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Brew the right thing

Inside tips to help you create the best coffee at home
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Whether you like it flavored, black, skinny or tall, there’s nothing like brisk weather to get you in the mood for a good cup of joe. David Rosengarten is the author of the Rosengarten Report and he shares some helpful hints on selecting the right tools for your morning brew.

NOW THAT producers know we’ve all become much more coffee-sophisticated, it should be easier than ever to buy the things that will enable us to make great coffee at home, no? Well, yes. In one sense there is high-quality coffee stuff out there. But in another sense it has all become devilishly difficult; the market is now positively inundated with coffee choices, making our heads spin even more than the caffeine does.

THE BEST COFFEE AT HOME: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW I’m a pretty dedicated coffee drinker (particularly before noon), and I’ve been privy over the last decade to a mind-boggling array of home coffee equipment, not to mention a tanker’s worth of coffee beans. In a recent flurry of activity, I also acquired a whole bunch of new toys to sample.

The following list is the best of what I’ve found for making regular, American-style coffee at home. In my own java domaine, I am finally at peace.

1. The grinder for “regular” (American-style) coffee:

First of all, there is one unshakable home-coffee rule: Grind your beans at home. There are two main types of grinders in the market: propeller grinders and burr grinders. Skip the propeller grinders, which are cheaper; they create oily ground coffee that is not evenly ground. You must get a burr grinder, which produces a much better, much more evenly ground result. The best burr grinders are professional models, which can handle a massive volume of coffee beans and can cost thousands of dollars. You don’t need those. Good burr grinders for the home cost between $30 and $100. The one I use is made by Capresso, and the model I like is the #555, which costs $69.99. To order a Capresso machine, you can call 800 767-3554.

2. The maching for “regular” (American-style) coffee:

There’s a jungle of options out there; it’s even difficult to choose which type of brewing system you want. I’ve been through them all and, though I’m quite fond of the plunger pot, I find the best overall option to be a great electric drip machine. But it has to be a great one — which means, above all else, high wattage, which enables the coffee to brew quickly (this leads to the best extraction of flavor.) The machine I use every day makes the greatest home cuppa java I’ve ever tasted. It’s a Dutch product called Technivorm Clubline KB741, and the $180 bucks or so that it costs is worth every penny. To order one, contact the Boyd Coffee Company in Portland, Oregon. If you live in Denver, or west of Denver, you can call toll-free at 800-545-4077. If you live east of Denver the number is 800-223-8211. Their fax number is 503-669-2220.

3. The beans for “regular” coffee:

Of course, choosing the right bean is probably the single most important choice you’ll make in your effort to brew great coffee at home. The hands-down winner for me, when it comes to roasted beans that are intended for the “regular” cuppa joe, are made by a superstar roaster in San Francisco, the producer of perhaps the best beans in the country. Order a bag of Peet’s “Major Dickason’s Blend,” from the great roaster Peet’s, and I assure you that you’ll develop some doubts about the unquestioned supremacy of espresso. Peet’s can be reached by calling 800-999-2132.

The beans cost $11.95 per lb. plus shipping. Minimum order is 1/2 lb. Please note: freshness and storage are of paramount importance in the bean game. One of the great things about Peet’s is that they guarantee your beans will have been roasted no more than a day before shipping. Use them immediately for the most mind-boggling flavor. But if you need to store them, as most of us do, bag them very tightly, and keep them in your freezer. When you want to brew a cup, the measured amount can go directly from your freezer to the burr grinder.

David Rosengarten is the author of The Rosengarten Report. You can see great coffee photos, and learn how to get espresso information, and other coffee information, by visiting his Web site at