November 2, 2005

Ahhh, coffee


Ahh, coffee. Here I am, sipping that first delightful cup o' joe, a little after 6am. The sun is rising, the coffee is piping hot and it's going down smooth. We make a good strong cuppa, using some lightly roasted beans, not the overcooked ones found at your local Starbucks (Charbucks to us!). I can highly recommend Armeno Coffee Roasters Ltd. They are just down the road in Westborough Mass, but I do mail order with them and they make some great coffee beans. I used to order beans from Coffee Revolution in Ottawa Ontario, but I started to have some problems with the order, so we tried a bunch of other mail order and local places and settled on Armeno..

I didn't really start drinking coffee until I was in my mid-20s, when I worked at Compugraphic. The whole software crew would head down to the cafeteria for a morning break, drinking coffee and shooting the breeze. So just to have something in hand while we were doing that, I started to order my own coffee and the addiction was born.

At that time, the by now mythical Coffee Connection chain was at its peek. Started by coffee connoisseur extraordinaire George Howell, Coffee Connection was a New England institution, teaching millions in the area what good coffee really tastes like. He coined the term Charbucks to described the overcooked, burned beans popularized by Starbucks.

But the Starbucks money and competition was too much for George and he sold the chain to them for mucho dinero. All us CC aficionados were horrified, despite their claims to keep Coffee Connection as a separate brand. As we feared, things quickly changed and Coffee Connection first lost its name over the door, then even the Coffee Connection brand beans disappeared, leaving nothing but a dark oily stain on our memories.

He had signed a non-compete agreement and when that finally ended, he began Terroir Coffee. I have tried a bag of these beans, but haven't really dived into them yet.

Aremeno is a great roaster and makes some great beans. When we first started ordering from them, we sampled each different kind of bean. Here's my tasting list, with each bean rated 1-10:

Mexican Coixtepec - 6
Guatemala Antigua - 7
Costa Rica La Minita Tarrazu - 9
Costa Rica Tres Rios 7
Costa Rica Indios 6
Puerto Rico / Yauco Selecto 7
Jamaica Blue Mountain $34.95 $18.95 109 / 1095   
Colombia Supremo Narino 6
Brazil Bourbon Santos 6
Brazil Vista Alegre $13.50 $6.95 113 / 1135   
Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy $25.50 $12.95 114 / 1145   
Kauai Reserve 7
Kauai Extra Fancy 6
Kauai Peaberry 7
Maui Kaanapali Red Catuai 8
Maui Kaanapali Yellow Caturra 7
Maui Kaanapali Moka 
Kenya AA 7
Tanzania Peaberry 7
Pride of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 6
Zimbabwe Code 053 Pinnacle 6
Ethiopia Harrar 6
Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 9
Yemen Mocha Ismaili
Yemen Mocha Mattari 8
Yemen Mocha Sanani $12.25 $6.25 160 / 1605   
Zambia AA Terranova 
Papua New Guinea Sigri AA $10.25 $5.40 120 / 1205   
Sumatra Mandheling Pawani 7
Aged Sumatra Pawani $10.75 $5.60 128/1285 (V)   
Sumatra Gayo Mountain Organic (V) $10.75 $5.60 126 / 1265 (V)   
Java Jampit 7
Indonesia Java 6
Celebes Kalossi 7
India Monsoon Malabar 6
Timor Organic 7
House Blend 5
Black and Tan Blend 6

We settled on the Yirgacheffe and have been ordering it in 5 pound roasted bags for a couple of years now. We have our burr grinder set at 10 1/2, and we use almost to the 10 mark on pot for water. I usually grind just before making it, but I have taken to grinding for our first pot just before I go to bed. It's kind of a catch 22, getting the coffee ready in the morning - you need coffee to be awake enough to make coffee! So I cheat a little bit and have it all set to just turn on in the morning. I haven't really noticed any serious degradation in the quality of our cuppa, so I'll continue doing it. And we can even send one of the kids down to start it now! After it gets made, we get it out of the pot as soon as possible, and put it into a thermal decanter, to keep it from getting burnt.

So, if you don't grind your own coffee, I urge you to do so. It doesn't really take all that much more time than any other method and the taste is simply head and shoulders better than using a pre-ground coffee. We always get raves when we serve coffee, and yet I'm still surprised at how few make it from scratch.

Posted by jdarnold at 7:43 AM on life | Comments (0)

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