Care For A Cup Of Coffee?

Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 7:31 am
By: Doug Lund
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 coffee in coffee

I love coffee. I love the aroma of a fresh pot brewing in the morning. I can hardly wait for that sound our Mr.Coffee pot makes when it’s nearly done. (Sort of like the noise from several people all at once trying to suck the last delicious drop of a milkshake through a straw.)

I must have at least two cups of coffee each morning in order to function at all, but then so do 150 million other Americans over the age of 18. Coffee consumption in this country has soared in the last 20 years which, I suppose, can be traced back to specialty coffee shops, led by Starbucks, that began springing up everywhere offering espressos, lattes and cappuccinos as well as brewed coffees made from freshly roasted magic beans just in from South America or Hawaii. For some coffee facts and figures, click here.

I’ve never gotten into the fancy foamy stuff but my taste buds have become a whole lot fussier since first sampling some of the exotic blends offered at those shops.  I’m a cheapskate, though, and cringe at the prices they charge so I’ve been on a quest for several years to come up with that rich coffee-shop flavor AT HOME for a fraction of the cost. I think I’ve found it but first let me retrace my long journey.  I come from Scandinavian stock and Norskies are notorious for seemingly excessive coffee consumption. My mother was such a coffee junkie that she’d usually skip the electric percolator opting instead for a plain old coffee pot on top of the stove,  tossing  a few scoops of Hills Brothers right into the boiling water. She enjoyed chewing on the coffee grounds that wound up in the bottom of her cup..main-lining the caffeine right into her system.

I had no idea what it tasted like back then. You see, I was one of those who swore I’d never drink the stuff. It was an attitude that remained until I reached high school and got a part time job right across the street from our house washing bottles for a dairy testing lab set up in the basement. On Saturday’s, the lady of the house invited employees up to her kitchen for coffee..which meant a big plate of freshly baked frosting-covered cinnamon rolls the size of a Frisbee. To drink, she offered milk or coffee. Now, the bottles I had to wash contained milk samples from dairy herds across the area. If a box of samples sat around for more than a day or two, the contents turned all sorts of rotten; sometimes just a gelatinous glob that would burp a little as I dumped it down the drain. Other times it had turned to the consistency of a yellowish green moldy cheese with a limburger essence. Anyway, after cleaning a few hundred of those I was in no mood for a glass of milk with my roll so that’s how and why I first became a coffee drinker.

At Keloland, my desk was just a few steps away from the coffee machine and I consumed it by the gallon. The only time it tasted worth a hoot, though, was in the first ten minutes after brewing and even then it suffered from flavor deprivation because the grounds were meted out in those stingy little pre-measured pillow packets. Never enough coffee in them..plus some people, while making a pot, would just toss that bundle into the basket not caring if it ended up wadded in a corner. The end result was a rust colored hot water concoction that some..not knowing the difference…would gleefully drink anyway.

Most church basement coffee is like that; pale and tasteless. I’ve also never had a good cup of coffee from the little machines in motel rooms..never. Yet, when we go down the hall for the free continental breakfasts the coffee out of the big brewer can be pretty good.

A lot of restaurants, too, seem bent on saving money by serving up cheap bland coffee. Maybe they intend it that way so customers won’t loiter around all day and night taking up valuable booth space  gulping down free refills.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I’ve searched for years trying to come up with a consistently delicious cup of rich..never bitter..full bodied coffee that I can make at home. We have tried just about every commercial and exotic brand. We’ve ground our own beans, used distilled water, even unbleached filters but the results have been..well.. erratic and labor intensive..not to mention expensive.

coffee juanWe’ve finally decided that 100% Columbian coffee delivers most of what we’re looking for. It has the fewest number of quakers which in the world of coffee are those underdeveloped beans that make the brew bitter.   We also are more generous with the amount of grounds used in our Mr. Coffee machine: 3 heaping tablespoons per pot.

We have been using Folgers brand for some time now but when I saw it was up to 12 DOLLARS A CAN the other day, I decided to try the HyVee brand of Columbian instead and save a couple bucks. To be honest, we can’t tell much if any difference but Linda did pour the contents from the metal HyVee container into the empty plastic Folgers can. It’s easier to handle..plus you can never tell when company pops in. We wouldn’t want them to think we drink and serve the cheap stuff.  Well, gotta run, coffee’s on.coffee lady three

22 Comments

  1. drl says:

    Doug If they serve coffee in a BROWN cup you know it just weak hot water

  2. Peg says:

    It must be our age, as we too pour our HyVee brand into the good gripping Folgers can.

  3. Paul says:

    If I remember correctly Consumer Reports also spoke highly of the Sam’s Choice Columbian coffee at WalMart.

  4. Tom says:

    Good Morning Doug. Thanks for another great story! For those of us hours from a Hi Vee, 8 O’ Clock brand 100% Columbian is a great coffee at a fairly reasonable price at Wally World. Our favorite coffee is Greenwell Estate Private Reserve 100% Kona Coffee from Kealakekua, Hawaii. As you can tell by the
    brand name it is pricey and then some….$36.00/lb including shipping from the big island. We are fortunate
    to receive it as an annual Christmas gift. You may wish to drop a subtle hint to your family for Christmas, birthday or a warm spring day in South Dakota.

  5. john mogen says:

    Say it ain’t Joe! As a kid, I observed my parents unable to function in the morning without a couple of cups of coffee. It wasn’t offered to the children, which made me think it was some kind of drug! As an eighth-grader, I was ice fishing in a Blue Dog Lake ice shack with my friend, Jimmy Peterson. He offered me the chance to break my self-imposed prohibition on coffee. I gulped down several swallows and immediately rushed outside to eject the nasty liquid. Coffee hasn’t touched these Norwegian lips since. Found out later that Jimmy had made the brew with lake water! Think that made any difference in the taste?

  6. Gloria says:

    I pour my Folgers coffee into a Maxwell House container because the handle is even better. Check it out next time you are at HyVee. Maxwell House is also pretty good and I will buy that if it’s on sale.

  7. Per Pål P says:

    I still think good ol’ Norwegian Egg Kaffee is the best….made in an enamel kaffee pot.
    It’s best to buy whole beans (I prefer the light roast—but what ever you like) A good old fashioned kaffee grinder is the best (I use my grandma’s) Course…VERY course grind… Bring the water to a boil…then mix the kaffee with an egg…shell included…then a tiny pinch of salt and a tiny pinch of sugar…. Turn the water down…add the kaffee mixture…and keep it at a slow simmer…(be careful so it don’t boil over)… I like to simmer mine about 8 to 10 minutes….then turn it off and let it rest another 8 to 10 minutes. Some people add some cold water to “sink the grounds” to the bottom I don’t…mine just go down during the resting period. Now…I usually use a strainer to catch any “loose grounds”…But, some people are like your mother Doug…and like a few grounds … Most people ask me how much kaffee…..well…a little experimenting will give you the answer. It depends on the size of the pot. If I make kaffee for our whole family…I use the ol’ Church size pot…and that usually takes about 3 cups of ground kaffee and 2 eggs….. Sometimes a person needs to add just a little water to get the kaffee mixture (“kinda pasty?) You can make egg kaffee in a pot…a tin can….or what ever you have…even sauce pan works. Most of the Norskies add a sugar lump and a little real whipping cream in their cup of kaffee..but, that’s up to you. Hope everyone tries to make some.
    If you buy kaffee in the store..and have to use their grinder…be sure to use the most course grind.
    And if you REALLY want to be Norwegian….put some kaffee in a saucer with the lump of sugar and cream and sip it that way. Also always good….A sugar lump in your cheek….
    Starbucks….you just don’t what you’re missing… Per Pål Peterson

  8. Per Pål P says:

    Added note….I mix the kaffee and egg in a glass measuring bowl.(I use the 4 cup size) Has a handle and is easy to add to the water…you usually have to use a spatula to get the mixture in the pot…BUT DO NOT…DO NOT STIR.. the mixture in the water…just “ease it in slowly” Per

  9. PJM says:

    The best coffee is Jamaica Blue Mountain at $50 a pound. Worth every penny. Yuban is also tasty.

  10. grouse says:

    The best coffee I ever drank was in Norway at the Byneset emigrant festival, celebrating the return of the off spring of those who ventured to the U.S. They held a public dance for us and the locals in a big tent with a Norwegian country band playing Willie Nelson songs. I looked for a place to buy a nice, cold beer, but all they had was coffee set out on a table with lots of pastries. Our cousin Olav said not to worry, just buy a cup of coffee and see what happens. Well, he had set it up with lots of his neighbors to treat us to the moonshine they had brought. The coffee was the mix. It sure was great coffee! The neighbors were sure generous! We were wide awake for a long time and feeling no pain. We didn’t go blind either. No wonder Mrs Olson loved her Folgers.

  11. Bud Sluter says:

    WE LOVE BUYING THE WHOLE BEANS AT OUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE AND USE IN OUR GRIND AND BREW COFFEE MAKER. WE USE A BLEND OF SUMATRA DARK AND FRENCH VANILLA. RIGHY NOW WE PAY $6.98 A POUND.

  12. blueeyes says:

    I think Target store brands are good, so I bought a can of Target coffee. It will be opened when the Walgreen’s coffee is gone and I’ve been happy with it and the price is a lot more attractive at $6.08

  13. John Bjerke says:

    I am certainly no expert on coffee but I know what I like. The best cup of coffee I have ever had was at Town and Country in Sioux Falls. My wife and I would go there on Sundays after church. I would always give George Kirk a bad time wondering why his place could not brew a good cup of coffee.(George and I sang together in the Elk’ chorus, so it was always in jest.) When I left Sioux Falls in 1978 I asked the folks at Town and Country what the secret to their coffee was and they told me it was the temperature at which it was brewed.

  14. LANA says:

    Our daughter surprised us at Christmas with Egg Coffee. She had fun making it ! She said when she was mixing it up it reminded her of potting soil. Boy, did that bring back memories of all the Gorder”s Christmas in Tornoto SD Hall. That Smell (good smell) will live on for ever…….Thanks for all the stories”Doug”

  15. Stuart Surma says:

    Doug, I too like John Mogen got my first real cup of coffee at Blue Dog Lake by Waubay. As kids we didn’t get to drink coffee with the adults, but shore fishing for Walleyes on the shores of Blue Dog Lake with my dad- Stan Surma , and Earl Thiel we would eat lunchmeat sandwiches and have a cup of steaming coffee placed on the dash steaming up the windshield- waiting for a bite! Coffee never tasted so good to me! John Mogen mentioned Jimmy Peterson from Waubay- the two of us rode back from Viet Nam on the same plane load of 120 soldiers- 1968. Two young men from the same small town of 880- What were the odds! Stu Surma

  16. LeAnn says:

    My Spousal Equevelant goes to a coffee shop everyday, I went with him a few times but I shook so bad afterwards that it wasn’t worth it, plus it’s expensive too. I figured out once what it cost him per year, I can’t remember how much it was and just as well if I don’t refigure.
    I have to agree with the egg coffee, I can still smell the aroma of that in the church basements and the Masonic Temple when I was a kid. I’ve tried to make it but I didn’t know you had to put the egg mixture in when it starts to boil. Thankls for that tip

  17. Jennifer says:

    During the week I’m ‘forced’ to drink the office sludge, but on weekends treat myself to the good stuff. My current favorite is Highlander Grogg, and it’s from a South Dakota company called Dark Canyon Coffee Company (they’re out in Rapid City but lucky for me some coffee shops on the east side of the state sell it :) . Their website says it includes Butterscotch, French Vanilla and Irish Creme flavors so not only is it delicious, but coming home hours later after having brewed a pot the house still smells wonderful!!!

  18. Sweeps says:

    Oh phooey! I just switched brands myself to the whole beans next to a grinder in Walmart, Columbian Decaf (sorry–plays heck with the heartburn if I don’t), and now I can’t remember the brand. I’m much happier with it than with my ol’ faithful Folgers. I just buy a pound at a time and freeze most of it. I’m also toying with the idea of grinding it to the Espresso setting. I think you’re right, Doug, about the Columbian blend.

  19. Erin J. says:

    Doug, I distinctly remember you standing by the coffeemaker in the KELO breakroom. (I think there were a few choice words at times.) I quickly learned not to get hot water for my tea while you were brewing coffee. I now drink both coffee and tea at while at work, but the brew is better than KELO’s was. Everytime I get hot water from the spigot, I think of that pesky KELO coffeemaker and how you needed your morning joe. :)

  20. Larry Elverud says:

    All you coffee lovers check out yahoo.com. I just read 5 good reasons not to give up coffee! This is from a dietition so it must be true.

  21. Stan says:

    I remember the stuff we used to brew back in college during finals week. The infamous “Bunker Brew”. It consisted of an equal parts mixture of the three darkest beans that Rainbow Foods had (dark, black, and “it’s sucking the light out of the room”). Grind to the consistency of talk. Five heaped table spoons and brew as normal. That’s step one! Now replace the grounds with fresh, pour the just brewed brew back into the coffee maker and cycle. Repeat once again. You ended up with only about a ¾ pot (we always suspected more from ablation than evaporation) and the last round of grounds would completely dissolve into the 600 octane solution in the pot. A teaspoon of sugar to help the medicine go down (cream is for pansies) and away you go. Just be forewarned any who might try it. Drink a cup and you’re up all night. Finish a pot by yourself; you won’t blink again for a week! To this day can’t help but laugh at people who get jittery after one store bought espresso!

  22. SD Transplant says:

    There’s a lot of things that my wife and I will go without during these tough times, but GOOD coffee is not one of them! Sad to say that we have become quite the snobs as well. We use good quality whole bean locally roasted coffee with a burr grinder (for an even grind) and use a French Press at home. Takes a little extra time but it has become so routine that I don’t even notice how long it takes. Worth every last drop!!

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