Monday, February 09, 2009

On Coffee

I like coffee. I don't HAVE to have it. I'm not my parents who can't function without their morning coffee. I can go days without. I think for me it is more of a ritual. I like the routine of preparing it every day. I guess I am a coffee snob but I don't know if I qualify as a connoisseur. I usually do not get coffee at restaurants or gas stations unless I am desperate for caffeine. And if I do I have to, I load it up with sweetener and cream, just to be palatable. Once exception, ALL of the coffee I had in Europe was superior to anything I have ever had over here. I don't know why. And no, McDonald's, Hardee's and Dunkin Donuts do not have the BEST coffee. If you think so then your palate has not been fully developed.

I do have a routine. I French press my coffee. I have three presses. I splurged when we moved to Bainbridge and bought a kick ass KitchenAid burr grinder. It is massive overkill for my purposes but the key to French pressed coffee is even and consistent grind and it does that. I prefer my coffee in glass. Don't know why. Maybe because it cools faster. Maybe because I like to watch the cream swirl. It is my belief that old people are the bane of good coffee and coffee shops. There is no need for coffee to be lava hot or even boiling. It should be just hot enough to drink. Technically it should be brewed with water at 190°F, not boiling water. It really sticks in my craw when some old lady wants her coffee microwaved. I digress. My choice of choice at home is to drink my coffee out of my two Coors' Killian's Red beer pints. Because I drink pints at a time, I only get two cups worth. The first I always drink black, the second with cream no sweetener. I don't stir. I like to watch the thermal currents swirl the cream through the coffee. I have the same routine at coffee shops.

More than coffee I love coffee shops. My favorite of all time is still L.A.'s Coffee Cafe in Three Rivers, MI. I used to spend an hour every morning I wasn't on the road, sipping my coffee and reading a book. It would be my breakfast, usually bacon, egg and Swiss on a well toasted English muffin. Sometimes I'd change it up and order sausage or splurge and get my sandwich on a toasted everything bagel. One year I ate oatmeal everyday. Don't believe the commercials. On weekends I'd get their Spanish tortilla which was quiche-like except made on a layer of thinly sliced red potatoes. I'd order an extra side of spicy ranch dressing for it. God it was good. They graciously gave me the recipe when we moved but sadly I have lost it in all of our moves. For special occasions you could not beat their giant cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls or my favorite, cheesecake for breakfast. Lunch was good too. My personal favorite being the veggie burger with bacon and cheese on an everything bagel. And they had an awesome spinach salad. L.A.'s cooked all of that without even a real kitchen. Everything had to be done in a microwave. This was my routine for nearly seven years. I became close with the family and staff there, some of the friendliest people you would ever meet. And if you ever saw Tori smile, you'd have to go back again and again to see that smile again. She has to be the sweetest, purest person to ever walk this earth. Since I left TR, L.A.'s has moved to a new location and from what I hear is much bigger sporting a real kitchen and even a drive through window.

When I traveled I would always stop in on my way out of town and get two large sugar-free Hazelnut breves to go. Good memories.

When we moved to Bainbridge, I was sans coffee shop. It was a good chunk of my depression. Eventually a coffee shop opened up and I was able to re-establish my routine. It wasn't the same. The coffee was good, the breakfast so-so. Lunch was great though. Unfortunately Donna closed up shop within a year of opening.

In Blarisville, a coffee chop opened two miles from my house the summer we moved here. I was a regular from the second week they opened. I tried to re-establish my reading routine but the atmosphere wasn't conducive to that. Instead I ended up sitting at the coffee bar and socializing with a few regulars every day, I even had an unofficial reserved seat just like I had in Three Rivers. And just like in Three Rivers, I had a standing order, an everything bagel with butter every day. On weekends I would go wild and get the sausage, egg and cheese croissant. The coffee wasn't as good. The only choice was Colombian because the uneducated palates of the area wouldn't drink anything else. One day I suggested that instead of asking customers if they would like Colombian or Sumatran, ask if they would like light roast or dark roast. I bet they would sell more Sumatran. I was right. Everybody that came in switched.

Speaking of coffee roasts. My favorite of all time is Cuban. Not Cuban cafe con leche that you get at Cuban restaurants (which I love) but Cuban beans roasted in Cuba. I had it at Brûlerie Tatum Café in Quebec City. They served coffee in my favorite way, in a French press, just like I do at home every day. Café piston I believe is how they call it. I even smuggled two bags home. Tatum also served what is called a pousse-café which is like a coffee parfait, and fun to order because it just sounds dirty. At L.A.'s I would splurge and get Jamaican Blue or Hawaiian Kona on Fridays, no free refills on those. Otherwise I would get whatever their coffee of the day was.

The funny thing is I never drank coffee before living in Michigan. Even in college, where students are true addicts, I never drank it. And Madison has one of the best coffee shops around, Steep & Brew. I would even hang out there, just for the smells and the classic atmosphere, but I didn't drink any coffee. I even had the ubiquitous Union coffee mug. These were red plastic travel mugs that you would see attached to probably 2/3 of the student back packs on campus. You could get coffee for a buck at either of the two unions when you presented the mug. I always got hot chocolate. I still have my mug though (the new ones aren't as cool). Fast forward to now, when Mountain Java here in Blairsville closed after a year and a half in October of this year, I bought out their remaining coffee stock, which consisted of Colombian and the Italian roast they used for espresso (it makes great coffee, don't let that word 'espresso' fool you). I used up the last bit on Saturday. I had to make a weak pot. But delight of delights my package from Coffee AM arrived Saturday afternoon. Five pounds of Indian Malabar roast. FIVE POUNDS! It was cheaper than ordering three pounds of three different roasts.

So now I am back to my routine. I'm on my second cup and the cream is swirling on its own. A good start to the week.


Huff Daddy said...

Wow that post is long enough so I will add here, I'm also a big fan of Turkish coffee which is definitely an acquired taste. :)

I prefer the real thing from people who barely speak English or have a heavy accent.

Brook said...

Hmmm, what to say, what to say? I love coffee but I may be one of the least snobbish people about it. We drink a cheap Louisiana coffee with chicory and absolutely love it. We ground our own beans for the longest til the grinder motor burned up. I made coffee for a couple of years in a press until I got near 3rd degree burns on my leg from a botched cup hand off. I love Cuban coffee and we look forward to a trip to our favorite Cuban restraunt each summer down in FL when we go visit my mom. And I have a Mountain Java right down the road but alas $ keeps us out of their door on a regular basis. For the record I absolutely do not like Starbucks coffee. None of them have tasted good to me. D loves it though. Folgers and Maxwell House are yucky any time.
Oh, I am very addicted to caffeine and must drink coffee every day. Like half a pot, or withdrawal syptoms kick in. Yikes!
Oh, I have never had Turkish coffee though I know someone else who swears by it and that only a native can prepare it correctly. Hmm, I think that about covers it.

Huff Daddy said...

By snob I mean that I do not drink Maxwell House, Folgers, fast food or gas station coffee. I prefer fresh ground "good" coffee. And with the press I have to grind my own.

I would like to find a vacuum brewer.

I love coffee and chicory. Can we say Cafe du Monde? I was able to find chicory in the grocery once, but I have not found it in probably seven years. Don't feel like ordering it though.

Starbucks for me is a necessary evil. When I am traveling and running low on energy I will stop and get a Venti Caramel Macchiato.

Brook said...

In that sense then I too am a coffee snob. And I stick to tea at Starbucks. I sooo don't have a sweet tooth even a mochachino I request half the stuff. And if you feel like experimenting Luzianne makes the coffee we get. And we do occasionally use the press-on special occassions!

Huff Daddy said...

Ahhh,the difference is I don't own a drip machine. I did find an air pot the other night that I have no clue as to why we have it ???

Brook said...

Dude just put the grounds in your press-you can do it! Oh and we got regifted a bag of REAL KONA and I think we drank it in like 3 days. It was soooooo delicious. I could not believe my friend gave me that coffee! We were given som jamaican Blue Mountain but it was now where near as tasty and wonderful as the Kona!
And what the heck is an air pot? Sounds like drug paraphenalia to me. LOL

Huff Daddy said...

I've never had any success using drip ground coffee in a French press. last time resulted in a temper tantrum and things getting thrown!

An air pot is the pot then the coffee shop serves from, they push down in the center of the top and it pumps out the front. It's for holding and serving coffee. Dinah said she got it free long time ago. I wondered why we even owned one.

Too bad it isn't more illicit ;)