Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lighting the Morning Rocket

Coffee is part of my morning routine. I am not particularly addicted to it (or caffeine) but I do enjoy a couple of cups each day. Over the years I have experimented with different ways to make coffee. I have tried garden variety drip with the Bunn maker we got as a wedding present. That coffee was always, always weak. I bought a Moka pot for camping and that made a pretty good cup of coffee, but it was fussy, and tough to brew back-to-back batches without oven mitts. I even added an electric Moka pot to my collection. French press works pretty well, but my wife and I diverge on coffee; she drinks flavored and I do not. The French press also doesn't do a very good job of keeping the second, much less third, cup hot enough. My wife presses, pours her cup, and pours the rest into a thermos. OK, but a bit of a pain. I don't gulp coffee down, and the last swallows are generally tepid. Since I also like iced coffee, I don't find that offensive but I do want the first sips of hot coffee to be hot. I am currently using a Hamilton-Beach "Scoop", s single-cup brewer that is probably the equivalent of a Keurig-type machine except I get to use my own coffee.

I start with fresh beans and grind them just before use. I have a fancy electric burr grinder, but the damn thing sounds like a jet landing in the kitchen. It is not endearing to my wife or the cat. It sits on a shelf, and this $20 hand-cranked grinder now does the job. It is not very consistent with the grind unless I go quite fine but that results in an unpalatable amount of dust in the brew. *shrug* It is quiet and quick enough, so tranquility is maintained. Everything has a trade-off it seems. I use slightly more than the recommended amount of coffee, at least Hamilton-Beach's recommendation, but still roughly 2.5 teaspoons per 8-oz cup.

The brewing takes about two minutes on the normal setting, not really long enough for a good cup. I use the "Bold" setting for a longer steep. My only real complaint about the machine is that, as you can see in the photo, the finished brew is at 150 degrees, or a good 25 degrees cooler than optimal. I have not been preheating my mug and that could have something to do with it. The water boils before it is fed to the grounds, so I know it is hitting the coffee at 205 or so degrees, but why the cool brew at the end? I had not measured the temperature before this, so I have not yet done any experimenting (dang that Cooks Illustrated magazine!) but I will be starting with the next cups. Preheated mug? Insulated mug? We shall see.

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