Saturday, January 1, 2022

Coffee, Simplified

There's more than one way to get from here to Piscataway. Here are the methods that I've used to make coffee, and my thoughts.

Prep - Buying ground coffee versus grinding your beans yourself

Assuming you're not using Keurig K-cups, you'll need to grab a bag of coffee. I personally prefer to buy whole bean coffee (here is our favorite brand) and ground it at home using an inexpensive coffee grinder.

Coffee-Grinding Products

If you're going to grind your coffee beans, you can use an electric coffee grinder, a cheap manual grinder, or an expensive manual grinder if you're a perfectionist. I value ease of use more than anything, so I think you can guess which one I use, even though it doesn't get the grinds to be all of the same size.

Steps for Coffee Grounds

If you're siding with me on this one, just dump in 2 tablespoons of beans per cup of finished coffee and pulse for 15-20 seconds in the electric grinder, then dump your freshly ground coffee into your coffee maker. Because I'm safety-conscious, I always unplug my grinder right after using it and never leave it plugged in. If your coffee is already ground, measure and dump in two tablespoons of ground coffee per intended finished cup of coffee.

Coffee & Cups

In case you're wondering, this is  our favorite coffee, and these are our favorite coffee mugs (18 oz, oh yeah!).

French Press Method - my spouse's method

French Press Method, the Products

For this, my spouse uses a manual French press, a microwave (to heat up the water first), and a large measuring cup (to measure and heat up water). I would not recommend an Ikea French press as we've broken three of them.

Steps for French Press Method

So what my spouse does is heat up water in the microwave, then dump the ground coffee into the base of the French press, followed by four cups of water (assuming your French press holds that much water), then set a timer for four minutes. After the timer goes off, he plunges downward and pours out the finished coffee. Your could totally heat your water in an electric tea kettle if you prefer. I personally wouldn't want to wait for water to heat up on the stovetop in a regular kettle, but you could do that instead.

Electric Coffee-Maker Method - my method

Electric Coffee-Maker Method, the Products

For this, I use a small cheap electric coffee maker and a reusable filter. I chose my coffee maker because it was simple (I didn't want to learn how to set it the night before). You could use disposable filters but that's one more thing to remember to re-buy, and if you have a mini/5-cup coffee maker like me (not a big mama/12-cup sized coffee maker) then you have to watch up because it's easy to buy the too-big size of coffee filter by mistake.

Steps of Electric Coffee Maker Method

Ah yes, friends, this is the method that I find the easiest. I am not a morning person nor do I have a lot of time, so this works for me. Just pour your ground coffee into the reusable filter (or buy and use disposable ones if you prefer), use the pot it comes with to pour 5 cups of water into the reservoir, flick on the switch, and wait.

Pour-Over Method - my mom's method

Pour-Over Products

She uses disposable filters, a ceramic holder/dripper, her microwave (to heat up the water), and a small/1-cup measuring cup.

Steps for Pour-Over Method

This is my mom's preferred method. It's low-tech for sure. She will put the ceramic device over her coffee cup, put a filter in it, and slowly pour the hot water (usually heated up in the microwave) over it. As said above for the French press method, you could heat your water up in an electric kettle or over the stove instead.

Keurig Method - good for office building setups

Keurig Method, the Products

At work, we have a Keurig machine and I buy K-cups and use a travel mug. At this point, I'd recommend the large-sized Keurig machine with reservoir, not a smaller Keurig machine, given my office has broken two of the smaller ones. Optional: water filter (to fill your Keurig machine with). Pro-tip: measure carefully since not all travel mugs will fit under the Keurig's spout.

In lieu of buying disposable k-cups, you could buy a reusable basket and fill it with your own grounds, which is possibly less expensive and more eco-friendly, in addition to taking up less space to store (K-cups are bulky). But to me, the kind of person who likes a Keurig is also the kind of person who doesn't think they have time to fiddle with cleaning out a reusable basket. And if you have the space for a Keurig, you probably have the space to comfortably store a month's supply of bulky k-cups. 

Steps for Keurig Method

If you have a Keurig with a large water reservoir, you just plop your cup under the spout, put in your k-cup, and hit the button for your desired amount of coffee (I always choose medium). If you're an economizing sort of person (I am) you can get a second, weaker cup of coffee out of your k-cup, which I liked to drink in the afternoon. If your maker doesn't have a large reservoir, you fill it up each time you make a cup of coffee (I just use a clean cup to transfer water from the sink to the reservoir). If you have a Keurig, I recommend descaling it periodically - here's how.

My Favorite Coffee

I would be remiss if I did not mention that our favorite coffee at my house is Stumptown. You can find it in the supermarket or get a subscription, either from Stumptown directly, or from Amazon. One honorable mention for good coffee is Black Rifle Coffee.

Finishing Touches

A Final Flourish, the Products

I use an electric frother and a 16-oz metal cup to froth whole milk. You could instead froth cream or a less fatty milk. According to Google, you could even froth almond milk.

Steps to Frothing Milk

What we do is put about a fourth-cup of milk into a cup (either a 16-oz metal cup or a small measuring cup, grab our battery-operated frother, and go at it until the milk's consistency is light and airy.

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