Coffee 101

(Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Any pennies earned will  go towards college educations, weddings, and writing expenses.)

Let’s get one thing straight. You people who call me, “Hummingbird on Acid?” I’m not on acid.

And you people who give coffee all the credit? You’re wrong too. My tendency to flit hither and yon, sing snippets of songs, and gesticulate, all at the same time is mostly just my nature.

Perhaps tweaked a wee bit by caffeine.

My affection for coffee is well known among my friends, and more than one has asked me to teach them how to make coffee—real coffee. Black. Rich. Aromatic. Not that sissy stuff you can see through.

It may surprise you that I’m not a fan of French-press coffee.  

When I went through a French-press phase a few years back, I found that while the flavor was fantastic, more often than not, the labor-intensive preparation yielded lukewarm results, so I abandoned the practice. Please don’t message me with the trick of warming your coffee cup first with boiling water. Yes, it works, but who the heck has time for that?

When I want a “special coffee,” I use my happy-birthday-to-me espresso machine with frother which enables me to create a seriously awesome Salted Caramel Mocha Latte swirled with the Eighth Wonder of the World (Aldi Whipped Cream in a can) and sprinkled with West Virginia’s own JQ Dickinson Salt—which won the title of Best Salt in the World at the 1851 World’s Fair in London. If you happen to be one of those unfortunate individuals who thinks nothing good can come of West Virginia, click here, look at that fabulous tableau and tell me I don’t live in the Best Virginia. But I digress…

Please know, most mornings I wander bleary-eyed into my kitchen and make a pot of coffee just like you. I don’t use anything super expensive or high-tech. In fact, people may be shocked to learn:

 I rely on a reasonably-priced and available just about anywhere drip-coffeemaker to bring forth my beloved elixir of life.

So what are my best practices for brewing coffee? I’ll let you in on a little secret. My coffee quality increased exponentially once I learned Starbuck’s special recipe. It was on the bag all along. It just took me a while to see it. The key to great coffee is using two tablespoons of freshly ground coffee for every six ounces of water. If you don’t follow that ratio, you risk getting the see-through effect.

Another way to increase the quality of your coffee is to grind the beans yourself right before you brew. For this task, I use this inexpensive little gizmo.

Quite possibly the most important factor for delicious coffee is the beans you buy.

Before you read any further, you have to know that I prefer a dark and full-bodied cup of coffee. I have yet to love one of the new “bright and citrusy” roasts. I want to love them because they have more caffeine, and friends, caffeine is my nectar. I love the way it seems to make me more creative and productive. And fun.

My beans of choice, because they never disappoint, I’m talking yummy velvet in a cup, are:

These beans do not produce feeble brew. This is important because I like my coffee like I like my men: strong, tan, and sweet. 

I’ve never been able to drink black coffee, maybe because my parents didn’t. Growing up, they always used Coffee-Mate to lighten their coffee, but ever since Tony Bear and I stayed in a bed-and-breakfast in Bruges, Belgium and drank coffee with heavy cream every morning, that’s been my preference. Cream turns the coffee golden, not gray. I’m not a fan of ingesting  gray fluids.

Xylitol is the natural sweetener I’ve been using for over a decade in my coffee, in my baking, in everything. Read its fascinating history and benefits here. Here in Morgantown, I buy my Xylitol at Mountain People’s Co-op, but for you folks far away, Amazon carries it here.

At the end of the day, as much as I love the taste of coffee, what I really love is the ritual of coffee.

The scooping and grinding and sniffing of the beans, the pouring of cold and clear water, the filling of my tiny silver pitcher with cream. Selecting which cup to use—an aqua pottery mug or a cup and saucer of my Granny’s. Cradling the cup and letting the steam warm and wet my face. This, I love.

What do you like best about coffee? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a tee, tiny jar of JQ Dickinson Salt and a very shiny skull coffee spoon!

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