Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Madness

by Deb Baker/Hannah Reed

Here in Wisconsin we are really suffering from cabin fever. I spend most of my shut-in time writing, but just can't do that all day and all evening. So I'm trying to stay occupied.

Yesterday, I planned summer vacation routes using my trusty Rand McNally road atlas.

Today, I'm on the subject of coffee. You see, since I moved into my own place last April, coffee hasn't tasted quite as good as it used to. So I'm doing online research.

Is it the way I brew it? I've been a cheap-o drip coffeemaker kind of girl since way back. But should I use a moka stovetop perculator instead. I didn't even know what that was until I found this picture. It looks complicated.

Or should I invest in a French press.

Is it the temperature, cuz I learned that is so important. Avid coffee enthusiasts say the water has to be brought to exactly 195 degrees, so I need an electric kettle for that. Most drips don't heat that high. Who knew?

And what about the beans? Light, dark, espresso. I think I'll do some experimenting, going darker. And what brand is best? Have to research that further.

Did you know you can buy green coffee beans and roast them yourself? I didn't. Until the wind chill whipped down to 45 below. It's driving me mad! I can tell.

Roasters are pricey though. But I could convert my gas grill. Only I'm not very handy. Then I found out I could roast them in a popcorn popper.

In that case, I need a grinder.

Think I'll let my fingers do the shopping:)

But first, I'd like your opinion. What works for you? Have you tried one of those moka things?

It better warm up soon. I need to get out of this place!!

22 comments:

Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

I find that the reason most people make bad coffee is that they don't use enough of it. Buy a good brand of whole beans, grind them yourself, use a tablespoon for each cup of water, plus one more, and use whatever coffee maker suits your fancy.

Marina Sofia said...

The moka thing is not that hard to use: you just need to put water at the bottom, ground coffee in the middle (preferably freshly ground) and then put it on the stove till it rises to the top (a few minutes). It has the right temperature for a proper espresso, and it's a little bit but not overly fiddly to clean. One word of caution: it doesn't work so well with electric stoves, much better with gas, where you can control the temperature efficiently before it boils over. Enjoy and hope you can get out soon!

Aurian said...

I use a cheap coffee maker, and have no intention of buying something expensive. Perhaps the water tastes different from where you used to live. But Pattie is correct, just use a bit more coffee grounds, or try different brands. It is not the machine that gives coffee its taste.

Barb W. said...

Good Morning, Deb/Hannah! I prefer my French Press as far as taste goes, but I love my Cuisinart K-cup brewer for speed and variety. For the French Press, we buy the beans and grind them each day. Did you know that the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content? (I learned that from Cleo Coyle.) It's fun to have a coffee tasting, too. Try several different varieties, grind and put in a small cup. 1. Smell the fresh ground beans, 2. Pour boiling water over the beans and inhale the fragrance, then 3. Push the ground beans down and sip the coffee. Do that for each variety and note the aroma and flavor of each until you find your favorite. I like a Breakfast Blend.

Deb said...

I'll try switching brands. I've been grinding at the store, but I see my own in the future. Thanks, Pattie.

Deb said...

Marina, I have an electric stove:( But thanks for the clarification on it's use.

Deb said...

good points, Aurian. Will try.

Deb said...

Breakfast blend is my fav too. I can tell you love your coffee:) And I've heard that about the light begin the higher. Cleo Coyle rocks!

Diane P said...

I think there are a couple of things that we do to make flavorful coffee. I like my coffee strong. We buy French Roast & look at the date on the package. We grind fresh every morning. I think we make good coffee with a cuisinart coffee maker. The water seems to get hot enough & will stay warm quite awhile. Check out reviews on Amazon before you buy.

Jeannie D. said...

I agree with Aurian. It could be the water. I drink hot green tea. When I go to my sister-in-law's in Augusta, GA. My tea doesn't taste the same and I can't wait to get back home to get my tea fix. The only thing that is different is the water.

Laura Thomas said...

I wouldn't have believed it but we're froze in down on the guld cost. Even have icicles around my pool and roads are pure ice! Your cabin fever has me thinking. I've found that coffee isn't tasting so good anymore. Even bought a new drip coffee pot. Read everyones comments. Now I need to mull it all over. I hope you follow through and tell us what worked for you! Stay warm.

mary kennedy said...

I've been buying the same old decaf coffee for years and making it in a "one cup" coffeemaker by Black and Decker. I thought it was pretty good but we visited friends who grind the coffee beans fresh every day (like Pattie suggested). It was terrific. Really the best coffee I have ever had. I think I have to stop taking the easy way out!

Deb said...

Thanks for the tips, Diane.

Deb said...

I'll try bottled and see if that makes a diff.

Deb said...

I've been watching your freeze on the news, Laura. Crazy weather.

Deb said...

Easy is good sometimes, but every once in a while slow is better:)

Trish said...

Being Cuban, I've been using similar coffeemakers since forever on electric stoves. You put water on the bottom up until just below the valve and you put fine ground coffee (fine ground for espresso, not for Turkish coffee - there's a difference) in the funnel looking middle portion, then you screw the top on. Like everything left on a stove at high heat, you shouldn't walk away from it, except for a very brief period of time.

Once it begins to percolate it will make a distinctive noise, just let it go for a while and CAREFULLY slightly lift the lid to see how much has brewed after a little bit. You’ll know it’s full when it reaches about the bottom of the pouring spout. Then turn off the stove and pour the coffee into demitasse cups, or a cup of heated milk, if you’d like a latte-type of coffee.

Let it completely cool before opening to clean, as it will be VERY hot. If you're lucky enough to live in an area that sells Spanish coffee, you're good to go. Just make sure it says for espresso.

Deb said...

Thanks for the wonderful tips, Trish! It doesn't seem that complicated. I'm going to Mexico for a vacation and will look for some Spanish coffee:)

Trish said...

Bear in mind how they calculate "cups". It's demitasse cups, NOT full 8oz measuring size cups. So a 3-Cup coffeemaker, really makes @ 6-7oz of espresso, or 3 shots of espresso, enough for 1 or 2 people. If there are more than 2 espresso drinkers in your household, then go for the 6 cup. It really is very simple, I learned how to make this when I was about 8 years old (with a supervising adult, of course).

You may want to browse your supermarket coffee aisle. You might be surprised to find espresso-style coffees you might not have noticed before. If not, just go for the darkest roasted beans and ground it for espresso. Hope it goes well! Enjoy!

Deb said...

My horizons have been expanded. I can hardly wait to visit the coffee aisle!

Susan L. said...

Sadly, I am not a coffee drinker. We have a drip maker that my husband uses every once in a while. What you said about green beans reminds me of something. Didn't one of Cleo Coyle's books involve death by green coffee bean? Or was it someone else? I think it might possibly be that your water quality might be different since your move. Not to say the new water is so much worse and the old might be so much better, but it could be that you just got used to the taste signature of coffee made with the other water.

Deb said...

I haven't read all of Cleo's ( now wondering why not, they are wonderful!), so couldn't tell you. I went from well to city water. Bet that's it.