February 21, 2021•1,662 words
#100Days (Day 2/100)
Java. Joe. Brew. Café. Coffee. Whatever you want to call it, it's the Nectar of The Gods, and I love it. Let me qualify that statement... I love a really great cup of coffee. I'm not talking about Folgers, Maxwell House, or that sludge they usually serve in restaurants & hotels. And I'm definitely not talking about Starbucks (not a fan).
No, I'm referring to a high quality organic whole bean that is ground fresh every day and brewed properly. Sorry folks, a drip coffee maker does not qualify.
Coffee has been part of my regular daily routine for pretty much my entire adult life. It's the one thing I really look forward to after I wake up and take care of the essentials. You know, let the dog out to pee, and usually shave, shower & get dressed for the day. 😜 Once those items are out of the way, I'm ready...
Let me step back for a moment and first explain how I got to this point. For many years, I literally drank junk coffee. It's the stuff you buy in the grocery store that is pre-ground and sits on the shelf for who knows how long. Then you put it through a standard drip coffee maker. It's basically swamp water. I didn't even know what a good cup of coffee was until 2014. It was during our first trip out to Colorado to visit our son & his family after he decided to move there from Ohio a year or so earlier.
We affectionately referred to them as the "Vegan Hippies" because after he and his girlfriend (now wife) moved out there, they became minimalist vegans who would only eat organic and would not use plastic of any sort. Yea, they got over it after having kids.
Anyway, shortly after we arrived, my son asked if I wanted a "french press" coffee. I was like, huh? What's a french press? He just smiled and said he would make me one. I didn't even bother to go watch what he was doing, but several minutes later, he appeared from the kitchen and handed me a steaming mug. Immediately, I could smell the most satisfying aroma of coffee I'd ever experienced. I took a long deep inhale over the mug and I was mesmerized. Ahhhh.... It smelled heavenly!
The first sip was amazing! I'd never tasted anything like it. The flavor was deep, rich, and smooth. I wanted to savor every moment. Truly one of life's simple pleasures that is meant to be enjoyed slowly and mindfully. So THIS is what coffee is supposed to taste like!
After snapping back into reality, I asked my son what in the world he'd just handed to me. What magical elixer did he concoct in such a short amount of time, and how did he do it? We went to the kitchen and he showed me the bag of organically grown coffeee beans, the grinder, and the strange looking glass device with a metal plunger - a French press.
I was fascinated, and hooked. I vowed to never drink a cup of cheapo junk coffee again unless I was desperate and it was the only swill I could find.
Skipping ahead... We had a wonderful visit and I enjoyed amazing coffee every day with my son. I'd already started researching what I was going to buy when I got home so I could develop a new morning coffee ritual for myself.
My research into "how to brew a perfect cup of coffee" led me to the French Press as well. But I also learned about other brewing methods such as a pour-over and the Aeropress. The Aeropress is very similar to a French press, but it uses air pressure to push the brew through a filter in the bottom. Whereas as a French press uses a plunger to push the grounds to the bottom of the container, leaving only the brewed coffee on top.
It will make more sense if you see the Aeropress in action. Here's the inventor of the Aeropress demonstrating the device. There are a couple other varations on the method that I have found produce an even better cup of Joe, but this video will give you the general idea:
I read dozens of reviews & articles on how to brew the best cup of coffee. Among the three methods mentioned above, the concensus seemed to be that the Aeropress did the best job. It also won several different national coffee brewing competitions. Yes, those are actually a thing. Who knew?!
So I set out to find me an Aeropress. I wanted to actually see and touch one before I made the purchase, so online wasn't an option. Thankfully, Bed, Bath & Beyond carries them and there was a store close to my house.
If only it was as simple as just buying an Aeropress. Oh no... You also need a burr grinder rather than a blade grinder so you don't "burn" the beans. And of course, you need a high quality organic whole bean coffee. My son bought his coffee at Costco, and I was able to find a similar bean at my local Costco. Dark roast, of course (better flavor and more antioxidants).
My new morning coffee ritual was born. It didn't even take much practice because the Aeropress is pretty much fool proof. I did learn a couple variations on the brewing method, and settled on one that starts with the device upside down and the plunger partially inserted into the brewing chamber. You put in your ground coffee, pour in the hot water, allow it to "bloom", and then stir gently for about 10 seconds. After that, place a slightly dampened paper filter disc in the end cap, twist it on, and flip the entire thing upside down onto your coffee mug. Finally, press slowly as the heavenly liquid is forced through the filter into your cup.
You can drink it just like that if you like a very strong brew, like Espresso. Or simply top off your mug with hot water, and you have an Americano. Either way, it promises to be one of the best cups of coffee you've ever tasted. Assuming, of course, you purchased a high quality organic coffee bean! But as long as you've done that, you really can't screw it up using an Aeropress. Please don't get caught up in measuring & weighing the exact right amount of coffee, or worrying about getting your water to the "perfect" temperature. I found it's simply not worth the extra hassle.
Clean up is easy peasy... Twist the end cap off and shake the filter in to the trash bin. Then press the plunger the rest of the way in to pop the compressed "coffee puck" into the trash bin as well. Rinse in the sink and set aside to dry. Done, until the next cup. 😋
With fresh mug of deliciousness in hand, I settle into my comfy chair, laptop in lap, and proceed to check email and do the daily processing for our log cabin rental business. That is my morning coffee ritual, every morning almost without fail or exception. This entire process typically happens between 6:45-7am and 8am. Once 8am rolls around, unless it's the weekend, I'm ready to start the day for my regular job. I'm blessed to work from home, so I usually brew a second cup of coffee and head downstairs to my office. On the weekends, I'll stay in my comfy chair, have some conversation with my wife after she wakes up, and usually brew a third cup of coffee to round out the morning.
My wife drinks decaf brewed in a drip-coffee maker. 🤮 At least she uses organic beans.
A quick note about grinding the coffee. As I eluded to earlier, it's best to grind your beans fresh every day just before brewing. However, since I'm often the first one awake, and coffee grinders are loud, I will sometimes grind enough for a few days and seal it in a mason jar. For the times I forget to do that, I actually have a hand-held manual burr grinder that is pretty quiet, and takes less than 1 minute to grind enough beans for a single cup.
I've decribed this entire process verbally to many people if/when conversation turns to coffee. Usually they roll their eyes and look at me like I have three heads. Most people think it sounds way too elaborate and time consuming and say they would never do it. But honestly, it takes less than 5 minutes to brew a mug of coffee using the process I described in this article. It takes almost that long to get a drip coffee maker setup and press the button. I'm just being a little more mindful and deliberate about my coffee ritual, and the payoff is huge. It really is.
If your typical coffee drinking experience involves pre-ground budget coffee brewed in a drip coffee maker, or a Keurig, you really don't know what you're missing. Even if you don't want to go the Aeropress, French press, or pour-over routes, please consider leveling up your coffee game by buying organic whole bean coffee and a burr grinder. Then go ahead and use your standard drip coffee maker if you must. It will be a much better experience, and you'll thank me for it later.
Now, what about when I'm traveling and staying in hotels? I used to take my entire Aeropress rig with me, along with the hand-held grinder and some beans. That didn't last long. I admit, it was way too much hassle. Now I just have to sacrifice and drink the hotel coffee, Or I'll look for a Tim Horton's or a Dunkin Donuts, which aren't too bad in a pinch.
The Coffee Snob