Archive for the Coffee Category

Well Hello, Lover.

Posted in Coffee, Imbibe, Reviews with tags on 31 December, 2009 by la fille

My roommate got a Chemex coffee pot for Christmas. “Chemex” seems to me an awful name for something not designed to clean toilets, but damned if it doesn’t produce a fantastic cuppa.

Designed by chemist Peter Schlumbohm in the 1940s, the Chemex design is based on a bunch of science-y stuff dealing with filtration and extraction to eliminate bitterness in the coffee. The result is simple and elegant.

(photo of Schlumbohm and the Chemex from this Gourmet article)

It’s an all-in-one contraption– the only other thing you need is a special kind of filter that’s thicker on one side than the other. This makes for easy cleanup! All you do is pick up the filter and throw it away.

I usually prefer my coffee with a fair amount of milk, precisely to cut the acidity and any bitterness there may be, but there is no need to do so with the Chemex brew. It’s smooth, flavorful, and beautifully balanced with no accouterments whatsoever. I tried it with milk, too, and ended up dumping it out because it just watered down the wonderful flavor too much.

The only complaint I have with Chemex coffee stems from a personal preference of not really liking any type of drip as much as I like press pot or pressure extracted brew. I like a muddy cup of coffee that leaves sediment in the bottom of the cup, but if you don’t, I strongly recommend trying Chemex out. The process can be time consuming, as you pour water over the grounds incrementally, but there’s an element of ritual to it that’s pretty satisfying.

Here are the instructions from the website:

1.  Open the Chemex-Bonded Coffee Filter into a cone.  One side should have three layers.  Place the cone in the top of your coffeemaker with the thick portion toward the pouring spout.

2.  Using Regular or Automatic Grind coffee only, put one rounded tablespoon of coffee per 5 oz. cup into the filter cone.  If you prefer stronger coffee, use more; there is never any bitterness in coffee brewed using the Chemex® method.

3.  When the water is boiling, remove it from the heat until it stops boiling vigorously.  It should now be at about 200ºF, a perfect brewing temperature.  Pour a small amount of water over the coffee grounds, just enough to wet them without floating.  This is important because it allows the grounds to “bloom,” so the desirable coffee elements can be released.

4.  After this first wetting simply pour more water, soaking the grounds each time, but keeping the water level well below the top of the coffeemaker.  Once the desired amount of coffee is brewed, dispose of the spent grounds by lifting the filter out of the coffeemaker.

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The Moka Pot

Posted in Coffee, Imbibe, Photos with tags on 13 December, 2009 by la fille

As a long-time devotee of the French Press, I was hesitant to try my new roommate’s stovetop coffee pot, partially out of snobbiness and partially out of FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN. I didn’t like the idea of using boiling water to make my cuppa– ideal coffee extraction temperature is about 195 degrees F, otherwise the extraction process is effed up and you get bitter coffee. Turns out it’s the steam that forces water up through the grinds, not the fact that it’s boiling. You’re supposed to remove the pot from the stove before it actually starts boiling.

Once that misconception was cleared up, I decided maybe I could get on board with the moka pot. (It may also have had something to do with the fact that the only coffee in the house was ground fine for said moka pot and had I used it in my press pot I would be drinking mud.)

Whilst stovetop brewing produces a very different cup from a French press, done correctly it’s delightful. Since steam and pressure play a major role in extraction, the resulting beverage is much more akin to espresso than press pot coffee. The only reason I still prefer the press is that I like my coffee just a little thicker, where there’s some sediment at the bottom of the cup when you finish. You definitely don’t get that with a moka pot.

So anyway, I’d recommend trying it out if you never have before. It’s less work than a French press, since you only need one vessel rather than a kettle and a press. Here’s a diagram:

So water goes in the bottom and coffee goes in the filter basket. For best results it should be ground more fine than for drip, but not quite as fine as espresso. Put the pot on the stove or whatever heat source you’re using and as the water heats up, the resulting steam will force it up through the filter into the upper chamber. Remove it from the heat before it reaches the boiling point (i.e. before it starts gurgling and spitting) and the steam will continue to force the remaining water upwards. There’s even a chance you’ll get some crema, just like a shot of espresso.

What’s your favorite coffee extraction method, and why?

(photo by lafille)

Gluttony Saturday: Breakfast of Champions

Posted in Breakfast, Coffee, Eat, Imbibe, Photos with tags , on 13 April, 2009 by la fille

Saturday morning, Cap’n Will and I went for coffee at Fair Grinds while Brother O’Mara slept in. We split a French press of Oromia, a blend by Dean’s Beans (out of Orange, MA) containing three types of Ethiopian beans. Oddly, it’s a dark roast, which I’ve never seen with Ethiopians. The beans have such a distinct and unique flavor that they’re usually roasted extra-light so you can taste it. The blend was tasty enough for me to buy some beans to take home, though, and we enjoyed sitting on the patio at the coffeeshop catching up.

Brother O’Mara roused himself a short while later to make waffles which, in the Brother O’Mara family, are a big deal. His father is the Waffle King of his hometown, making Brother O’Mara the Waffle Crown Prince, and they both definitely deserve the title. I can say they’re the best waffles I’ve ever eaten, and Cap’n Will enjoyed them as well. I can tell you that the base is Bisquick, but I believe there are some special tweaks to the recipe that give those suckers the most delightful taste and aroma. He also serves them with an array of accoutrements–butter and maple syrup of course, but also honey and Roddenbery’s Cane Patch Syrup, a Brother O’Mara family tradition.220152378_f7542227e7

(photo by Brother O’Mara)

The waffles gave us just enough energy to make it to Martin Wine Cellar, where Cap’n Will (longtime restaurateur and wine aficionado) spent a good while perusing the shelves and tasting things he can’t readily procure in his neck of the woods. Said waffles did not, however, fill us up too much to ruin our wonderfully-crafted sandwiches at Dan Stein’s Deli…