I have a coffee problem. Not so much in volume–I usually have a double in the morning (which, in my opinion, really should be considered a normal serving because who really ever drinks just 6 ounces of coffee, right?) and sometimes another in the afternoon, just to get me through the “witching hour.” (If you have children, you totally know what I’m talkin’ about.) But I’m not an addict. I can quit anytime I want.
No, my problem isn’t about how much coffee I drink or even my physiological need for it. It’s more about my continued quest to find the *best* way to make a cup of coffee. Now *best* is kind of a loaded adjective. It includes a plethora of other words and phrases like, easiest, most convenient, best tasting, fastest, least amount of cleanup, and most likely to make you feel like you’ve just been to Starbucks without ever leaving your home.
For the last couple of years, I have been a Keurig devotee. I love, LOVE my Keurig. It is, hands down, the fastest and easiest way to make a cup of coffee. It also scores very high on the least amount of cleanup scale, and, although I’m not quite willing to call it the best tasting, I do appreciate that it’s consistent and there are a huge variety of K-cups available. (Here’s a tip I’m just gonna thrown in for free: Don’t buy hot cocoa K-cups. I have tried three different kinds, and they are just not good. Hot cocoa should be made with milk, not water. Those are the rules. I didn’t make them up; nature did.)
But a month or so ago, I got a deal on my Kindle for a French press for only $7 (a flash deal, regularly priced $29.99). I have always wanted one of those! And since I absolutely cannot pass up a bargain, I ordered it. While I waited for it to arrive, I went coffee shopping, since I had nothing but tiny plastic cups of it in my pantry these days. I bought some fairly boring upscale-but-still-can-be-purchased-at-the-supermarket variety of ground coffee (because I wasn’t sure if I still owned a coffee grinder, now that I was a devotee of little plastic cups). Then I came home and found my coffee grinder (’cause, really, grinding the beans fresh each day is the only way to go…an extra 30 seconds of work for an overwhelmingly fresher taste), so I went back out and got the big bag of Jamaican Blue Mountain blend beans from Costco. Oh. My. Goodness. Love this coffee. Probably mostly because it reminds me of the mission trips I took to Jamaica in my younger days, although it’s not *quite* as good as the fresh-roasted bags we purchased in the Cascade Mountains for ridiculously cheap prices, compared to the $40/lb. it was going for in the US. But I digress…
So, the French press. It’s a pretty simple mechanism. You put ground coffee in the bottom of the pitcher, then pour hot but not boiling water on top (I use the Keurig to heat the water fast), wait about 4 minutes, then press the strainer down and the coffee is ready. Definitely easy, but not quite as fast as the Keurig. And cleanup…hmmm…the advantage is that all parts can be submerged, since nothing on it is electric. But it takes a bit of scrubbing to get all the grounds out of the strainer. But the taste. Oh, the taste! So very good. Why is it that low-tech is almost always yields the freshest, richest taste?
I had been pretty happy with my dual coffee prep options. I would pop a K-cup in the Keurig when I was in a hurry. And when I felt like slowing down and indulging a little, I’d grind my Blue Mountain beans and use the French Press. It was (pardon the Hannah Montana reference) the best of both worlds. But then it happened…
Yet another Kindle flash deal lit up my screen This time for a Mr. Coffee Latte Maker. Lattes? At home?!? It retailed for $129.99, but for the next 30 minutes I could have it for just $20–that’s over $100 off! My heart was racing…what should I do? Paralyzed by indecision, the clock was down to 25 minutes. A quick consultation with my husband over the pros and cons (he said to buy it…he is not a coffee drinker…pretty sure he said that to get me to stop deliberating), and I clicked on the little yellow “buy” button. Honestly, I didn’t know exactly what I was buying…or how hard it would be to use. I had made that decision in exactly 8 minutes.
But it arrived this week. And I opened it. And I read the accompanying Quick Start Guide. (Thank the Lord for the Quick Start Guide…the thing that keeps those of us who refuse to read an entire instruction booklet from blowing up our homes.) Within a couple of minutes, I was ready to brew. Coffee and water in the top; milk and any additional ingredients in the carafe. Then push the On button. While the coffee brews (pretty much like a traditional drip coffee maker), the milk heats and froths. And, wow, does it froth! My single serving filled my enormous mug.
This. Is. My. New. Favorite. Toy. Seriously. I want to try every recipe in the handy recipe booklet (another useful inclusion…because who has time to search latte recipes on Pinterest?). OK, sure, it isn’t the easiest–I’d rate it about a 7 on that scale. And cleanup is a bit more involved–that would be about a 5. Speed is definitely not it’s strong suit–maybe a 4. But on the most likely to make you feel like you’ve just been to Starbucks without ever leaving your home scale, it’s a healthy 10! I want to have all my friends over and make custom beverages for everyone!
So what does this all mean? It means that I can’t have just one coffee-making mechanism. There is not one *best*. I need all three. Need. Really.
And…more philosophically…even when it comes to coffee, even when you think you’ve perfected the one and only way you will ever make coffee…It will get different.