I recently read an article about The 90+ Study, in which researchers found that people who drink coffee (and alcohol) in moderation live longer than those who abstain from these beverages completely. Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that drinking up to eight cups of coffee per day could stave off a premature demise. Hot dog! At the rate that I drink coffee (we’ll talk about cocktails another time) I’m pretty this all proves that I’m going to live forever.
Even to say that I “love” coffee sounds so trite. I worship it. I crave it. I NEED it. Keep it coming all day long. And don’t give me the “double-light-skim-half-caf-yada-yada.” I just want a cup of good, hot black coffee. So I thought I’d share with you a roundup of some of my favorite coffee equipage and sundries for any fellow “caf-fiends.” (I couldn’t help myself.)
Buy a Coffee-Beans-Only Grinder
Since I drink my coffee straight (black, no sugar) 99% of the time, there are no bells and whistles to cover up over-roasted or stale-flavored beans. So treating your beans with care is essential, starting with the grind—and you really should grind your own rather than buy pre-ground coffee that could have been sitting on the supermarket shelves for weeks.
Over the years I’ve gone through several inexpensive blade-style grinders. They work great, but I always have to replace them because they were misappropriated for grinding potent spices like cumin or mustard seeds, and that taste never seems to go away. So this year we bought the Baratza Encore burr grinder (which kind of works like a pepper mill) that will be used for grinding coffee only. It’s kind of pricey, but it’s got 40 different grind settings and is easy enough for me to use before I drink my first cup of coffee in the morning. But so help me if I find even a single cumin seed in that hopper. . .
Baratza EncoreThe darling of the coffee industry, this machine produces a very even grind, but we particularly appreciated its simple design and no-fuss grinding.
Krups Fast-Touch Coffee MillThis grinder has an excellent fit between lid and base and it grinds beans very fine—but doesn't create excessive amount of coffee dust.
You don’t have to grind coffee beans each day. In fact, our testing showed that even up to 12 days later, there was very little taste difference between coffee made from grounds that were properly stored in a zipper-lock bag (Ziploc Brand Freezer Bags with Easy Open Tabs is our favorite supermarket brand) and coffee made from a fresh grounds. Just be sure to squeeze out any excess air each time you reseal the bag.
Several years back, I received a coffee scoop/clip like this one from Casual Grounds that allows you to clamp the scoop onto the bag. This solves one of the most troublesome problems of our time: small gremlins sneaking into the house during the night and hiding the things that you need most in the morning. I can’t help you find your glasses or car keys, but no more searching for the scoop for you.
Choose a Travel Mug That Matches Your Coffee Quantity
It’s time to head out and drop the kids off at school, and believe me, a travel mug full of hot coffee is the only thing that keeps me from going into full Hulk mode during that drive. So I take along this ginormous travel mug. I’m pretty sure that you can get these made with custom designs, so I’m thinking I might order another one with some sort of zen phrase or calming picture on it to keep me happy. I think an image of David Bowie might do the trick. (And if you want to limit your coffee intake in the morning, the more reasonably sized Timolino Icon 16-Ounce Signature Vacuum Travel Tumbler won our travel mugs testing.)
“Break and Clean” Your French Press Coffee
Now, while I love drip coffee in the morning (I’m still squirreling away pennies to splurge on the Technivorm Moccamaster, which won our review of automatic coffee makers), my middle-of-the-day treat is a pot of French press brew. I love the weighted, velvety body of this style of coffee, and I prefer to use the so-called “break and clean” method. The ritual goes thusly:
1. I bring water to the boil in my electric kettle (between my coffee habit and my Scottish husband’s tea habit, this thing is in constant use).
2. I let the water cool for a moment while I load my French press with grounds.
3. After pouring in the water, I let the mixture steep for 7 minutes (if you like a lighter flavor, go for 5 minutes).
4. After that, I use a spoon to gently break up the floating raft of grounds, and spoon off as many as possible.
5. All that’s left to do is plunge, pour and sip.
Thus endeth the ritual. Unless there are doughnuts around. Because if there are doughnuts then they will definitely get added to the ritual.
But that’s not the end of my coffee run. My husband received a Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De'Longhi with Aeroccino for Christmas and it provides an easy way to make a quick espresso or, even better, the beginnings of an evening treat—an affogatto. Yes, everything is better with ice cream, especially if it’s homemade.
You can be sure of two things. One: another study will come out, but this time it will show that coffee is bad for your health. And two, I will read it while sipping from my fifth cup of the day.