It’s on my header, “really good coffee.” The small print, of course, does say that I don’t provide the coffee. The least I could do, however, is to give you some ideas about how to get some really good coffee on your own, so you could fully enjoy my blog experience.
The first suggestion, of course, is that you can go to Starbucks. I don’t care that they’re the big corporate thing, I just prefer Starbucks to any other coffee I’ve had; I drink Cafe Estima, which besides tasting great, is also a Fair Trade coffee. So, it makes me feel good, too. In my opinion, Starbucks make the smoothest, most consistant and least bitter espresso that I’ve had. And, I’ve had a lot of espresso over the years. (I will say, though, that there’s a little shop near me that makes a better mocha, but that’s more about the chocolate…)
However, if you want really, really, good coffee at home, here’s a couple of alternative coffee makers that you really should check out.
The first is the Toddy cold brew system. I had heard about it from a friend late last year, and as it turned out, the non-Starbucks coffee shop that my son works for uses Toddy coffee for their cold coffee drinks. Lo and behold, I got one for Christmas (thanks in part to my Amazon wish-list). The Toddy system is pretty simple, actually, it’s a white plastic container with a drain at the bottom, and a glass jar. You put this really unique felt-like filter in the bottom of the plastic container, and put in a pound of coffee and 9 cups of cold water. Then, you let it soak for about 12 hours, after which you pull the little plug out of the drain and let it filter through into the glass jar.
What you end up with is approximately 6 cups concentrated coffee that you store in your fridge. When you want a cup, you simply mix one part concentrate to 3 parts hot water. The result is by far the smoothest, richest coffee I’ve ever tasted, with about 2/3 less acid that normally brewed coffee. It’s truly almost like a different drink (I decided to still drink regular coffee in the morning, as I need that “edge”). It’s great hot, and even better cold.
The real downside to the Toddy (and there is a real downside) is that they misrepresent (in my opinion) the efficiency of the system. If you drink 16 oz cups, and mix it per the dirctions, that means you are using 4 ounces of concentrate for every cup; that’s 16 wonderful cups of coffee from one pound of coffee grounds. Considering I drink regular brew in the A.M., and drink cold-brewed decaf in the afternoon and evening, I barely make it through a week per pound. As I only buy Starbucks beans (seriously, I don’t even own stock), that means about 65 cents per cup; not bad compared to alot of other things, including coffee out (even at 7-11), but way more than you’re used to paying for home-brewed coffee. I have found, however, that I don’t need quite as much concentrate as they say, so I probably get 20 good cups per pound.
However, it’s also the easiest cup of coffee I’ve ever made, and that’s worth a lot, too.
Now, for my 2nd recommendation. A few weeks ago, EricW commented on my blog and told me about the Aerobie AeroPress. I read up on it, and was so impressed that I bought one as a birthday gift for my brother-in-law (timing is everything). I’ve had a few cups of his AeroPressed coffee, and I have to say that it’s quite good as well. It’s very smooth and non-acidy, better by far than a typical drip or even a French Press.
The AeroPress is kind of a manual espresso machine, making from 1-2 mugs at a time, depending on how strong you want it. Full strength, it makes 4 shots of espresso in under a minute. It’s essentially a plastic tube with a filter on the bottom (it uses paper filters) and a plastic plunger. You put the grounds and hot water in the tube, stir it for a few seconds, then slowly push the plunger to the bottom. The air pressure forces the water through the grounds, and that’s it. Again, it’s essentially a hand-powered espresso machine.
And, with the Aeropress, there’s no downside that I can see. The grounds just push out (it creates a neat little hockey-puck of packed grounds) so clean-up is way easier than a French press, and it uses less coffee per cup than a French press.
So, carpe caffeum. (I think I’ve lived up to my header, now.)