Thursday, August 1, 2013

Coffee

Making Great Coffee
A Great Cup of Coffee

Coffee, if you are a coffee drinker then you probably reach for it first thing in the morning. If you are a coffee lover then making a great cup of coffee and choosing the right flavor is important to you. A clean coffee maker is essential to making great coffee as well as great coffee beans. 

About the Bean

Great coffee beans don't have to be expensive, but they do need to be fresh and well cared for. Coffee grows from a plant, which means it has an expiration date. You want to buy coffee in an airtight bag and check the freshness date on the package, the fresher the better. Check the freshness date even in a pricey coffee shop. I once paid fifteen dollars for a pound of specialty coffee only to find stale beans when I arrived home.  You can spot a stale bean very quickly, it will look dry and it won't smell fresh. Good coffee beans should look moist and shiny and smell amazing.

I've ordered directly from coffee roasters and purchased at specialty stores, and although these coffees were delicious, there are some really great brands on the store shelf as well.  Also, if you look at the package carefully it will tell you the boldness of the particular beans. For really great coffee it is important to grind the beans yourself. An inexpensive grinder can be purchased at a discount store, and then you can find a variety of beans at your local grocery.
Starbucks Flavor Breakdown

Espresso Roast:  Espresso Roast is a classic and it's the roast from which all lattes and fancy drinks are made.  Espresso Roast maintains strength of coffee character and goes down smooth every time.  Espresso Roast is not bitter nor is it sweet; it maintains the perfect balance between the two.                                                                                   
Italian Roast:  Italian Roast is the kissing cousin to Espresso Roast. Italian Roast is the extra bold version of Espresso Roast. They are so close in fact that, in a pinch, one can fashion a grand latte or macchiato from Italian Roast. Italian Roast is one of my personal favorites; it is very bold yet not bitter and very smooth.  

Gold Coast:  Gold Coast is an excellent blend that is roasted to extra bold.  It is smooth and balanced.  Gold Coast is a great morning cup of coffee.
 
Sulawesi:  Sulawesi is an extra bold roast with an exotic flavor.  It has a bite, but gives your taste buds a tang without the bitterness.  It still goes down smooth and is great with a flavored creamer.
 
CafĂ© Verona:  Verona is an extra bold flavor that is sweet and smooth.  It is understated and reminiscent yet leaves no memory on your taste buds.

Sumatra:  Sumatra is an extra bold flavor that is dark and earthy and has nutty undertones.  It is not as exotic as the Sulawesi but goes down just as smooth. 
Komodo Dragon:  Komodo Dragon is extra bold and it is by far my all time favorite Starbucks flavor.  Komodo Dragon is tropical at first and then it hits you with a spicy undertone.  I love this flavor with the special coconut flavored creamers from the grocery.  It is really great over ice on a hot day; the ice really brings out the spicy flavors.


Ethiopia Sidamo:  Ethiopia Sidamo is an extra bold flavor that is smooth and almost has a thick quality to it.  Like the Sumatra it has an earthy tone to it but still goes down smooth enough for me.  Ethiopia Sidamo is enjoyable with creamer as well.
French Roast:  French Roast is extra bold.  It is my least favorite flavor, in fact I detest it.  If you like your coffee bitter and pungent, French Roast is the flavor for you.  It is so bitter you cannot detect any flavors and it goes down just as rough.  French Roast will leave a bitter taste on your buds long after you have finished the cup.
Kenya:  Kenya has to be my second favorite extra bold flavor next to Komodo Dragon.  Kenya is very tropical and smooth.  It is great with flavored creamers and also great over ice.  When you drink this coffee over ice you will detect the fruity undertones.  It is very smooth and yummy.  
Water
Another important ingredient, to a great cup of coffee, is filtered water.  The better the water tastes, the better your coffee will taste.  Filtered water not only tastes better, it keeps your machine cleaner and a clean machine is ingredient number one.

I have found that the ratio of coffee to water is much more of a personal preference.  Just like you have to try different preparation methods of eggs, you have to try different types and strengths of coffee.  Experimenting is part of the fun. Read the directions on the coffee bag for a starting point.

A final tip for those of you who enjoy espresso, when we purchased our first espresso machine, we stopped by that local Starbucks where they taught us how to use it even though we didn't buy it there. They also gave us a recipe for a fancy drink as well.  They didn’t mind doing this because they new that we would return to buy more coffee.  It never hurts to ask, many of the coffee retailers love to talk about their coffees.  Each shop manager or owner is the best one to describe the different tastes and flavors that the coffees have to offer.
A Clean Coffee Maker

If your coffee maker is dirty, your coffee will taste dirty. If your coffee maker is old, or you suspect that it is dirty, cleaning it is simple. A cup of white vinegar and a gallon of distilled water is all you need to spruce it right up.  Run the vinegar through the coffee maker first and follow it up with the distilled water.  You may want to run a couple of cycles of clear water before you attempt to put the coffee maker back in use.  The vinegar is going to break up the mineral deposits in your machine.

Coffee is something that is important to buy fair trade because much of it is grown in third world countries. Starbucks is an ethical company where you can often find fair trade labels. You can read more about Starbucks ethical practices in Considering frugal Starbucks Ethical Pic.

How I became Considering frugal

Fueled by the growing list of pollution related allergies my family suffered from each day and inspired by my 97 year old grandmother who could recycle ANYTHING before recycling was cool, back in 2011, I decided (in the spirit of the Julie/Julia Project...) to embark on a journey to see just how much one family could do to change our planet. I did not consult any other parties before I launched this idea. Thankfully my husband, daughter and son are usually my biggest supporters. Here is the catch; as I am normally very thrifty (you can note from early blog posts), I was looking for ways that I could reduce our carbon footprint and make socially responsible purchases without increasing our spending. Mmmmmm. I did succeed in changing our habits a bit and finding ways to reduce our footprint. There were lots of fun epic fails alone the way too! But the biggest change we have made over the course of the last six years, was to move from the mega city of Phoenix to Wyoming where we are about to take an even bigger step and move out on a dirt road in the country where we can expand our hobby bees and more! You can read my full bio on my About Me page.

frugal advice

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask." Matthew 6:8

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While it is true that I am working on a PHD in Psychology and very smart and frugal, I am not a medical doctor, criminal, personal or accident lawyer. I do not sell insurance nor am I an accountant or mortgage advisor. While some of my posts may offer good ideas on home and business solutions, I am not personally responsible nor is Considering frugal for any advice, ideas, recipes or menu plans that you decide to use. This blog is intended to be helpful and fun. Any products you purchase from my Amazon store or any other retailer advertised on my blog must be returned to them. Any sponsors or advertisers are independent of this blog.