Sunday, September 7, 2008

How to Make Coffee

(NOTE: The following was originally published in my former cooking blog, Cooking With Kitten, on August 20, 2008).

At last count, there were four Dunkin Donuts shops in my town. A couple of weeks back, I learned that there is a fifth one being built. With the economy being what it is, Starbucks closing 600 stores, and people complaining about having little to no disposable income, it amazes me that there's another Dunkin Donuts being built. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a medium nonfat caramel latte--a lot--but when the price of said beverage was the equivalent of a gallon of gas, I had to rethink my spending habits. I wasn't buying a coffee every day, but enough to make a dent in my weekly budget.As I drove past the new DD under construction, I suddenly thought, "What if Americans have forgotten how to brew coffee? Is this the reason why people are buying so much of it, instead of making it themselves?"

Coffee isn't too difficult to make. Just follow this ratio: one tablespoon of coffee for every two cups of water. For example, if you want to brew six cups of coffee, use three tablespoons of coffee and six cups of water. It's that simple.

A coffee maker is a wise investment. You can find lots of inexpensive ones at Target or Walmart, or any big box store of your choice. (But PLEASE, support your local businesses whenever possible!) I have had my coffee maker for over eleven years, since I was a senior in college. You don't need a very fancy combo cappuccino/coffee/espresso maker. Just get your basic Mr. Coffee, Braun, or whatever, and you'll be okay.

My parents have made the coffee making process a part of their nighttime routine. After they finish supper, they put their paper filter in their coffee maker, load it up with their coffee, and pour the water in. Their coffee maker has a timer, so they set it for when they want their coffee ready.

As for me, I make the coffee making process a part of my bedtime routine. Before I brush my teeth, I prepare my coffee maker for the morning. Mine does not have a timer, but this doesn't matter to me. My kitchen is across from my bathroom, so I just put the coffee on before I head to the shower. Before I leave for work, I get my travel mug out, pour the coffee in, and put the cap on. I then take my lunch bag out of the fridge and I'm good to go.

If you've got leftover coffee, you have several storage options. My parents have a tall, insulated carafe; they pour the leftover morning coffee in it, and use the leftovers for their after dinner beverage. I don't own such a thing, so I pour my coffee in a second travel mug and throw it in the fridge. The next day, before I leave for work, I nuke the travel mug in the microwave.

I just read in this month's issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray that you can freeze your coffee like ice cubes. One reader suggested this; she makes a coffee smoothie for a mid afternoon pick up. She adds milk, the frozen coffee cubes, and some sugar free instant vanilla pudding. Yum! I need to try this, only I think I would at protein powder and flaxseed to bump up the nutritional content.

So that's how you make coffee. I am not an expert, however, on what brands of coffee to recommend, because, in all honesty, I am more of a tea person. I started drinking coffee steadily about a year ago; the older I get, the less of a morning person I am, and I need that java jolt in the AM more and more. I will say this, however: buy fresh beans, then grind them. You get better flavor that way.

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