Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The joys of savoring.

As I sit here, I'm having trouble typing without rubbing my palms together [which position was generally frowned upon in my sophomore typing class (where I met my still close personal friend Bill The Almost Accountant.)].

See, I have a thick slice of ham on my large cast iron skillet, and I can hear it sizzling and and smell it. Said slice was carved off of the Giant Ham Of Doom. The GHoD was given to me for Christmas, and has lived in the bottom of the refrigerator. Originally, we planned to cook it and use the ham bone for our New Year's Day black eyed peas, but we just didn't get it in the oven early enough. See, it takes eight hours to cook a 24 lb ham. I have no idea what this bad boy cost, but one would start by pricing a large porcine animal.

The meat's incredible.

Almost ready.

I'm as excited as this girl.

Eerie, ain't it?

- - - -

Of course, one needs a fine beverage to wash down this (succulent, juicy, tender) dish with. No, not a beer. A: too early in the day, and B: They frown upon me showing up for work (as I am scheduled to do in a couple of hours) reeking of IPA.

No, it's Coffee Time.

And I'm not just throwing down a cuppa cheap mud.

I am drinking the Real Thing.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a certain... uh... relationship with coffee. My own beloved mother commented on this blog that I had an unhealthy obsession with it. "Coffee" is probably the most-used post tag on this blog. Yet until this week, I had been appreciating something less than what this brew could fully be. I was as a car afficianado appreciating the superb renditions of Hondas out there (quality cars to be sure, but there is a point beyond which they cannot exceed), or a shotist waxing poetic about the wonders of his Uberti clone. I was ignorant of what lay beyond.

Oh, I had heard of greater lands. Friends and bloggers whispered in my ear of coffee presses and fresh-roasting. But I had an $11 handy grinder, and I bought good Starbucks beans, and why should I listen to them?

[Fie on't? Oh fie, fie 'tis an unweeded Garden...]

To think of the portion of my life that I have wasted, with my parched lips unannointed by this nectar that I have decocted in my own kitchen.

Why is this method not more popular? Answer: It takes time, and attention.

Last year, I upgraded to a quality burr grinder.

This Christmas, I received from Holly and Dad a chambord French press coffee maker. I uncharacteristically read the instructions, and found that, although it takes significantly more effort to make a pot of coffee, the results are spectacular.

Then, on New Years Eve, Mom-- the same lady who accused me of having an unhealthy obsession with the Dark Brew Of Happiness-- gave me a Fresh Roast Plus 8 Coffee Bean Roaster. Put a couple of scoops of green Colombian Valencia beans into it, dial it up for 6 minutes, and let it turn those bad beans brown.

While it's roasting, double-filter a couple of pints of tap water and get that to boiling.

Grind the roasted beans in the burr grinder on Coarse setting.

Pour the whole batch into the chambord.

When the water's boiling or just below, pour it over the coffee in the French press.

Stir with a plastic spoon.

Cover and let sit for four minutes.

Slowly press the straining plate down to the bottom of the coffee pot.

Turn the strainer to the front of the spout, and pour a cup.

I haven't managed to go from cold green bean to cuppa coffee in less than 20 minutes, but I'm trying.

One of the most amazing things about this method is that the last cup is better than the first. Also, it's far, far, far, far, farfarfarfarfarfar more caffiene-rich than regular drip or espresso.

Dammit. I am so frickin' ruined. I feel like the main character in a certain fictional movie discussed over breakfast in Reservoir Dogs; nothing will ever feel as good again.

It's like my first cup of coffee.

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At Thursday, January 03, 2008 3:43:00 PM, Blogger The Lily said...

You bet yer sweet bippy that it's got more caffiene! No filter to soak up all the oils and particles. If I could mainline french press coffee, I would.

FYI, I am sure you knew this, but the darker the roast the less the caffiene in the bean.

At Thursday, January 03, 2008 4:13:00 PM, Blogger HollyB said...

Gee, I could have sworn that French Press had an 8 cup capacity. Sorry.
But, I have a really Warm glow knowing you're enjoyin' it so very much.

At Thursday, January 03, 2008 7:13:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Dang it. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had mis-assigned that gift as having come from elsewhere, Holly. I'm so pleased that it came from you, and the attribution has now been corrected.

Thank you! [/gush]

Oh, and it is an "8 Cup" model... sort of. They define a "cup" of coffee as 4 ounces. Thus their one-quart chambord gives me two of my gi-normous mugs of black beauty.

And ClaireBell, I've been astonished that I've been appreciating a lighter roast for the first time in years.

At Thursday, January 03, 2008 7:22:00 PM, Blogger HollyB said...

We'll talk tomorrow. Unless you got two...your Dad and I indeed got that one. My inspiration, his approval and money.

At Thursday, January 03, 2008 10:49:00 PM, Blogger Rabbit said...

Kinda reminds me of the Cadillac ad on tv...
"Welcome to the world of coffee, gentlemen..."

Now we need to have that talk about that Starbucks swill you seem to think so highly of.


At Friday, January 04, 2008 12:49:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Oh, hush. For a quick grind, there's nothing wrong with a vaccuum-sealed pack of one of their middle roasts.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 2:25:00 AM, Blogger KD5NRH said...

Generally, for a pre-ground, I stick with Community Dark Roast: relatively cheap, good flavor, and can be brewed up strong enough to pour like maple syrup without tasting wrong.

OTOH, if I'm in the mood for something special, my preferred method is a good old-fashioned percolator. There's just something different about the way the coffee comes out.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 5:55:00 AM, Blogger The Lily said...

Oh Matt. Say it ain't so. You like that over-roasted crap? It's SO over-roasted it revives my accent out of sheer and utter disdain?

I am aghast. I stand with rabbit on this one.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 10:19:00 AM, Blogger JPG said...

I hoped you'd enjoy the coffee press - - I had no idea it would be a personal ephiphany.

Anyhow - - The idea was indeed my BB's. She asked if you were apt to like it. I said I thought so, as you are such a coffee conniesew - -, uh, coffee gaurmay, uh, you like coffee so much. I later mentioned that I'd look forward to sampling some of your brew from the new press. So she snuck off to the shop and got another one for me. Different brand, apparently identical operation. I'm enjoying mine, but I haven't tried it with roasted-only-minutes-before, fresh ground beans. I need to come by sometime while you're brewing and give it a try.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 10:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhh coffee ohhh yeah.

French Press with double-french dark beans for the weekend, and espresso ('cause it's faster) for weekday mornings mmmmmmm.

I was in Portland Oregon over the holidays and had a coffee that must have been brewed by the gods themselves, it was unbelievable. My son had been singing the praises of Andreas' coffee for a year or two now (he lives in Ptld) but I figured, yeah, coffee, I buy good beans and grind 'em, I got the good stuff.

I had no idea coffee could be that rich and varied, with such amazing flavors. And I _do_ get the good stuff here.

But there is always better.

Mmmmmm, must kidnap Andreas.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

Aw, Claire-- I said middle roast!

I also mentioned how much I'm enjoying the lighter roasts on my home machine, you'll notice.

And have you really lost your accent except in times of disdain? Pity.

Glad I won't have to trundle my tender glass press over there, Dad.

At Friday, January 04, 2008 11:16:00 AM, Blogger Asphyxiated Emancipation said...

Darn you, Matt. I've been forcing myself to make do with lesser coffees, because of that same time/effort factor required. Now you've gone and posted a link to a very affordable machine that can make a true coffee snob of me. Why would you do that?
Starbucks? Really, Matt? You put that swill in your mouth? Thor's beard, I'd rather drink instant...

At Friday, January 04, 2008 2:29:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Okay, now that's just crazy talk.

At Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:50:00 AM, Blogger The Lily said...

I saw you mention the mid-roast but you will find that rabbit and I are NOT alone here. There are more affordable beans that are a better coffee. Period.

Whole Foods blend is $2 cheaper per pound than Starbucks. The 8 O'Clock French Roast coffee is also a great buy. I found it at home for $3 for 12oz. Blew me away that people even sold coffee that cheap.

*whine* It's hard keeping the accent with all the yankees in DC. ;) FYI i have NOT been trying to get rid of it. Evar.

At Saturday, January 05, 2008 5:44:00 PM, Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

My secret to drinking coffee:

1. Take whatever's in the pot at the local Stop and Rob.

2. Add non-dairy creamer.

3. Add sugar until the spoon stands up.

You may now commence flaying the Coffee Philistine.

At Monday, January 07, 2008 11:37:00 AM, Blogger DBA Dude said...

Wow, you really did read the instructions - "stir with a plastic spoon".

VIP, using metal ones can lead to cracks in the glass and a lack of coffee heaven.

Have mothballed my trusty percolator since I got mine 3 years ago.

At Monday, January 07, 2008 2:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok Matt,

You're on your way!

Here are a couple more things to try:

1) Let a batch rest for a few days - many interesting flavors take time to develop.

2) Buy some beans from SweetMaria's -
Start with a sampler pack so you can find out what kind of coffees you like best.

Oh - and check out an AeroPress for work - slightly cleaner cup then FP (no particulates) and much faster.

At Monday, January 07, 2008 5:38:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Thanks for the tip, Steve-- I'll look into it. But for now, I'm forbidden from bringing a pot of coffee to work. Something about me making too much mess by breaking glass caraffes or something. :)

I just got my notification from Burman Coffee Traders that my order of green beans has shipped:

1 lb Costa Rican Coffee BCT Dota Select.
1 lb Vista Hermosa Peaberry.
1 lb Hawaiian Coffee Beans Kauai - Reserve
1 lb Malinal Estate Washed

Just for starters.


At Monday, January 07, 2008 6:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easier to type now that I'm on a real keyboard (as opposed to my TREO - blasted Firewall of Idiocy at work).

You wouldn't be bringing a pot of coffee to work - just some roasted beans, a small grinder, and the AeroPress. Well, and maybe a way to heat the water if there isn't one handy (I use the tap on their 'coffee' machine - the standard Bunn 2 burner model).

If you've got some storage space you can keep everything but the beans there - have to bring those in fresh, of course. ;)

Some of the coffees that most benefit from resting are ones like the Monsooned Malabars. Fresh roasted they smell... off. Around the third day the smell changes from the weird, funky smell to something like eating chocolate down at the fine cigar store - lots of subtle tones in the flavors.

Oh yeah, you've also got lots of future gifts you can line up. Heck, you'll want a couple of options for larger roasters. You can use your stove pop popcorn popper (the good old WhirlyPop), you can combine the top of a Turbo Air Oven with the bottom of a Stir-Crazy popcorn popper (known as a "Turbo/Crazy" roaster and good for as much as a pound at a time). I currently use a GeneCafe - does just over a half pound nice and neat. Puts off noticable smoke, of course, just like any roasting method (the more you roast the more smoke you get).

Interesting tidbit: My ever-indulgent wife keeps an eye on her blood pressure due to family history. It was showing a bit high so she started working out. She works out in the sun room. I roast in the sun room. Eventually I had to roast while she was exercising despite not wanting to get in her way. That night her BP was dead on perfectly normal - even a little low. We did a week or so of tests (using my original roaster, the original FreshRoast) and found out that there is an apparent link. If your BP is low / normal roasting coffee will slightly raise it. If your BP is high and you exercise while inhaling coffee roasting smoke your BP will go down to normal. Just roasting or just exercising can lower your BP a bit but not that much. The combo can drop it over 20 points. If your BP is normal, exercise + smoke still equals very slight elevation (about 5 pts).

At Monday, January 07, 2008 9:29:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...


1, meretricious. "No pots" means no coffee pots. Ever. I don't buck command from a Lieutenant and Chief that are both worthy of following, and both friends. I'm nothing if not a guy who can follow a direct order.

2nd, we have TERRIBLE storage issues. I have a drawer to myself. our PD is tiny. Seriously.

3. I've been meaning to try your popcorn roasting idea for months, since the first time you mentioned it.

Monday, January 07,

At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 5:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The AeroPress is a 'cup at a time' brewer so it fits the 'no pots' rule.

But you need to store / carry something about the size of a kid's lunch box (which would actually work quite well).

Two keys on stovetop roasting:

1) Start with the heat a lot lower than you think you'll need - remember, you're only trying to get the beans to about 450 degrees.

2) Agitate! Let 'em sit for more than a second and you'll get scorched spots. Coffee will still taste great, just not as great as it could. I have an 'AromaPot' which is like a slightly mutant popper (only a small hatch for getting the beans through is the main visible difference). The agitation method they recommend / I use is: six turns one way, six turns the other way, then a 'toss' (like flipping a flap jack). That seems to keep the beans pretty well agitated.

You'll need to have a cooler ready - if you go near second crack the beans are actually exothermic.

A big wire strainer (hit the local Chinese grocery for lots of neat things like this) over a running fan works great. Home harmony hint: do this outside - first time you'll do it you'll not only know why, you'll know what a 'chaff storm' is. ;) Stir with a spoon at first - the mass should cool pretty quick.

We can take this to email if you want, and/or if you sign up for the email list on SweetMaria's you can get info from a ton of folks.


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