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Coffee

Yes, most Americans live and breath with their morning cup.  What, pray-tell, are most of them actually drinking???  Mostly hot caffeinated swill.  Just look at the lines at a Starbucks every morning.   No offense meant.   Well actually ya, offense meant.  I mean seriously, people still go there?  Just shows you how little respect people have for this magic black elixir.  I’ve had a better cup of black coffee, and cheaper, at 7-11.  And if you bring your own cup in, the coffee is 99 cents.  Perfect for a quick and easy cup, especially early, early, predawn.

simple espresso maker

Stove Top Espresso Maker

But alas, I digress again dear friends.  You easily distract me from what and where I want to go.  I want to talk about coffee.  Well, espresso as well.  All of the above type of delicious pick me up beverages.  First of all, if you get a drink and fill it with cold or steamed milk and have a dollop of coffee, please move on.  You don’t like the drinks, and the coffee beans don’t like you.  You can’t possibly add three times as much milk and expect the beans not to be offended.

Now I’ve lost focus again, Geesh!  Here we go, I’ll start with at home.  There are so many ways to make a great cup of coffee at home.  Without having to buy super expensive machines to do it!!  First of all, you really, really need to start with good whole beans.  Buy a coffee grinder so you can grind them right before brewing.  You will thank me later.  So beans, now there are so many places to get freshly roasted beans that you can trace to an actual farm or farmer.  With all the emphasis now on farm to table,  it is easy to do this with coffee beans as well.  A lot of independent coffee shops now even roast their own for purchase.  I even actually sometimes order beans from one of my all time world-wide favorite places, Blue Bottle Coffee.  They have shops up in the San Fransisco Bay and Oakland area.  And you can get their fantastic beans delivered straight to your door.  Now just take the time and search out some beans that you like, whether you like dark or light.  See what your palate and your taste buds enjoy.

Now there are many types of devices now to  brew coffee and espresso at home.  Now the picture I have at the beginning of this post is a classic Italian stove top cooker.  It’s a riff on the eight sided pot that is super simple to use.  Put good, clean, fresh water in the bottom, put the strainer in, and fill with finely ground espresso beans.  One company that makes a good one that is relatively inexpensive is Bialetti.  This is a link to  their classic model that has been around since 1933.  I’m sure you’ve seen many like this at any self-respecting Italian Deli.  It’s cheap and easy, and makes a very nice cup of espresso.  The one I have atop, I have not seen anywhere else expect the little shop I found in Sicily.  It’s a good entry level machine that is low maintenance.

The next type I like, and own myself is just a regular old Bodum French Press.  I even got a travel mug French Press that is great for early morning work on the go coffee.  But the regular large Press is my usual go to for coffee at home.  And I realized how much money I can save on days like this with making coffee at home as apposed to going out and spending cash.  It makes a really, really nice cup of Joe.  Clean and strong.  And simple.  Boil some good crisp clean water.  I like to not turn the heat up to full to really boil the water.  I also like to get it almost to a boil and then take off heat for a few moments.  This is the point I grind my beans.  I like it strong, and don’t measure, just grind and pour into Press.  After my pot has cooled for a minute, I slowly, and I mean slowly, pour the water on the ground beans.  I do also rotate the Press so I cover as much of the beans as possibly.  And I mean slowly, at least till the beans are starting to float.  Fill up the Press, and wait a moment.  Then stir to get all the beans and water together in a nice fit.  What I stir with is a take out wooden chop stick.  You don’t want anything that will taint the flavor of the beans.  Then wait about 5 minutes, and you should see a nice rich creamy head appear on top.  And then press.  Well before you press, make one more swirl with the chop stick.  Voila.  A perfect glass tub of coffee.

Coffee!!

Bodum French Press

There are many other home devices.  And yes, you can get one of the pod machines.  But any self respecting coffee and espresso lover is not going to use that for every day use.  Also, as much as I love them, the real deal Italian espresso machines are Awesome!  But, very expensive and need maintenance, and most people don’t know how to use them properly, or wouldn’t appreciate a proper cup, shot, beverage.  There is one other cool, now being used in coffee houses, device that is not too expensive and makes a great pot.  It is called a pour over, and is kind of similar to the Press.  Chemex makes a terrific way to do this.   I have a few friends who own one type or the other, and it makes a truly terrific clean, fresh, crisp cup of coffee.  And to boot, it is another easy way to do it!!

Well I hope everyone who has been told they don’t make good coffee will get a nice device and practice.  Treat your friends to a nice morning coffee that will wow them.  It is not too hard.

But if you aren’t in the mood, here are a few of my local Eastside haunts for a good coffee/espresso drink.  And anyplace is automatically a hit in my mind if they actually make a proper Macchiato.  One like you get in Europe.  And not to sound too pompous, but nearly every man, woman and child in Europe can make a better espresso drink than most any American.  Go there and learn.  There is no VENTI! If you order a drink with that much milk you will be laughed at, and should feel much shame.   As you can see, I hold much rage for most Americans and their stupid moronic “coffee” drinks.  You make me sad.  Coffee farmers around the world cry at night when they think their beans will be mixed with a gallon of hot milk.  Gosh, I really tend to transgress, huh.  So here are my favorite places on the Eastside LA for a good classic cup of joe, or espresso.

Cafe Tropical, my go to spot for about 14 years.  Makes the most amazing Cuban Cafe Con Leche you will ever taste.  They make only espresso drinks.  Get a shot, a cortado, or a cafe con leche.  No fancy, stupid drinks here.  You want a no fat, soy, vanilla latte with whipped cream, get the fuck outta here!

My new obsession, and who make a proper macchiato, is Proof Bakery.  They make bomb ass (sorry for that youth statement) espresso drinks.  No giant cups to go.  Sit down for a minute and enjoy your drink.  Get it in a nice ceramic mug and chill.  Life is fast, sometimes you need to relax, so relax with a great beverage.

Not a coffee shop per se, but Broome Street General Store makes one hell of a great espresso drink.  It is a great old fashioned general store like your grandparents went too.  And they make a great traditional coffee and espresso beverage.  One of my favorite iced coffees in the city as well.

For a small local place that also makes great drinks, and has a couple non-traditional drinks I approve of is Cafecito Organico.  They are one place that sources out and roasts their own beans.   They are quite tasty to boot. They also serve the drinks at a few of the local Farmer’s Markets.

Well there you go.  A beginners course of coffee from a real lover of the dark, caffeinated, beverage of the gods.  Hope you enjoy, and pour many great cups of joe in your future!!!

Cheers