rhienelleth: (Default)
 So, tonight one of Mark's students, who drives about an hour and a half one way to come to class each week, ended class a little tired. Apparently he stayed out late last night and then had a pretty long day today, and drove down to class anyway (These diehards! But what can you do?)

Anyway, he was going to take a coke on the road to keep him awake, and I offered him some coffee instead. He started to do the polite refusal thing - you know, too much trouble to make a pot, or whatever. I interrupted him before he got too far, and said look, I'm kind of a coffee freak. I'm not just offering coffee. I've got the whole set up here (machine and grinder), including paper to-go cups. So. You want coffee?

Well, he wasn't about to turn it down. So while I started making his mocha, he asked me some questions about coffee, and I tried to restrain my answers so I wouldn't bore him to tears with my obsession. Turns out, he has a cousin who operates a roaster out of Portland, so I'm going to check them out and probably order a pound. 

Anyway, after I finished his coffee and handed it to him, he took a sip, and the look of surprise on his face was extremely gratifying. He told me it was the best cup of coffee he'd ever had. When I laughed, he looked at me and said "No, really!" very emphatically. Then he raved about it to my non-coffee drinking husband on his way out.

*buffs nails*

Yes. My work here is done. If I had the space and all the stuff, I would so open my own little coffee cart. Oh, right. And if I was a morning person. :)

Coffee!!

Apr. 15th, 2010 07:38 pm
rhienelleth: (sark killer - sheepy_hollow)
My newly awesome mood is only slightly diminished by LJ's stupid inability to let me post. I have had to fall back to xjournal because of some text error that keeps eating my posts. Things like this are VERY irritating, LJ!

For the fifteen thousandth time, I really, REALLY wish Semagic existed for Mac. *sigh*

But in happier news (and for the third time) those fantastic minds at coffeegeek have saved me yet again. Turns out, I tripped some sort of safety switch on my Le'Lit when I inadvertently left the steam button on for an entire day and night. All I had to do to fix it was open it up and push a tiny red button I never would have seen if someone hadn't told me exactly where to look.

And now? I have espresso again!! Oh, Shiny Silver God of All Things Coffee in my house, never leave me again!

Also, David Anders is on my show (aka Vampire Diaries) tonight. Why hello there, Mr. Sark.

I'm trying to think how tonight could possibly get any better.

Nope. I got nothin'. :D

*sips latte* What?? Yes, I know it's almost 8:00pm. I don't care.
rhienelleth: (cooking)
A couple of things this morning.

I know some of you are fans of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

FINALLY, the rest of the coffee world has realized what an enormous following this drink has. Torani has made for a couple of years now, as many of you probably knowpumpkin spice syrup, which is okay, but still lacks the same depth of the pumpkin spice flavoring Bux uses (it is literally the only drink with the power to still draw me back to their window. No, wait - the white chocolate peppermint mocha of the holidays is the other).

But now, Torani has finally realized that in order to lure pumpkin spice latte fans, they must produce a comparable product - I give you pumpkin pie sauce! I have ordered it, received it, and tried it. It is, indeed, at long last, a comparable flavor to the vaunted Bux version, except now I can make mine with less of the super sweet syrup and better coffee. Ah, nirvana! Note: I recommend a splash of vanilla in your cup as well. It compliments the sauce beautifully.

In other kitchen news, my mother, some years ago, purchased my sister a set of All-Clad pans. The try-ply aluminum core kind. I don't remember if they were for her birthday, or Christmas, or what, but Rhien!Sis went to the same culinary school Rhien!Mom attended, so they have this sort of culinary art bond that Rhien is not always included in.

In any case, she got them on some crazy sale, told me she'd get me a set next time they went on sale like that, and lo, years passed. Then out of the blue, my Mom called me a couple of weeks ago and told me she was looking in her chef's catalog, and while they have never had All-Clad on that same sale again, they have something comparable, and would I mind terribly if it wasn't All-Clad?

Keep in mind, Rhien!Mom has never purchased herself a good set of cookware. She has some individual pans, but not her own set of All-Clad or similar. So I say to her, tell me about these pans. And she does.

They are the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, specifically, the 17-piece set.

She tells me about them, and they sound pretty much exactly like an All-Clad set, for a lot less money. Still expensive, but not impossible. She asks do I mind, I say "Heck no, I would love them!" Last week, they showed up on my doorstep.

As it turns out, I already had one of these pieces, the 6-quart sauce pot with cover. I bought it when the finish on the supposedly indestructible ScanPan 6-quart sauce pot I'd been using mysteriously starting bubbling and flaking. I had looked at All-Clad, but was able to get the Cuisinart for half the price, and so went with that, thinking "It will at least get me by until I get some All-Clad".

I don't know about you, but in my kitchen, the 6-quart pot gets the most use. I use it for spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, boiling eggs or pasta, you name it. It's the perfect "in-between" size, for more than your 3-quart sauce pan, but less than your 8-quart stock pot. I have often found myself using it, and wishing I had another (possibly because I didn't have an 8-quart. The next largest size in my possession then was my 10-quart, which is big enough to feel way too big for a lot of things.)

My cookware review, under the cut. )
rhienelleth: (coffee)
I had this great post all written up. Windows hiccuped and ate it.

Now it'll just have to be an abbreviated version:

My new Le'lit is fantastic, I really can't recommend it enough, especially for the price. Also, shiny:



Clive Coffee did a great job shipping it, and even threw in a free pound of their freshly roasted espresso blend. Very nice experience. It's more substantial feeling than my Barista, and as nice a job as the little Barista did, the Le'lit seems to produce better shots more consistently, right from the get go. Really the best value for the money for an entry level machine.

But, the primary reason for my coffee post today was not my new Le'lit, but this:



It's the TWIST, by a company called mypressi. It's exactly what it looks like - a portable, individual espresso experience, about the size of a portafilter. The SCAA rated it the best new coffee product of 2009, and it looks to me like a breakthrough design. Using the same gas cartridges you buy for that gourmet whipped cream dispenser, it takes freshly ground coffee and hot water, and applies a perfect 9 bars of pressure to produce the perfect shot of espresso, anytime, anywhere:



Just look at that shot! Mmmmmm. It's releasing next month, and you can pre-order it from mypressi for $169. Or, Stephen from mypressi was kind enough to tell me, you can pre-order it from amazon for twenty dollars less. How's that for customer service?

Each cartridge is good for up to 8 single shots, or 4 double. Get one of these, one of the hand grinders I talked about in my last coffee adventures post, some freshly roasted coffee and an inexpensive milk frother, and you have the most affordable, really good home espresso deal available today. Or office, or travel.
rhienelleth: (coffee)
I haven't done one of these in awhile, but that doesn't mean my love of good coffee has diminished in any way. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For the past four years, now, I've done quite well with my little Starbucks Barista espresso machine (which is a repackaged Saeco Aroma, with the Bux name slapped onto it.) I know I've talked quite a bit in the past about the importance of a good burr grinder....huh, I guess I've never done a comprehensive post about burr grinders!

Wow.

Okay, well, allow me to sidetrack this post to talk about that for a moment. The importance of the grinder. )

But that's all about the grinder. Now lets talk about the espresso machine. I don't really need to go into the faults of the $65 Krups, do I? See above, re: $50 grinders. The bare minimum for an entry level espresso machine is going to run you at least $200, if you find one gently used.

You can spend $300 on a decent Gaggia, which is definitely a good quality machine. But the Gaggia's in that price range have aluminum boilers, not my first choice, personally. You could also spend $250 on a Saeco Aroma, like my repackaged Barista (which Bux no longer offers). But you'd have to spend the extra $20-30 on a non-pressurized portafilter for it, because they ship it with a plastic, pressurized one that's supposed to make pulling a good shot "easier". Rubbish, nonsense - the pressurized kind isn't going to produce that crema that you're looking for in a good quality shot.

For that same money, I'd be taking advantage of this deal, for a Le'Lit machine. Italian import (as all the best are), all brass and stainless steel, gorgeous, and absolutely the best value for the money for an entry level machine out there today. It sports a 3-way solenoid valve (usually not found in this price range), a brass boiler, 15 bar pressure, and it's on sale for $300 and free shipping, currently. Normally, it retails for over $400, and the next step up, the Rancilio Silvia, for more than that. Some even say this little Le'lit is comparable to the Silvia. This is truly an amazing deal.

In fact, it's a deal I couldn't pass up. I've sold my little work horse, my lovely Barista, to a friend of mine who just couldn't convince himself to spend more than $200 on a machine, period. He's been waffling about it for two years. (It's been murder talking him into a decent grinder!) I've put that money toward the Le'lit, which I feel justified in doing after four years. I've enjoyed better coffee than I can get in a lot of cafes (*cough*Bux*cough*), and at $4/latte, I figure the Barista paid for itself within the first six months - no, REALLY. ($4 per latte x at least four a week x 52 weeks in a year is more than $800. Think about that when you ask yourself if you can afford a real home espresso set up.) Also, although the Barista retailed for $400 back in the day, I got mine for just a little more than what I'm selling it for, and it's retained its value quite well. Since the next step up from here, for me, would require a machine plumbed into the house with a double boiler for around $1000, (if I EVER get to that point), I think the Le'lit at $300 is a fantastic deal for the next ten years or so.

In closing, think about how much you spend on coffee in a week. In a month. I buy my beans green and home roast, which makes the coffee itself about half the cost, but even if I bought every three weeks from a roaster, that's still only about $5/week, instead of the $16-20 of buying a latte every day. As I state above, if you're a habitual latte/cappa/mocha drinker, you're probably spending anywhere from $700-800 per year on your coffee.

You could get yourself a helluva home set up for that same money.

Grinder- $195
Espresso Machine - $300
Milk pitcher/thermometer, espresso cups, tamper, coffee - $60

Having your own delicious coffee or espresso whenever you want? Priceless!
rhienelleth: (coffee)
Having traveled once and experienced the pain of either no coffee, or terrible coffee, I no longer take chances.

Especially after reading a review in which coffee at the Venetian was difficult to obtain, and then cost something like $8 per person!

I am taking my travel coffee gear. (It was my camping coffee set up, but has now graduated to situations beyond camping.) Which includes this hand grinder. This mokapot, and stovetop milk frother. Freshly roasted beans.

And added to the group, only because the Venetian sucks and doesn't include a coffeepot, mind, is this electric hot plate. Weighs less than 3 pounds, and I already tested it out on the moka pot and milk frother. We are good to go for excellent coffee every morning in our room!

Stop looking at me like that. My coffee is my warm and fuzzy morning. I refuse to give it up on vacation, or pay extortionist rates for a lesser quality cup.
rhienelleth: (Default)
I think I'm feeling a bit better today, but it's hard to tell. The stomach thing comes and goes. Like last night I couldn't eat dinner, but then at 2 or 3 in the morning, I woke up because I was hungry. I went back to sleep without eating, and woke up this morning still feeling sick. I packed my usual little breakfast anyway, and by the time I got to work, was ready to eat it. Right this second, my stomach feels fine, but I also feel like that could change from moment to moment.

I'm also currently not running a fever, and my throat feels fine. Maybe I'm coming out the other side of this bug without getting as bad as the husband. Um, that was before the coughing fit of a few moment ago. Craptastic.

Here's hoping I can get words down today, at least. Words I can keep, unlike yesterday's pathetic showing.

Note: Real Kona coffee is so smooth and mild, the usual ingredients of my latte completely overpower it. Tomorrow I shall have to try it black, with a touch of cream and sugar.

Interesting and timely (for me) link on cloning via [livejournal.com profile] jaylake.
rhienelleth: (coffee)
...Costco has a smokin' good deal right now on a solid entry level burr grinder, the Saeco Titan.  In light of my last post, I thought it made sense to post this here if anyone is interested.  The Saeco Titan is basically a repackaged Solis Maestro 166, a little bit updated.  It normally retails for $149, though you can routinely find it for less (about $130) through places like Amazon and coffee equipment suppliers. 

However, the $69.99 shipped price from Costco is absolutely the best deal you'll find, and I'm not just talking for this grinder.  A good burr grinder, one not made of plastic parts, is almost impossible to find for under $100.  Sure, Krups and Quisinart offer burr grinders for about $50 - and they are absolutely, unequivocally, a complete waste of money and counter space.  The burrs are plastic - they won't give a nice, even grind, and those plastic parts will quickly burn out and cease to do even the shabby job they manage out of the box.  For $20 more, to get something like the Titan is a no-brainer.

Costco offered the Solis Maestro for this price a couple of years back.  They sold out very quickly, and did not get them back in (until now).  If you've been waffling about getting a burr grinder, now might be the time.  You will truly be amazed at the quality of coffee that can be produced with fresh ground, fresh roasted beans!

I am highly tempted to order a couple of these as gifts for people.  Supplying family and friends with good equipment is all part of my evil plan to have good coffee wherever I go. 

Coffee?

May. 11th, 2008 08:48 pm
rhienelleth: (coffee)
It seems I got a little carried away roasting coffee tonight - in my defense, it was one of those situations where it just seemed useless to leave that little bit of green left in the bag, but the end result leaves me with too much coffee to get through before it will start to turn stale .  You really want to use coffee within about 3 weeks of roasting, and when you're only doing espresso shots in the morning for one person, well, a pound can go a long way.  Much less a more than a pound.

So, I have a quarter pound or so extra of some freshly roasted Guatemalan Huehuetenango, Organic Fair Trade I can offer up to someone willing to pay the postage (We'll say $2?  That sounds about right.)   It's roasted to Full City +, which will be a nice full flavored cup.  Captain's Coffee has this to say about it, and I must say I agree with it 100%: "High grown complexity, Dutch Cocoa, spice and flowers combined with a buttery smoothness make this one of Guatemala's finest coffee offerings."

It's personally one of my absolute favorite single origin coffees - very, very smooth.  These are whole beans, so you'll need a grinder.  I understand, of course, that most people own whirly blade grinders, which means, sadly, you won't get the full appreciation of the coffee.  But freshly roasted, freshly ground with a whirly blade is still leagues better than pre-ground stale that has sat for days before use.  Chances are, if you own a whirly blade grinder, this will be one of your first forays into home brewed, freshly roasted coffee, and if that's the case, you're in for a treat.  (Er, yes, I am a coffee snob.  In case that was in any way unclear.  I make no apologies for my obsession addiction hobby.)

(Maybe I need to do another coffee post with links to burr grinder recommendations. It's been awhile.)

Anyway, only one of these up for grabs.  First to comment asking for it, gets it!
rhienelleth: (coffee)
Tonight I have to take a night off from jewelry. Last night was the roleplay game of doom - meaning I spent most of it making jewelry because it's the crappy game where nothing happens no matter how hard you try to make it happen. I know, by now you must be wondering why we subject ourselves to it every two weeks. The simple answer is, because the guy running it is our friend. Also, he has run good games in the past, and hope springs eternal.

Anyway, I made myself my very own labradorite necklace, which I am wearing right now. *is in love with new necklace* And I finished up a project for a friend. She went to a bead show with me a few weeks ago, bought a couple strands of beads and said "Here, make me something with these, I don't care what." They were interesting beads, irregular shaped and colored in such a way that designing with them was challenging. Although I sort of fell in love with this strand while I was making her necklace, so I will look for more this weekend at the gem show I'm attending.

L's necklace )

In any case, the last two nights of intensive jewelry making have put strain on my neck and shoulders again, and I'm feeling the first signs of headaches/possible migraine coming on. So, a break is in order tonight. Possibly a massage if I can fit it in anywhere this week. (I really should.)

In the meantime, I've taken ibuprofen, and I'm drinking some coffee I roasted last weekend, sweet maria's moka kadir blend, which mixes yemen and ethiopian beans. Very strong, rich, earthy flavor. Hopefully it will help kick the hungover feeling I have from two nights in a row up late, doing jewelry. Also, it is good, though not my favorite coffee tone. I think I'll roast up some guatemalan huehuetenango this weekend, which has a less heavy flavor, more nutty and fruity - my favorite single origin coffee to date.

In the meantime, I have words to write!

Oh, and update on the LJ scenario - work computer still shows everything to perfection, but on my Mac at home, userpics STILL won't load.
rhienelleth: (Cannon)
Or, you know, pleasantly meets another. :-)

This morning, I had the opportunity to combine two of my fondest loves: good coffee and writing. Anyone who's read this journal for awhile knows my love of good, quality coffee, selected from reputable suppliers and sold by region or blend, fresh roasted and freshly ground before brewing. Good coffee is as serious a business as good wine.

This morning, I got to use all of that knowledge and experience regarding coffee running around inside my head, and put some small piece of it into my WIP. Heh heh. This fills me with glee! It also sent me to one of my green bean suppliers for the first time in months (er...I have an embarrassingly large stockpile of green beans for roasting already), and they had some really good (and hard to get) and really real Kona available. All those "Kona" coffees you see bandied about? It's a term people like to slap on anything remotely related to the Hawaiian region it refers to, along with an expensive price tag. Luckily, the good people at Sweet Maria's know which farms to buy from, and they actually cup it before they buy, so they know exactly what they are getting and selling. They call this particular crop "clean, mild, floral Kona - one of the best early crop lots in recent memory."

They only get this stuff once every two or three years because they're so picky about what they'll buy and sell, especially given the price. I've never tried it, so I splurged and ordered a pound. Now I can hardly wait to roast it and give it a taste!


Anyway, here's the relevant snippet. Bonus points if you can identify the specific real world coffees in the blend Mercy drinks (none of which, to be clear, are Kona).

~Snippet~ )


Sadly (and ironically) I am myself without coffee this morning. *sigh*
rhienelleth: (coffee)
Haven't done one of these in awhile, so I figured it was time. :) Moka Pots - a simple, cheap alternative to that fancy espresso machine or inadequate drip machine.

I took my Moka Pot camping, along with REI's hand cranked burr grinder, the Traveler II, and a milk frother - actually, that link takes you to Bialetti's stovetop frother/moka pot set. It was, hands down, the best coffee I've ever had camping. I took the same set up last year, and remember being just as impressed. (My friend Bryan, who frequents Bux daily, declared it the best latte he'd ever had. Only, I told him, because you've never been to my house and had me make you one on my machine.

But he had a good point - the moka pot/hand burr grinder/stovetop steamer combo is an extremely cost effective way to make better espresso at home that what you can usually buy out and about. About $65, total, and you've got your set up. And the moka pot makes good coffee, period. But it's rather like Turkish coffee in cup sizes. A "six cup" Bialetti (which comes in cheaper aluminum models and more expensive stainless steel) is actually 12 ounces of coffee, or about one "cup" of drip coffee.

The moka pot also makes a richer, deeper brew than standard drip coffee (hence the comparison to espresso, and use of said brew in lattes). This is because of the way the moka pot works. Standard drip brewers don't brew coffee at the proper temperature - more than 200 degree F. They fall short of this, and thus the brew extracted has less flavor, is weaker, requires more grounds for a stronger cup, etc. It also has a LOT more caffeine than people realize. One standard cup of drip coffee can have anywhere from 2-400ml of caffeine in it. A single shot of espresso has 40ml, pretty much every time. The same should be true for an ounce of coffee brewed in a moka pot, because the temperature the coffee is being brewed at hits that above 200 degrees F (or about 100 degrees C) mark, so the extraction of coffee is much more similar to espresso than drip. The grind of the coffee must also be finer than standard drip, and the hand crank burr grinder by REI that I used camping does an excellent job, and can be adjusted finer or coarser w/the simple application of a screwdriver. (The $15 whirly-blade grinder most folks use does not truly qualify as a grinder, sadly. It chops the poor beans into uneven an haphazard chunks that range from a fine dust to coarsely uneven pieces - this does nothing to improve the taste of your coffee, believe me!) About five minutes of hand cranking and you've got your morning coffee. (I made others help w/this camping, since I was making the actual coffee - heh!)

Zassenhaus also makes a good hand powered burr grinder, and they've got a lovely antique look for your countertop, but they're about $65 themselves.  And if you really want something that will grind your beans properly without having to crank it yourself, you can get a more expensive counter top burr grinder - and no, that $50 Krups or Cuisinart won't do.  Plastic parts.  Cheap construction.  You'll be replacing it within a year.  So you might as well spend a little more and get the real deal - any of the grinders on that page will do, though I recommend the $149 refurbished Baratza Virtuoso for best grinder for your buck.  But enough about how to grind the beans.  On to what this post is about.

So, what is a moka pot? How does it work? Well, the Moka Pot makes coffee based on steam. It was invented by an Italian (go figure) named Bialetti in 1933. Handy pics and diagrams behind the cut )

For about $20, you can't beat the coffee these produce, and they're easy and have have the added bonus of allowing you to impress all your friends with your coffee brilliance!

Weekend Fun

Aug. 7th, 2006 09:44 am
rhienelleth: (coffee)
I finally saw Miami Vice.  Non-spoilery observations: One of the best movies of its genre that I can recall.  The thing that really sets it apart: despite a pretty usual action-cop-drama plot, that plot is really just a set-up for the characters.  The characters do not react to the story, the story reacts to them.  They create everything that happens from the opening scene on, and that's what really makes a good story, whether it be book, movie, TV show, whatever.  Crockett decides to do xyz, the other characters, and thus the story, react accordingly.

Beyond that, the cinematic scope of the film was breathtaking and gritty all at the same time.  I kept finding myself thinking of the phrase "and the sky was a smear of purple above the scattered lights of Miami's night..."

Also, Colin Farrell was damn hot as Crockett.  No, really. 


I also bought a stovetop moka pot and milk frother for taking camping, so I can enjoy my lattes by the campfire in the mornings.  BTW, this is an extremely economical way to make excellent espresso at home, if anyone is interested.  (With the aid of a decent grinder and freshly roasted beans, of course.)  I may be acquiring a hot plate and using this set-up at work if I like it camping enough. :D 

Ok, I need a Crockett icon - movie version, obviously.  ETA: How is it possible that no one has made any icons of this movie??  I've checked the Colin Farrell communities, even the old TV show communities.  Nada.  Am I going to have to resort to making my own? 
rhienelleth: (CoD twinborn)
Damn it.  My doctor's appointment that I've been thinking for two weeks is today, is actually next Thursday.  I am tired of waiting for the thing to get here, so they can put me through whatever tests and stuff they feel necessary.  I don't want to wait! 

Unfortunately, my doctor's office has too many doctors working out of it to keep track of cancellations, so I'm going to have to call every morning and ask if they've had any to get moved up.  I am tired today (again) and fighting off a headache, and cranky.  Blah.

After my two weeks of no-coffee-to-be-had Hell in TX, I am determined to never let such a thing happen again.  I'm putting together a good travel set up, which will include a compact hand grinder from Rei called the Traveler II, and I think a Moka Pot.  I will then heat/froth milk to add to the resulting beverage, and voila, I will get my coffee/espresso fix no matter where I am!  I plan on taking this set-up camping (with freshly roasted beans, of course) next weekend.  Yes, I know the other 13 people going, included my sainted husband, will think I'm crazy for going to such lengths.  But after a night of drinking all manner of alcoholic beverages and then waking up at the crack of dawn, as one inevitably does while camping, I will have my comforting cup of latte warming my hands and soothing my morning after woes.  :) 

In beading news, Mark's rosary should be finished this week.  I'll post pics when done. 

In writing news, I added 1300 words to Starlight and Shadow last night.  I feel good about that, coinsidering how much I've actually worked on it in the past, oh, eight months.  The editing on The North Wind is going well, and once Mark writes the synopsis after he gets back from hiking, it will be going out to Anne Groell.  I expect it to go out to the other editor and agent by the end of August (they need the complete manuscript, not just the first three chapters.  We're about half done with the editing process). 

Speaking of synopsis writing - we've never written on before.  Any advice from you veterans out there?

Oh, and one last coffee thing, though it could also be a writing thing, I suppose:  while investigating possible travel options, I ran across lots of information on Turkish coffee, whiich I intend to make one of these days.  Apparently, there's a well known Turkish proverb about coffee, which I quite like.  I'm thinking of making it my sig line wherever such a thing applies.  Quite a flare for the romantic, those Turks:

Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.
rhienelleth: (coffee)
ETA: *looks at three LJ cuts showing on journal instead of one*  I also miss my new client for updating.  Because LJ's interface sucks, and it  obviouslt hates me!
rhienelleth: (coffee)
I have this tendency to overspend on gifts. I mean, hello, I bought my husband a new computer for his birthday!

But I also bought two of my best friends $150 cookware sets for Christmas two years ago. And the Christmas before that? Henckels knives. When I am passionate about something, I tend to want all of my friends to, well, not necessarily be as passionate, but to appreciate it. The greatest thank-you I can get is when my friend L pulls out her cookware or uses one of her knives and says "Wow, this really was a great gift. I can't believe the crap knives/cookware I used before. These are so awesome." Yes! They are!

See, that's all I want. The very best for my friends and loved ones. So occassionally it makes my checking account a little lower than I want it to be. A small price to pay, I say.

Which explains why I just finished spending almost $200 on a kick ass used espresso machine/grinder set as a housewarming gift for my friend Chris. (Remember Chris? Back when this LJ was new, he was the friend who put my computer together the last time I upgraded. He was the tech support guy who argued with the Fry's Electronics morons who gave us the wrong chip to go with my motherboard, for two hours before they finally gave us a new, correct one.)

He and his wife are moving into their first house this weekend. Last summer, they received a $60 Krups espresso machine for a wedding gift. Chris was so excited about this, and I had to bite my tongue because I knew that a)Krups might be a "famous" storebrand coffee name, but their espresso machines suck. What they produce can't even be called espresso, IMHO. Er, no offense to anyone reading this who may have one. I am passionate about my coffee! And also, b)without a decent burr grinder and freshly roasted beans, the espresso machine, no matter how good, is useless.

Sure enough, he comes to me several months ago and asks what he might be doing wrong, as his "espresso" is consistently tasting like hot chocolate rather than coffee. Now, maybe there are people out there who like their coffee to taste like hot cocoa. Chris is not one of them, and neither am I. I ended up writing him a three page e-mail explaining why a good burr grinder is so important, freshly roasted beans, etc, etc. I think it intimidated him a little bit, but he thanked me for the info. Then, last weekend he was at our house and I was making a latte for our friend Jared, who had a long drive on very little sleep and a lot of jetlag ahead of him. Chris watched the process with interest, then kind of shamefacedly admitted that he hasn't used his Krups in months because he just can't get the espresso to stop tasting like hot chocolate! He was watching me because he's just sure it's some simple little thing he's doing wrong. Um, no. Sorry, Chris. It isn't simple or small. It's your entire set-up and process!

So today I purchased a used Gaggia espresso machine and Gaggia MDF burr grinder combo from a fellow coffeegeek for *cough*$200*cough* as a housewarming gift for Chris and his wife - who I sure hope likes coffee, come to think of it. Now, realize that brand new, this combo would cost a minimum of $500. The grinder alone is a $200 machine. I got a good deal. But yes, $200 is kind of excessive for a housewarming gift. At least when you make as much as Mark and I do.

But I can't wait to give it to Chris with a pound of freshly roasted beans and show him how to use it.

Yes, I probably need help. Professional counseling. I need to learn to control my impulsive gift giving decisions. But I just get so excited thinking how this person will love and adore whatever fantastic thing (to me) I'm buying for them!
rhienelleth: (coffee)
For those of you who've been reading my adv. in coffee posts with any modicum of interest, here is an item that might interest you:

Costco has a really awesome coffee deal going on. A Solis Maestro burr grinder on sale for $69.99. It's normally $110-120, and even at regular price is the cheapest true "conical burr grinder" you want to get. All those $50 Krups and Cuisinart supposed "burr" grinders are poorly made and use plastic parts that end up smashing your beans instead of really grinding them. You would be amazed at how the flavor of your coffee will change with this baby on your counter. Blade grinders don't grind - they chop. Unevenly at that. A true burr grinder grinds the beans uniformly, so you get all the great flavor notes other grinding methods don't allow, and also don't end up with dust or sludge in the bottom of your cup. Besides, right now you can get this excellent grinder for only $20 more than it's cheaper pretentious cousins. I'm picking up two as future gifts for friends. I highly recommend this deal to anyone curious about good coffee. :)

Also, the machinist at work finished the stainless steel ring for new homemade roaster. Now I'm just waiting on one part of arrive via UPS, and I'm set for roasting 1 pound batches of fresh coffee. :) Can't wait.
rhienelleth: (coffee)
In lieu of my usual coffee post, this week I'm going to ask a coffee question. :) I know there are Bux and former Bux employees on my f-list. Could one of you either comment here, or e-mail me if you feel more comfortable, with the recipe for making this wonderful drink? It is my absolute favorite of all Bux drinks, especially in fall/winter (I will go with the Peppermint Mocha on occassion as well), and I must know how to duplicate it at home.

Also, if it takes a particular kind of syrup, if you have any suggestions of where I could acquire said syrup...'twould be greatly appreciated. :)
rhienelleth: (coffee)
I tried a new blend today, vivace dolce from Vivace Espresso Roasteria in Seattle. It's supposed to have slightly sweet undertones (hence the name), and they offer a green bean version that I can buy for half the price and roast myself. (Something which is incredibly easy to do in practically any old hot air popcorn popper.)

It's incredibly good. I'm thinking next I need to try it in my french press and see how that turns out. See a common myth out there is that coffee beans and espresso beans are "different" from one another. I know I always believed that an espresso blend must be so much stronger than regular coffee.

This is absolutely not the case. Because of the nature of the way that espresso is made, it brings out all the flavors in the beans more than any other form. This means both good and bad flavors. So when Roasters design blends of beans for espresso, they're trying to enhance all the good, and balance all the bad, thus a good blend for espresso is bound to be an excellent blend for coffee. Also, a good roaster doesn't roast the beans to the characoal stage - oily black sheen looking beans. Of the good blends I've ordered thus far, all of them have come a nice, warm, nutty shade of brown, with very little oil spotting the beans. (This explains why I've never liked Allan Bros. coffee - every single one of their roasts from light to heavy is roasted to the same charcoal tasting stage.)

In any case, if you're curious to try some really excellent coffee, order half a pound of beans from Vivace. They roast them and ship them to your door within two days, which puts them at the perfect stage for grinding and making coffee from them. :) I can tell you that my latte this morning has some nice caramel-like undertones to it, even though I didn't put any caramel in it this morning, just some splenda.

This concludes Rhien's weekly coffee post. :)

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rhienelleth

February 2016

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