Friday, December 31, 2010

A Coffee Christmas

What I expected, happened. I was blessed with a shower of coffee-related goodness over the Holy Days ("holidays"). Holidays are risky though, since 99% of people bestowing these blessings have zero-negative zero coffee knowledge. The things I'm interested in aren't the run of the mill, ground coffee, flat-bottom filters, or generic coffee mugs. I'm interested in special coffee supplies and goodies. I try not to cheat, you know, tip them off too much, but the danger is often too high to leave the choosing to them- so I hinted. I am SO happy I did.

I had already accumulated 7 different brewing methods, so even if my family and friends did happen to get on the right track, odds are I'd have the item already. So, when my mom asked what I wanted this year, I didn't pull any punches- I straight up sent her links to the items on and yes, I admit, that's a little more than hinting.

Very nice
First, I received an awesome Bialetti Moka Pot. This contraption uses steam pressure to force 200 degree water at about 2-3 bars of pressure through semi-course coffee grounds, producing a very stout cup. If performed correctly, the coffee produced will have a body similar to a french pressed coffee, but a taste like that of an Aeropressed coffee. Not sure what those are? Check my blog history or search for those terms in the search bar a the top of the page. Now that I have the six-cup version of the moka pot, I'd recommend a larger one, especially if you've got to share with someone else regularly. My wife is ALWAYS needing a cup of her own... mooch! Here's a video of the moka pot, though some of the preparation techniques are a little shabby and are not necessarily recommended. I'll have to post a how-to later. If you need know-how right away, check, as usual.

Truly, a decent gift nonetheless
Okay, so that was bar far, the biggest gift. I've already posted about the two coffee mugs I received- they were not run of the mill mugs either, these were very personal and much appreciated. From my younger brother-in-law, I received a surprisingly fitting single-cup brewer with travel mug. Before you get too excited, these were Melitta brand- the bane of specialty coffee filters' existence. Of course, he did not know this, so this gift was remarkably thoughtful and appropriate. My wife received one as well. I did try to use it while he was there, but I cannot get over the intense PAPER taste that the contraption leaves on my coffee. I was using a nice Kona blend from The Roasterie in Kansas City, where my older brother-in-law is working as a barista- this coffee being his gift. So, even with a fantastic coffee in use, the brew still tasted like a newspaper took a whiz in it. I DO NOT recommend
Paper-tasting coffee filters
Melitta filters for uber-specialty coffee peoples. Instead, use Chemex Unbleached Square Coffee Filter or Hario Coffee White Paper Filters Size 02 for V60 Brewer, 100 Count for similar single-cup brewers. These filters have been treated especially for coffee brewing and do not leave that awful God-forsaken paper taste in you mouth when used. Of course, rinse your filters with a dose of hot water before inserting the coffee, no matter what type you're using. Notice though, I said these Melitta products were not a good choice for the uber-coffee nerds in your life- not a bad choice for everyone. Melitta stuff is sold EVERYWHERE. It's cheaper and simple to use. Therefore, it can be a great introduction to specialty coffee for those just getting into it. That's why we regifted these to others in our family that have already told us they have used them and enjoy it.

Lastly, I received an unaffiliated Visa gift card from my wife's grandmother this year. With it, I purchased the Hario "Mini-Mill Slim." This is a great hand grinder. I had my doubts due to its size, but it really has performed. I am planning on taking it with me on my trip to Mexico. This thing is truly tiny. It's about 7 inches tall total. The handle is removable and the grind setting is highly adjustable. Here's the kicker- it has no English included in the directions. This means that guys who had planned on ignoring the directions out of manly spite are now forced to figure it out due to lack of available information. Their wives must sit idly-by and watch them scrunch up their noses and match their wit and brawn against this tiny grinder's fairly confusing grind settings.

The grinder has something like a wing-nut under the black upper portion that is screwed right and left to fine-up or coarsen the grounds. The range available was shockingly varied. I achieved something as course as basically halving the beans, to a powdered sugar Turkish grind. Be warned though, grinding takes time and energy. Don't get me wrong- I've very pleased with it.

I also purchased yet another popcorn popper for my home roasting, but for some crazy reason, the popper roasts the coffee SUPER FAST! It's completely unusable. All I achieve is an Italian roast in two minutes flat (basically charcoal). It's not even a decent charcoal either, the beans are tipped so that the inside of the coffee is barely roasted at all. What a waste. I don't even like popcorn. I have weaned myself off of coffee for my trip to Mexico, where suitable pure water may not be available. I am certain that I am being punished with that dud roaster for my disloyalty- the coffee gods are jealous and will not be mocked.

With that, Lord, I thank You that You are just and merciful- far more-so than the "coffee gods" I've cooked up. I pray You would protect me as I go to Mexico this next week. it's not the safest place to be at the moment, but then again, neither was Judea/Palestine when You came to earth... or now for that matter. Keep my head deflated and on straight.

Just dreadful.

Post Script:

I also received a packet of Nescafe instant coffee. This "gift" did not even warrant being included on the actual "A Coffee Christmas" post. Icky.

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