Thursday, July 17, 2008

Coffee - No Froth, No Fun

I’m as fussy about my coffee as I am about…well, everything. But you might be surprised at HOW I’m fussy. It’s actually not about the coffee itself…exactly. I have quite precise foaming requirements and if those are met, I can be quite happy.

Plus I was pleased to read recently that coffee may protect us from certain diseases and can actually be good for least until the next study completely disproves it.

It’s being reported in this new study that coffee drinkers have a smaller rate of early death and they appear to have an elevated protection from heart disease compared with those who don’t drink it. Drinking caffeinated or decaf doesn’t matter. This would seem to fly in the face of those who believe that coffee belongs on the list of substances which should be banned. H, who gave up coffee years ago, are you reading this?

It’s hard to know what to believe, but for the moment I choose to believe that 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day is just fine. I do have a rebellious streak, though, and coffee-philes may be appalled by how I proceed every morning.

I don’t grind my own beans. I go through it quickly enough that I feel okay with that.

I store my coffee in the freezer. I don’t care what Juan Valdez says. I think it stays fresher there.

I don’t really care what kind of coffee it is, as long as it’s a premiere dark roast. I’m currently going through many bags (stored in the freezer) that H brought back from Colombia. Funnily, the brand is Juan Valdez.

I claim to hate Starbucks, because I find their coffee tastes burned rather than dark roasted, but I’ll buy it in the supermarket, if I've run out of the good stuff.

If I’m buying coffee from a fancy place, my customary blend is two thirds French Roast and one third Italian roast.

Foamed Milk is the whole point of my coffee. If I can’t have the foam, I drink tea.

The recipe: I use one and two third cups of cold water to five scant tablespoons of coffee in my coffee maker. I don't always drink quite that much every day, but it's too complicated to change my perfect ratio of coffee to water.

Oh wait, I haven’t finished with my dictums. I do occasionally make coffee on the stove in my cute espresso maker. It’s so good! BUT no matter how I make coffee, I always strain it through paper (NOT a gold filter). Filters seem to remove most of the cholesterol-boosting substances found in coffee.

Oh, one more thing…which may shock you. I turn off the coffee pot the second the pot has finished and, when I remember, I remove the grounds, BUT my second cup (NEVER after 3 pm) is from that same morning pot. Don’t judge me. I never reheat the coffee, I only heat the milk.

Okay, the coffee is made. Then I heat one cup of milk in the microwave for 3 minutes on high. (I have an old microwave, you may not need that much time.) I remove the skin from the top of the milk. THAT is a pain to clean off the frother. I pour the milk into my 15 oz mug, which gets too hot to put in the microwave for so long. I poured it in a glass so you could see how much I started with.

I use this foamer (which I keep in the stand of an old foamer, which was a different brand.) Unfortunately the Aerolatte doesn't come with a stand.

I foam the milk until it won’t get any foamier. See how much air I get in there.

The trick is to hold the foamer JUST under the top surface of the milk to incorporate as much air as you can. (You may not see it too well, because it's hard to do that and take the picture at the same time.) THIS is how much milk foam I end up with:

I don’t add sugar, but I swear the milk tastes sweeter after being foamed and the coffee tastes richer. Incidentally the more fat the milk has the less it foams (I use 1%) and the colder it is (see PS) the better it foams.

Then I pour the coffee right into the center of the foam. No stirring, ever. And that’s it...Mmmmm, good, really good.

Feel free to invite me over for coffee anytime. I’m easy, I always bring my own.

PS Iced coffee is really wild to make, because COLD milk foams so much more than hot milk. I put the milk in the bottom of the glass, often with a bit of crushed ice or a few cubes. I let the foamer rip and I get an entire glass of foam. This is what happens when I pour in the room temperature coffee. See?


Emiline said...

This is a side of you I've never known.
I like you even more now!

I love coffee and I'm very picky about how I like it too. I don't have such precise measurements as you, but I'm going to try yours. I would have to use the espresso machine to foam though.
I actually am drinking some iced coffee that I made - and it's 11ish PM. Mistake? We'll see.

I hate flavored cofee.

Funny, my dad said the same thing about Starbucks.

Emiline said...

I meant coffee. I think I might have typed it wrong. I saw that right as I was submitting my comment.

Adam said...

Wow you're quite the coffee enthusiast. Your glasses come out all layered nicely and everything. Beautiful.

I'm not that picky at all. I have one requirement, it must taste good :)

I agree about starbucks being burnt. A friend of mine told me they burn it that way on purpose. Weird.

Kristen said...

I love foam, too! I'm pretty sure the reason the milk tastes sweeter is because of the heating process. Develops sugars or something. At least, that's what they used to tell us at the coffee shop I used to work at (NOT Starbucks thankyouverymuch)

Fruity said...

I used to hate coffee but now I like those tiny little fruits. Would prefer those stronger brew

Sue said...

Are you appalled by my persnicketiness? Why would you have to use an espresso machine? Just heat the sucker up and use a frother.

11pm coffee a mistake? No, not for a young-un like you.

Oh, I thought it was a new beverage called cofee that you hated.

Your father is a wise man.

Hey Adam,
Thanks. What are you drinking in that picture? THAT looks good.

Yeah, I think Starbucks thinks that by overroasting their beans, their less than the best quality beans can be mistaken for deeply roasted better ones. But I just know that Starbucks tastes like burned toast.

Hi Kristen,
YES!!! Then I wasn't making that up. I love to hear when I'm not being a crackpot.

Hi Fruity,
I think of you as sipping some exotic fruited tea lazing under a palm tree, not swigging a harsh coffee as you make your way down the pavement.

Anonymous said...

I just read something the other day, about Starbucks introducing a new roast, and about people saying their regular stuff tastes burned. That was some pretty coffee, almost makes me wish I hadn't given it up. I'm not so picky, since I can't much taste. I drink instant, at home, one cup of coffee and 1/4 cup of milk. What do you mean "scant" tablespoon, though. That always throws me - do you level it off?

Sue said...

Hi Amy,
You JUST level it off BARELY. I agree it's a confusing measurement. I just don't want to use even a grain OVER a tablespoon and if a few of them are slightly UNDER, it's ok. It's already enough coffee for the amount of water, so I don't want to add more than that.

But, in general, a scant tablespoon means JUST under or BARELY a tablespoon.

Emiline said...


Jennifer said...

Hi! I am sorry I haven't been around- just wanted to drop by to say hello. You picked a subject dear to my heart- COFFEE! Aaaaghh. I can't drink it often because I found out I have ulcers! Lovely, huh? I do love coffee though, it's just been a while since I have had one. I hope you are well!

Pumpkin said...

I worked at a coffee shop where we roasted our own coffee, so I got a little bit picky about beans. I can barely drink Starbucks anymore-- all I taste is burnt char.
I may have to get one of those foamers, though- that looks totally awesome. Where do you get them?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Wow. You are very serious about your coffee. I do like having nice, fun frothy milk on my coffee.

I believe that people who drink coffee are divided into two groups. The first group is the purist group, people like you. These are the people who can appreciate the subtle nuances of various roasts and blends and would never defile their coffee with flavors or sugar because coffee is like a food in itself.

Then there are people like me, who think of coffee as a flavor and are more than happy to mix it with whatever we fee like (sugar, hazelnut, etc.) and drink sugary lattes in order to enjoy the flavor of coffee because we can't appreciate the the coffee in and of itself.

I don't know if I'll ever learn to be more appreciative of coffee in and of itself. My palatte just has trouble being more distinguishing at times. I'm still trying to learn wine, so coffee isn't a huge priority right now.

Anonymous said...

I immediately ordered a frother from Amazon - got it today, and I made your coffee. Love it.

Sue said...

Okay, okay I'm on of these days...

Hi Jennifer,
It's good to hear from you. I thought they found out all that diet stuff for ulcers didn't work and that they were cured with antibiotics??

Hi Pumpkin,
Yeah, once you've had the best, it's hard to go back to regular coffee.

You can get the foamers at kitchen stores; Wegman's sells them and so does Amazon - see Anon's comment.

Hi Shortie,
A lot of so-called coffee aficionados would be appalled that I don't grind my own beans. So it's not so much about the actual coffee (although it has to be good and dark) as about the tons of frothy milk.

That's interesting about how people like their coffee. That was part of that wine quiz -
how you take your coffee. Apparently people that drink black coffee (which I don't) like a completely different wine than people that like it all crapped up, sorry, FLAVORED with other elements.

I'm so happy for you! But I'm also sorry that now you'll be disappointed with any foamless coffee.