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Flavour Guy: Why I can’t afford a really good cup of coffee

My coffee tastes good. Everyone says so. The kind I often buy comes already ground. A half-pound package lasts 10 days and sells for about $4 and sometimes I find it on special at 2 for $5.

This coffee is perfect for my old fashioned mocha style stove top espresso maker,which I bought 10 years ago and still sells for less than $40.

My coffee is good. Now, I grant you that it might not be as good as a shot with a perfect head of nut brown crema sipped in one of our city’s better espresso joints, pulled by a barrista who trained for weeks to get the maximum amount of flavour, with the water temperature kept below boiling, from precisely 20 grams of recently roasted, just ground beans tamped into a multi-thousand dollar commercial quality machine, but it is good. Everyone says so.

But it’s not really good. I know that. For really good coffee, I need to up my coffee game. For really good coffee, I’ll need at least a home style espresso maker. A good one costs several hundred dollars and a really good one several times that. One website that assesses cutting edge gadgetry recommends “The best espresso machine, grinder and accessories for beginners” under $1000.

This may be fine for beginners but I have been drinking coffee for years. For really good coffee, this just won’t do.

Actually, I can’t assume that a really good espresso machine will make me a really good cup of coffee. In every stop I enter that sells really good espresso machines I am told that I won’t get a really good cup of coffee unless I have an equally good coffee grinder. As one website puts it “You’re journey from coffee novice … begins with freshly ground java.” Sure, I could wipe the leftover curry powder from my electric spice grinder and put in the beans, but that’s not what real java pros use.

The Mazzer Robur Electric Low RPM Commercial Burr Grinder looks pretty good at $2995.

Then there are the beans: the fresher the better, right? So why not put in that little extra effort and roast them myself? Or, as another on-line coffee maven put it, when you want espresso, “go big or go out.” A top-quality home style roaster lists for about $700. It comes with what is known in the trade as “minimal smoke suppression.” This means that I should either roast the beans outside or put in a kitchen vent (about $400 plus installation).

Of course, I’ll need unroasted, green beans. I see that Nicaraguan FTO Kata de Jinotega beans “certified up the wazoo and as tasty as can be” (why didn’t I think of describing them this way?) are available for about $20 a pound including shipping. A 12 month supply should be about $400. This strikes me as a remarkably good buy.

So I’ve got the beans, the roaster and the grinder. Now, to make a really good cup of coffee, I need a machine.

I know that a good coffee machine can be expensive. For example, the Javabot Roasting Plant is $1,000,000 (I think that’s in US dollars, but does it really matter?) and it does roast, grind and brew “then and there.” However, I’m leaning toward the Swiss made Jura GIGA W5 Automatic dubbed “the Rolex of Coffee Makers” at about $7,000.

The reviews are informative: “I could not imagine my mornings without this machine” and it has a
decidedly cool factor as it is featured in Stieg Larson’s novel — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I should probably add the $195 Jura cup warmer.

So a really good cup of coffee is going to cost $11,290 give or take a stove vent. At an espresso a day, 365 days a year, each cup during the first year, will cost $30.93. With a one year limited product warranty, I should be fine.

Biscotti means twice baked

This recipe is based on one from allrecipes.com. You could add a half-cup of sliced almonds or dried fruit. We like chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix 3 eggs with a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, a cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of flavouring (anise is traditional, brandy or vanilla are also good). Add 1 tablespoon of baking powder to 3 1/4 cups of flour and stir this into the egg mixture. Mix well and form two logs on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Press each down to a half inch. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove and let them cool slightly on a rack. Slice each log across into half-inch slices. Keep the oven at 375F. Return the biscotti to the baking sheet and bake them until they are toasted (about 10-12 minutes). These get much harder the next day. Dipping them in a cup of coffee is recommended.

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One Comment

  1. No one has said no to my dark Italian Roast coffee via Keurig at 25 cents (American).

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