In an interview with Salon, Michaele Weissman, author of the new book God in a Cup, explains how to make coffee at home:
Percolator — never.
Mr. Coffee — throw it out immediately. Most standard automated coffee pots don’t heat the water hot enough or consistently enough. The water needs to be around 205 degrees F. as it pours over the grounds. Otherwise the grounds will be over-extracted and bitter or under-extracted and tasteless.
French press — this plunger system makes very nice coffee but requires a certain deftness of hand and it produces slightly gritty coffee that some people like and others don’t.
I prefer old-fashioned, inexpensive drip pots that use brown paper filters, such as the Chemex where you pour nearly boiling water over freshly ground coffee.
Oh, and always use filtered water.
The most important piece of home equipment: A burr grinder. Those little blade grinders most people use basically beat the crap out of the coffee. Not good.
Good to know.
Whilst browsing in a hip vintage/antique store by my apartment – the same place I once found a mint-condition yellow Parker Big Red pen – I came across a striking set of four espresso cups and saucers designed by Massimo Vignelli – i.e., the guy who, among other things, designed the classic 1972 New York subway map – that I bought immediately.
On vignelli.com, he explains the concept behind them:
Decoration is usually obtained by adding something. Since our design process is based on subtraction, we obtained decoration by removing the glaze from the edges, exposing the material. An unusual, but effective way to achieve product identity.
From Wired comes an interesting article called “Drugs, Body Modifications May Create Second Enlightenment.”
This line jumped out at me: “Amphetamines are largely banned in the United States, though coffee, which acts in much the same way, is the second only to oil in global trade.”
(Related Reading: Jakob Norberg’s “No Coffee,” a wonderful article from a short while back which asks “What is it about coffee – and coffeehouses – that makes it so agreeable to the bourgeoisie?”)
The conclusion was clear: Why would anyone want to feel like this? Although I never became a teetotaler, I knew — especially when I woke up the next morning with a hangover — that I would cast my lot with caffeine, not with alcohol. Why would I wish my senses to be dulled when they could be sharpened? Why would I wish to forget when I could remember? Why would I wish to mumble when I could scintillate? Of course, since even in those days I was a loquacious workaholic who liked to stay up late, you might think I’d pick a drug that would nudge me closer to the center of the bell curve instead of pushing me farther out on the edge — but of course I didn’t. Who does? Don’t we all just keep doing the things that make us even more like ourselves?
In this caffeine junkie’s opinion, cup-for-cup, Starbucks serves better-tasting coffee than your typical “our tables are usually occupied by anti-corporate-chain-store hipsters who shower only once or twice a week’ indie coffeehouse.”