Coffee Month – Battle!

Obviously I know that this battle is not all encompassing of the best coffee each state has to offer. Obviously the odds are stacked in Portland’s favor to win. Obviously I don’t care about journalistic integrity. So here’s the line up!

Representing New York City (because NYC coffee rivals that of Portland and the pound of beans brought as souvenir from Mr. Adventure initiated this rivalry) – Ninth Street Espresso
Representing Albuquerque (because that’s my OG home turf and fills the ghetto hole in my heart) – Satellite Coffee Company. If you visit here, try the Turkish Latte with honey and tarragon or the Mocha En Fuego with ancho chile and cinnamon.
Representing Boise by way of Nampa (because Mr. Adventure visited there last month and for no other reason) – Flying M Coffee
Representing Portland (just because) – Water Avenue Coffee
Representing Portland (because we couldn’t pick just one) – Stumptown Coffee

Before a weekend getaway in a cabin near Mount Hood, I ground and packed up all the contestants offerings and my trusty French Press.




They were all brewed the same way, using the same measurements in the same machine. So it took a long time. One huge mug per roast. By the time they were all ready (about an hour later) we sampled the spread.

The mug that came out on top was the Stumptown roast. Delicious, smooth flavor. Very little bitterness. Rich and bold. This is why Stumptown is Portland’s favorite roaster.
Coming in a close second was New York’s Ninth Street Espresso. Slight bitterness. Sweet undertones. Okay, NYC is pretty good.
Coming in third was Albuquerque’s finest, Satellite Coffee’s darkest roast. These beans were so dark, they were oily in my fingers. The smell and the taste is unique and interesting. The coffee tastes dirty (in a good way) and leaves dark rings around the mug. Albuquerque also specializes in pinon roasted beans, which weren’t represented in the battle but are equally delicious and unique.
A begrudging fourth place award goes to Water Avenue Coffee. This is my absolute favorite everyday coffee. It is so rich with flavor and aroma that it becomes frothy in the French Press and the genuine coffee flavor is irresistible. It is how you imagine coffee tastes, but better. I was absolutely positive Water Avenue would come out on top. Unfortunately, the beans we used for the contest had been ground and then frozen for over two months. This is a method I have often used to make my beans last longer, but a side by side comparison proves that it’s not a good method for storing. The cup was lackluster and dull next to the others. If this were a fresh ground being compared to the others, it would most definitely be #1, and all the others would move down a slot.
I think you can imagine that Idahoan coffee is not was Idahoan’s are known for. This Christmas blend was spicy and herbal with notes of anise. It was good, but couldn’t stand up next to the others. But keep your head up, Idaho. You’ve still got potatoes.

Coffee Month – How to Make the Perfect Cup

There are several different ways to make a great cup at home.  The most popular types are a Keurig-type single serve, French Press,  drip, and the artisinal coffee drinker favorite, Chemex.

Easy-Peezy Award: Keurig
Keurigs boast the perfect cup every time.  With exacting measurements at the push of a button, it is the busy (read: lazy) man’s cup.  With the bare minimum of clean up required and one perfectly brewed cup in front of you, who would complain.  The only drawbacks would be the amount of plastic you’re throwing away each and every day, the limited options and mainly big-name coffee conglomerates.  Now, I know that Keurig makes a metal, reusable cup that you can add your own coffee grounds to.  But this metal cup does not perform as well as the plastic ones, making more of a mess, and making the easy machine a little less easy.  Perfect applications would be office or shared settings, or for a busy professional who likes Starbucks coffee at home.

Seriously.  Stop Award: Automatic Drip
Walk down the aisles of Goodwill and you’ll see how often people give up on this lost cause.  There are so many better ways to brew.  But I get it.  It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.  I know they make a lot of really fancy, really expensive automatic drip coffee makers and they probably work just fine.  But the fact remains, you can easily burn your coffee, it’s harder to get the portions right, it requires a lot of electricity, and it doesn’t save you any time (unless you have the ones you can set on a timer, those are pretty cool.) Save yourself $200 and buy a French Press.

The Bill Nye Would Drink Coffee Like This Award: Chemex
I got a Chemex for Christmas from Mr. Adventure and had absolutely no idea what it was.  Thank you?  Upon further review, I realized it was pretty freaking cool.  It’s a large vessel designed for drip coffee, the precise, scientific kind.  Weighing the ingredients and adding them slowly and methodically, this is a process that takes time and patience, and practice.  So much practice, that I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  I’ve had a cup brewed in Chemex at places like Coava, who specialize in the method.  It’s amazing!  But I require a few more pieces of equipment to make it work as good at my house like a goose neck tea pot, a bigger flat-bottom scale, and a better coffee grinder. Watch this video and get inspired.

The This is My Favorite Award: French Press
Okay.  I’m bias.  Duh-doy.  This is my blog, of course.  I’ve been using a French Press and only a French Press for years.  I refuse to make coffee in an automatic drip machine and whenever I visit my mom, I look at her coffee maker like it’s an alien: scared, confused, and unsure how to initiate engagement.  I’m so pumped about my French Press that I will order a French Press coffee and restaurants if I see it on the menu.  It tastes better than other coffee.  It is easy to make, easy to clean, and it’s adorable.  Do you want a quaint little glass vessel on your kitchen counter or a bulky machine?  Man up and drink coffee like Dexter.

In Retrospect of Guitar Month

Okay, so the sideways looks I was getting from people when I said I was going to teach myself guitar in one month were well warranted.  I’m not a guitar god.  I didn’t learn a full song.  I can’t quite “rock out” the way I had envisioned.  So, I decided to break down guitar month into two months, the latter to be used at a future time.  This month was all about guitar fundamentals… procuring said guitar and figuring it out took a bit longer than anticipated.  The next guitar month will be about learning a song.  Maybe by then, I will pay for the ability to post videos on this site… but probably not.  I’m trying to save money.  Hey, wait a minute.  That’s a good idea…

March – Guitar Month

Learning to play guitar was on the original list of things I wanted to do.  I even had a guitar long long ago.  I’ve known several amazing musicians over the years and don’t know why I never took advantage of the opportunity to learn.  Well, I guess it’s never too late.  I know that I am not really going to learn guitar to play guitar in 30 days, but I do have goals.

1. Buy a guitar.

2. Practice.

3. Play this song.