Friday, October 5, 2007

Java Jive


A multi thought post about several things related to coffee.

First of all, I just love that song, Java Jive. My first recollection of the song was the Manhattan Transfer version from the 70’s. Before I started this post, however, I wanted to find a little of the history and was amazed to find that the tune was composed by Milton Drake and Ben Oakland and copyrighted in 1940. It was originally sung by The Ink Spots in that same year. A real blast from the past.

I do like my coffee. I’m not a caffeine addict or anything, but I enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning and in the evening, after dinner. I’m not sure exactly why? It certainly isn’t the “buzz” as I am one of a small number of people that caffeine has NO effect on. I can drink a double espresso in the evening and immediately fall asleep….it actually helps me to go to sleep! The bad side of this physical condition is that if I need to stay awake for some reason, coffee or caffeine is of zero/nada/zip help to me.

I realized that my father “The Colonel”, had this same trait in 1964, as the family was driving cross country from Colorado to New Jersey to my grandfather's funeral. Mom, Dad and 3 of the 4 boys were packed into the 1963 Chevy pickup truck and Travel Queen truck camper for a "straight through" drive of about 1800 miles. Much of the interstate system in the heartland of the US was non-existent during this time and we took two lane U.S. 40 most of the way.

Somewhere around Missouri, in the middle of the night, I was in the truck cab with my Dad and the rest of the family was in the camper asleep. The Colonel was starting to nod off but wouldn't let me drive. I prevailed upon him to stop at an all night diner and get some coffee and as we were paying the bill, I saw they had No-Doze under the counter. I told my Dad that if he wouldn't let me drive, at least he could take some No-Doze....he did and about 50 miles down the road he fell asleep at the wheel. Fortunately I was watching him and grabbed the wheel. At this point I realized caffeine had no effect on him.....and he confirmed it after he woke up by telling me coffee never "did him any good".

Anyway, back to topic. I like my cuppa joe and I have been searching for a long time for that perfect way to get that perfect cuppa joe. The picture at the top represents the devices I have used in the pursuit of this perfect cup, in the last few years.

I'm the only coffee drinker in the immediate family. Anything with caffeine will wire up The Bride for about 36 hours and The Emmer has never developed a taste for coffee. With that in mind, I really don’t need a 12 cup drip coffee maker…or even a 6 cup one for that matter. I’ll drink a cup or maybe two and I’m good. Besides I have found that drip coffee makers don’t do a real good job either flavor wise or temperature wise. Water makes it was through the coffee once, that’s it. If it doesn’t pick up the flavor that first time, for whatever reason, you’ve got no flavor. I also like my coffee HOT and drip coffee makers just don’t do HOT coffee.

The next option is an old fashioned percolator. This solves the coffee/water contact time and ensures that it you let it perk long enough you’ll leach out all the coffee flavor. It takes a long time (relatively) to get good coffee this way and for one or two cups it is not a great way to do it.

About a year ago I looked into the "brewing station" machines that will do one cup at a time. I had great hope for them as it looked to be my answer and they almost were. Being the son of the depression kid that I am, I was not about to spend a lot of money on anything that would give me just one cup or coffee....and I didn't want to be restricted to buying coffee "pods" at an exorbitant price.

The Black and Decker Home Cafe looked real promising. It wasn't real expensive and you could buy an after market gizmo that would allow you to use your own brand of coffee. It also let you choose between two sizes of "cups". I got one with the added gizmo and was quite happy with it but the gizmo broke after about one month. I went to WalMart and bought another gizmo and it didn't last much longer. I was blaming myself for mistreating the gizmo somehow, but when I went to WalMart to buy a third, I discovered that WalMart stopped selling them....product flaw. I was out in the cold! You can still buy the things online but they're between $10-$20 and you'll need to replace them every month or so......Don't think so!

In reviewing my options I came across a French Press. I'd never really considered these before and always looked at them as a fancy-schmancy thing that was more for show than substance. I was desperate however, so I bought one. By the second use I was a convert. This device gives me everything I'm looking for in a cuppa joe. The press I have will provide about two cups, my perfect serving size. Because you add boiling water to the press, the end product is HOT and because you pour the water over the coffee grounds, which by the way are any kind of coffee grounds you want, the resultant brew is stronger and more aromatic that most other coffee makers.

The only downside to a coffee press...and it's not a really big thing, is that you have to boil water first, pour it over the grounds and let it steep for about 3-4 minutes. For my 33 oz press it takes about 6 minutes to boil that amount of water in the microwave and 4 minutes to steep so total prep time is 10 minutes. Heck, if I go to Starbucks, I'm guaranteed to stand in line longer than that and I've gotta speak a foreign tongue to be able to order!

I like my press so much that I just ordered a stainless steel, insulated model to carry in my trailer, Bivouac.

Incidentally, the device on the right in the back row of the picture above in my Mr. Coffee "fru-fru" coffee maker. It will do all the latte-cappuccino stuff but I use it for espresso when I really want a strong drink. Since I've gone to a coffee press I hardly ever use this machine.

That's probably way more than you ever wanted to know about my search for coffee but it was therapeutic for me to explain why I have so many of these things sitting around the house!

Thanks for visiting.


1 comment:

Vic Grace said...

I am almost embarrased to admit I enjoy a couple of cups of Instant Nescafe decaf in the morning.

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