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Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Good Cup of Coffee



My lovely wife and I drink a fair amount of coffee. We take our coffee seriously. Life is too short for bad coffee, but a small bag of organic fair trade coffee costs dearly at the grocery store. To save money, I buy in bulk 35 – 40 pounds of coffee at a time. It only costs a few more dollars to ship 40 pounds as it does to ship 5.

Green coffee (unroasted) is the way to go. Green coffee can go years without an loss of flavor. It's only after it's roasted that the clock starts running. It's also much cheaper to buy it green. I get mine from Dean's Beans. We have to relationship with the company other than the fact that I buy their coffee.

Why fair trade organic? The fair trade label indicates that the farmer who actually grew the coffee makes a living wage. Usually, most of the profit from coffee goes to middle men. Organic means the trees were grown in a more natural setting. There are other trees and plants mixed in. In fact, unlike a plantation, birds and animals live among the coffee trees. With all the coffee I drink, there's a small forest out there that I'm supporting.

Of course, you need a way of roasting the coffee. The easiest is to buy a regular coffee roaster. Mine cost about 80 bucks some years ago. Measure out the coffee, set the timer, and the coffee is done. There are many different models out there, but there's no need to spend over $150. When camping, I can roast coffee using a dry cast iron frying pan with a cover. This takes a bit of skill. The fire has to be hot but not too hot. The pans needs to be shook, like making popcorn. In fact as the coffee roasts, it makes a sound like popcorn. The first pop is called the “first crack.” Once all the coffee pops, it's usable. If you like a darker roast, listen for the second softer pop, known as the “second crack.” The outer skin of the coffee bean, the chaff, separates when roasted. A coffee roasting machine will have a ways of dealing with the chaff. If you pan roast, just dump the coffee into a shallow cooling pan and blow the chaff away. There are whole books written about coffee roasting, but this will get you started.

Here's where I differ from the coffee purist. A true coffee fanatic will only use a burr grinder to grind coffee. That's great, but none of the one's I've bought have held up. In the end, I go back to the cheapo coffee grinders that you can get anywhere. I'm still looking for a good hand grinder. The older ones that actually grind coffee have caught the eye of collectors and decorate shelves. Prices are high. The modern knock offs don't work nearly as well. I bought one and soon came to conclusion that it's main function was decorative.

A drip style coffee maker is supposed to capture more of the flavor. That may be true, but my lovely wife and I did so much tent camping that we got used to using a stainless steel peculator. It's your basic old fashioned place on the fire coffee maker. The coffee is hotter than from a drip machine so it stays hot longer in a thermos or an air pot. The coffee made in the morning is still hot enough to drink in the afternoon. Another bonus is that there's no coffee filters to throw away. (or to buy)

Okay, how's this for a green hippy dippy cup of coffee. Fair trade organic and bought in bulk to reduce packaging. Roasted using a roaster power by solar generated electricity. The coffee is brewed in a reusable percolator with no disposable filters. It's heated on a woodstove burning sustainability harvested firewood. The coffee is poured into reusable ceramic mugs, some of which were made by a local potter. I drink my coffee black, but my lovely wife sweetens it with either local honey or maple syrup. Her creamer comes from local farms.

My dad said that if he had to do all that for a cup of coffee, he'd quit drinking the stuff. What does he know, the poor guy drinks instant.

-Sixbears

18 comments:

  1. I have a hand grinder I've been using for ten years now and it still going strong. It's made in Czechoslovakia.
    You can drop them an email for location in the U.S. For your area. There was one near where I live, but have lost the web sit. It's located in Portland, Or.
    Here is what it looks like and in the header, contact info.

    http://lodos.info/en/node/80/975

    Bexar































    I found the original one at a coffee supply store in Seattle for our trips in the deserts of the southwest.


    http://lodos.info/en/node/80/975

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    1. Nice modern design. I'll have to check it out.

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  2. When I started dating my wife, her breath smelled like coffee, her hair smelled like coffee, her clothes smelled like coffee, her car smelled like coffee, her home smelled like coffee - even her little boy smelled like coffee. I couldn't stand coffee. It's 30 years later, I've tried every way under the sun, and I STILL don't like the stuff! :-)

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    1. So . . . when you get up in the morning, that's as good as you're going to feel all day? :)

      I love the smell of coffee.

      You must love your wife.

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  3. ...outstanding post, passion about yer coffee just put ya alot farther up in my list of Heroes brother...Santa's bringing me another grinder...lol, aint did it that way for ten years or so

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    Replies
    1. I'm humbled.

      Enjoy your new grinder.

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  4. Off subject saw this and thought of you!!! http://news.yahoo.com/mans-home-14-foot-canoe-boston-harbor-072630143.html Back to coffee i got to go before the wife grabs the last cup in the pot.

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    1. Saw the article, thanks! Makes my 19 foot sailboat look like luxury. Better grab that last cup!

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  5. "Hippy dippy" coffee, ha ha! Far out man : )

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  6. Coffee time is my most favorite time of the day. Mornin' and afternoon.

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    Replies
    1. A good cup of coffee is one of life's little pleasures.

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  7. AAAACK! Instant coffee?
    That stuff is nasty.
    I am no coffee snob but I certainly enjoy it. There must be something wrong with me though, I can't stand Starbucks coffee, it's too damn strong.
    Gimme a good old fashioned cup of regular Folgers coffee in the morning and no one gets hurt.

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  8. Instant is nasty. It's almost as bad a no coffee at all.

    Starbucks really isn't all that great. Their coffee is often burned.

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  9. I have a mimoso coffee grinder from Brazil. It is probably 75 years old and was given to me by friends while I was visiting in Brazil during the 70's. It is cast iron and quite heavy, but grinds quickly and can be adjusted down to expresso grind. It can be clamped to table or screwed to wall. I screwed it to the wall. It is similar to a sprong grinder made in England. Go to this web site to read a long article about sprongs and also where mimosos are mentioned.
    www.home-barista.com/grinders/sprong-coffee-mills-grinder-for-23rd-century-t16165.html

    good luck

    Mark

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  10. Yup, organic fair trade from my local roaster.I have recently switched to a french press , and love it.I tend to catch a bunch of crap in the station ,as I make my personal brew.Just cant stand that commercial big pot swag.Thats awesome you roast your own.

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