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.
We’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.