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  • Dan Yeager

How to Make Coffee

Updated: Jun 20



How to Make Coffee

There are lots of ways to make coffee. My first experience with coffee was seeing my dad spoon heaps of Nescafe instant into a Thermos and pour in boiling water from the stove-top kettle we always had sitting on the hob of our turquoise stove. The kitchen was a model of early '60s chic with cherry veneer cabinets and turquoise laminated countertops with little gold flecks. The kettle was standard issue suburban American stainless with a black plastic handle and a trigger-activated flapper that let out a deafening whistle when it boiled. He filled this noble vessel leaving room for a quarter can of condensed milk, a holdover from his Army days, or so we thought.

I still have a nostalgic fondness for Nescafe instant, and once every ten years or so make a cup with a shot of canned milk to commune spiritually with my long-dead father. This, however, is not how I make my standard morning brew. My go-to today is a stainless steel thermal French press and a liter of filtered water from an electric kettle. Three heaping tablespoons of dark roast and a spoonful of Devil's Harvest Mulled Coffee Spice is the new standard. I let it steep for about five minutes and pour a mug leaving room for a good dollop of half and half.

My previous method was a standard stove-top percolator of the type you can still find in any real hardware store. They are stainless steel with a riveted wood handle and glass bubble on top. Fill the basket with coarsely ground coffee and add water to the embossed fill line, then turn on the fire. Watch the little bubble as the liquid goes from clear water to the dark orange that is coffee and reflect upon your life and all your regrets. Leave it on the stove at the lowest setting and it stays piping hot, though it will eventually burn adding to your regrets.

Before that, I had various drip machines, both of the regular Mr. Coffee/Bunn style and the ones with the cone filters. They all work to varying degrees, but as I've aged, I found I craved a brew stronger than any of these will produce. I have noticed since moving back east from L.A. that people here like weak-ass coffee. They think Dunkin Donuts coffee, that insipid brownish water, is good coffee. It will do in a pinch, but I always order it with a double shot of espresso to make it tolerable.

Another method is to use one of those Chemex glass devices popular with the Hippie granola eaters. I love Hippie granola eaters and cherish any opportunity to share a cup of coffee with one of their kind. The apparatus is is a kind of scientific-looking affair of glass with a conical top section that holds one of those paper cone filters. They usually tie a couple of fashioned pieces of wood in the middle with a leather thong so you can pick it up and pour without serious injury. The thing I like about them is you can grind your beans really fine and get a good bit of sludge in your cup, but be prepared to wait. It drips very slowly demanding saint-like patience or copious bowls of premium weed.

The other way I've been experimenting lately is making coffee like the Turks in a pan on the stove. I have a little pan to which I add a cup of water and a couple of heaping teaspoons of Gravedigger Roast. I've tried it with sugar just to prove I'm open-minded, but it only proved to me how much I don't like sugar in my coffee. Whatever you choose to do in that regard, just give it a stir and place it on a medium heat. Again, patience is a virtue. Let it warm slowly, but don't boil it. You'll see it just start to undulate when it's done. It takes about seven minutes but yields a nice cup of strong coffee. You can make it with milk instead of water, but I haven't tried that yet. I'm trying to perfect my technique so I can introduce a bit of Mulled Coffee Spice to the equation. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be good. I'm also awaiting a proper Turkish Coffee pot to arrive in the post. Watch this space for further developments.

The only wrong way to make coffee is to rush it. Man has tried to speed up the process through his infernal technology. A buddy of mine has a $4,000 Jura coffee maker that grinds the beans and dribbles out any of several styles of espresso-based drinks in under a minute. It makes a pretty good cup, but did I mention it costs $4,000? Sorry, if you have four large burning a hole in your pocket, go give $3,950 to your local animal shelter and buy a nice thermal French press and get on with your life. You don't even want to think about what it costs to have one of those things serviced when it gives you an inevitable error code.

No, coffee is simple. Use good beans, fresh, clean water, and take your time. Pro tip: coffee is always better with friendly conversation, even when you're drinking alone.


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