In Search of the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Published On 19 September, 2012 | Book Review, Food for thought, Kosher

It’s been a battle, but a battle well fought is a battle won.  I am not sure what made me decide it was time to rid myself om mt $15 Mr Coffee pot that I purchased at Walmart.  It’s still functional but I wanted something a little different.  I never felt like the drip mechanism was every truly clean, and I was forever over-brewing my coffee and drinking or throwing out two extra cups of coffee a day.  My wife and I were thinking Keurig, a market leader, but were not sold on it – until a stellar deal at Costco lead to an impulse buy that we enjoyed, then lived to regret shortly thereafter.   My search for the perfect cup of coffee was on and here’s my review of the journey I took to get there.

All of the coffee preparing methods I share today used the same two beans to test the perfect cup.  My favorite, low cost coffee, Eight O’Clock Coffee, Original Ground which retails at $5-$6 a pound depending on the retailer, and my favorite higher end bean which is affordable at $12/lb but at double the price of my Eight O’Clock, the Kansas City Specialty Blend from The Roasterie.

Reviewing the Keurig B70

Keurig B70

Keurig B70

The Keurig company was founded in 1990 but it wasn’t until 2010 that I first heard of the brand.  Convenience is the name of the Keurig game… single serve, one time use, plastic pods brew the “perfect cup” in less than 30 seconds.  The machines are stylish and simple to use – but with a $180 price tag, I can understand why you might hesitate.  Most machines come with a supply of single serve pods, and they can be purchased almost anywhere, both in stores and online.   Did I enjoy the Keurig?  Kinda… almost every variety of coffee I tried was extremely bitter and I felt guilty of the waste I was creating with every cup.

What about my coffee of choice?  No problem… with the “My K-Cup” Reusable Coffee Filter you can brew your own, but as pointed out by Dear Coffee, I love you, a single brew Keurig machine typically heats the water to 192°F (89°C), the Specialty Coffee Association of America suggests a minimum of 197.5°F and the industry standard is about 200°F.  Sure… brew your own, but you’re brewing it all wrong.

The “convience” was also this machine’s downfall.  It was so easy to brew a single cup of coffee, before I knew it I was drinking three or four cups a day, and losing sleep.  A vicious circle.  I’m a one (quality) cup a day coffee drinker and I am not looking to change that habit.

The Keurig is no longer with us.  I am not a coffee connoisseur but I do know what I like.  I appreciate the finer things in life, and filling landfills with tiny little plastic cups, or brewing sub-par coffee simply didn’t do it for me.

If you’re are looking for a foolproof way to brew coffee, one cup at a time, you’re not too picky, and price is not a concern, you’re going to enjoy the Keurig B70, or any of their K-Cup brewing machines for that matter.  It’s a cool gadget, I am pleased we played for a week or so, but at this was not the coffee machine for me.  Next…! 

Reviewing the Coffee on Demand™ 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

Coffee on Demand™ 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker

12 cups at a time… well, that’s quite a change in direction from my Keurig buddy, and no carafe to wash… I am listening.  When one of my Facebook fans suggested this machine, I decided, on the spot, that this was the next best thing.  Coming it $80 less than the Keurig at pennies under $100, there was a cost saving.

It seemed that I could still buy my coffee of choice without the need for custom cups.  When it was coffee for me and guests I could brew 12 cups that would stay warm in a funky internal thermos, but if it was just me, running out the door, one quick up with no glass carafe seemed like an awesome plan.

The $100 mark is still a chunk of change, but it seems to be the price point for many of the middle range machines you see these days.  I didn’t need a grinder or frother, and I like the smaller-than-keurig footprint that this machine needed on my counter space.

The brew… it was OK.  Nothing special – which made me wonder why I needed to spend this much on a coffee machine if my $15 drip brewer delivered the same cup – and that internal thermos – it’s kinda annoying to empty, and although there’s a coffee gauge on the front of the machine, it simply tells you how much coffee is left in the machine, not how warm it is.

Cuisinart make a challenging competitor to the Keurig and they are on to something very clever by combining the convenience driven single serve model with the “let me buy my beans” model.  The thermos works, but if you want to keep your coffee warm all day, think again.  This machine is perfect for the daily coffee drinker that doesn’t really mind what they are drinking, it’s all the same after cream and sugar, right?  That’s just not how I drink my coffee, so once again, it was back to the drawing board.

Reviewing the Aerobie Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Aerobie-AeroPress Coffee and Espresso-Maker

Perhaps you know this about me… I hate stores.  The internet was G-d’s gift to me and if I can get it delivered rather than going to the mall that’s exactly what I am going to do.  Being well versed in ebates goes a long way too as I rarely pay full price for an online purchase.  With this in mind, I was going crazy on my coffee quest.  When I walked in to a store on my third mission to find the perfect brew, I had decided I was going to buy a good old Bodum French Press and a hot water kettle and be done.

When I saw the Aeropress in front of me, that blog post by Dear Coffee, I Love You popped back in to my mind.  Not only could I #killthecup, I could save cash on a $30 piece – even with the hot water kettle I could be home without spending more than $60 – and make the best cup of coffee known to our generation.  I figured I had nothing to lose, plucked one of these funny looking Aeropress guys from the shelf and sprinted to the check out before I could second guess myself.

Buying the Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker was the best coffee related decision I have ever made!

The Aeropress delivers a taste of heaven when I brew my roasterie beans, but it also elevates the mundane and brings out the very best flavor from my $5 grinds too.  The first time I made a coffee in this plastic tower, I was sure I was doing things wrong – but I have got the hang of it now.  This coffee maker uses air pressure to force hot water through the grounds, resulting in an exceptionally smooth, rich Americano (tall black coffee) or espresso coffee in 30 seconds.

I’m very happy with my Aeropress.  The french press I purchased sits beside it “in case of emergency” but this revolutionary approach to brewing coffee is now my solid method of choice.  It takes a little more time than an instant-brew, but if it was all about convenience, I could buy freeze-dried coffee and add water.  The Keurig, Cuisinart and Aeropress all present a new generation of brewing coffee – good things come to those to those who wait – and my Aeropress is the best thing to happen to my sleepy-eyed mornings in a long time. 

These books have also been reviewed by This American Bite:

See other posts in my Book Review category.

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