All the world’s a coffee drinker. If you’re not, it would behoove you to at least take the time to explore this little side of heaven in the manner I describe in this article. I know, you may have tried ‘coffee’ before and didn’t like it; but I say to you that every cup of coffee is not created equal, and as with every meal you’ve ever eaten, the end product is a result of the skills and care of the preparer. If you already do, however, fancy yourself to be an afficionado of the grind, then please do yourself a favor and allow me to share with you how I make the perfect cup of coffee. I mean, hey, if you’re going to do something you should do it to the best of your ability, right? I’m a guy who believes with all my heart that I am special, and so if I’m going to do something for myself, I’m going to do it right. You’re special, too, so let’s make sure you’re rewarding yourself properly.
So, coffee. The seed of a plant grown somewhere else, harvested, roasted in an oven, ground up and brought into contact with hot water in order to extract the goodness that lies therein: so we can drink it. I grew up in a culture who felt like if they managed to produce any amount of brown liquid in the process, they had succeeded in making coffee. My first experience with coffee was in the military, drank purely out of a desperate need to stay awake in some pretty dry tech school classes. It was Navy coffee, made in a pot that had not been cleaned…ever…purposefully so in order to fulfill some Navy tradition I never bothered to become acquainted with. In a word, the coffee was nasty. Weak, plain, made with as much indifference as a human being can muster, this was not coffee as I have come to know it; this was coffee flavored water. Most of the “coffee” you encounter in life is just coffee flavored water.
My travels through life and encounters with thousands of “coffee drinkers” and their beloved ten dollar drip makers has brought me to the conclusion that most people don’t really have a relationship with coffee and don’t comprehend the pleasure potential it possesses. Even with a Starbucks on every corner and the uber sweet six dollar concoctions that come sputtering from their commercial machines, the average person has not been awakened to the joy of coffee. The only way to truly know said joy is to have an intimate relationship with The Bean. Make it yourself, in a manner respectful of and complementary to The Bean.
YOU WILL NEED:
– A one cup french press (I got mine for less than ten bucks at Khol’s)
– heavy whipping cream
– french roast coffee beans
– grinder (mine was around ten bucks)
– tall cup (make sure you select a cup that is pleasing to your eye, feels good in your hands, or in some way tends to please you. This is the vessel you’ll be babying for the next half hour, and it is as much a part of the relaxation formula as the elixir it will hold ;) )
STEPS FOR PREPARATION
PREPARE THE BEANS
First, grind up a handful of the beans. Some people are choosy enough to invest the money in getting a grinder that will make each tiny piece of ground up coffee the exact same size, but in my experience there’s no difference in the end product. Just grind your beans up until you have at least some grinds that are almost powdery in size. Grind it like you mean it!
Note: After you’ve finished making your perfect cup of coffee, you’ll end up with extra coffee grounds; just put these into a zip lock bag immediately and toss them into the freezer. Make sure you also store your bag of beans in the freezer!
HEAT THE WATER
Next, fill your press about an inch from the top with the purest water you have on hand. Our fridge has a filter in it, so i use the fridge water. If your microwave is a large or medium sized one, put the water in for 1 minute and 30 seconds. If it’s a small one, make it 2 minutes. IMPORTANT: have the coffee already ground and ready to put in the water IMMEDIATELY after you take it out of the microwave!
MIX IN THE COFFEE
As soon as the water is hot, place the caraf into the press base. Spoon in 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee, and toss in another teaspoon for good measure. Stir it gently until the coffee has all been sucked down into the tiny maelstrom you just created. While the coffee/water mix is still swirling in the caraf, place the plunger and top on. Press the plunger down only a half inch or so below the water line, slowly. We are trying simply to ensure that the grounds remain below the water…they tend to float.
You’ll notice that the mixture has developed a kind of brown foam on top. This is actually one of the reasons why coffee made in a french press is far superior to coffee from a drip maker. It is within this foam that the oils from the beans are contained, and (just like with bacon or any other kind of meat), it is the oils that contain so much of the flavor! Your final cup of coffee will contain these oils ;) This is also the reason why drip coffee makers do you such an injustice; they filter out the oils and thus a lot of the bean’s character and flavor.
Now, wait for at least 15 minutes for the grounds to steep. But while we are waiting…
PREPARE THE CUP
Now let’s prepare the cup. Put about 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey into the cup. I personally just squeeze some in until it “feels right”, but it ends up being about that much. Now, put about a full shot glass of heavy whipping cream in with the honey. Put the cup into the microwave for 10 seconds, and when you take it out, stir the honey and cream together. Heating it slightly allows the two to mix and form the perfect complement to your coffee.
PRESS THE COFFEE
After your coffee has steeped for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better, though…I have forgotten it in the morning and fixed it when i got home from work…goood stuff!), you now need to press all the grounds to the bottom of the caraf. You have to do this VERY slowly…if you press too hard too fast, the grounds will escape up the side of the plunger and you’ll have to pull the plunger out, clean it off, and start all over again. The idea here is to press all of the coffee grounds to the bottom of the caraf.
After you have pressed as far as you can go, you will now pour the coffee steadily into the cup, stirring as you do. It’s important for the cream/honey mixture to blend with the coffee as you pour, not after. Once the coffee is all in the cup and mixed, you should see it a light caramel color. if it is darker, or lighter, that means you put too little or too much cream. Now, take a sip. If the coffee isn’t still hot, nuke it for about 30 seconds…it’s much better hot.
The following items are recommended in order to more thoroughly enjoy your coffee:
– drink your coffee while wearing a fuzzy, comfortable robe;
– find a place that is conducive to thought, meditation, and relaxation and have your coffee there. I prefer mine outside on the veranda when weather permits;
– let go of that handle and wrap your hands around the cup itself. Share its warmth, smell the coffee’s aroma; get to know your cup of coffee intimately.
Coffee has the capacity to provide you with so much more than just a caffeine rush. Its almost ceremony-like preparation combined with the intimate and holistic nature of its effect upon your palate and mind can provide you with an oasis of pleasure even in the midst of life’s daily stresses and demands. Consider The Bean to be your friend, and nurture your relationship with it. You’ll be surprised at just how much sheer joy can be found in the steamy contents of a ceramic cup when you have some of yourself in it as well.