Friday, February 26, 2016

Spider's coffee

I’ve previously written about my passion for reading, such as this post from 2014. I’m always amazed at how many hidden gems I manage to find in the library, or via one of the eBook lists I subscribe to. Oftentimes I have no idea about a particular author, but based on the book’s description, I’ll give them a shot. With few exceptions, I’m glad that I gave this unfamiliar author’s book a chance. Not only do I find the actual story entertaining, but on occasion I’ll discover a “real world” treat.

I was looking for an audio book at the library and found The Callahan Chronicles by Spider Robinson. This is a compendium of his series about a barkeep that caters to aliens. The story was fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction sprinkled with liberal amounts of humor. What made this an extra special find for me, though, was one of the characters mentioning a particular type of coffee bean. Until that point, I had never heard of Tanzanian Peaberry.

I love a good cup of coffee, with the operative word being good. My wife and I enjoy our weekend morning “ritual” of brewing a pot of gourmet coffee and enjoying it at leisure. With my claim of being a fan of coffee, I must admit that I’m not a fan of a certain coffee chain. Even though I’m not mentioning this chain by name, I’ll emphasize here that this is strictly my opinion on the matter. I find even their “basic” coffee to be bitter and overpriced, and honestly can’t see why it’s so popular. I’d rather just brew my own.

Welcome, my friend!
image from Google search

So, once I read about Tanzanian Peaberry, I ordered a bag of this bean from one of my favorite online suppliers. The first weekend after it arrived, I ground enough to make a full pot and the first sip was, well, divine! It had a smooth, rich flavor with a hint of chocolate. Yep, that one pot earned a place on our permanent rotation. In fact, it is our “go to” gourmet coffee, and I make sure to always have some in the pantry. Thank you, Spider, you definitely enriched my life in more ways than just good writing.

On my very first cruise, one of our stops was in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I had heard of, but never consumed, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. From what I read, and what others have said, this was another rich coffee that was highly sought after. This variety, much like the famous Hawaiian Kona coffee, is much more expensive than many other varieties. Without even tasting my first cup, I bought a couple of one pound bags of beans. I brewed a pot on the first weekend after getting home. Like the Peaberry, the Blue Mountain was fantastic! There’s little wonder why these varieties are so popular.

You may have noticed that I write about buying beans. Generally, whole beans tend to retain their flavor much longer than ground coffee, especially the flavored varieties. Once ground, the coffee beans will lose their flavor more quickly than the whole beans. The small downside to buying beans is that it adds one more step to the brewing process. You have to use a grinder and grind the beans before brewing. It isn’t hard to do, but it does take just a little extra time and effort.

Our daily coffee is typically Yuban dark roast. I had never heard of Yuban until a pathology resident I worked with told me about it several years ago. I prefer the flavor and aroma of Yuban over any other regular coffee blends, such as Folgers or Hill’s Brothers. Even better, Yuban is generally less expensive than Folgers, at least where we buy it. Better taste and less expensive? Great combination, if you ask me. And before you ask, no, I don’t “contaminate” my coffee with anything….milk, cream, sugar or other additives. I drink my coffee black. My wife, on the other hand…. To each their own, though, and I won’t begrudge anyone adding a splash of this or that to their brew if that’s what they want.

Actually, let me clarify one minor detail. While I don’t add anything to my coffee, I will drink flavored coffees from time to time. A freshly brewed cup of Chocolate Almond or Heavenly Cream on a Sunday morning, with cinnamon rolls right out of the oven, and my day is made, even if the Cowboys are playing, and lose.

A final word here on my favorite morning beverage. There’s a reason why places like IHOP and the like put their coffee in an insulated carafe. It’s more than just the convenience of having a pot of coffee at your table, and not having to wait for Flo or Vera to bring you another cup. As coffee sits on that hot plate, it will get more and more bitter as time passes. Once that pot is brewed, put it in an insulated carafe, and it’ll stay hot and won’t be bitter. You can buy one at pretty much any store. It’s well worth it, and once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you got along without one.

Until next time……

carpe cerevisi

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