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Liking coffee took a long time Liking coffee took a long time

Letters From Home

Life looks at infmom / infmom looks at life

Not so strange brew


Lifehacker today did a story about storing coffee beans.  Which got me to thinking about coffee in general.

My parents were big coffee drinkers.  They had one of those old-fashioned stove-top percolator pots that was featured in the Maxwell House commercials that so many people of my generation remember. The pot has a basket inside, into which you put the coffee grounds, and you fill the pot with water and put it on the stove.  As the water comes to a boil, it shoots up the stem that the basket sits on, into the glass knob on top, and falls back down into the grounds.  That water steeps through, drops back into the pot and gets re-perked.  The down side of this is pretty obvious; you can end up with coffee thick enough to stand a spoon in in short order.  Plus, you have to keep an eye on the pot and turn it off after whatever the brewing time is.  That’s where my parents had problems.

My mom was prone to going off somewhere and zoning out and forgetting about the pot.  She boiled them dry on a regular basis and once even left it so long that the aluminum actually melted into the stove burner.  After paying for someone to fix the stove, my dad decreed that from then on they would drink instant coffee.  (My mom would then put water on to boil in a saucepan on the stove, zone out elsewhere, and…   well, you get the picture).

Regardless of how the coffee was brewed, my parents poured a lot of milk and sugar into it.  They would take the wet spoon out of the coffee, dip it in the sugar bowl, and leave chunks of coffee-congealed sugar behind.  My brothers and I raised major objections to this, since we didn’t want coffee lumps in our Sugar Coated Sugar Sprinkled Sugar Soggs cereal in the morning.

I always liked the smell of brewing coffee, but loathed the taste.  Every time I was offered a sip I’d try it and gag.  But I loved coffee ice cream, go figure!  I could never figure out what the difference was and why one would be nauseating and the other delicious.

Fast forward many years.  I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and thus had to revamp my entire set of common food choices, including beverages.  Since I thought diet soda tasted vile (something I have not really changed my opinion about over the years) and I got tired of drinking water, on one business trip I decided to try a cup of coffee with just some cream in it.

What a revelation.  It wasn’t the coffee I had loathed so much, it was all that milk and sugar!

Not long afterwards, my daughter got a part-time job at Starbucks to help pay her college expenses.  One of the benefits of being a Starbucks employee is a free pound of coffee per week.  And so I became a free-coffee beneficiary and got a coffee grinder and thus entered into the wide world of coffee culture.  I had never set foot in a Starbucks till my daughter started working there, and she had to write down for me what she thought I should order.  I’d never heard of “caramel macchiato” in my life.

My son worked at Starbucks for a time, too, and thus my supply of free bags of coffee continued.  I got lazy.  I’d take whatever was brought home.  But after he left Starbucks I had to start making my own decisions about my own coffee.  I tried Armenian coffee from the international market up the street.  I tried small-roaster brands from Whole Foods.  I tried the in-store-roasted coffee from Costco.  Then I started experimenting with cans of coffee from Trader Joe’s.  (All the while ignoring all those mailers from Gevalia.)

Well, gang, I think I have finally found a winner.  Scandinavian Blend from Trader Joe’s.  Best combination of taste and price I’ve found in all my travels.  It’s so good it tempts me to have more than my one cup of regular coffee per day (I’m sensitive to caffeine so I have to be careful how much I consume, and when).  With just a little half-and-half in it, brewed in my Aeropress, it’s as close to perfect as it gets.  At least for me.  (That’s an Aeropress on the left, and if you haven’t tried it you have missed out on some really extraordinary smooth rich coffee…  I’m convinced it’d make even Folgers taste good).

Are you a coffee drinker?  Do you go to great lengths to store and brew “properly” or do you just dip out of the can from the supermarket and enjoy the ease of use?  Have you signed up with Gevalia?  I’m still not convinced about those guys.  🙂

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: phlora

  • I Can Haz Coffeemaker (passingthru.com)
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Author: infmom

Otherwise known as Infamous Mom.

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