Thursday, December 20, 2007

Coffee Snobbery Progression

One year for Christmas, I asked my parents for a coffee machine. I suspected that they might go find a deal on some kind of really fancy machine made by Bunn, Saeco, or even Kitchen Aid. Instead, they bought a $10.00 Wal-Mart Mr. Coffee. Functional, but Spartan at its best. Prior to that, Jen and I had been pressing all of our coffee, and the fanciest coffee that we got came from the grocery store. We would buy the beans and put them through the in-house grinder, pay for the bag, and go press our coffee. For some time, we used the little Mr. Coffee at home with this coffee (or Foldger's, depending on time/convenience/budget).

We decided that we wanted something a little more exotic in the world of coffee, so we bought ourselves the demo model of a Krups, single-cup espresso machine off the shelf at the hardware store. We had been warned not to get a steam-powered machine, and this one had an 8-bar pump, and a copper boiler. This machine did okay for us for some time, and we started grinding our own beans at home with a little Krups grinder. We still enjoyed pressed coffee from time to time, but we found that we didn't really use the Mr. Coffee drip machine anymore.

After getting frustrated with the slow brewing of our Krups, we purchased an Italian-made Briel ES-15 Lido, second-hand on ebay. This little baby had a 15-bar pump, stainless steel boiler, and made some really nice coffee! Unfortunately, it was a very well-used machine, and showed its wear from head to toe. Even when brand-new, the Lido was not a physically attractive machine. But, after the years of long, hard use that ours apparently had, we were just thankful that it still made decent espresso.

Soon thereafter, I learned about a website where I could order fresh-roasted coffee beans out of Florida from all over the world. We started drinking coffee of varieties that I hadn't heard of before. I didn't think that I liked Columbian Supremo until I actually had real Columbian Supremo.

We learned that burr-grinders do a far better job than blade-grinders for grinding coffee. So, we began searching for a burr grinder. We found that all of the cheaper models are put together very cheaply, and all of the better models are priced for kings. But, still we persisted, until we found a practically new Capresso brand conical-burr-grinder at a garage sale for ten bucks. We snagged this, and retired our old Krups blade-grinder. They were right. The burr grinder is far superior.

After using our Briel ES-15 Lido for a couple of years, the filter cup handle broke. It had been cracked since we received the machine, but had held together until it snapped off completely one day while I was making our morning triple-shots. So, we got on ebay again, and purchased a brand-spanking-new, red powder coated, Briel Domus Uno, with a 15-bar pump *correction-make that an 18-bar pump*, three separate thermostatic controls, and enough curb-appeal to make a Ferrari blush! I love this machine. I mean, the Lido made decent coffee, but this one is nice. It really was like stepping up from an Alpha Romeo to a Ferrari. Since we purchased the new machine, we found a replacement filter cup for the Lido and donated it to a friend.

Then, I decided to tackle roasting. I did a little internet research, and found out how to build a manual coffee roaster out of a stove-top popcorn-popper. The procedure seemed unconventional and esoteric, but the theory was sound, so I went for it. I combined a grill thermometer with a Back to Basics stainless steel popcorn popper to create my own coffee roaster. There are loads of varieties of green coffee beans available on the internet, including the company that I had been buying roasted coffee from already.

So, fast-forward to the present. I'm on my lunch break at work, sipping a delicious cup of coffee, blended with Coasta Rican hard bean decaf and Zambia Terranova Estate, that I roasted last night, and brewed in the old Mr. Coffee - which I donated to the office. I'm thinking that the next 5-lb bag of green beans will have to be Mexican Turquesa. That stuff is wonderful! Not to mention that the green beans are cheap and will keep far longer than roasted coffee!

Hi. My name is Michael. I'm a coffee snob.


Unknown said...

Mmm coffee. Have to correct you though baby. The Domus Uno has an 18 bar pump, not a 15. I ove the coffee snobbery. I paid $2.75 for a shot of espresso at a swanky place today and it paled in comparison to what we drink at home.

Anonymous said...

I always like a good coffee or different coffee products. Saw this weird coffee beer from Japan - sounds terrible but at the same time I wanna try it.