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I Need Coffee | - Feed

I Need Coffee | - Feed has 27 articles published.

Cowboy Coffee Recipe – 1865 Arbuckle’s Grocery

With Comstock’s wild west heritage, we thought it only fitting to say a few words this month about Cowboy Coffee, and the brand that became synonymous with coffee ’round the campfire, Arbuckle.

Cowboy coffee was not a brand, but a brewing method developed, naturally enough, by the roaming cowboys of the prairie out of necessity. It is surprisingly similar to the ancient practice of Turkish coffee, however not as refined. Cowhands expected their coffee to be ‘brown gargle”, hot, black, strong and thick enough to float a six-shooter in.

It is ironic to realize that, whatever you think about the taste before 1865 cowboys drank fresher coffee than most Americans do today. That was because, though preparing coffee on the range was a tedious and time-consuming task, cooks had no choice to buy green coffee and roast it fresh in a skillet themselves before brewing. Contrast that to most of today’s supermarket brands -coffee roasted months in advance, kept stored in cans, then finally appearing in your cup.

Like today’s consumer though, for the cowboy on the range convenience was the key, and in 1865 when Arbuckle’s Grocery in Pittsburgh developed a special roasting and coating technique that kept beans tasty for long periods it soon became the cowboy’s brand. Arbuckle had devised a special egg and sugar glaze that sealed flavor in the roasted bean. Soon cowhands were asking for Arbuckle’s at cow camps and ranch houses across the prairie.

Cowboy Coffee near campfire

Photo by Tim Wright

Recipe for COWBOY COFFEE

  • 4 qt. water
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly ground coffee (coarse grind – same as French Press)
  • 1 eggshell
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan or coffee pot. Add coffee grounds and eggshell to boiling water. Return to a boil, remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Slowly add cold water to settle grounds to the bottom. Let stand for 1 minute to allow grounds to settle. Use any remaining coffee to extinguish the campfire.

Now don’t be surprised if, in a wave of nostalgia for the days of the pioneer, you attempt to brew your own Cowboy Coffee and find it less than palatable. Our suggestion is that you add some sugar to this potent brew, or take your chances. We suspect that is what made Arbuckle’s coffee so popular: their egg and sugar glaze probably added just enough sweetness to satisfy the palate without offending the big tough ranchers ‘taste for adventure’.

Also, unless you normally go through a gallon of coffee, you might want to scale the recipe down a bit. Yippie Oh Kiay, podnuh!

arbuckles coffee wooden crate

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Resources

Camp Kitchen recreation store with Cowboy Coffee gear (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada)

Arbuckle’s Coffee Roasters (Amazon USA)

Collectible Arbuckle’s Coffee items (eBay)

Cowboy Coffee, Backpacker Style – INeedCoffee article with recipe.

The Smoothest Cup You’ll Ever Drink – Swedish Egg Coffee – INeedCoffee brewing tutorial that uses an eeggshell-likecowboy coffee.

Preparing a Traditional Turkish Coffee – INeedCoffee brewing tutorial.

Pittsburgh was the Coffee Capital of America! – The story of Arbuckle’s Grocery.

Cowboy on horse photo by Matt Lee

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Double Shot 3.0 – A Portable French Press with Secret Storage

I recently received a Double Shot 3.0 French Press from Planetary Design. This updated portable French Press uses the same Bru Stop technology that they added to their Tabletop French Press line, which we covered in the article French Press Tabletop Coffee and Tea Maker with Bru Stop Technology Review.

For more than a decade, I made French Press coffee about three times a day. It was an earlier time when the filters did a poor job of keeping the coffee grounds separate from the coffee once the brewing period was complete. Because of this, immediately after brewing, I would always transfer all the coffee brewed directly into a mug or some form of thermal container. It was an extra step, but if I didn’t take that step, the coffee that remained in the French Press would continue brewing at a slow rate.

The coffee would become over-extracted and undrinkable.

Double Shot French Press

Double Shot 3.0 French Press Travel Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon Canada

Bru Stop Filter

With traditional filters, it is easy to over-extract French Press coffee if you leave the coffee in the brewer too long. The Bru Stop filter solved that problem. It is a tighter filter that does a superior job of trapping the ground coffee at the end of the brew cycle.

As bad as the over-extraction problem was with counter-top French Press brewers, there was a worse problem with travel French Presses. Coffee grounds easily escaped from the bottom into your brew. How many times have French Press drinkers using travel models taken a sip of coffee with loose coffee grounds? Too many.

The good news is the Double Shot 3.0 uses the same Bru Stop filter, so that risk of loose grounds has been greatly reduced. Although I didn’t experience any loose grounds, I hesitate to say the potential has been eliminated, because travel mugs by their very nature get bumped around more than a counter-top French Press. Just do your best job avoiding potholes on your commute and you should be fine.

Bru Stop Filter - French Press Coffee

The Bru Stop filter for the Double Shot 3.0. 

Secret Storage

When I first looked into the Double Shot, it seemed rather shallow compared to what I was holding. That is when I figured out the base is detachable. When you screw off the base, you have a secret storage container, which is perfect for storing more coffee. Brilliant!

Back in the day, I used to bring a French Press and a Tupperware container with additional coffee into the office. If I didn’t grab the Tupperware, I wasn’t going to get afternoon coffee. With the Double Shot, you just add the extra coffee into the base while you are making the first French Press.

Double Shot French Press Storage

The secret storage for the Double Shot 3.0.

Holds Heat and Doesn’t Spill

A travel French Press or any travel mug needs to excel at holding heat, especially for those of us that live in areas that get cold. This includes campers and hikers. The Double Shot 3.0, like the Tabletop model, uses stainless steel interior and vacuum insulation to keep the beverage warm. The lid is solid as well. I had no spillage or leaks during my tests.

Overview

If you are looking for a travel French Press, the Double Shot 3.0 by Planetary Design is an excellent choice. It will hold the heat, keep the loose grounds out of your brew, and even provide a way to carry extra coffee for your next brew.

This is also a perfect travel mug for loose-leaf tea drinkers, especially with teas that can handle multiple steeps.

Resources

Double Shot 3.0 French Press Travel Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon Canada

French Press Tabletop Coffee and Tea Maker with Bru Stop Technology Review – Overview of their countertop model.

How To Clean Your Brü-Stop French Press – A 40-second video showing you how to clean your Planetary Design French Press.

French Press Coffee Tutorial – INeedCoffee guide to making great French Press coffee.

Troubleshooting French Press Coffee – Once you have your french press, here are some ideas to make your coffee taste great.

Disclaimer: The author received a Double Shot 3.0 from Planetary Design for this review.

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Outlandish Novelty Coffee Mugs

I was looking around Amazon when I found a section of outlandish novelty coffee mugs. Why settle for a boring old mug when you can have a ninja mug or a grenade mug? Below is a collection of a few of the coolest mugs I found.

Ninja Coffee Mug

The Ninja Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

retro-ray-gun-coffee-mug
Big Mouth Toys The Retro Ray Gun Rocket Mug (Amazon USA

grenade-coffee-mug
Grenade Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

recycling-bin-mug
Big Mouth Toys The Recycling Bin Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

prescription-coffee-mug
Big Mouth Toys The Prescription Coffee Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

toilet-coffee-mug
Big Mouth Toys Toilet Mug (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Resources

More Novelty Coffee Mugs (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Coffee Brewing Guide – Once you have your crazy mug, check out our coffee brewing tutorial section.

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Roasting Coffee at Home Has Never Been Easier

Become a Master Coffee Roaster right in your own kitchen.

Bali coffee guru Asher Yaron and business partner Raymond Lay have just launched a revolutionary new home coffee roaster.

“We’re making home coffee roasting a simple and affordable practice,” said Yaron. “This roaster is designed to significantly change coffee making and drinking habits around the world.”

Power Roaster

Starting with green coffee beans and using the Fluid Bed Roasting technique, the power roaster has a capacity of 120 grams per batch at an average of six minutes per roast. With a much quicker and cleaner process than traditional drum roasters, it operates with a simple on/off switch, the beans roasted until the desired color is achieved; light, medium, or dark.

“What we’re seeing is the emergence of the Fourth Wave in coffee,” Yaron said, referencing the transition in coffee epochs. “Coffee drinkers are finally starting to care about the effect of the drink — the energy and the clarity it gives them — as much as they do about taste. Roasting, brewing and then drinking coffee in quick succession improves the effects significantly.”

At a price point of USD $300 (which includes 1 kilo — 2.2 lbs. — of green coffee), it is estimated that a typical retail café customer will see an average savings of more than $1000 annually. The machine, aptly named the Power Roaster, is being offered in a Kickstarter Campaign.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/2017098884/coffee-roasting-in-your-own-kitchen-with-the-power

Backers in the Campaign will receive Early Bird Discounts as well as free shipping. After Kickstarter, the Power Roaster, accessories, and green coffee will be offered for sale on the website, www.powerroaster.com

powerroaster home coffee roaster

Disclosure: This post was sponsored. INeedCoffee received equipment and compensation for this article. If you are interested in having a sponsored article for your site, product, or service, visit our Sponsor / Advertise page.

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How to Brew Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnamese style iced coffee (ca phe sua da or cà phê sữa đá) is super easy to make and all you need is a stainless steel filter that costs around $7 USD online. If you live in a city with a Vietnamese grocery store, you will likely find them even cheaper.

Vietnamese coffee can be served hot, but for this tutorial, we are going to brew an iced coffee that is both strong and sweet.

Although it is traditional to use dark roasted coffee for this drink, I discovered it is perfectly fine to use a medium roast. However, light roasted coffees should be avoided as they tend to be overpowered by the sweetness of the condensed milk.

What You’ll Need

  • Vietnamese Coffee Filter
  • Ground coffee
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Spoon
  • Glass or mug
  • Ice
  • (optional) fish sauce and a toothpick

Vietnamese Coffee Brewer set

Vietnamese Coffee Filter Set

#1 Add Condensed Milk to Glass

You don’t need much, as condensed milk is very sweet. Start with just enough to cover the bottom, maybe 1/3 of an inch (~1 cm). You can always add more condensed milk later. Don’t add the ice yet. That is the last step.

condensed milk and Vietnamese coffee brewer

#2 Remove the Top Screen of Filter

The coffee will go underneath the top screen, so remove it before adding coffee.

#3 Add Ground Coffee to Filter

Add one rounded tablespoon of ground coffee. There are various opinions on the best grind level. Everything from french press coarse to espresso fine. How tight the filter is screwed on will also play a role. Medium grind is a good place to start.

Add Ground Coffee to Vietnamese brewer

Some variations of this recipe use chicory. This is optional. You could use a coffee such as Cafe du Monde, which has chicory in it or you could add it yourself. If you mix in chicory yourself, you don’t need more than 1/2 a teaspoon.

Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory, 15-Ounce (Pack of 3)
Cafe Du Monde Coffee Chicory, 15-Ounce (Pack of 3) 

#4 Cover with Top Filter

Screw the top filter until it is snug. If you decided to use a coarse grind, you may need to go a little tighter. More on that below.

Remove Top Filter Lid of Vietnamese Coffee brewer

#5 Set Brewer Over Glass with Stand

The advantage of brewing into a glass instead of a mug is you can watch the brewing take place.

Setup Vietnamese coffee brewer on glass

#6 Add Hot Water

Fill the Vietnamese Coffee Filter with hot water. I usually take water to boil and then let it cool for about 30 seconds before pouring.

The water should take between 4 and 5 minutes to pass through the filter. If it goes too fast, you can either tighten the top filter or use a less coarse grind. If it goes too slow, either the grind is too fine or the filter is screwed in too tight.

There is also a lid you can place on top of the filter. I don’t use it. I prefer to monitor the progress of the brew so I know if I need to make adjustments to the grind or adjust the tightness of the top filter.

fill Vietnamese coffee filter with hot water

#7 Wait for Brew to Complete

The easiest part. Just wait for the water to pass through the filter. For the first few brews, use a timer. The coffee will drip through the filter. Aim for between 4 and 5 minutes. See the advice in Step #6 if you are outside that range.

Notice how the coffee layers on top of the condensed milk.

Finished Vietnamese Coffee Brewing

#8 Mix the Coffee and Condensed Milk

Stir the condensed milk into the brewed coffee. Some recipes call for adding additional sugar. I found the drink sweet enough, but let your palate be your judge.

Mix Coffee with Condensed milk for Vietnamese iced coffee

#9 (optional) Add Fish Sauce

Some places in Vietnam will soak the end of a toothpick with fish sauce and stir it into the coffee. I believe the reason for doing this is that a small amount of salt or salty flavor has been known to cut the bitterness. Darker roasted coffee, especially French Roast, tends to be more bitter. So by adding just a tiny amount of fish sauce which happens to be salty, the heavily roasted coffee can taste smoother. If the coffee you are using is not a dark roast, I would skip this step.

#10 Serve With Ice

Mix the ice into the drink and enjoy!

Iced Vietnamese Coffee

Resources

Vietnamese Coffee Filter Set (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Brewing Tutorial by Inanimate Objects – Comic version of this tutorial.

eBay page for Vietnamese Coffee Brewers – eBay sells several different types of Vietnamese Coffee brewers.

Condensed Milk – Wikipedia page describing how condensed milk is made using steam and sugar so it remains shelf stable for years.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee – Wikipedia page.

Title Photo by Lee Aik Soon.

Brewing photos by Joseph Robertson of Coffee Lovers Magazine, a digital coffee magazine published for iOS and Android.

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Cleaning Your Burr Grinder

“I have a confession to make. I’ve had my coffee grinder for 10 years…and never once have I cleaned it.” – Someone you might know.

I think the idea of regularly cleaning your coffee grinder – or even any coffee machine equipment – is not something most home brewers consider. It seems alright. You only use it for coffee right? And you purge the grinder whenever you switch coffees, so that’s fine, right?

You will probably be disgusted, then, to find all of the oils, chaff, and random coffee grounds stuck in places in your grinder that you didn’t even consider. This stuff inevitably builds over time. Whether you think you can’t tell or not is somewhat irrelevant. You’ve got old organic matter caking itself to parts of a machine you think is helping you make the freshest coffee possible.

The good news is that cleaning your coffee grinder can be a relatively simple task. In this guide, I’m going to show you how to do a pretty thorough and regular cleaning of your electric burr coffee grinder, which will only take you 5-10 minutes once you get the hang of it.

We will not be taking apart anything that can’t be very easily put back together with minimal knowledge/skill/experience.

In this guide, I’ll be showing you the steps using an OXO Barista Brain Grinder, and a Baratza Encore. Both of these are higher end ‘entry level’ electric burr grinders. Most any conical burr coffee grinder will be quite similar to these two, so you can follow along.

You will need

  • Your Grinder
  • Urnex Grindz
  • A somewhat stiff bristled brush (either a grinder cleaning brush or a toothbrush)
  • A microfiber cloth
  • (Optional) canned compressed air
  • (Optional) shop vac

There are two goals here – remove any loose grounds that are relatively easily accessible and clean off as much built up oils as possible. We are going to do this without disassembling the grinders past a certain point. We are just going to remove the easily removable parts, so we don’t have to worry about disturbing some of the more delicate bits of the grinder.

We finish the whole process using Urnex Grindz, which will completely clean the burrs for us.

#1 Remove the hopper

Any decent electric burr grinder will allow you to easily remove the hopper. On the Baratza Encore, you turn it all the way to the right (pointing just past the largest number). On the OXO grinder, there is a push release button on the back.

You can then wash your hopper with soap and water. Be sure to do so, as these easily build up oils. The Encore also has a rubber gasket you can simply lift straight out – this can be washed just with water (or a little bit of soap/water).

Remove Burr Grinder Hopper

#2 Remove remaining loose pieces

In the case of the OXO grinder, the bin which catches the coffee grounds and the metal plate it sits on (if you have the built-in scale version) both just sit loosely. For cleaning, you are going to want to remove those and set them aside, or they’ll fly everywhere.

With the Encore, remove the grounds bin and set aside. You’ll also need to remove the rubber gasket on top of the outer burr.

Coffee Grinder Remove Parts For Cleaning

Remove Burr grinder pieces for cleaning

#3 Remove the outer burr

In the case of the OXO and the Baratza, the outer burr is easily removable. With the Baratza, simply lift the burr straight out. With the OXO, you need to use the metal handle and give it a little turn counter-clockwise until you hear and feel a click, then you can lift it out.

Remove outer burr for cleaning grinder

#4 Clean the outer burr

For this step, it’s helpful to have a brush. You can do this simply with a cheap toothbrush, but you might get yourself an actual grinder cleaning brush as they often have extra parts which aid in accessibility.
Your outer burr probably has some area with caked coffee grounds. This is just a part of the grinder where coffee dust and oils have collected and is one of the primary reasons we take apart the grinder like this to clean.

Just brush these areas down and you will be good to go.

Do NOT use water with the burr. It’s unnecessary and can lead to water damage pretty easily.

brush outer burr to clean grinder

#5 Clean the inside of the grinder

This part gets progressively more possible the more tools you have at your disposal. You can start simply by using a brush to knock loose any grounds that are floating around, and then shake as much out as you can.

Before turning your grinder upside down, make sure you’ve removed any loose fitting parts that might fall out – if you are following along with the Baratza Encore or the OXO grinder, you’ve done that at this point.

Canned air can be really helpful in getting loose coffee grounds and chaff out of otherwise impossible to reach places. Another tool you can use in this case is a shop vac, which will do quick work in completely removing all of the loose stuff from the inside of your grinder.

If you don’t have a shop vac, you’ll get most of the way there with these steps.

Clean Inside coffee burr grinder

#6 Clean the coffee grounds output area

I like to give the coffee grounds output chute and area a bit of a clean as well. The final step is going to involve running Grindz through the grinder, which will aid in cleaning out coffee oils and any remaining grounds/chaff from the burrs and output chute, but since we’re here the extra steps in cleaning can’t hurt.

In the case of the OXO, it tends to hold on to a surprising amount of grounds and chaff. I find it necessary to knock the side of the grinder a few times, trying to dump as many grounds as possible out of the grind chamber. You’ll also notice chaff tends to stick to the outside due to static. Wiping down the outside of the OXO with a cloth is easy as the last step.

The Encore does not hold on to many grounds – there’s a much shorter and more direct distance from the grinder burrs into the bin. But you can easily collect lose grounds and chaff in the bin area, which can be annoying to clean up. This is where canned air or a shop vac makes the process super easy. If you don’t have those, try to brush loose as much as possible, and wipe down with a microfiber cloth the rest of the outside.

clean grounds chute for coffee grounds

#7 Clean the coffee grounds bin

The bin which collects the coffee grounds during the grinding process is something you can clean on a regular basis with simple soap and water.

In the case of the OXO, it’s simply a cup that sits below the output. Take off the top and wash both with soap/water.

The Encore’s bin is simple and you can just wash it with soap/water. There will be oil buildup on the bin walls in both cases, so I find a little bit of soap necessary to completely clean.

burr grinder grounds bin clean

#8 Put everything back together

If you washed your hopper/gasket/bin with water, make sure 100% that these are dry. You do not want to introduce moisture to the interior of your grinder.

To put back together, simply reverse the initial steps.

The most critical part of putting this all back together is the outer burr. In the case of both these grinders (and any grinder you use), there’s going to be one spot that the outer burr sits.

The Encore’s outer burr will slot right into the grinder with no force – but in one specific spot. You should gently try to rotate the burr after fitting it in place. There should be minimal movement side to side. If the burr easily rotates around, then you either haven’t found the spot to put it in, or some of the tabs on the plastic casing may be broken. In my Encore, one tab has a red marking which I use to guide where the burr should be placed (that red marker is always in one spot).

The OXO works slightly different, as you need to turn and click the burr back into place. Again, it only fits in one way, so if you aren’t able to get it to click into place, then it’s not sitting quite right for you.

After the burr is in place, you just need to add back the hopper. In the case of the Encore, place the rubber gasket back first (again, this only fits in one way – the notches on the rubber gasket will line up with ridges on the outer burr).

reassemble burr coffee grinder

#9 Run Grindz through your grinder

The last step is to simply run Grindz through your grinder. This will completely clean the burrs, and pull out any remaining coffee grounds, chaff, and oils that are lingering.

Grindz is made up of cereals and wood – its 100% food safe, so you could even eat it if you wanted to. It’s designed to soak up the coffee oils in the grinder.

For these simple home grinder, one capful or about 35-40g of the Grindz will be sufficient. Run it through like you would any coffee (I just set my burrs in the middle grinds setting, at 20 on the Encore and 15 on the OXO).

Once run through, dump out the Grindz into the trash.

run grindz through burr coffee grinder

grindz exits the burr grinder

#10 Prep to Brew (Optional)

You’ll notice after running Grindz through that a white dust remains. This is normal and not something you need to be concerned about – it’s 100% food safe so any possible incidental ingestion isn’t going to affect you.

If you have a concern over its effect on the coffee’s taste, you can run a small batch of coffee through before brewing to purge any remaining Grindz. You can also give the hopper and bin a quick wipe.

Once you get the hang of the above, a quick cleaning can be done in 10 minutes (minus drying time if you wash the removable components). I recommend doing a quick cleaning like this once a month or at the very least once every 3 months, depending on how often you use your grinder.

Video Tutorials

For comprehensive video guides on cleaning the OXO and Baratza grinders, check out these two videos by Coffee Lovers TV.

How To Clean Your Coffee Grinder – Featuring the Oxo Barista Brain Grinder – Coffee Lovers TV

Cleaning Your Coffee Grinder – Part 2 – The Baratza Encore – Coffee Lovers TV

Resources

Urnex Grindz Professional Coffee Grinder Cleaning Tablets (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

OXO Conical Burr Coffee Grinder (Amazon USAAmazon Canada

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

Best Coffee Grinders Under $100 – INeedCoffee article with budget coffee ideas.

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Celebrity Coffee Commercials

Recently, I was feeling a little nostalgic and trying to remember the jingle from the Chock full o’ Nuts coffee commercial from the 1970’s. My mom used to add coffee to my milk when I was a kid because I loved the taste so much. My love affair with coffee still continues today. I love the taste, and in moderation, I love how it makes me feel.

Thanks to YouTube, I was able to find the Chock full o’ Nuts “Heavenly Coffee” jingle as well as a bunch of unusual, sexist, and entertaining coffee commercials featuring various celebrities, across several decades, and shot in different countries.

Chock full o’Nuts 23rd St. Store Front Loop Proof

This is a commercial for Instant Maxwell House with Andy Griffith and Ron Howard from the 1960’s. This reminded me of a time when there were only seven channels to watch. “The Andy Griffith Show” was one of my regular programs, but mostly because there was nothing else on.

1960s INSTANT COFFEE COMMERCIAL ANDY GRIFFITH

Here’s a sexist Folger’s commercial from the 1970’s starring Stephen Collins very early in his acting career. Quite the different persona from his “Seventh Heaven” t.v. show from the 90’s.

Folger’s coffee commercial

This 1970’s commercial for MJB coffee, a regional brand, features a young Teri Garr. She gave entertainment value to an otherwise incredibly boring commercial.

Teri Garr doing a Coffee Commercial – 1970s!!!

Here’s a youthful Scott Bakula for Decaffeinated (ugh!) Folger’s coffee. I’m hoping that he was able to “Quantum Leap” to a real cup of coffee after shooting this commercial.

Scott Bakula Folgers Coffee Commercial

A refined Edward G. Robinson added his cache to this Instant Maxwell House commercial.

EDWARD G ROBINSON – VINTAGE MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE COMMERCIAL

These celebrity coffee commercials were shot in other countries, where well-known American actors could hopefully avoid public scrutiny and potential nicks to their careers.

Paul Newman for Maxwell House (Japan)

Maxwell House Commercial Paul Newman 1980

Tommy Lee Jones for Boss Coffee (Japan)

Ping Pong Master Tommy Lee Jones Boss Coffee Commercial

George Clooney and John Malkovich for Nespresso (Switzerland/France)

Nespresso Taxi Driver John Malkovich George Clooney

The road to stardom for many successful actors seems to have been paved with hard work, humbling resume-building jobs, and lots of coffee grinds!

YouTube surfing down memory lane satisfied my nostalgia, cured my mental block for the “Heavenly Coffee” jingle, and provided me with a small cup o’ caffeinated entertainment.

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The Naked Portafilter and Diagnosing Espresso Extraction Problems

You may have been wondering if there are any cool new coffee toys to improve your Barista skills. Oh sure, there are the ubiquitous click tamper thingies, and of course, the ever so sexy bathroom scale to measure your tamp pressure. One word – BORING! But if you want something that says “I know Starbucks is evil, now Pimp my Espresso Machine!!!”, then read on.

There is a relatively new phenomenon among coffee enthusiasts that is not only a great Barista training tool but is also beautiful. It is commonly referred to as a Bottomless Portafilter. Usually, a bottomless portafilter is “chopped”, or cut off, so that the entire bottom is visible and nakedly exposed for the peeping toms in all of us. This also allows the Barista in training to see the bottom of the portafilter basket, since this is where the coffee will start its journey into the little espresso cup. It will allow said Barista to see some other cool (and often beautiful) stuff whilst pulling a shot; more on that later.

Bottomless Portafilter and Standard Portafilter
Bottomless Portafilter & Standard Portafilter

The Naked Portafilter as it is also known is a novel concept at first glance. But how can it help the aspiring barista? Well, the holy grail of all baristas is, of course, an espresso shot that not only looks good but tastes good too. The perfect extraction is a black-magic melange of the perfect grind, dose, and tamp. Let’s not even talk about the roasted beans, water temperature, machine pressure, or water pH. We will save your brain cells for another article – GEEK ALERT!

Ideally, every particle of the ground espresso should be of the same size, and when compressed or tamped into the portafilter basket, it should likewise have no differences in how tightly or loosely it is compressed from side to side or top to bottom. Although perfection in this regard is impossible, a Crotchless Portafilter can help identify things such as channeling, blonding, tiger striping, among other things.

Channeling

Channeling is when the water finds its way through cracks or small inconsistencies in the coffee “puck”. This means that the coffee gets an uneven extraction, producing an inferior shot of espresso. Common causes are an uneven tamp, or too much coffee (referred to as overdosing).

Espresso Side Channeling
Espresso with Side Channeling

Blonding

Blonding in the shot can happen when the coffee is being under extracted, causing an off-taste. Although this is expected near the last part of the shot (and a cue to think about ending the shot), blonding should not occur during the majority of the shot.

Blonding Espresso
Blonding espresso shot, among other problems

Tiger Stripes

Tiger Stripes that are uniform are usually a good sign, as long as most of the stripes are medium to dark in color and the pour time is not too quick or slow; most agree a 2 ounce double should run about 22-30 seconds. Always let taste be your ultimate authority.

Tiger Striping
Decent Tiger Striping. Can you pick out any problems?

The Bottomless Portafilter can let the Barista see exactly what is happening under the hood. Channeling can be identified by “spurters” and “geysers”. This is where the espresso sprays out in small (or large) jet-like streams at varying angles.

Multiple Streams

Also having multiple smaller streams coming straight down instead of one unified stream can also be a sign of channeling. And assuming your machine is perfectly level, even a unified stream that is off to one side can indicate side-channeling. A perfect extraction will not exhibit any of this behavior. And of course, the perfect looking shot can tell the Barista that his technique is probably fine. Of course, we all know no matter how good the shot looks, it still has to taste good.

Spurter Espresso with Blonding
Spurter Espresso with Blonding

Espresso Multiple Streams
Espresso with Multiple Streams

Perfect Shot

But when the perfect shot is captured in a photo, it is a beautiful thing – Espresso Porn as many call it. The coffee drips somewhat slowly, evenly, just like honey into the demitasse cup. The rich, even color bands are followed down as they converge into that perfectly centered columned stream of goodness. The result in the cup should be a thick and persistent head of “crema”, which is all of the good stuff in the coffee, and none of the bad.

God Shot - Espresso
Outstanding looking espresso shot!

Since espresso machine makers love to invent their own sizes, shapes, and molecular structures, check with your favorite espresso parts supplier for a Bottomless Portafilter matched perfectly to your machine. Then you can really laugh at those people who Starbucks would label baristas. They should really be called assembly-line automatons. Do they even know what a portafilter is anymore? I don’t think so.

Resources

E61 Bottomless Portafilter (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Espresso Tamping Visual Tutorial – Having a good tamp is a major factor in pulling excellent espresso shots.

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Eva Solo Coffee Brewing Tutorial

When I tell people that my favorite rich coffee brewing method – other than espresso – is the Eva Solo, they usually don’t know what I am talking about. The Eva Solo is also known as a Cafe Solo. What is the Eva Solo? It brews like an upside down french press with a fine convex filter that descends into the brewing chamber. The glass brewing container resembles a Chemex, only without the handle. It is covered with a thin neoprene cover that zips up like a sleeping bag.

Eva Solo Coffee Brewer
Eva Solo Coffee Brewer

Until I discovered the Eva Solo, my primary full-immersion brewing method was the French Press. As much as I loved the rich flavor of the french press, there were times I wished it were just a little cleaner tasting. Not paper filter clean, but something in between. The Eva Solo was exactly what I was looking for. It has all the rich flavor of a french press, but cleaner tasting.

Plus it justs looks and feels cool.

Eva Solo Filter
Eva Solo Coffee Filter and Lid

The Eva Solo is as easy to use as a french press. Let’s get started.

#1 Rinse Eva Solo

Rinse the inside of the Eva Solo with warm water. In addition to removing any residual grounds from the previous brew, this will minimize temperature loss once we start brewing.

rinse eva solo with hot water
Hot Water Rinse

#2 Add Ground Coffee

Grind coffee the same as you would for french press. So it will be on the coarse side. Since you won’t be pressing the grounds to the bottom, you can grind a little finer if you desire. Experiment with different grinds. I use a grind very close to the french press. The dosage is 1 tablespoon of coffee for each 4 oz of water. Pour ground coffee into the Eva Solo.

Eva Solo Add Coffee Grounds
Add Ground Coffee to Eva Solo

#3 Add Water

Heat water to a boil and then allow it to cool for 20-30 seconds before pouring into the Eva Solo. Start your brewer timer. If you have an electric kettle that lets you dial in the exact temperature, set it for 202 Fif it is a lighter roast and 198F if it darker.

Add hot water to Eva Solo
Pour Hot Water into Eva Solo

#4 Stir Coffee

The Eva Solo comes with a plastic stirrer. I lost mine, so I use a wooden spoon. At the 1 minute mark, give the coffee a gentle stir.

Stir Eva Solo
After 1 minute, stir the coffee.

#5 Secure Eva Solo Filter

Place the filter and lid securely on the Eva Solo.

secure lid on Eva Solo Coffee Brewer
Secure the filter on the Eva Solo.

#6 Wait 4 Minutes and Pour

At the 4 minute mark, the coffee has finished brewing. Serve. Notice how in the photo, I have one finger holding the filter back. Although the filter should be secure, I once had it wiggle free and land inside my coffee. It is better just to hold it in place while pouring. Safety first!

Pour Eva Solo Coffee
When pouring coffee from the Eva Solo, I advise holding the filter at the top with a finger. This is extra insurance in the event the filter isn’t secure.

The Eva Solo website states that the neoprene cover can keep the coffee warm for up to 30 minutes. Ignore that tip. As long as the water and coffee grounds are touching, the brewing is still happening. Once the 4-minute brewing cycle has completed, pour out all the coffee. You can always brew more.

What I like about the neoprene cover is it protects me from the glass. One, I don’t burn myself by touching the side of the brewer. Two, the neoprene cover provides some structural protection to the glass. Over the years, I’ve shattered a few french press brewers. I do not ever expect that will happen with the Eva Solo, but if it did, at least the glass and coffee won’t go everywhere. It’ll all be contained inside the zipper.

The only downside to the Eva Solo is the cost. As of this writing, you can find one on Amazon for just under $100. Is it worth it? For me, it is totally worth that price. I love mine. Also, because the Eva Solo is far less popular than the French Press, it makes for a unique gift for coffee fans

Resources

Eva Solo (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

Bonavita Electric Kettle (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

Coffee Brewing Guide – Our collection of coffee brewing tutorials here on INeedCoffee.

Coffee Grind Chart – A visual guide to getting the right coffee grind size.

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Accelerated Caffeine Detox

How much coffee is too much? 5 cups a day? 10 cups a day? Perhaps there is no limit? We are all different. Some of us can handle more, some less. My belief as a proponent of quality coffee is that flavor must always come first and caffeine second. When our love for caffeine is greater than taste, we may yield to the dark side of cheap gut-wrenching coffee to get our fix. Do you want to give up a good Kenyan or Puerto Rican coffee and end up on the street drinking 3-hour-old coffee from the lobby of a tire store? Of course not. How can you tell if you are at risk?

Although I’m not a scientist, I do believe I can detect if you are consuming too much with a single question:

When you are drinking a mug of coffee, do you ever start to think about that NEXT cup you are planning to have?

If the answer is YES, then this should set off a warning that maybe you are consuming too much. If the great coffee in your mug doesn’t have your undivided attention and instead you’re off dreaming of the next mug, then, in my opinion, the quest for caffeine has exceeded the quest for quality coffee. An alcoholic doesn’t really savor the taste of that first 40oz malt liquor, it is merely a pit stop on the path to drunkenness. Good coffee should never be the pit stop.

coffee planet shaking
If this describes you, then perhaps it is time to cut back on the coffee.

If you just realized that you have been cheating on your beans with a caffeine fling, have no fear. It happens to us all from time to time. There is a way to restore peace to your coffee relationship: DETOX. Short for detoxification, it simply means you will bring back the focus on why you drink good coffee in the first place. Cutting back on the quantity of coffee you drink will shift the balance back to the bean, and will upset the caffeine monkey on your back.

Detox is rarely easy and will likely be uncomfortable. Ending a caffeine addiction can bring headaches and constipation. There are also health reasons to detox having to do with adrenal support, but that isn’t the focus of this article.

Different Techniques

There are major two schools of thought on how to best detox as well a third customized method I’ve developed. One is cold turkey, the other is called fading. I’ve done them both many times and found problems with both. Along the way, I developed my own method which I’ll explain last. Let’s examine the three methods.

1- Cold Turkey

If anyone saw the Frank Sinatra movie THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM then they understand what it means to go cold turkey. Sinatra’s character was kicking heroin, not caffeine so there probably won’t be a need to have a loved one lock you in a closet for the weekend. Although some of you may want to retain the services of that loved one just in case. Cold turkey programs work best if there is a start date, end date, and an exit strategy.

The Man with the Golden Arm (50th Anniversary Edition)

The Man with the Golden Arm (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada)

This is the quickest and most painful method of detox and in my opinion the least effective. The problem here is that although you kicked it for 3 days or so, your body needs a longer period to adjust. I’ve had cold turkeys where I return to pre-detox quantities in less than a week. In other words, a lot of effort and it doesn’t stick very long. A final word, do not plan on being productive during a detox. You will spend every waking moment wishing you had some caffeine to lift the dark cloud in your head.

2- Coffee Fading

Coffee fading is a technique for cutting the daily coffee consumption by 1/2 a cup a day. Gradually you can work down to zero or to a tolerable level. This method is pain-free but does require planning. You need to measure current consumption and then keep track of every beverage throughout the day. If you are drinking 10 cups a day and the goal is to get down to zero for 3 days then this can take 22 days to complete. Do you want to plan every beverage for 22 days? It’s pain-free, planning extensive, and requires a longer amount of time.

I like coffee fading better than cold turkey, but not by much. It just takes too long to go through the entire process. In order to resolve the differences and develop a better way, I came up with our third technique, which I called Accelerated Coffee Fading.

3- Accelerated Coffee Fading (ACCELERATED DETOX)

Instead of decreasing by a measly 1/2 a cup a day, here you reduce your consumption by 50% a day. Once you go below 1 cup of coffee, drop to zero the following day. Accelerated Coffee Fading is not nearly as painful as cold turkey or as long and tedious as traditional coffee fading. The body also has a longer period to adjust to lower caffeine levels than cold turkey. I’ve also included a “pull-out” strategy. Resume your target level by incrementing at no more than a 50% increase daily.

Summary

Using the ACCELERATED DETOX one can bring coffee consumption back to a level where the beans are the primary love in half the time as traditional coffee fading and without the pain and misery of going cold turkey. Although this article deals with quality coffee, you could use it for any addiction you wish to tackle, be it sugar or soap operas.

Resources

Pre-Surgery Caffeine Detox – INeedCoffee article.

The Decaf Diaries – An essay on moving to decaf coffee.

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How to Brew Espresso in a Moka Pot

If you like coffee, then chances are that you’ll really enjoy Italian coffee (or caffe). There are many different styles including “espresso” and cappuccino, which are both popular in the United States. All styles are based on espresso. For example, cappuccino is espresso with steamed milk and milk foam.

Note that “espresso” is a non-Italian term used in the US. What we call espresso is simply “caffe” in Italy (note the accent on the second syllable). I’ll use the more-familiar term “espresso” for this page. Just note that in Italy, the correct term is caffe.

If you want to make “true” espresso, then be prepared to spend several hundred dollars on a high-quality espresso machine like you see in restaurants or cappuccino bars. These machines use high-pressure water to produce the espresso. Home machines, even the $100 models found at WalMart and other places, do not produce enough pressure to create espresso like you find in a coffee bar.

A very reasonable alternative for home use is an “espresso pot”, called a Moka in Italy. The Moka is a simple device that uses steam pressure to force water through a strainer to make espresso. It won’t be exactly like the espresso you find in bars, but it can come close. The espresso pot is an inexpensive alternative to making good caffe.

Bialetti Moka Express 3 Cup Espresso Maker 06799
Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

The method below is the Neapolitan way of making caffe. The foam usually developed from a machine is manufactured by hand in this method. One word of caution before proceeding. A 2-ounce shot of espresso has about the same amount of caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee. Don’t get into the habit of pouring 8-ounce cups of espresso throughout the day (unless you want to be wired out all day).

You’ll need the following items to make Italian espresso: good quality espresso (popular Italian brands are Illy and Kimbo), sugar, cold water, an espresso pot, a container in which to mix the espresso, and small cups (preferably ceramic espresso cups).

moka pot espresso setup
This picture shows a disassembled espresso pot, the espresso, sugar, and a stainless steel container (far right).

Some items on the espresso pot are replaceable. After several months of use, you may have to replace the rubber gasket (pictured on the left) or the entire strainer (right). When emptying the strainer of used coffee grounds, do not bang it. This will dent it and ruin the seal. Instead, rinse it under running water.

Moka Pot - Rubber Gasket (left) Entire Strainer (right)
Rubber Gasket (left) Entire Strainer (right)

strainer assembly for Moka Pot Coffee Brewer
This is a close-up of the strainer assembly.

#1 Fill With Cold Water

Fill the espresso pot with cold water. The inside of the pot is usually marked with a line to show the fill level. If not, then fill it up to the relief valve on the side. The water should not seep through the strainer when you insert it. This will waterlog the coffee and possibly affect the flavor.

add water to moka pot espresso maker
Fill water

#2 Insert the Strainer Assembly

Insert the strainer assembly into the base. (Alternately, you can fill the assembly first then insert it. It’s a personal preference).

Insert strainer assembly to moka pot espresso maker
Insert strainer assembly

#3 Add Coffee Grounds

Fill the strainer with espresso. Ensure that you do not get any grounds on the outside rim of the container. There must be a perfect seal at this point or else the water will spew out once it begins to boil. Simply wipe any excess grounds off before assembling the pot. This is one reason why some people fill the strainer first then insert it.

Warning: Do not pack the espresso down! This could possibly clog the system and generate too much pressure. Although acceptable for commercial machines, packing the espresso in this type of pot can be dangerous.

Add ground espresso to moka pot espresso maker
Add espresso to Moka.

This is what the espresso should look like after you fill the strainer. Piling the espresso like this places it flush with the upper strainer of the pot, thus producing a stronger flavored drink. You can adjust it to your liking.

Espresso in the Moka Pot
Espresso in the Moka.

#4 Assemble the Pot

Assemble the pot. Once again, ensure that no grounds are on the outside rim. Screw the pot onto the base by holding the pot itself, not the handle. The handles can break easily (but are also replaceable).

Assemble the moka pot coffee maker
Assemble the pot

#5 Place Coffee Pot Over Heat

Place the pot over a low flame. A low flame increases the brew time, which enhances the flavor. At a later step, you’ll want a slow trickle of espresso instead of a full-force fountain.

In this picture, you’ll notice a small metal piece under the pot. This piece is common for Italian stoves and is available at any hardware store. It should work with an American-style stove if the burner sides are spaced too far apart.

use a Low Flame for moka pot brewing
Low Flame

#6 Get Sugar Ready

While the espresso is brewing, add sugar to your mixing container. You can start with about a teaspoon per cup and then adjust it from there to suit your taste. The pot in this picture is a 10-cup pot, so I used a little more than 10 teaspoons. After some experience, you will be able to just dump the right amount of sugar into the container without measuring it. Remember, making espresso is an art, not a science.

Add sugar to moka pot espresso
Add sugar

#7 Pour Coffee and Mix with Sugar

This step is critical and may take some practice to get right. As soon as the espresso starts to come out, remove the pot from the heat and pour some of the liquid into the mixing container with the sugar.

Adding too little is much better than adding too much, so be conservative. Once you have some espresso with the sugar, start stirring. The end result will be a slurry with the consistency of peanut butter (or a little thinner). If it is too dry, keep adding espresso a little at a time until you get the right consistency.

If you run out of espresso, add it back to the flame until more comes out. You should use the first espresso out of the pot since it is the strongest. Don’t brew the entire pot then try to add it to the sugar. It won’t taste the same.

mix coffee with sugar
Pour coffee

This is about the right consistency, maybe a little thin but it worked. If you accidentally add too much liquid, you can either add more sugar (not recommended unless you don’t mind it being super sweet) or simply add the remaining espresso at the end of the brew. It won’t have a lot of foam on top but is still drinkable.

Stir sugar with coffee
Stir coffee

The espresso comes out as mostly steam toward the end of the brew. The pot pictured here has a tube designed to minimize splatter during the brewing process. The lid on this one can remain open during brewing. Other models have two holes in the side and will spray espresso all over the kitchen if the lid is up.

#8 Pour More

When the espresso finishes brewing, pour about half of it into the mixing container.

Pour half the espresso from moka pot maker
Pour half the espresso

#9 Stir, Add Remaining Espresso and Mix Again

Stir vigorously to aerate the mixture and produce a thick foam. Once thoroughly mixed, add the remaining espresso to the container and mix once again.

Stir espresso with sugar and Mix again.
Mix again.

The end result. The amount of foam produced depends on the technique and the amount of sugar used. With just a little practice, you’ll be able to make perfect caffe every time, just like a Neapolitan.

Espresso foam from moka pot
Espresso foam

#10 Serve

The best part. Pour the espresso into small ceramic cups. You can use a spoon to get the foam into the cups if necessary.

Since the cups are small, the espresso can become cold very quickly. To keep it hotter longer, place the cups in hot water just before you start brewing the espresso. When you pour the espresso into the hot cups, it will retain the heat and allow you to serve piping hot espresso to your friends.

Serve espresso from moka pot into ceramic
Serve Espresso

Two cups of perfect caffe in ten easy steps!

Finished Espresso from moka pot maker
Finished Espresso

It’s not hard to learn how to make caffe using the espresso pot. Part of the enjoyment of caffe is actually making it.

Resources

Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup (Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon Canada

eBay page for Moka Pots – You can buy both brewers and parts for brewers on eBay.

Stovetop Espresso Brewing Tutorial – INeedCoffee article

The Story of the Bialetti Moka Express – INeedCoffee article

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The Double Bourbon Iced Coffee Recipe

Alcoholic drinks with coffee are a kind of oxymoron of sorts. At first, your heart starts pumping, and you feel fresh with energy, ready for the day or the moment ahead, but almost immediately, there is a calm need to relax. Your body says, take a seat buddy, put your legs up, and enjoy another sip.

The Double Bourbon Iced Coffee is no different in those regards.This drink combines three of my favorite things, cold brew, stout beer, and bourbon. It’s the perfect combination of sweet coffee and bourbon with the slight bitterness of the stout. Best of all nobody will know you have this brunch trick up your sleeve for those who prefer coffee to a bloody mary or a mimosa.

Double Bourbon Cold Brew Coffee

Ice cold and creamy with that smooth bourbon undertone, this drink will have you yearning for more. So go ahead, double the recipe while you’re at it, and share with some friends or family.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. strong cold-brew coffee
  • 2 oz. stout beer (I used Anderson Valley’s Bourbon Barrel Stout)
  • 1½ oz. Bourbon (Here I used Basil Hayden’s)
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream

Double Bourbon Ingredients Setup

Directions

Fill a large glass with ice and pour in the coffee, beer, bourbon, and simple syrup and stir. Pour the cream over the top and stir. Then enjoy!

Add Coffee over Ice

stir coffee, beer, and bourbon together

add in cream and stir

finished double bourbon cold coffee brew

Video Tutorial

Watch the video version of the Double Bourbon Iced Coffee Recipe on YouTube.

Youtube video for Double Bourbon Iced Coffee

Double Bourbon Iced Coffee by Random Crockery

Resources

Cold Brew Coffee is Not Rocket Science – A guide to making your own cold brew coffee.

Homebrewing: Espresso Stout – If you wish to make your own stout for this recipe, here is a primer on homebrewing.

The Coffee Martini – Recipes using coffee and vodka.

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