting the days started. Now that I've said it, they will probably raise the price.

    •  I used to go with my Grandfather (0+ / 0-)

      down to his local A&P and he'd buy Eight O'Clock coffee. This was back in the late 70s. They only sold bags of whole beans, but they had a reasonably large grinder set up right in the coffee aisle. He'd grab a bag from the shelf, grind it up and off we'd go. I loved the aroma in that part of the store!

      Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

      by Icicle68 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:47:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had no idea about your CR/SA genealogy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, Keith930, foresterbob

    I have a couple Costa Rican "Mr. Coffee's" at home, ca. 1990s. And have experienced the Peruvian coffee cruets; mostly, I just drank the cruet and asked for another.
    Fun diary. Missed only a YouTube vid of "I like coffee, I like tea; I like the java; java, it likes me..."
    Memorable to me as a sign of a former love; she loved coffee, she loved tea. And she was taken from me, by a criminal.
    But that was all years ago.
    Thanks for the words.

  •  I love coffee: a reminder..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, foresterbob, LSophia

    .....great coffee is grown in America, right here in Hawaii. It is a little bit pricey, but very good and if more Americans drank it, the price would come down because they would plant more. Locally, it is less expensive, because you don't pay for shipping and you can buy it directly from the farmer.

    I use a French press or a ceramic over-the-cup filter with a paper filter in it. Both yield good coffee, but do require a few minutes of your time in the morning.

  •  What a lovely diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, foresterbob, LSophia

    My doctor told me to give up caffeine, so I had to go to Starbucks decaff for the most part because they make the only drinkable stuff available here. I still have a cup of the real thing occasionally, including one to celebrate this fine diary.
    Back in the '70s, before drip machines became available, we bought a rather elaborate and decorative two chamber drip pot, mainly because my husband had a thing for the inventions of Count Rumford, who wrote "Excellent Qualities of Coffee and the Art of Making it in the Highest Perfection." in 1812.

    An eccentric Anglo-American inventor by the name of Benjamin Thompson stepped in at this point to solve the temperature issues with the original French drip pot. Thompson fought on the British side in the American Revolutionary War and moved back to London afterwards where he became a minister in the government and knighted by King George III in 1784. Beginning in 1785 he worked for the Bavarian government where he helped the military with everything from food to explosives. In 1791 he was named a Count of the Holy Roman Empire and from then on is referred to as Count Rumford. He left Bavaria around 1799, after which he lived in both England and France.

    On one of his sojourns in France, Count Rumford improved on the Archbishop’s drip coffee pot by enclosing it in an insulating jacket which could be filled with hot water, keeping the pot warm throughout the dripping process. Sometimes Rumford is credited with creating the first percolator, but this is a bit of a misnomer. The verb “to percolate” describes what happens when a liquid passes through a permeable substance. In that sense, the first drip coffee pot was a percolator. Modern usage of the term “coffee percolator” usually refers to the “pumping percolator”.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 02:41:06 AM PDT

  •  Roast your own (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, beverlywoods, LSophia

    It's easy. Buy an air popper from a resale store, the beans from the web, and do it outside as the chaff flies. But it is far easier and far fresher than you might realize.

  •  And avoid DD (0+ / 0-)

    First it's owned by the Bushs and their Saudi friends (Carlisle Group). But more importantly, those factory farms dump so much chemical into the soil that the bitter undertaste is hard to avoid. (That's why they dump the cream in for you.)

    Amazingly, corporate Wally's has some of the best Fair Trade coffee around. When you can buy from a local cooperative you are always doing just a little bit for the world.

  •  What an enjoyable diary, Keith! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, foresterbob, LSophia

    Very interesting history--thanks!  My English friend uses a French press for her coffee.  It's okay, not great.  My husband makes coffee in a Mr. Coffee, after he grinds the hazelnut-flavored beans in a grinder.  It's the best coffee I've ever had, except for the cappuccino in Italy.

    but I love vintage commercials:
    My favorite commercial of all time is Folger's "Home for the Holidays."  They''ve stopped showing it now but they showed it for several years at Christmas time.  The handsome college hunk is dropped off by friends at 5:30 on a snowy morning.  He goes into the house and starts making coffee in the kitchen.  Little sister, who naturally has been awake for some time, runs eagerly into the kitchen and tells him that everyone else is still asleep.  "I know how to wake them up," says Big Bro.  As the delicious aroma fills the house, Mom, Dad, and Big Sister come sleepily down the stairs--Mom screams in delight, "Peter!"

    Tell you what, folks, Handsome Hunk Peter is welcome to come to my house 365 days a year to make coffee!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 05:06:58 AM PDT

  •  when several Mr. coffees all gave up the ghost the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, foresterbob

    same week, we decided to go coffee-pot shopping. I really liked the small-sized electric percolator that we tried next. It made much better, hotter coffee. But like MA Liberal said about making coffee before fully waking up, we learned the hard way that ya actually have to put water in too, not just the that one went up in smoke. It didn't have a safety feature that would turn it off after a few cycles either, so I also had to drive home one day and shut it off.
       So having destroyed everything, I was reduced to setting a big plastic canning funnel on top of the glass pot leftover from Mr. Coffee, putting a paper filter inside, and pouring hot water through with the tea kettle. It actually works fairly well and can be timed to pour and pour again in between other kitchen chores three or four times to make coffee for two.
       That has always been my standard way in case of power failures too, on the gas stove, which motivated me to finally get a campfire-type coffeepot after all.
       In our coffeepot quest it occurred to me (and it appears several commenters agree here) that Mr. Coffee doesn't make the best coffee, just the easiest. Well, speaking of "easy" -at the risk of pissing off a lot of people- let me be the one to say that I never have and never will use a K-cup, including not ordering coffee at a restaurant if I find out they use that. I am the one who would slip out of line at church years ago, grab a mug from the many in the kitchen, slip back in line and then refuse those stinky little styrofoam cups people would use an then throw away. What ever happened to being good stewards of the earth I would ask, while rinsing out my cup afterwards, but no one seemed to really hear me.

  •  And it begat the Coffeehouse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, LSophia

    Before blogs, Facebook and Twitter, there was the coffeehouse. The western version of the coffeehouse (according to legend), started in Vienna after the Turkish invasion and subsequent retreat. They left bags of coffee beans and one Franz Georg Kolschitzky claimed the bags as the spoils of war. Adding milk and sugar his establishment became quite the hit. The idea spread throughout Europe and in England, they became gathering places for the upper middle class to meet and “network”. Lloyd's of London started in a coffeehouse Edward Lloyd started back in 1668.

    The Tontine Coffee House (1792) in New York was the original location of what would become the New York Stock Exchange. While that might not seem to reflect on what we might think of today as “social networking” and the exchanges on the internet, there were parallels, from the Wiki link:

    Political demonstrations and violence were not uncommon at the Tontine Coffee House. In the wake of the French Revolution, fistfights between those respectively sympathetic to the British and the French broke out on a daily basis.  An anonymous observer wrote:


    “Whenever two or three people are gather'd together, it is expected there is a Quarrel and they crowd round, hence other squabbles arise.”
    Coffeehouses in the modern era became a Mecca for beatniks/aspiring folk singers in the early 60's. I ended here, the Cafe Orpheus, run by my dear friend Sean Slattery.

    Sean is back by the cigarette  machine (25 cent a pack!)

    We didn't need a PA

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 06:45:17 AM PDT

  •  I have coffee delivery service (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from Green Mountain. I was up in Vermont a few years ago, went to the Green Mountain museum - their coffee is good.

    I love a little half and half in my coffee, and I use a French press when I want to feel like I'm on vacation.

  •  Mmmmmm, coffee.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I started sipping the divine fluid as a young sprite when backpacking with the family. Nothing quite like the aroma of cowboy-coffee wafting through the tent on a cold morning.

    In the mornings, we use a semi-automatic espresso machine (no pods, and don't dare mention those Keurig abominations) with locally-roasted "Moroccan blend" beans freshly-ground (burr, not blade) for double Americanos. In the evenings and with company I prefer the French Press with a locally-roasted Italian roast.

    And when backpacking I drag along a stove-top espresso maker with a pump-style frother. The faces around the fire may have changed, but that aroma of coffee and wood-smoke on a cold and quiet morning evokes deep memories, calling forth family and old friends to sit a spell and share a cup, if only in spirit...

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 07:13:35 AM PDT

    •  stove top expresso (0+ / 0-)

      Great history in this post and all the comments!  We also have carried a stove-top expresso maker with us on our foreign travels.  We were laughed at by some German tourists staying in the same hostel....something about those Americans bring so much stuff until we brought out the expresso machine and ummmmmmm maybe could we also have a cup?

      On Zanzibar island ran into a young guy suffering from some malady and saw we had Peets coffee and an expresso machine and he was sure a cup would cure him of what ailed him!

      Use all kinds of machines at home but always have some form of press coffee maker when traveling.

      Sorry, don't know how  resize, but if you click on the photo you will see the rest our 'coffee shrine' ..


  •  Been using a french press for years. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, Keith930, LSophia

    Easy to use, makes great coffee, and there are no paper filters to throw away.  When I'm finished, I rinse the vessel and throw the grounds out into the yard.

    And the french press is even convenient if you're camping.  All you need is a stove to heat your water.  Otherwise it's as easy as making it at home.

  •  Hand grinder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, LSophia

    "How would you like to have to use a hand crank grinder every morning before you get your daily java fix?"

    Did this for years. Many do it today out of choice—supposedly your average electric grinder generates heat that alters the coffee's flavor.

    Somewhere, Jean-Jacques Rousseau complains about a hostess who invites guests out to her country estate but who never appears in the morning, and so there is no breakfast served. The story is that she sleeps late, but Rousseau believes that she is simply unwilling to go to the expense of serving coffee to her guests.

  •  Community Coffee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My favorite, favorite of my family for three generations.

    Roasted in South Louisiana.

    I prefer the regular grind dark roast and the coffee with chicory, dark roast.

  •  French press and percolator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We use two coffee pots:

    -- a Farberware 4-cup percolator, and,

    - a Bodum French press

    The French press makes a slightly better tasting cup of coffee (IMHO) -- HOWEVER -- the French press does not keep the coffee hot.   The only heat in the French press comes from the hot water.  If you use a French press, make only what you will drink right now -- any coffee left in the press cools quickly.

    We make four cups in the percolator each morning.  Sweet Thing and I each drink one cup with breakfast then a second cup each while we read the Washington Post.

    We use the French press when we want only one or two cups.

  •  I have coffee recipes that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Call for adding egg to the water to get the grounds out.  Lovely.

  •  Thanks for the history ride through the story of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Pandoras Box

    coffee. I really enjoyed it since I have made a fairly recent search myself for an inexpensive way to make good coffee without the chemicals from plastic, etc etc.
    You asked:

    How would you like to have to use a hand crank grinder every morning before you get your daily java fix?
    I do this every morning and I enjoy it.

    I bought a Yama siphon/vacuum coffeemaker that Northwest Glass in Oregon has made in Taiwan. (about $35.00) The lower hand blown glass chamber is tempered and can be used directly on a gas range or with a small included trivet on an electric range. The upper hand blown tempered glass chamber with a cloth covered filter neatly sprung held in place sits in the lower chamber until the water boils. It is then tightened by a press and twist motiont sealing the rubber gaskets between the 2 glass chambers. The pressure in the lower chamber forces the water to the top chamber. The coffee is added, stirred and brewed for 40 - 60 seconds., taken off the heat. As the heated h20 gas cools it turns back into water and the vacuum draws the coffee back down through the filter into the lower chamber.

    While the water comes to a boil I grind the coffee in a $40 Kyocera ceramic burr cone grinder that is so cool.

    The neat thing about this coffee making is the barista gets to control the water temp. the fineness of the grind, the time of the brewing.

    It has literally taken me many weeks to watch videos and read instructions at Coffee Geek
    etc to start to appreciate how to make a good cup.

    The benefits are : it's fun if you have the time. it's interesting. and there's no plastic parts. I buy the coffee at whole foods because they tell me and I believe them that they try to use cooperatives and fair trade type practices with no pesticides etc.

    I am still practicing but it's getting better and I'm beginning to be able to distinguish the difference between a few different locations where the coffee is grown.

    plenty of videos on you tube
    siphon coffee
    vacuum coffee

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:51:30 AM PDT

  •  Peets Italian Roast (0+ / 0-)

    done in my espresso machine, with cold filtered water, a bit of cream, ice and dark brown sugar.  Ummmm.

    Sometime, I use a bit of cane syrup, rather than the sugar, for a smoother taste.

    I was in Hawaii last year and brought back several pounds of Kona, now sadly just a memory.  Anyone have a good source for shipping, if I feel like the occasional splurge?

    (Time to go clean out the bean hopper before the oil "turns")

  •  Interesting diary could benefit from illustrations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  We use an old Pyrex glass percolator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, Pandoras Box

    on the weekends. But during the week, its the Bunn drip gadget. It brews 10 cups in 90 seconds. I love the coffee from the old percolator, but it just takes too long.

    As for the coffee, we buy the big bags of Starbucks French Roast beans from Costco and grind them as we go.

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

    by itsjim on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 12:15:39 PM PDT

  •  I remmeber growing up helping my mom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, Pandoras Box

    make the morning coffee to put in my dad's thermos.

    They had a large ceramic percolator with a metal basket.

    fill the percolator about 3/4 or so full of water, add 3 scoops of coffee, put on the lid on the basket and the other lid on the percolator.  

    Once it "perked" about 4-5 times with the heat on, turn the electric burner off and it would finish perking.  

    That would fill his big thermos and give them a cup apiece at breakfast.

    Then we discovered the paper liners for the basket.  That made clean up easier.


    "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

    by doingbusinessas on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 02:21:44 PM PDT

  •  Why is American coffee so bitter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LSophia, Pandoras Box

    compared to European? I love drinking coffee in Europe. In America, I rarely drink the stuff; I switch to tea when I come home. A friend of mine told me that Europeans roast beans along with sugar, but other people don't think that makes a lot of sense. Any ideas?

    The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

    by Anne Elk on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 02:59:33 PM PDT

    •  I think Americans tend to roast the beans too long (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandoras Box

      convinced that darker is better, and then tend to brew the coffee too long, or leave it sitting around in the pot being warmed all day.  Not good.

      When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

      by Bisbonian on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 04:45:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My great-grandmother had a percolator. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Pandoras Box

    She would scoop some grounds out of a coffee can (my grandfather used coffee cans to store just about everything), and pour it into the little metal basket, and plug in that cloth covered cord.  My job was to watch it perk (magical!) and unplug it when it reached both the right frequency of bubbling into the glass dome, and the right richness of color.  Then I would inform her that it was done.  I loved the smell, but didn't care for the taste.

    Later, I worked in a job included cleaning out the giant coffee maker, and making the first pot.  I kept if going all day, and my own cup was filled all day, as well.  By the end of my shift, every clinking fork would make me jump.

    Later still, I discovered that jet aircraft ran on equal parts kerosene and coffee.  Without coffee, they will not go.  The coffee makers in a KC-135 can also be used to heat cans of soup, make ramen noodles, any number of things.  The coffee makers on a 737 barely make coffee, but can be counted upon to leak all over the floor first thing in the morning, due to air bubbles in the water line.

    I spent a couple of months in Turkey, addicted to Turkish coffee, and several in Saudi Arabia.  Since Friday is the holy day, families like to head out into the desert on Thursday evenings, and get in touch with their nomadic roots.  They pile into the family car, or double-cab pickup, and make their way to their own traditional spot.  The men roll out huge hand-woven rugs on a flat spot or a hilltop, and make a fire.  The kids play soccer ("football"), except for one young boy in charge of roasting the coffee.  A few handfulls of beans are roasted over a fire in a cast iron skillet.  When done, they are ground, with some cardamom, in a mortar and pestle.   Then they are dumped into a tall, elegantly curved pot (to catch some of the grounds, as you describe), with a long and curvaceous spout, water added, and then cooked over the coals.  Then the old men sit around and tell stories, and watch the stars come out.

    I could do it that way the rest of my life, if I had a group of like-minded old men to help carry on the tradition with.  Instead, I get up and make coffee for my partner in her stovetop espresso maker (one cup, very strong), and then make my own in the very same model percolator that my great grandmother had.  I still love to watch it perk, and unplug that cloth covered cord when it is done.  Full circle.

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 04:43:14 PM PDT

  •  Enjoy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    The Coffee Song ~Frank Sinatra

    It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. ~ Helen Keller

    by Pam from Calif on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 09:30:41 PM PDT

  •  Hi from the land of the best coffee in the world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Pandoras Box

    Great diary Keith.  

    After four months to check it out Panama for retirement living as an expat, I'm back in northern California selling and donating the rest of my belongings.  In a few weeks I will return to Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama where at 3-4 thousand feet, they grow some of the finest arabica coffee in the world.  Once I discovered good coffee, I began to enjoy a good quality medium roast black, because dark roasting destroys much of the subtlety in good coffee.  (Although I still enjoy an occasional latte made with dark roast espresso beans.
    Although I haven't blogged as much as I promised, I have a few posts up, and will blog about Boquete coffee sometime in the next few months.  (
    Just for fun, here's some coffee humor:

    The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein

    by DaveVH on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 11:35:47 PM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (0+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:25:37 AM PDT

  •  On Saturdays, when no one else is home (0+ / 0-)

    to drink coffee but me, I make my coffee thusly.

    Boil water and pour one cup into a glass container into which I stir 2 tablespoons of coffee.  stir and cover, letting it sit for 4 minutes

    then I pour it through a single cup Melitta brewer directly into my cup.

    it's a little bit of work but it is sooooo smooth this way

  •  I became a coffee geek (0+ / 0-)

    starting about 1 1/2 years ago.  It's an involved story how I got here, but every morning I weigh out my coffee beans on a gram scale (usually 25 gms), grind them in my Lido hand grinder, heat water to 92 degrees Celsius in my special electric kettle and do a slow pour over using my Hario Buono Kettle into my Hario V60 specially engineered drip cone.  This might sound a bit obsessive or crazy, but with fine beans it makes the most amazing cup.  A few weeks ago my daughter and her husband dropped by just after I had brewed myself a big cup.  I had her taste it black (she usually takes milk), and she was amazed that it wasn't bitter, and very smooth.

    Also, if you want to read an entertaining history of coffee you should look for The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen, who writes a lot like Hunter S. Thompson.

    There are no solved problems; there are only problems that are more or less solved. Henri Poincare

    by Bourbaki on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 07:13:21 PM PDT

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