Wake up to a perfect cup of coffee!

Throw away your electric coffee maker, your paper filters and start enjoying the best tasting cup of coffee ever!

 Coffee and I go way back. We were pretty good friends in high school when I needed that extra boost of caffeine before heading home after a night of partying. We became even closer when I went off to college, when it was needed to pull an all-nighter or to warm up on a cold Boston day. But we became really tight after I moved to South America and I experienced what real coffee tastes like when it 112203280523.jpgCredit: http://mrg.bz/fZtjLVhas been expertly roasted and properly brewed. And we've been inseparable ever since.

Like most coffee drinkers, my morning addiction started with the addition of lots of cream and sugar. And just like most Americans the quality bar was pretty low - diner swill, MacDonald's mud, Mom's percolator brew - it didn't matter. Coffee was caffeine and quality wasn't an issue. "I'll take a medium coffee, regular.", was my mantra for many years.

When I moved to Colombia (that's another story), café capital of the world, home of the infamous Juan Valdez,  I was exposed to a whole new world beans. There, café was drunken gwpriester-coffee-beans.jpgCredit: http://mrg.bz/6alfLNfor breakfast with hot, frothy milk ("café con leche"). Then, it was served black at three o'clock in the afternoon ("tinto"), usually with sugar but never with milk. In the evenings, it was served again with hot milk and accompanied by different types of local breads and corn cakes (buñuelos and arepas). It was always rich, dark, aromatic and never bitter, never burnt. It didn't sit for hours on a heated burner and it wasn't brewed in an electric coffee maker. It was always brewed fresh, just the amount needed to serve right away. No refills. No Styrofoam cups. No to-go mugs for your car. No lattes, cappuccinos or even iced coffee. Just pure, delicious, rich, hot, aromatic, caffeine laden black gold!

When I moved back to the US it was necessary to my well-being to duplicate the way java was made in Colombia, as there was no going back to Dunkin Donuts and diner swill! So when I lived in Miami I made it the way they did in Colombia, the old fashioned way: with a "sock".thai coffee socksCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markoboni/1012547019/ To this day it is my preferred way to make a cup of Joe. A "sock" is just a filter made out of white flannel attached to metal ring with a handle to hold it. You measure coffee and add it to the sock, pour boiling water through the sock over a carafe, and you're done. You can heat up some milk on the stove, then holding the pot of milk high over your cup, pour it into your cup to create a little foam. No fancy steam machines needed!

A few years of going back and forth between Miami and Colombia ended with me moving back to the US permanently, but to my home state of New Jersey. Here, sock filters were somewhat harder to find. (I always had someone bring me one from Colombia when I lived in Miami.) So I reluctantly began the endless quest for the perfect coffee machine. Mr. Coffee. Mr. Coffee Deluxe. Braun. Melitta. Black & Decker. Gevalia. Hamilton Beach. Cuisinart. Bought them, tried them, hated them.They were poorly designed. They were all made in China (by the same factory, I swear). And, they made a lousy cup of Joe.

Then I discovered the Keurig. Oh, it was love at first sip! All the different flavors, the coffee was nice and strong (but pricey), and the convenience! It made one cup at a time. No more pots, no leftovers. But the love affair was short lived, as my wonderful Keurig soon began to malfunction, hissing and spitting droplets of liquid mud until it died, suddenly and unceremoniously, and it too ended up on the curb, destined to reside with the rest of the too-cheap-to-be-worth-repairing Made in China small appliances piled high in our landfills. Sigh.

But little did I know that my luck would change. One day I was in a local thrift shop and I found a nice little French press. It was made in Italy (French Press. Made in Italy. Hmmm.) And it was cheap. (Should be, it was a thrift store.) So I bought the little French press and went home and made a really nice cup of coffee. I was very impressed, elated, ecstatic actually. But it had its drawbacks. It was a small press, it made just one cup at a time, so it DSC04014.JPGCredit: http://mrg.bz/ZX1wQpwasn't very convenient to use when you had several people over wanting to drink a cup. Together. At the same time. I mean, you would be finished drinking yours by the time I made mine, and that wasn't too cool. That would be the Koffee Klatch without the star. So, I kept it to use when I only wanted one cup. Which is hardly ever. Ok, never. So we gave it to our friend Grant, who at the age of fifty had just recently discovered he liked coffee. How did he get it this far without it? Baffling, actually.

Then I found another French Press, in the very same resale shop. This time it was an actual Bodum, the king of French presses (only it was made in Switzerland, not Italy, or France for that mattter....go figure), and it made 28oz of liquid gold! Pay dirt!  So I went home, washed it (it was purchased from a thrift store. I know, I know, eeewww. I'm  over it.) and made the most fabulous coffee I'd had since Colombia! I was in java heaven! 

So this article promises to tell you how to make the perfect cup of coffee. But first, you need to buy a French press, and then the perfect beans! Some people swear by buying whole beans and grinding them at home. Others buy thirty dollar a pound organic fair trade coffee grown on the side of a mountain and roasted in small batches by an impoverished farmer who would rather be planting coca leaves, thank you, but has been convinced by the national army that that is not really a good idea, coffee_beans.jpgCredit: http://mrg.bz/TOLFg2you know, and who, if he is lucky, will get three cents out of the thirty dollars you paid for it. I just get plain old Colombian coffee. From Colombia. Not Colombian coffee that is grown in Colombia and the beans are imported into the USA and roasted here. I buy Colombian café grown, roasted and ground in Colombia that was packaged to sell to Colombians, not for export, but somehow managed to get onto the shelves of the Hispanic supermarket a few towns over from where I live. You can also get it on Amazon. Sello Rojo.

So you get your authentic Colombian coffee and open the bag and stand there and smell it for a few minutes - it is intoxicating. For a 28oz French press measure out four to five heaping scoops. I use a coffee measure that I saved from a can of Melitta coffee. It's cone shaped. It measures about one measuring tablespoon. You can adjust the measurement after you have made a few pots. Strength is a personal choice. Boil 16oz of water. I use a Pyrex glass measuring cup and heat the water in the microwave for four minutes. Pour the hot water into the press. Then, fill the measuring cup with more water but just to the 12oz mark and heat in french press(115263)Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50183375@N08/7609267742/the microwave for 3-1/2 minutes. While you are boiling the second cup of water, the coffee in the press is steeping. Very important step. Don't cheat and boil all 28oz at once because the result will not be the same and I don't want to hear about it. When the 12oz of water is heated pour it into the press. Then take the top of the press -the part that has the filter attached to it on the bottom of the stem - and push it down through the water until it goes to the bottom. This filter pushes the grounds to the bottom and away from the liquid. That's it! You're done. Easy,

Pour the result into your mugs and enjoy a truly perfect cup of coffee. If you want to keep the leftover coffee hot, pour it into a Thermos brand decanter, the stainless steel one that is made for camping. It will keep your coffee hot all day long.