My morning ritual consists of drinking two glasses of water and three pots of coffee. That’s not true; sometimes I forget to drink any water. Regardless, I’ve picked up the nasty habit of buying a new coffee appliance every few months. Long ago I resigned my automatic drip brewer to the cupboard. Now, my coffee station consists of three brewers: the French press, the Aeropress, and the Chemex. If I’m entertaining for Easter brunch, I’ll use the French press. If I want a single cup of coffee, Americano, or shot of espresso, I’ll use the Aeropress. When it’s just me and my old lady—I wanted to say “Me and the Mrs.,” but there isn’t a standard unabbreviated form for Mrs. (forgive me, dear)—I use the Chemex. The Chemex is essentially a Melitta, the little plastic cone that is often used for single cup brewing. I can’t squeeze four years of coffee experience into 500 words, so I’m devoting the next few posts to the elixir that got me through college.
The best beans in town at the most agreeable price is a pound of whole bean, house coffee from Espresso Roma. I’ve long thought Roma to be the best coffee on campus. In my opinion, the next best coffee in Eugene is either Stumptown or from the Wandering Goat. However, they price their coffee adjusted for hyperinflation, and they have too many “floral” coffees that I don’t fancy. No, the beans to buy are from Espresso Roma for eleven bucks a pound. Do not buy your coffee from Starbucks. A twelve ounce bag goes for nine clams. As Dr. Bill Nye will tell you, there are sixteen ounces in a pound, so two extra greenbacks will get you four ounces more of higher quality beans if you go with Roma.
Next, you’ll need a coffee grinder. It is best to grind your own coffee immediately before brewing. Do a taste test between a pot of coffee made with fresh ground beans and the one made with your usual choice of musty shavings. You’ll never go back.
For years I used a standard blade grinder, loud and messy though it was. If you’re a snob, like me, you should invest in a burr grinder. These do not randomly hack the beans into submission. The burr is like a pepper grinder, where two blades or abrasive metals revolve in opposite directions. This gives you an even consistency in your grind.
Why is the grinder important? There is a noticeable difference in taste and aroma between the blade grinder and the burr grinder. The burr creates less friction, meaning less heat, therefore less flavor lost in your grinder and more in your cup. Also, you will want to grind your beans according to the brewer being used. If you need a medium grind for standard drip coffee, your blade grinder will give you pieces, big and small. Those grinds will give different tastes according to their size, leaving you with an unpredictable cup of joe. The coffee bean is a sensitive seed that, should you treat it tenderly, will repay your respect by ten-fold.
If you’re not using an automatic brewer, you’ll need a kettle. I prefer electric to stove-top kettles, but this is only a matter of preference (my stove sucks).
Well, that’s all for now. My next post will include step-by-step instructions for various brewing methods. The coffee is good enough to make anyone into a coffee snob. I should warn you: it’s an expensive lifestyle. Remember, get a burr-grinder and fill it with Roma beans!