Connoisseurs’ Corner is going to cover many subjects in the future.
First, I will define the term connoisseur: noun. An expert judge in matters of taste.
I am starting it out with a subject that is near and dear to my heart: Coffee.
This is how I make what I consider to be a great cup of coffee:
Cue the mood music:
Total Prep Time: 5-7 minutes once you get used to the routine.
1. A coffee grinder. These range in price from about $20-$60, depending on the bells and whistles you want. I have a Braun that was about $25 and it does me just fine.
2. A french press coffee maker. You can get a good one at Walmart or Target-type stores for about $25.
3. Something to boil water in.
4. Your favorite coffee cup.
First things first. I always buy whole bean coffee. If you buy pre-ground coffee it has lost much of it’s flavor while sitting around a warehouse for weeks.
Your favorite type of coffee will vary according to your personal taste. The only way to find your favorite is through experimentation. My taste runs more to the dark roast, robust, and full-bodied coffees. Currently (because this changes from time to time) my personal favorites are Sumatran and Jamaican Blue Mountain. My favorite commercial coffee roasting companies are Shaw’s Coffee, Ltd. in St. Louis, MO (http://www.shawscoffee.com/) and Caribou Coffee Co. in Minneapolis, MN (http://www.cariboucoffee.com/). You can’t go wrong with either one. Unless you are lucky enough to be in St. Louis, Shaw’s Coffee is only available to order on-line. Caribou Coffee is more widely available. I know that here in STL it is available at Schnuck’s grocery stores. Check your local grocer for availability.
A note about storage: DO NOT STORE YOUR COFFEE IN THE FREEZER! This will effect the taste. Storing it in the original bag you bought it in on your kitchen counter or in the cupboard should be just fine. If you want to get fancy you can buy an airtight container to store it in. Another thing, only buy enough coffee to last you about a month. More than that will get stale.
Coffee ranges from light to very dark roasts. I use lighter roasts for after-dinner type coffees and medium to dark roasts for my everyday breakfast coffee. Now, in my book, there is another kind of roast. I call it “Starbucks Roast”. It is way past the dark side of roasting and all the way into burnt charcoal! It tastes like something that oozed out of the LaBrea Tar-pits! In my humble opinion, this does not a great cup of coffee make. Plus, why pay $4-$5 a cup when you can make your own little cup of java heaven for easily under a buck?!
Grinds range from very coarse to very fine. Very coarse is generally for old-school percolators and metal filter auto-drip coffee makers. Medium grind is used for most paper filter auto-drip coffee makers and french presses. A finer grind is good for turkish-style coffee and making espresso.
To achieve a good medium grind for my french press I fill the grinder only up to the rim and grind for about 10 seconds.
I grind my coffee fresh everyday, but grinding enough for a week at a time is just fine for convenience sake.
And now onto making the coffee:
Here’s a video tutorial for your viewing pleasure (no, that’s not me):
Here is a great site to visit that is basically everything you ever wanted to know about coffee but were afraid to ask. http://www.sweetmarias.com/index.php
If you have any thoughts on how to make a great cup of coffee or a particular blend/roast you like please feel free to express them in the comments section. Thanks, Dean