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An Awesome Review

Michael Amouri of Café Amouri in Vienna, VA, was kind enough to sell me two pounds of his Ethiopia Harrar green coffee for testing purposes. I couldn’t wait to roast them to dark roast and try them out. The following day, my friend and colleague Mike Petrucci tasted the coffee from a Clever pour, and penned an absolutely awesome review that I’m glad to share with you. Here’s Mike, in his own words.

“I’m not usually a fan of dark roasts. I feel the beans’ natural flavors get masked which will in turn rob me of joy. Not cool.

But this Harar is different, or at least the way that Arka over at Kustom Coffee has roasted it. What I’m about to share are my notes on the coffee. Just a collection of feelings. Almost like a memory of a past event.

Recovering from a Bean Fire

I was riding high. Visions of gloriously aromatic coffee beans danced before my eyes as I worked my brand new Behmor 1600 roaster night after night. Flush with initial success, I had just set up, and was getting ready to spread my joy to the world. That would be a good time to learn humility, right? And humility arrived, right on cue.

Best Coffee Brewing Methods

The best method for making coffee depends on individual taste, but the list definitely does not include the common drip brewer. The flavor ingredient of coffee is the oil that lies within the bean, and drippers burn it off quickly in the name of keeping the coffee hot, resulting in sawdust juice. If you must buy a dripper, get one that brews into a thermos. Oh, and also avoid the Tassimo and Senseo single-cuppers — pure garbage.

Now that we’ve got the bad actors out of the way, let’s review the good methods. (more…)

Milking the Pod Brewer Part 1: Tetley Tea

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been drinking a lot more tea lately. Of course, coffee remains my primary poison, but I’ve been expanding horizons a bit. Now I don’t mind tea bags, but I wish I could speed things up in the morning instead of waiting the tea to steep. So one day I decided to leverage my pod brewer. Instead of dunking the bag I put the tea bag into the pod holder and pressed the button.

Tetley tea bagsMy initial experiments with string-and-tag black tea bags yielded mixed results. Because of their rectangular shape they would allow water to pass around them, diluting the tea. This was okay if I wanted a light tea, but I wanted a little more punch than that.

Where could I get round tea pods? I could pay a premium for Republic of Tea or Melitta pods, but didn’t really want to. In the corner of my local Indian grocery store I found a box of 100 round Tetley Tea Bags selling for $2.99. Bullseye!

The tea is pretty strong by itself — the brewer extracts every ounce of oil and tannin out of the poor leaves in the tea bag. A splash of half and half tends to subdue the tannin, though.

What’s With Them K-Cups?

Keurig K-Cup machineThe premise is tantalizing — a hot, fresh single cup of coffee every time you press a button. No cleaning porta filters, no disposing messy coffee/espresso grounds, no hassles with espresso pumps and steam nozzles. And the machine doesn’t look half bad. Just lift the latch, pop in a special K-cup, lower the latch and press the appropriate button. In about a minute you have a single steaming cup of coffee (or tea or hot cocoa). Especially in an office, this is as far away from the usual sludge as you can get without a pump espresso.

So how does it work?

The machine works with special K-cups — double-walled, self-contained coffee containers that have a filter built in. The coffee rests inside the filter. If you hold a K-cup up to the light you’ll see the filter ends about halfway into the outer plastic cup. When you place the K-cup in the machine and close the lid, a fat hypodermic pierces the top foil of the K-cup and lets in just enough pressurized hot water to fill the whole cup. The coffee brews, and is released by another needle down below that pierces the bottom of the cup. The process repeats for a few more cycles till the required volume is dispensed.

What’s Good?

  • The coffee is ground, but is sealed inside the K-cup till brewing time. There is no air exposure unlike coffee pods. This also makes storage easier.
  • When done, just toss the spent K-cup. No muss, no fuss, no filters to handle.
  • A very large variety of K-cup blends already available from a variety of sources. Keurig also runs a coffee delivery program for offices and homes.
  • Since you’re brewing one cup at a time, there’s no waste compared to standard drip coffeemakers.

Where’s the Catch?

This is a classic razor-and-blade situation. You can only use K-cups in your somewhat expensive Keurig brewer.

  • Keurig sells you one of these machines for $99 and way up, and provides you with a taste assortment of K-cups to get you started. Thereafter, K-cups average to about 50 cents apiece, less if you buy in bulk. So if you’re looking to save money on coffee, K-cups may seem a little pricey.
  • K-cups are not biodegradable — yet. Every cup you toss presents a recycling dilemma since it has (a) coffee, (b) paper filter, and (c) plastic in it.
  • The coffee tastes good, but isn’t nearly as fresh as good quality freshly ground coffee.

Bottom Line

Great convenience if you can devote the money, but limits you to only prepackaged commercially available coffee and tea selections.

Have/use a Keurig brewer? Let’s hear about it!

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