_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Stonekettle Station's Rules of the Coffee Shop

As those who know me personally can attest, I am a hopeless coffee addict.

I’ll put up with a lot of unpleasantness - as long as there’s coffee.

Let the coffee run out though and my tolerance for unpleasantness, such as it is, drops to zero. Bad things usually follow.

Nowadays, I don’t drink shitty coffee. This is my one hard and fast rule, no shitty coffee. Period. And while I generally don’t drink coffee after lunch (unless there’s Irish Whiskey in it), if I don’t get coffee in the morning somebody is going to get maimed and it’s not going to be me, if you understand what I’m saying here. 

I spent more than two decades in the US Navy, coffee is a sailor’s lifeblood. Unfortunately, our lifeblood is coffee that’s been boiling in giant urns since the Eisenhower administration. Navy coffee consists of pure distilled caffeine, jet fuel, a hint of machine oil, and the bitter tears of Marines filtered through a pair of dirty skivvies. Navy coffee is a weapon of mass destruction and a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions with regards to the treatment of military personnel.  I don’t miss it and neither does what’s left of my stomach.

I’ve lived and travelled all over the world, I know what decent coffee tastes like.  You can hate the French all you like, but those beret-wearing wussies can make some damned good coffee, there should be a Nobel for the Jean-Pierre who invented the French Press.  Italy? Land of fantastic espresso and cappuccino made in beautiful copper and stainless steel machines that look like works of art.  Spain? Once you’ve had Café Con Leche (basically a latte made with strong espresso, thick whole milk and sugar) you tend to regard Folgers Drip as the runoff from Satan’s colon. The Greeks do some fine and tasty things with coffee. And the Turks make a cup that will cure a hangover migraine with a single sip – and leave you wide-eyed and quivering for a week. Turkish coffee is wild and full of life – sort of like the Turks themselves.  Some of the best coffee I ever had was in Israel, sweet and spiced and perfect.

Americans? Our coffee tradition descends from the tea sipping English. The English make coffee the way they cook, i.e. boil the shit out of it until it’s reduced to a thick bitter pudding.  Add sugar and lard, enjoy. These are the people who invented the Hot Toddie, which tastes like scalded rockgut stirred with a fried chicken leg.  You wonder where the British expression “keep a stiff upper lip” comes from?  It’s because they’re clamping down on about three centuries of bile. Americans, being Americans, looked at all the options out there and then took the shittiest tradition of the lot and made it faster.  Americans will drink damned near anything, as long as it can be made in a cheap disposable plastic machine and it’s fast – Give me a big ol’ cup of ass and be quick about it! Ever have McDonald’s coffee? I’m pretty sure that stupid clown used to be a Navy cook.

Sooner or later I’m going to break down and buy my very own espresso/latte/cappuccino machine. Problem is, a cheap machine is worse than useless and a good machine costs $1000 or more and requires special plumbing.  Now a crisp new Grover Cleveland for a decent cup of coffee doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to me, but my wife has other ideas.  So, for now, my very own steam spitting,  copper and steel, chrome trimmed, self cleaning, automatic espresso machine with integrated bean roaster and burr grinder with its own dedicated plumbing on a special gilded coffee island in the kitchen with optional bikini clad barista remains but a fantasy. Some day though, my electronic friends, some day it will be mine. Oh yes.

____________

Update June 2012: I bought the espresso machine.  The position of Bikini clad barista is open.

_____________

 

I’ve learned a few things:

 

- Never get in line behind two women: Women are worried what the other woman thinks, they'll try to out non-fat each other. Seriously.

Barista: Nice to see you again. Your usual quadruple mocha latte with whole bottle nosed dolphin cream and a scoop of Hagen-Daz Peanut Brittle Supreme, double brown sugar, extra whip and stirred with a glazed donut, served in a rolled up slice of pizza, ma’am? 

Woman 1: Oh, heh heh, no, you must have me confused with Kirsty Alley.  No, I’d like an extra small non-fat, no-sugar, hot water…  

Woman 2: Really? That’s what I was having too! Only I want mine with no caffeine.

Barista: (priest-like neutral expression)

 

- Never get in line behind two men: Men will compete to impress the barista. Honest to God, it could be a trained warthog behind the counter, but if it has breasts men will hit on it.

Barista: What can I get you, Gentlemen?

Guy 1:  Heh, whatever it is, I’ll need it in the kind of cup that fits the cup holders in my Porsche!

Guy 2: Ha ha! You mean small. That piece of shit Porsche could use some coffee stains on the seats! They’ll cover up the other stains, ifyaknowwhatisaying! Now, my Hummer, that’s a man’s truck you can spill some coffee on! And I’ll need a large.

Barista: Large what?

Guy 2: I don’t know, but I want some extra shots in it! Make it strong!

Guy 1: I want extra extra shots in mine. In fact I’ll just take some raw coffee beans! Yeah! Just squeeze the juice out and I’ll drink that. In my Porsche!

Guy 2: Make mine extra hot!

Guy 1: Make mine extra double hot and I don’t even need a cup, just pour it in my bare hands!  Say, which one of us do you think looks more like Tom Selleck? I know, I know, people always say it’s me. Come on, what do you think?

Barista: (covertly adds extra ass flavor from the special bottle behind the counter)

 

Note: Yes, “Ass” is a coffee flavor.  It’s right between “Toejam” and “Hugh Jackman” in the Starbuck’s catalog.

 

- Never get in line behind two kids: Kids will order something weird and complicated as a goof.

Barista: What?

Kid 1: how much does flavor cost?

Kid 2: yeah, how much?

Barista: Sigh. Flavors are free.

Kid 1: I want a bubblegum hot chocolate frappe with a shot of every kind of flavoring you got. Mix them all together.

Kid 2: Good one, D00D! LOL!

Barista: (makes mental note to order more Ass flavor).

 

- The Macho guy will order the sissy drink.

 

- The quality of the brew is inversely proportional to the hotness of the barista:  Seriously, the fuglier the girl, the better the coffee. If hotties in bikinis are making the Java, I guarantee you that it’ll be indistinguishable from the bilge in a Navy galley. Hot girls get tipped no matter what, especially if they’re hanging out of a drive-up window in a halter top, they never have to learn how to make a decent cup. You want good coffee? Go to the coffee stand with Quasimodo behind the counter.  I don’t know if this it true of male baristo’s, with or without halter tops, because I only go to the place with the hot girls, but I suspect that it is.

 

- Never get the special.

 

- People behind you haven't had coffee yet. They're angry, impatient, and suffering withdrawal and I’m their king. Don't speak to them.  You’re at the front of the line. We hate you with the heat of a thousand espresso bean roasters. Get your shit and get the hell out of the way.  Taunt us with your cheerful banter and you die.

 

- Never get the drip coffee. Coffee shops make zero money on drip coffee. They don’t want you to order it. They make it from ass sweat filtered through toenails in order to keep you from ordering it.  It will suck. You will not like it. You will have to put in a gallon of cream and fifteen packs of sugar just to choke down one sip, and you still won’t like it. Then you’ll complain. And ask for something else. And you’ll hold up the line. And I’ll have to kill you.  Don’t order the drip coffee.

 

- Don't tell the barista how to make coffee: What the hell is it with these people?

Barista: What can I make for you today?

Clueless Moron: A large latte. Only I don’t want it how you make it, I want it like that place in the Mall does it.

Barista: Sigh.

Clueless Moron: You better write this down…

Barista: (I wonder if I can order Ass flavoring in the five gallon jug?).

 

- There will always be one jerkoff in line loudly describing bodily functions on a cell phone.

 

- Never order anything that requires the use of a blender: I haven’t had coffee yet, the sound of metal blades on ice makes me homicidal to a degree that would make Freddie Kruger look like a fluffy cotton candy bunny. Order a smoothie and you die.

 

- Know what you want: Seriously, you've been in line for ten minutes. Know what you want. If you ask, "what's good?" you die.

 

- Don't order stuff that is not on the menu: 

That thing? You know, that you used to have? With the Cinnamon and Strychnine? I want one of those. Only over ice and run through the blender.

Make it a Grande!

And non-fat.

Oh, and put a jelly donut on top!

Say, what are you doing after work?

Ever ride in a Porsche?

57 comments:

  1. I now go into David's Bagels and they know what I want.

    It's $4.90 and they get $1.10 tip, at Xmas, one time, they will get a $15.10 tip.

    I've gotten pulled out of line out of order more than once.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't like, and therefore don't drink coffee.

    Problems solved.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know you, you're that jerk ahead of me in line that doesn't drink coffee!

    I don't like coffee, can you make me a Chai milkshake? Extra blending please! Really grind that ice, I want to hear it in the parking lot! Also? What flavors you got?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Susan has her own espresso machine, and likes it very much, you may want to check with her before you auction your offspring to Satan for one of your own.

    When we go the coffee shop, Michael gets whatever the house coffee is, black. And I get chocolate milk. Because coffee is vile, and a place that makes coffee is going to have lousy tea.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sadly Jim, at Starbucks they seem to need to use the blender to make chocolate milk. And they ask me if I want ice.

    Who in their right mind puts ICE in chocolate milk? I think it's just an excuse to make extra noise.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, but not enjoying things is part of the British character. Why else would we mix suet and lard and flour, add a few handfuls of rabbit turds, roll it up and boil it to buggery and then serve it to generations of kids, calling it Spotted Dick, or possibly "There's thousands of starving kids in Africa who would be glad of a nice pudding."

    We've come a long way since the US invasion, we have native coffee shops that don't speak pseudo-Italian, we even have burgers that aren't a piece of carpet, flavoured by wiping it on a cow's ringpiece and served between two styrene discs...

    I remember my first encounter with coffee American stype. It was in a place called Kennewick, WA. My 2nd trip to the states a dozen years ago. I wanted to post some postcards, so the girl I was visiting took me to a launderette. "It's a launderette." I said, demonstrating basic cognitive abilities (It said launderette in big letters on the side of what I might otherwise have assumed to be a tin barn). "Yes," she said, "it has a post office counter inside. Oh, and while you are in there, get some coffee."
    "In a launderette?"
    "It has a coffee shop too. Get two tall lattes."
    "Two tall lattes. Gotcha." I said, uncertainly, figuring that maybe latte had something to do with milk. I went in, got my stamps, posted my cards and even found the coffee shop. "Two tall lattes." I said to the young lady, feeling very proud to have remembered the instructions.
    "Certainly sir, two tall lattes it is. What flavour would you like?"
    "What flavour would I like?" I did my best, innocent abroad puzzled look.
    "Yes, sir. What flavour would you like your coffee?" She smiled expectantly, and for the first time on that trip, did not seem to feel the need to tell me she liked my accent.
    "What flavour would I like my coffee?" I intensified the puzzled look, but it clearly wasn't working. Her expression was starting to veer in the direction of who is this idiot?
    "Yes, what flavour?"
    "Erm, coffee flavour?"
    "Yes, but what flavour would you like with that?" By now, I was starting to panic. I was pretty sure we were both speaking English, but I still had no idea what she was on about. I was begining to contemplate swallowing my macho pride and going out to ask my friend for help. Then inspiration struck.
    "What flavour... Hmmm, what have you got?" Her smile returned and she waved in the general direction of a row of bottles containing brightly coloured liquids.
    "We have caramel, chocolate, hazlenut, almond, orange, gingerbread..." I looked at the bottles with some bemusement, having only previously encountered such things in the context of milkshakes back home[1].
    "I'll just stick with coffee,thanks."
    "Certainly sir."

    I paid for my coffees and fled. Clearly, this innocent Brit wasn't ready for something as complicated as coffee.

    I like a decent coffee also. But, in my job, when I'm not working at home, I tend to find myself in a site office - usually some sort of porta-kabin, where I am lucky to get the cheapest supermarket brand instant, in a chipped mug without milk or sugar (which is how I take mine anyway). I take it purely in the hope of some caffeination, not in any expectation of pleasure.

    [1] That's a British milkshake - plain milk, flavoured syrup (or sometimes powder), and then only in strawberry, chocolate and banana varieties, a little bit of crunched up ice, and a little bit of whisking to put a few bubbles on top. No relation to the large pitcher of melted ice-cream variety that you have over there.

    ReplyDelete
  7. BTW - why would the coffee shop keep ajug of donkey flavouring?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Damn you, Forest Dweller, you made me snort hot coffee through my nose. And it was Yuban too, you bastard.

    ReplyDelete
  9. < Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Door Voice >
    Glad to be of service
    < / Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Door Voice >

    It's 1am here, I'm on hard cider with a brandy chaser. I try not to snort it though.

    Could have been worse, it could have been the really pricey coffee where they have to pick the beans out of weasel shit.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Meh. I actually like McDonald's new coffee.

    You're right about ordering drip coffee at a coffee shop though. It's always disappointing. And burnt. And old. And too hot, thus will kill any complaining taste buds. (Which, incidentally helps with the ass flavoring problem)

    Sadly, I often want a plain cup of coffee. Generally the best tasting brew is a Caffè Americano.

    "Wouldn't you just rather drip coffee? It's the same thing, but it's cheaper."

    Um, no.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You know I was trying to work in a Civet Cat joke, but couldn't find a decent hook

    ReplyDelete
  12. If you promise to stock 100% arabica colombian coffee for me (and yes, I can tell the difference), I will be your bikini-clad barista!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Note to self: damn the cost, buy the machine now!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Also, need to think up plausible excuse why beautiful bikini clad Yanni is in the kitchen.

    Note: This may not be necessary, wife likes good coffee too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What do you brew coffee with at home? I use a French press, but dammit, some day I'll have that espresso-matic 9000!

    ReplyDelete
  16. At work they think it's strange that I bring my own tea bags instead of using the kuerig k-cups (which all have sweeteners of some fructose sort). I like my tea like I like my women. Strong and bitter.

    Speaking of Navy coffee, can I chip you off a cup?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Cacodaemonia, I mostly just chew on a Folger's Singles bag and dream of the Espresso-matic 9000 (with optional Bikini-clad Barista).

    Steve, be sure to use glass implements only, Navy Coffee dissolves lesser material.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sigh....alas....sigh. That is my lamentation for being off the bean. I seriously heart coffee, but the bastard does not heart me back. We hates him don't we my precious.

    I've had a love affair with coffee ever since I realized that it was so much better without the detritus which everyone tries to pollute it with. Coffee, even the word makes me think of that fantastic aroma that elixir of the gods. Sigh.

    Anyway long story short, I have been off the bean for (OMG) a year and a half now. I have been reduced to drinking, gulp, tea. Yes you heard me I said tea. And I freely admit that it is but a pale, pale imitation of the restorative which I once imbibed in. Sigh.
    Oh and by the by, I whole heartedly agree with you about the British version of coffee (or anything which they may call food). I used to actually bring my own coffee with me, and anyone who goes backpacking knows how precious room is in your pack so you know how important it is to me. I think in all the times I have ever been across the pond to England I only had one good meal there (never any good coffee). I was site seeing at Tintagel with my kid and we found a small fish and chips place. The fish was astonishing in its freshness, the fries weren’t soggy, oil soaked bits of pasty flotsam on a piece of newspaper without the news, they were actually fries served on an actual plate.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Iron Bess, hmmm, non-oil soaked fries on a plate? You sure you hadn't actually wandered into Scotland by accident?

    ReplyDelete
  20. You can avoid all the inconveniences as well as the expense of the coffee shop by doing it the way Italians do at home. Just get yourself a Bialetti or Primula stove top espresso maker -- don't screw around, get a big-assed 9-cup size. Be sure to get a few extra gaskets; a tamper is a nicety, can use a spoon if you don't want to spring for one. You can find a selection at reasonable prices at Amazon.com, or at other online kitchen stores. They're cheap enough, get a smaller 6-cup for days when you don't need the big mug.

    The most important thing here is good quality coffee, doesn't have to be espresso, just has to be tasty and ground to espresso-grade fineness. Have an 18-year-old Bosch coffee grinder that works just fine for this purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Jim, you made me snort coffee out of my nose.

    And I was drinking grapefruit juice.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Americans will drink damned near anything, as long as it can be made in a cheap disposable plastic machine and it’s fast

    You probably should have stopped after "anything", becuase I think you're forgetting about American beer.

    I've been all around the world, too (but I'm with Vince, I've only sampled the coffee when I had to - have you tried going cold turkey?) and I've sampled beer from everywhere.

    Even the damn ChiComs make better beer than Budwesier, though Tsingdao was once a German brewery, so that's not too surprising. Taiwan Beer, since the Nationalists were American-advised, tasted like piss from a diabteic stallion.

    The Japanese brew exceptionally good beer, but you would not know that by drinking it in the States - the major Japanese breweries subcontract their good names to LaBatts and Bud, laughing down their noses at us while they keep the good stuff for themselves.

    In short, it doesn't have to be fast coffe to get Americans to go "oooooh, shiny", it can also be cheap beer.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I spent more than two decades in the US Navy, coffee is a sailor’s lifeblood. Unfortunately, our lifeblood is coffee that’s been boiling in giant urns since the Eisenhower administration. Navy coffee consists of pure distilled caffeine, jet fuel, a hint of machine oil, and the bitter tears of Marines filtered through a pair of dirty skivvies. Navy coffee is a weapon of mass destruction and a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions with regards to the treatment of military personnel. I don’t miss it and neither does what’s left of my stomach.

    Jim, this is truly the best description of Navy coffee. Ever.

    Alas, it is no longer for me. I'll miss the 100% Kona blends you could get at a slightly cheaper price in PHBR. For now, I'm content with either Tim Hortons or Dunkin'. Yes, the Canucks, they make pretty good coffee too.

    RP

    ReplyDelete
  24. @ John the Scientist

    Thank you for explaining why I no longer like Japanese beer.

    ReplyDelete
  25. My biggest problem with Navy coffee is that it burned out my taste buds. Now if my coffee is not strong and black it tastes like water.

    ReplyDelete
  26. RP, I do miss drinking a cup of Navy coffee while on morning watch in the pilot house. I always loved having the bridge as the sun came up over the Pacific. Or a cup out on the fantail with the guys in the evening. I do miss those times, sometimes very, very much.

    Then I remember leftover midwatch wardroom coffee on the dogwatch in CIC when you're just miserable tired and the coffee makes your scalp feel like it's crawling and the nostalgia goes away ;)


    Penty, your taste buds will recover, if you treat them right.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A while back I had a roommate who came home after a shopping expedition with a Cuisenart Grind & Brew coffeemaker. I was amused and suspect I laughed at him.

    Then we started using it. Huh, fresh-ground beans really DO make a difference. Bounus points for scaring the shit out of house guests when the timer went off in the morning and that thing started grinding away! (yes, they could hear us both laughing at them from our respective rooms!)

    My old faithful Proctor Silex went into storage. And a few years later when I had to replace it, I too got a Grind & Brew.

    Nice thing is I can use any beans I want (I run on Dunkin' for daily use and custom flavors for the weekends) and make any strength I want.

    At the office we have a local outfit in the food court that actually has good drip coffee in multiple flavor. Plus a Starbucks in the base of our building. They both know me by name and start getting my order when they see me walking up to the counter.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Brilliant! I would add two pieces of advice for baristas, or whatever other cutesy name the establishment uses for the hired help:

    1. Do NOT, EVER, put the sippy hole on the cup lid over the seam in the cup. When you do this, it causes coffee to start dribbling on about the third sip and makes me want to put mouse turds in your tip jar.

    2. Room for cream means leaving 1/2" to 3/4" AT MOST. It does not mean leaving 1/4 of the whole fucking cup empty. If I'm paying you three dollars for a cup of coffee, fill the damn thing up!

    If you can do just those two things consistently, I will always drop my change in your tip jar. Every. time.
    Thanks

    And one more for the coffee buying public:

    1. If you are the guy (or gal) in front of me, who came down to order for the whole office, and you're not simply getting a box of coffee to go, I. will. kill. you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. If you are the guy (or gal) in front of me, who came down to order for the whole office, and you're not simply getting a box of coffee to go, I. will. kill. you

    Oh hell yes. There needs to be a law where this situation results in mandatory wedgies for first time offenders. First time.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Jim, you and I have already determined that we will never order coffee together, but I have to say, even as a frou frou SoCal coffee/tea drinker (who can't stand frappucinos - that's a shake, not coffee), I do my damnedest to not hold up the line at a coffee shop. By the time I'm at the front of the line I know what I want and I have my money ready.

    My life's philosophy is, "Get the hell out of the way." I try to practice that myself, especially since I'm such a high maintenance consumer.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I was working on a rail project a couple of years ago that involved getting the 0632 train from near where I live into London, then another train from there to the site office. I had about 8 minutes to change platforms and get my train. Since it was my habit to sleep all the way to London, I deferred coffee until I was on the platform for the 2nd train. After a while, not only did the girl know what I wanted, she would sometimes start making it as she saw me walking up the platform, especially if I was late and only had a couple of minutes before my train.
    I finished the project, but came back 6 months later for some additional work. She still remembered and got my coffee made for me before I asked.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The best one for me was a hotel in Newcastle. I had stayed there for almost a week while giving some training courses to a client in the area. Each night, after dinner, I would go to the bar and get a pint of Boddingtons and a large Jamesons with one piece of ice.

    Eight months later, the client asked for more courses, and I ended up staying in the same hotel. On the first night, I walked into the bar, the barman looked at me and said "A pint of Boddingtons and a large Jamesons with one piece of ice?"
    "OK," I said, "Now I am officially impressed."

    ReplyDelete
  33. You may (or may not) recall that I blogged a while ago about a lovely little coffee shop within spitting distance of my house. I liked that little place.

    It's been replaced by, I shit you not..."WTF Coffee Lab". WTF, indeed!

    I'm not sure if you can choose your beans yet, but you can choose a variety of brew methods...most of which involve standing around and waiting for a while. Even if you're the only person in the joint. Which is usually the case.

    You can't sit down. You can't get a pastry, bagel, muffin or any other damned thing to eat. You can study the barista's piercings while you wait.

    I like coffee but that shit's for drinking...not for talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oops. Forgot to give you the link.

    WTF!

    http://tinyurl.com/654fyzn

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nick from the O.C.January 31, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Jim,

    I think you over-think the whole coffee thing. The whole idea of coffee "rules" seems so ... unnecessary.

    Then again, I may not be the best person to judge. I have the local place make a custom whole bean mix -- 50% sulawesi and 50% aged sumatra -- which I brew using a 12 year-old Krupps basic 10-cup brewer.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Nathan, $4 for a latte? What. The. Fuck? I don't care if the beans were hand ground by child slave labor, $4? And I get to stand around waiting for it?

    Pass.

    Though the "Siphon" looks interesting. I think I had that in Thailand once, I didn't think it was legal in the States... well, for anybody other than Charlie Sheen I mean.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Jim, the place was opened by the guy who owns the sneaker store next door. They have "premium" athletic wear...like $800 tennis shoes.

    And no, you don't get a free cup of coffee with that.

    ReplyDelete
  38. My boss frequently comments that any coffee with more than two ingredients &/or whipped cream is a dessert.

    This from a man that will brew a pot of coffee, only drink it iced, and sticks said pot in the fridge and work on the pot until it's gone...shudder...claims he just does it for the caffiene. He'd love Navy coffee!

    And yes, I frequently have to pour out the sludge pot mid-week because it just looks too nasty for anyone to drink!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jim, I found ASS flavoring for that barista you are talking about.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OCEWGW

    ReplyDelete
  40. Navy coffee: Good for scouring deckplates, non-skid, colons, and braincells.

    Army coffee: only wishes it could be as good as Navy coffee.

    USMC coffee: see Navy coffee, then add in navel lint (naval lint, if you prefer).

    Air Force coffee: see Starbucks.

    Coast Guard coffee: interestingly, the coasties don't drink coffee. They're too busy doing real work!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Dear God,

    Jim and crew, you all had me in stitches with this latest post.

    Since everyone seems to be bashing British food, I can't help but pipe in and give my own review. Mine is a more favorable one however...

    If you have not had the privilege of having tea and scones, specifically scones with clotted cream and jam, you simply must.

    I don't know if the Brits invented clotted cream, but damn if they haven't perfected it. In case your wondering, what the hell is he talking about...clotted cream?

    This stuff is fantastic, think of the best vanilla ice cream you have ever had, same consistency but room temp, with strawberry jam on a scone. Add that to Jim's Spanish coffee, and you will think you have died and gone to heavens premier cafe!

    Just saying...

    ReplyDelete
  42. I spent more than two decades in the US Navy, coffee is a sailor’s lifeblood. Unfortunately, our lifeblood is coffee that’s been boiling in giant urns since the Eisenhower administration. Navy coffee consists of pure distilled caffeine, jet fuel, a hint of machine oil, and the bitter tears of Marines filtered through a pair of dirty skivvies. Navy coffee is a weapon of mass destruction and a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions with regards to the treatment of military personnel. I don’t miss it and neither does what’s left of my stomach.

    But, admit it, you miss the lime jello, don't you? Okay. Gotta run now.

    Seriously, though. Have you ever tried roasting coffee beans in a hot air popcorn machine? They're a crappy way of making popcorn, unless you like om-nomming packing material, but they are actually well-suited to the task of making small-batch roasts. Avoid the machines that have a grate on the bottom, for running the hot air up, and instead look for a model that has finned air inlets around the bottom sides of the roasting...err..popping...uhh...whatever cup. These create a nice vortex of air through the chamber, and will keep things moving in an orderly fashion, which is what you want when moving a large number of men from point A to point B, or roasting coffee beans.

    There's a good primmer on the process here: http://coffeegeek.com/guides/popperroasting

    The part, however, about using a large bowl to collect chaff makes me titter. Laugh. Guffaw, even. Seriously, do this shit outside unless you like it when you wife comes into the kitchen and, without preamble, asks, "Have you lost your fucking mind?" I personally think that part was an inside joke for the writer of the article; after filling your kitchen with papery coffee bean hulls, he or she gets the satisfaction of picturing the reader latching onto a metal bowl hot enough to brand cattle with. Just take this activity outside. And thank me later.

    Buy a pound of Kona & take it just over the first 'crack', which is a light-to-medium roast. Keep in mind, if you do try this, that the beans will continue to coast a little after dumping them from the machine. With a little practice, you can get pretty much any result you like, and it's fun to experiment with different roasts on various bean varieties.

    Anyway, it's a good way to get good coffee, particularly on a budget, and it forces you to roast in small batches, which is what you want to do. The stuff goes downhill pretty fast after roasting.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Urf. I keep forgetting that I owe you an email, Ken. This weekend for sure.

    It's been years since I've made popcorn in anything but the microwave - do they even still make hot air poppers?

    ReplyDelete
  44. The model they use as a demo in the article is actually still listed on the Target website...

    http://www.target.com/s?keywords=toastess%20popcorn%20popper&afid=google&CPNG=small%20appliances&LNM=Toastess%20popcorn%20popper&LID=3p288446&adgroup=specialty%20appliances&MT=broad&AFID=google&KID=69c1b80e-1e67-9c89-92af-00002e272f69&ref=tgt_adv_XS000000


    20 bucks isn't a bad deal for one of the best coffee roasting implements you're going to find out there. Seriously. Because it uses a jet of hot air to do its magic, the popcorn machine ejects the chaff from the roasting coffee, which is what you want; burning chaff lends off-flavors to your beans.

    I first started roasting coffee this way back in the 90's, when I first read about it. I happened to have a hot air popcorn machine at the time, so I figured what the hell? Nothing to lose. Best cup of coffee I've ever had was the very first time I tried roasting my own beans in one of those things.

    Also, much as you shudder at the memory of Navy coffee, did you know that for generations, the coffee on Navy ships was legendary as being the best in the services? Modern ships do a pretty good job of getting the ick out of seawater, but there used to always be some residual salt in the freshwater used on-board. Some organic chemist from New Orleans did a study on what that may have had to do with the (relative) mellowness of maritime java. He found that a little salt, either in solution in the brewing water, or sprinkled on the grounds forms a semi-permeable barrier in the filter, preventing phenols (chemicals that make coffee bitter) from passing through into the brew.

    Just a little trivia that encompasses two of your favorite subjects, the Navy & Coffee. :)

    ReplyDelete
  45. i know a man who makes Turkish coffee. he has as portable arrangement and goes to SF conventions and such. Turkish coffee is a thing of the Gods and can reduce grown caffeine deprived mortals to whimpering "where were you all my life" (especially the cardamom variety). sadly the stuff can also burn, which is when it becomes a ...well its worse than Navy coffee.
    please note that i am a tea drinking non coffee person, and i adore Turkish coffee.

    ahem, you also MUST read girlgeniusonline comic, for no other reason than THIS sequence about coffee, mad science, and letting a deranged lunatic near your coffee maker
    http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070525

    ReplyDelete
  46. i know a man who makes Turkish coffee. he has as portable arrangement and goes to SF conventions and such. Turkish coffee is a thing of the Gods and can reduce grown caffeine deprived mortals to whimpering "where were you all my life" (especially the cardamom variety). sadly the stuff can also burn, which is when it becomes a ...well its worse than Navy coffee.
    please note that i am a tea drinking non coffee person, and i adore Turkish coffee.

    ahem, you also MUST read girlgeniusonline comic, for no other reason than THIS sequence about coffee, mad science, and letting a deranged lunatic near your coffee maker
    http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20070525

    ReplyDelete
  47. Try a Chemex brewer. You'll never get a "strong" cup out of a Chemex, but what you will get is smooth and flavorful. You'll get every little nuance of flavor from your bean. Cream and sugar become a matter of preference rather than needed to make the cup palatable.

    As for good coffee: http://tinyurl.com/baweds The coffees can be unusual, maybe not always to your taste, but I personally guarantee that they're roasted to perfection every time. I eat beans betwen roasting and bagging, as the bean should taste exactly like what's in the cup. If it tastes funny, the entire 10 pound roast goes in the trash.

    Yes, I am an insufferable coffee snob. I bring coffee with me as hostess gifts more out of a sense of self preservation than generosity :) I really don't want to drink that flavored crap you've been saving for a special occasion...

    ReplyDelete
  48. You have described my thoughts on coffee to a tee. Also, this is hilarious. Thanks for making me laugh all the way through my morning read!

    ReplyDelete
  49. I love coffee made in a French press. It's strong and flavorful. There's nothing worse than a bad cup of joe in the morning. Grrrr. By the way, this is a great blog.

    ReplyDelete
  50. You're married. I'm married. But I love you anyway ;)

    ReplyDelete
  51. Well if Navy coffee didn’t kill you and you’ve survived the bug juice as well, you’re probably indestructible by now. Come to think of it, that probably is a pretty good description of a retired Warrant.

    I use a little thing called an Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker, sells on Amazon for about $22. Makes as good of coffee as I’ve ever had. After that, you just have to find some beans you can live with. But if you like Folgers, then this will bad boy will make the best damn Folgers you’ve ever tasted (assuming that you can follow directions).

    Good luck with that $1000 coffee maker you have eyes on. Better luck with soothing the wife after that purchase. Do you know a good diamond dealer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. +1 the AeroPress. I'm amazed something that affordable makes such good coffee. Also, it cleans up in about 20 seconds, securing its comfortable victory over the French press.

      Delete
  52. God bless you sir! I have worked in many a coffee house (how I met my husband actually) and have ALWAYS been amazed at some of the orders I see.

    As a coffee drinker (I do get the drip at my local SB, it is really good and always fresh) nothing is more frustrating than waiting 10 minutes in line to be stuck behind "that person", who also waited 10 while standing in front of the pastry case, who transaction is..

    "What can I get for you today?"

    "Oh! I don't know, I want something cold, but I don't want it blended. I don't want a whole lot of sugar, but I want something really sweet. Can you make a frappucino that isn't blended, but make it with out sugar?"

    "How about a Iced Sugar Free Hazlenut Mocha?"

    "You have sugar free mocha?"

    "Well, the mocha isn't sugar free, but the hazlenut is."

    "No, I really want something that is sugar free."

    "How about an Iced Sugar Free Hazlenut Vanilla Latte then?"

    "No, you know what, I will just take a coffee. And let's see, I really want a pastry too... How about an...<3 extra minutes looking at pastry case>... Extra Chocolate Chip Espresso Brownie."

    The only other thing that is even close to being so annoying first thing in the morning is the person who buys 20 lotto tickets while all you want to do is get gas in your car.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I concur on Navy coffee. If it won't float (or dissolve) a spoon, it isn't strong enough. Abe Lincoln was in a restaurant and his coffee came to his table much as you described drip coffee. He called the waitress over and said, "If this is coffee, bring me tea. If this is tea, bring me coffee."

    ReplyDelete
  54. "Clueless Moron: A large latte. Only I don’t want it how you make it, I want it like that place in the Mall does it."

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Professional Barista has but one retort to this, one of the most vile phrases ever to assault her ears:

    "Then you're gonna have to go to the mall. NEXT."

    ReplyDelete
  55. The place I'm working right now has one of those $2000 Jura Capresso machines in the kitchenette. It makes espressos that taste like $2000. I knock back about three doubles a day now. I don't know what I'm going to do when this contract ends.

    ReplyDelete

Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.