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coffee
updated 11.16.06

Coffee is good, Coffee is now.

I have decided to allow coffee to be a big part of my life. I love it , I look forward to it each and every day. In the words of my good friend Chris O'donnell, "coffee makes you happy". But as with many things I do in my life, I fixate on what appears to be the "best" read: what ever I decide seems the most informed and newest method for whatever my current passion/obsession is, and then I make a hasty and irresponsible conclusion based there on.
Therefore, after weeks of contemplation I have decided to make this page an ongoing event, instead of just some dogmatic diatribe that I "think" clarifies a worldwide phenomenon. Get it?, I am not sure I do, but...
My quest is to make my "BEST CUP OF COFFEE IN THE WORLD" at home. It may have started when I glanced upon an offering in Bon Apetit magazine for a stainless steel carafe auto drip machine for $16.95 from Gavilia.com which is trying to get people to buy coffee via subscription. Kind of like a a "beer of the month" club. They sold out of this offer rather quickly, but you can still get a 10 cup glass carafe auto drip, plus 2- half pounds of coffee, plus a stainless scooper for the same price. I thought I had hit pay dirt with this slightly scammy way to get what I thought I wanted.


But I was wrong.


I will take this early opportunity to point you towards a website that is truly as close to what my minds eye is of a coffee website expounding the obsessive qualities of coffee nature without looking too much like a froo froo small town much coffee shop website. It is called coffeekid.com, don't be put off by the name, the site is just a coffee info webspace that proudly serves up the word obsession when applicable.


My personal criteria are to make my "best cup of coffee in the world" at home that only needs a little half and half and can go into my travel mug and make me happy (if I am going to work) or supply me with the four cups I drink in the first hour or so of the day without putrefying the natural oils that go stale approximately thirty minutes after infusion and/or two weeks after opening a package of whole beans, that is assuming it was sealed properly at the time of roasting. If for some bizarre reason you are messing with pre-ground coffee, all bets are off.

As of January 28th, 2007 I have almost succeeded in discovering, creating and maintaining a supply of the best cup of coffee in the world criteria, here is what I can currently offer up:

1
Order beans from Greatcoffee.com, if they are not offering anything that looks particularly great I use The Roasterie.

 

 

2
Use my brand new KitchenAid Pro burr grinder that sells on eBay and Amazon at 57% off list for $129.

 

3
Brew in my Siphon Vac Pot using these hard fought for secrets that I share with you via my vac pot faq.

 

 

This just in!
I saw this on Digg and was intrigued. But before I add it to my coffee making arsenal (see left) I thought I would wait to hear more. Well, that was a few months ago and I still have not heard anything. Anyone know if this is the deal or not?
What I think I know:

Great Beans:
I used to drink french press and was convinced Graffeo was the only coffee worth guzzling and that was the end of the conversation. Now I hope I have found a more civilized perspective. Recently I decided it was high time I got my coffee situation into ship shape. I thought I had it in ship shape when I had found Graffeo, but now I know otherwise. One of my friends who is also in search of the "BCOCITW", (which will be referred to as "Boca-see-two" from now) turned me onto a website entitled Greatcoffee.com a few months back. (thanks Kappy) And it is the shit. In a nutshell it has changed my life. So much so that it is hard to know whether to present this info as a HankNow, Dada, or even a heralded HMP page. But no one goes to HMP, so I decided to go with Dada, he needs the company.

I hope I don't really need to yack at all about how coffee works and the different climates and such. All that info is out there a plenty. As well as the above mentioned Coffeekid, CoffeeReview.com. Here is a link to their reference section. It is logically laid out, and not overwhelming at all. When you drink as much coffee as I do, it is easy to get overwhelmed. CoffeeReview.com is the "Wine Spectator" of coffee drinking. Great site to get most any info you might need regarding coffee, coffee, coffee. They in turn have a relationship with Greatcoffee.com. So, the coffee you read about at Coffee review can be purchased from GreatCoffee.com. Order's over $35 get free shipping.

I had a long talk with the guy who runs Greatcoffee.com Ron Walters the other day and my resolve became even greater. He called me because they were out of stock on one of the coffees, so he was offering a free upgrade to a better bean in order to get the order out asap. I asked him about how the supply/demand works and how often the product selection changes. Among other things he mentioned were that when stock is too old to sell (like two WEEKS after roasting) he gives it to a local men's shelter. that's pretty cool.


(I am glad to report that after at least a year of buying my coffee solely from Greatcofee.com (except one or two binges from Monkey and Sons) I am delighted with the universally delightful coffees they are always selling. Never had a bad coffee from Greatcoffee.com)

There are many boutique roaster hitting the market and some offer exceptional coffees. There was a recent article in the LA Times about local roasters, here are the links.

Storage:

One of the main reason I decided to update this page (10.2006) was the introduction of the missing link. Short of roasting your own beans with one of the home roasters Sweet Maria's offers, the biggest issue with keeping coffee fresh and stable is storage of the beans.
As my research has shown, (contrary to many opinions including my own) it is best to store beans at room temperature in a ceramic light proof container.


That was of course, until now:

Introducing BeanVac
The worlds first battery powered vacuum bean container. A MUST have at $39.95

 

Graffeo Coffee Sidebar

Just to make sure I get my words in re: Graffeo. Graffeo coffee is truly one of the best blends around and a blast to be a part of. The guy that runs it (based out of San Francisco) used to be a wine maker applied the same meticulous refinement process in his effort to create bocacitwo. They make one kind of coffee and roast it in two ways, Light and Dark. They have a gorgeous minimalist storefront on Beverly Dr in Beverly Hills staffed by very young brewed out gen-xers selling coffee and only coffee. I got into a conversation with one of the guys recently who explained that graffeo is a blend. That he has tried all of the beans separately (there are four) and none of them are as good as the blend. He has also tried the same exact beans roasted by another company and found it undrinkable. That in part is how mysterious the whole coffee blending process is. You cannot buy a stupid cappuccino, or a go cup or a cookie at Graffeo, just buy beans. I love it. They are so devoted to making great coffee that they stopped selling there beams retail, (too little control over stock turn over) and they flatly recommend ordering from them in as small batches as you can imagine in order to keep the roast:drink ratio to a minimum. It is a great blend and is served in many of the best restaurant in the country (that is how they make there money).

(I will grab some pix next time I am there)

 

Grinding is a big deal:


One of the reasons I decided to go bocaseetwo was the advent of low cost burr grinders for the home. A year ago it still coasted you $100 for a burr grinder. A few weeks ago I was at Bed Bath Beyond and they had no less the 10 Burr grinders ranging from $29-$200. Now is the time to buy! Simply put, burr grinding crushes the beans so that there is no harm done to the very fragile oils in coffee that a blade grinder just plain hacks up. Burr grinding is possibly the most significant upgrade that you can make in your own bocaseetwo.

Pictured is a kinda cool Kitchenaid burr grinder with a retro look and comes in all those great Kitchen Aid colors. Too bad it is $129.

CoffeeReview link to grinding.

Chemex Infusion:
By far the coolest name in coffee brewing. The was a late contender for my search, and I have the filters, but still have not yet tried the coffee. and even tough I love the purity of it and the fact that it has a whole coffee-brewing-sub culture surrounding it, the bottom line is that the vessel is a little hard to clean. Like a wine carafe (something I recently purchased and know the value of but hate the cleaning issues) it is just plain a pain in the butt. Chemex carafes are still available new for about $70 from at least one place I found but many people buy vintage ones on eBay for less. Pretty much if it isn't broken, it's gotta be in working condition. The filters are available from Amazon for $4.99/100

Sweet Marias Chemex

Chemex from Chemex

French Press:
Also known as the Melior method after the first model that is still available today, or "plunge" coffee is considered one of the purest ways to make coffee. Very little non-glass contact, simple, controllable water temperature (195-220), etc.
I love French Press just like everyone else. But I just feel that after a few months of French Press you are yearning for a "clean, clear" cup of coffee. Coffeekid.com describes french press as:
"crunchy coffee" to describe it. It's not a bad term - far from it - it means it's coffee with heaps of texture and mouthfeel."

I drank French press for awhile and I am sure I will again. But, for me it is not how I wish to define bocaseetwo.

Auto Drip:
Drip pot you say? Well, This is the way I see it.


Cooks Illustrated did a brewing roundup and much to my dismay the top rated brewers were those weird looking reverse osmosis things that Starbucks sells for $100 (technically they are electric vacuum siphon coffee makers). (The Starbucks model sucked even more than the rest of there products and was discontinued) The truth is that these vacuum pots are the purest way to brew coffee (see below). But even Cooks Illustrated displayed there frustration with using vacuum pots. The odd looking carafes are hard to clean and expensive, The cheapest one is $85 and believe it or not made by Black and Decker. As of 10.2006 I think Black and Decker stopped making there Vac Pots, no listing on their website?

That leaves me with a drip pot
Yup, my old friend the auto drip. I guess I just want this to be the way I make coffee. But there is a big difference between the Cuisinart drip machine that I had pledged my allegiance to for many years and the one I now use exclusively. The awesome, outrageous and goofy looking Technivorm. After learning about the Technivorm CD Moccamaster (tell me that is not the coolest name for a coffee maker you ever heard).
The Moccamaster is the only drip machine in the world that brews coffee at the proper infusion temperature of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Which is the same as water that has been resting from a full boil for 20 seconds, at sea level no less) and adheres to a brewing cycle of eight minutes, which has been determined as the optimal brewing time.
There is not much else to say about it, it is the best. It is expensive yes, but if you do like I did and ask to receive it as a gift and then your sister gets contributions from all your friends and you get the Moccamaster, then it is easy. (thanks Rach!)

Vacuum Siphon:
So now I am resolved that bocaseetwo is only gonna come into my life with an all glass siphon pot. I have read and re-read the universally accepted accolades to this process and as soon as I feel comfortable throwing down the hundred bucks on the model I want, I am gonna do it. More and more I think that I will wind up with one of these beauties scientifically making coffee in my house. It meets and exceeds all my criteria. 100% glass environment, virtually foolproof, amazingly cool looking. A brewing style that was made popular in the 40's and quite possibly the holy grail of brew art. In the best of cases the coffee never touches anything other than glass, you cannot burn the coffee or over infuse the grounds. The common down size is that the brewers are hard to clean and delicate scientifically inclined objects.

After a month of using my new vac pot that I bought form Cafe Balcony, it developed a highline crack. I think the seal between the top and bottom was not tight and all the water evaporated the in the bottom bulb so it super heated. Well, at almost $100 a pop I thoght I better look elsewhere while I try to get a replacement bulb frmo Taiwan.
Low and behold I find that one of the highest rated siphon vac pots made by Bodum is on sale at a place called iKitchen for $35 (not $39 like all those other appliances, but close), so I bought three.

Best place to drool over vac pots.

What I NEED for Christmas!

I stumbled onto this place a few years after moving to LA. It is a Japanese Coffee Salon that serves very expensive, individually brewed cups, though none other than an all glass vacuum siphon. I checked just the other day and it is still listed. So now you can "try before you buy"

Focus, Salon De Cafe
319 E. Second St. Suite #202,
Los Angeles CA 90012
213-680-3015

If you actually buy a Vac Pot like I just did, you will want to get one of these butane enhanced Micro Burners instead of using the alcohol burners that come with them. It will be the best $31.50 and free shipping you have ever spent. Remember Bunsen Burners?

thanks to Dave W. for reminding me to make this important addition.

   
 
 
 
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