Some of you might know of my on again off again addiction to Mountain Dew, and that I periodically give it up for awhile, well, I’m doing that again, only this time I’m trying something new in its place, COFFEE! Now, any of you who know me know I hate coffee. Well, I thought I hated coffee. You see, the only coffee I’d ever tried was either instant, or those flavored International Coffee things that come in a squarish canister, or, gods help me, hotel instant coffee. Now, I do love me some Starbucks Frappuccinos, but I’ve heard those aren’t real coffee either. Personally, while I’ve never actually tried Starbucks “real” coffee, I don’t really mind the “burnt” taste of whatever they use in their Frappuccinos. But all that milk and sugary syrup and whipped cream kind of covers up the taste of pretty much anything I’d think. (Speaking of Frappuccinos, try this: Tall Green Tea Frappuccino with 1 pump hazelnut syrup and 1 pump classic, whipped. You’ll thank me later. Or not. But if you like pistachio ice cream, you’ll probably like it. The hazelnut syrup cuts the weird “green earthy” taste of the stock Green Tea Frap. I got the recipe off the interwebz and altered it a bit. Oh, by the way, there is no secret menu, but Starbucks will make you pretty much whatever you want if you’re willing to pay for it. But please for the love of all that is good and holy, bring a recipe, baristas are only human.)
Anyway, in my quest to switch away from the Dew and towards a more grown-up drink (I did turn 50 this year,) I bought some Taster’s Choice instant in little packets because I had a coupon for it and figured what the hell. Yeah, yeah, I know. But mixed with about 1/4 cup of sugar and a lot of half & half it’s drinkable. Then I bought one of those Starbucks VIA instant coffees, and, no matter what you might say about how bad Starbucks coffee is, holy moly those things were quite a bit tastier than the Taster’s Choice stuff! In fact it tasted pretty damn much just like a Frappuccino once I got my milk and extra sugar in there. The fact it was caramel flavor probably helped. But uh oh, what happened is that tasting sort of real coffee made that Taster’s Choice stuff taste like watered down mud with fake vanilla.
So now I start thinking and Googling and what do I find but a subreddit called Coffee. And down the rabbit hole we go ….
I learned a lot about stuff I never even knew existed, like an Aeropress. And the difference between a blade and a burr grinder. Hell, the difference between a conical burr grinder and a flat plate burr grinder. Not that I care. Well, not yet anyway. Winter is coming. Erm Christmas is coming, so we’ll see how that goes. Haha.
Anyway, I tried to figure out an easy and relatively inexpensive way to make me some decent coffee at home (that Starbucks VIA crap is pretty expensive.) First I was thinkin’ hey, maybe I should get one of those dopey Keurig things that are on sale every Christmas and there’s 48,398 different flavors of pods for ‘em in every store I visit. But then I remembered a place I worked once had something like that (I think it was a Tassimo though, which is supposedly “better” than a Keurig, flavor-wise) and remembered how utterly underwhelmed I was by the taste (admittedly, I didn’t try the coffee, only teas and hot cocoa) and how insanely wasteful and expensive and gimmicky the damn thing was. I think I was the only one at work who didn’t go gaga over it though. And those pods are about a buck a pop for some brands. I could almost go to Starbucks every day for that much money. So, that was out. I kept pokin’ around and almost settled on getting an Aeropress, but then the other day I was at Target buying kitty litter, and decided to swing by the kitchen gadget department just to see what they had, maybe get a cheap filter cone and filters to hold me for a bit. But I saw they had a Bodum Chambord French Press on sale for less than $20, and I remembered reading in /r/Coffee about those and how some people had gotten ‘em cheap at JCP a week or so ago and they were pretty good if you could get ‘em cheap. So I splurged and bought it. It’s nicer than I had imagined it, all shiny, and the parts aren’t crappy plastic (well part of it is, but the “press” part is metal.) So, there ya go, now I had a way to make coffee. Only … I have no coffee except instant. Unfortunately I had stuff goin’ on so I didn’t make it into Sprouts to get some coffee until today. They sell bulk coffee, Volcanic Red brand for one (never heard of ‘em, but whatever) and since I’m not a coffee expert by any means, I didn’t want to plunk down a bunch of money I don’t really have on a full pound of some random coffee. So I decided I should try a couple tablespoons of one or two coffees a week and see how it goes. So today, I got some English Toffee dark roast stuff (I only got one type, because I’d not yet tried out this fancy French Press thingamajig yet.) And I ground it course, just like /r/Coffee said to for French Press, and I brought it home and brewed some up.
And all I can say is, wow, I am not sure how to describe it, this stuff was different than anything I’ve ever had. It was strong, but not really all that bitter, just a tiny bit, even less I think than the stuff Starbucks puts in their Frappucinos. It wasn’t burnt. And it had this sort of uhm … body to it, it wasn’t watery and nasty. Now, I did still have to add sugar and some half & half to it, because it was just too strong for me, but if I had to I think I coulda drank it black, I just wouldn’t like it as much. But oh man it smelled so freakin’ good. I always thought people who ground their own coffee were a bit extreme (brother, I’m lookin’ at you haha) but it was really good. I’m not sure if it’s the freshly ground beans (I did wait a couple hours after I got home to brew, so yeah, I know it got “stale”) or if it was the French Press, but if this is how coffee really tastes, then sign me up! It’ll probably take me awhile before I can “drink it like a man” ie black, and before I give up the girly “flavored” coffees, but who knows, maybe a year from now I’ll be drinkin’ black espresso and have my own coffee bar.
I have enough ground for a few more days (I got about 1/4 lb) then I’ll try maybe a couple flavors next week, maybe even one that’s not flavored. This one was a dark roast, which I got partly because I figured it’d be the most bitter, and if I could stand this, I could stand anything. Plus I’m sort of used to Starbucks, and I think they do most of their coffees “dark” (or overdark, ie burnt.) The best part, the coffee cost $1.38. For about a week’s supply. That’s about half as much as I spend on ‘Dew. Even if I add in the cost of the sugar (on sale now, $1.99 for 4 lbs) and the half & half (also on sale, buy one get one free, cost me $1.59 for two pints of it) it’s still cheaper. And the French Press was only $20, which pro-rated over a year is about fifty cents a week. AND it works for tea too. I discovered the joys of loose teas years ago, so I’ve already been down THAT rabbit hole and survived hehe. The only complaint I have about the French Press is the coffee cooled down pretty fast (or maybe my water wasn’t quite hot enough, I didn’t want it to be boiling, so I waited a minute before pouring. I also only made one cup. Next time, I’ll take its temperature. And I had to heat my milk up, otherwise, it really would have cooled the coffee down. Oh, and the worst part is I can’t have a second cup because it’s after 11pm. At least I’ll have something to look forward to tomorrow morning.
Now, I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with this box of Taster’s Choice instant stuff. The Starbucks VIA I can deal with, it’s good enough (and easier when the French Press is too much work.) Maybe I’ll give it to my dad. Or put it in gift baskets for Christmas. Sorry, that was mean.