I’m a coffee snob, apparently. I don’t drink the stuff they provide at work, it’s free for a reason in my opinion! I have a small French Press that I keep at work and I bring in fresh coffee from home and organic half an half (half milk, half cream); the coffee is kept in a vacu vin storage container so it keeps fresh. All of this is proof enough to my colleagues of my status as a coffee snob!
At home we dedicate even more of my time to a good cup of coffee. We always buy organic, fair trade whole beans and we grind them at home as and when we need them, any left over beans are stored in another vacu vin and kept out of the light in a cupboard. We have two grinders, the first is just a regular electric grinder, great for an even, very quick grind, but the second is the king of all grinders. It’s a hand cranked, burr coffee mill made by Peugeot. Yes, Peugeot, the French car manufacturer! It’s a little known fact but before they made cars, Peugeot made small kitchen appliances, they were famous for it, and their most famous little appliance was their coffee mill. It’s still made today in fact.
A Peugeot burr coffee mill
Next up is the vessel for brewing, we have another French Press at home, a much larger version of the one I keep at work, purchased in the UK and brought back to America, long before America even knew what a French Press was! But our favourite method is to use one of our collection of Cona coffee makers, actually it’s A’s collection, he introduced me to them. They’re fantastic, all glass and chrome and retro. A science experiment on your cooker where the outcome is the perfect cup of coffee. There should be a Nobel prize for the perfect cup of coffee. The Cona method of making coffee uses the vacuum principle and is absolutely fascinating to watch. You put filtered water in the lower carafe, add the ground coffee to the upper bowl and place the bowl on the carafe, there is a glass stopper in the upper bowl to stop the coffee grounds finding their way into the carafe. The bowl has a long glass tube which sits inside the carafe and as the water heats up it is transferred into the upper bowl by convection, a small amount of water stays in the carafe otherwise it would crack. We let the coffee percolate in the top bowl for 4 minutes before turning the heat off and carefully moving the whole contraption off the heat source. As soon as the heat source in removed the coffee starts cooling slightly and is drawn back down into the carafe, leaving the grounds behind in the bowl (remember the glass stopper?), this is the vacuum process, you can actually hear the coffee being sucked back down, every last drop is drawn out of the grounds and they end up remarkably dry! It’s the best cup of coffee ever, you truly can taste the difference and it’s a great party piece too! Imagine the look on your friends faces when you start setting up the “science” equipment on your stove top when you offer them a cup of coffee!
We own Cona’s exactly like these. These photos came from Ebay, from the online store of the chap we occasionally purchase more from, his link is Classic Cona and his name is Robert. He provides excellent customer service. Our’s range in date from the 1930’s to the 1990’s. The middle photo is of a model that is still produced and can be purchased brand new from Robert or from specialty stores.
Two other very important considerations for decent coffee are the water temperature and the brew time. The water should be no hotter than 200F and the brew time no longer than 4 minutes. The Cona devices keep the water at the perfect temperature while brewing, for the french press, we use a cooking thermometer and only put the boiled water on the coffee grounds when it cools down to 200F. We also set the stove timer for 4 minutes so there’s no guessing as to how long you left it brewing for! Also, only brew enough coffee to drink in the one sitting, it degrades exceptionally quickly.
All of this can take time, but the best things in life are most definitely worth waiting for, coffee is one of life’s little pleasures and what you get out of your coffee maker is directly proportional to what you put into it!
So, there you have it, a little lesson in perfect coffee from the Coffee Snob!