JAB – The Secretive Company That Pours America’s Coffee

Daily Rounds
Daily Rounds

Huh, I didn’t know this:

Here’s a question with billions of dollars riding on the answer: What do these American brands have in common? Peet’s, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Dr Pepper and Stumptown.

They are all owned by JAB, a secretive European holding company that 50 years ago was making industrial chemicals for swimming pools. Through multiple deals, the firm has stumped its publicly traded rivals with what seemed like a mildly eccentric and expensive shopping spree.

JAB today sells coffee in nearly every form and venue. It distributes brands it doesn’t own such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks for its Keurig coffee maker in single-serve K-cups to brew at home and at work. It sells its own brands of bottled cold coffee and bags of beans, such as Peet’s and Green Mountain. With its own bakeries and coffee shops, it competes directly with America’s biggest coffee chains.

The group’s approach to the coffee business amounts to an expensive bet that the U.S. beverage industry is on the cusp of a reorganization that has been half a century in the making, ending an era in which hot drinks only competed against hot drinks and soft drinks against other soft drinks.

(click here to continue reading The Secretive Company That Pours America’s Coffee – WSJ.)

Betting large on coffee drinks all through the day is an interesting strategy. 

Coffee from El Mirador  Cauca Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Quick Hitters – 11-18-15


Some additional reading for you, because I care…

Coffee from El Mirador - Cauca, Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of premature death The health benefits were seen whether people drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.

Researchers have now linked three to five cups of coffee per day to an overall lower risk of premature death, according to a new review of data on more than 200,000 health professionals.

The lowered risk was associated with a moderate amount of coffee, as opposed to those who drink only a cup or two, or no coffee at all, who did not see the health benefits. When researchers adjusted for those who smoke cigarettes, the benefits of all that coffee were even greater.

The idea that coffee can prevent the development of adverse health conditions, as studies just this year have shown it is good for brain health in older people, cancels out liver damage from over-consumption of alcohol, and may improve colon cancer survival.

(click here to continue reading Multiple cups of coffee a day linked to lower risk of death – UPI.com.)


Ben Carson’s remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject, but never more seriously than in the past week, when he wrongly asserted that China had intervened militarily in Syria and then failed, on national television, to name the countries he would call on to form a coalition to fight the Islamic State.

Faced with increasing scrutiny about whether Mr. Carson, who leads in some Republican presidential polls, was capable of leading American foreign policy, two of his top advisers said in interviews that he had struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect.

 “Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East,” said Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security. He also said Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so “we can make him smart.”

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say – The New York Times.)


Clarridge was pardoned (in the middle of his trial) by President George H.W. Bush in that historic exercise in ass-covering on the way out the door in 1992. After that, he left the CIA and went into business for himself in the shadow world of private spookdom.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say. So, yeah, maybe the Doctor knows what he’s doing here.

(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Lacks Foreign Policy Knowledge – Ben Carson Can’t Grasp Middle East.)

 Cat - Orange

Cats are notoriously picky eaters—and one reason may be that they’re fine-tuned to detect bitterness. Cats can’t taste sweetness, but they have a dozen genes that code for bitter taste receptors. A recent study from researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital finds that at least seven of these bitter taste receptors are functional, indicating that cats are very sensitive to those tastes.

In order to figure out whether the 12 known bitterness receptor genes actually cause cats to taste bitterness, the researchers inserted these genes into human cells and figured out which ones responded to chemicals that cause people to taste bitterness (since cats can’t tell us when something is bitter). 

(click here to continue reading Why Is Your Cat Such a Picky Eater? Blame Bitter Taste Receptors | Mental Floss.)


There’s the president of the United States, and then there’s the person who happens to be the President of the United States.

Bill Clinton served for eight years, but we were always more intrigued by Bill Clinton the Person—a magnetic charmer once described by Chris Rock as “a cool guy, like the president of a record company.” Clinton’s charisma defined his presidency, for better and for worse. He couldn’t always harness it. He couldn’t stop trying to win everyone over, whether it was a 60 Minutes correspondent, 500 powerful donors in a crowded banquet hall, or a fetching woman on a rope line.

If Clinton acted like someone who ran Capitol Records, Obama—both the person and the president—carries himself like Roger Federer, a merciless competitor who keeps coming and coming, only there’s a serenity about him that disarms just about everyone. At one point during the hour I spent interviewing him at the White House this fall, he casually compared himself to Aaron Rodgers, and he wasn’t bragging. Obama identified with Rodgers’s ability to keep his focus downfield despite all the chaos happening in front of him. That’s Obama’s enduring quality, and (to borrow another sports term) this has been his “career year.”

(click here to continue reading Obama and Bill Simmons: The GQ Interview | GQ.)

Archaeologists in Israel have kind of a great problem. While building a visitor center to house the Lod Mosaic, a magnificent work from 300 AD discovered near the construction site in 1996, workers uncovered another ancient treasure: a 1,700-year-old Roman mosaic.

The new find measures an impressive 36 feet by 42 feet, and would have likely paved the courtyard floor in a large Roman or Byzantine-era villa. The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled photos of the floor, which contains imagery of fish, hunting animals, birds, and vases, this week in the Israel National News, which called it “breathtaking” and “among the most beautiful” mosaics in the country.

(click here to continue reading Hidden Ancient Mosaic Discovered in Israel – artnet News.)

Opera Reminiscence’s 1829

We have two possibilities before us. First, that House Republicans purposefully stacked their Benghazi! select committee with the dumbest, most inept, most incompetent twits they could round up. Or second, that they didn’t do that and the whole sodding Congress is just this dumb.

Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a member of the House Select Committee On Benghazi, said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid “a trap” for the committee by making her Oct. 22 appearance go “as long as possible.” Mind you, of all the people in that hearing room, the one least able to control how long the committee would sit on their behinds and ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton long, sometimes bizarre questions was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was not allowed to just pick up and go home, even after the first four, six, eight, and 10 hours of questions proved that Republicans had absolutely no new information or questions or theories that might require her actual presence there. Republicans could have, say, limited their robust speechifying and instead asked a few more actual questions. They could have paid attention to their own rules on how long questions could go on, and perhaps gently persuaded the worst of the blowhards to give it a rest when their time had officially expired.

(click here to continue reading Rep. Westmoreland: Hillary Clinton laid ‘a trap’ for Benghazi committee by answering their questions.)

 Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

Not one of them can win, but one must. That’s the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy.

Conventional wisdom says that with the primaries and caucuses rapidly approaching, front-running nuts Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson must soon give way to the “real” candidates. But behind Trump and Carson is just more abyss. As I found out on a recent trip to New Hampshire, the rest of the field is either just as crazy or as dangerous as the current poll leaders, or too bumbling to win.

Disaster could be averted if Americans on both the left and the right suddenly decide to be more mature about this, neither backing obvious mental incompetents, nor snickering about those who do. But that doesn’t seem probable.

Instead, HashtagClownCar will almost certainly continue to be the most darkly ridiculous political story since Henry II of Champagne, the 12th-century king of Jerusalem, plunged to his death after falling out of a window with a dwarf. 

(click here to continue reading The GOP Clown Car Rolls On | Rolling Stone.)

Truck full of Cannabis
Truck full of Cannabis 

Beginning in 2012, four states and the District of Columbia have voted to legalize marijuana. By this time next year, that number could well double, and then some. National polls consistently show majorities in favor of legalization, with a recent Gallup poll showing 58% support—tied for the highest level in the poll’s history.

That doesn’t mean legalization is inevitable in any given state, as the case of Ohio demonstrated earlier this month. There an initiative led by non-movement investors who sought monopolistic control of commercial pot cultivation got trounced despite spending millions of dollars.

But the Ohio result was probably a fluke, a convergence of a number of factors, including tone-deaf initiative organizers, a flawed initiative, a widely criticized mascot, and the fact that it was an off-off-year election with low voter turnout. There is no reason to believe that legalization initiatives likely next year in other states will be defeated just because the Ohio effort went down in flames.

At this point, it looks like six states are likely to legalize weed through the initiative process next year, with those efforts at varying stages, and a couple more could do it through the legislative process.

(click here to continue reading The next 8 states that could legalize weed within the year – Salon.com.)

RIP, iPod Classic
RIP, iPod Classic

I don’t have terabytes worth of music, but I have a lot, and I’m frequently annoyed with iTunes. However, I keep with it because it syncs to my iPhone/iPad…

AT THE START of the millennium, Apple famously set out to upend the music business by dragging it into the digital realm. The iTunes store provided an easy way of finding and buying music, and iTunes provided an elegant way of managing it. By 2008, Apple was the biggest music vendor in the US. But with its recent shift toward streaming media, Apple risks losing its most music-obsessed users: the collectors.

Most of iTunes’ latest enhancements exist solely to promote the recommendation-driven Apple Music, app downloads, and iCloud. Users interested only in iTunes’ media management features—people with terabytes of MP3s who want a solid app to catalog and organize their libraries—feel abandoned as Apple moves away from local file storage in favor of cloud-based services. These music fans (rechristened “power users” in the most recent lingo) are looking for alternatives to Apple’s market-dominating media management software, and yearn for a time when listening to music didn’t require being quite so connected.

(click here to continue reading Apple’s iTunes Is Alienating Its Most Music-Obsessed Users | WIRED.)

…raises hand

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

If you only own the original studio release of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (recorded on December 9, 1964, and issued in February, 1965), then the new three-disk release “A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters” of the classic album by Coltrane’s classic quartet will be a revelatory experience.

It’s a revelation because of one particular set, one that many Coltrane fans have heard before: the live performance by the quartet from Juan-les-Pins, France, on July 26, 1965, of the entire suite of “A Love Supreme.” This set was also included the “deluxe” two-disk edition of “A Love Supreme,” issued by Impulse! Records, in 2002. By making that performance readily available to the general listener, Impulse! sparked a major advance in the appreciation, the understanding—and the love—of “A Love Supreme.” The merits of that recording shed particular light on the importance—and, strangely, the limits—of the original studio recording of “A Love Supreme.”

(click here to continue reading Seeing Through “A Love Supreme” to Find John Coltrane – The New Yorker.)

Listening In
Listening In

Despite the intelligence community’s attempts to blame NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for the tragic attacks in Paris on Friday, the NSA’s mass surveillance programs do not have a track record — before or after Snowden — of identifying or thwarting actual large-scale terrorist plots.

CIA Director John Brennan asserted on Monday that “many of these terrorist operations are uncovered and thwarted before they’re able to be carried out,” and lamented the post-Snowden “handwringing” that has made that job more difficult.

But the reason there haven’t been any large-scale terror attacks by ISIS in the U.S. is not because they were averted by the intelligence community, but because — with the possible exception of one that was foiled by local police — none were actually planned.

And even before Snowden, the NSA wasn’t able to provide a single substantiated example of its surveillance dragnet preventing any domestic attack at all.

(click here to continue reading U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top government officials could be detained if they step foot in Spain after a judge there issued an arrest warrant stemming from a deadly 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, but Israel is dismissing the move as a “provocation.”

In the 2010 incident, a group of human rights activists — which included members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to authorities – boarded several aid ships to try and break an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

(click here to continue reading Spain issues arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over deadly 2010 flotilla raid | Fox News.)


In its article, the AP also wrote, “The archive had more detailed data for children and teenagers, showing 70 from those age groups killed by firearms since the Democratic candidates debated Oct. 13 – not 200 as [Clinton] claimed.”

Again, this criticism of Clinton is erroneous because it treats the Gun Violence Archive as a comprehensive source.

The botched AP fact check was subsequently touted by the National Rifle Association.

(click here to continue reading AP Botches Fact Check Of Hillary Clinton’s Accurate Statement About Gun Deaths | Blog | Media Matters for America.)

Searching for the Right Coffee Word

There has to be a word, in some language, maybe Dutch or Swedish, for a coffee related snafu I encounter on a regular basis. I’m probably not the only coffee drinker who when bleary-eyed in the morning, grinds too many coffee beans into the grinder, but then decides to use it all anyway, making the coffee stronger than humanly possible. Or nearly. If I was a more cautious person, I’d only use the correct number of teaspoons to match the amount of water I’m boiling, but I’m not that person, instead I shrug, and dump it all in my coffee cone.

Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee

A day without coffee is not a day, is it?

On a related note, I’ve been drinking coffee every morning for at least 30 years, thus I’ve tried all sorts of methods and machines for the process of making coffee. I am happy with my current, rather low-tech setup – a ceramic cone, unbleached Number 6 paper filter, a hot water boiling machine, and a thermos to hold the brewing coffee in. I have invested in a nice burr grinder (KitchenAid I believe), purchase coffee beans as needed in small quantities so they stay fresh, grind, boil and pour. I have enough high-tech devices in my life, having a low-tech coffee making procedure suits me just fine. I enjoy the ritual, as it requires multiple steps, I can’t walk away too far while in the process, and I must remain “in the moment”. Perfect.

Morning Coffee Ritual
Morning Coffee Ritual

Coffee from El Mirador - Cauca, Columbia
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia

Papua New Guinea Namugo Smallholder coffee bean - Bridgeport Coffee
Papua New Guinea Namugo Smallholder coffee bean – Bridgeport Coffee

About 1250 ml of water
About 1250 ml of water

Chant of the Bottomless Cup

Chant of the Bottomless Cup

Round of Coffee
Round of Coffee


Jabez Burns and Sons - Coffee Roasters
Jabez Burns and Sons – Coffee Roasters

Coffee Beans

Coffee Beans

Colleen Drinks Coffee
Colleen Drinks Coffee

Morning Coffee
Morning Coffee

Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around
Seemed Easier Than Just Waiting Around

Americans should drink more coffee

Morning Coffee Ritual
Morning Coffee Ritual

Since I’m descended from the Murphy clan, who habitually drink coffee by the gallon daily for the last 70 years, I’ve always been a coffee enthusiast.

When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

That’s great news if you’re already drinking between three and five cups each day, which Nelson and the rest of the panel consider a “moderate” level of consumption.

(click here to continue reading It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee – The Washington Post.)

About 1250 ml of water
About 1250 ml of water

Well, I should be safe. Every morning, as part of my current coffee ritual, I pour about 1250 ml of water from my 5-stage Reverse Osmosis filter into a pot, boil it. Meanwhile, I grind fresh coffee beans in a burr grinder, and place them in a paper filter, held in place with a ceramic cone. The cone is placed above a coffee thermos, and then I pour the hot water slowly over the grounds. My carafe only holds 1000 ml, so when it is about half full, I pour out the days first cup, then continue pouring the hot water over the coffee grounds.

1250 ml is roughly 5 8 oz cups1 – that is perfect for me. Later in the day, if I need more, I’ll either make a single cup, or an espresso, or some days switch to black or green tea.

Pour Over Coffee
Pour Over Coffee

For several years, I had switched to a French press, but got tired of the film and sediment, so started making pour-over coffee again.

  1. 42.268 oz []

Coffee is top source of antioxidants

Running on empty

Sounds good to me, fill me up another cup, will ya?


Coffee provides more than just a morning jolt; that steaming cup of java is also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Scranton (Pa.). Their study was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

“Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the university. Although fruits and vegetables are generally promoted as good sources of antioxidants, the new finding is surprising because it represents the first time that coffee has been shown to be the primary source from which most Americans get their antioxidants, Vinson says.

Besides keeping you alert and awake, coffee has been linked to an increasing number of potential health benefits, including protection against liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, according to some recently published studies. But there’s also a downside: Java can make you jittery and cause stomach pains, while some studies have tied it to elevated blood pressure and heart rates. More research is needed, particularly human studies, to firmly establish its health benefits, Vinson says.



(click to continue reading Coffee is number one source of antioxidants.)

Mid-morning jolt

Good to the last drop

As if I needed any excuse to pour myself another cup of that delicious brew…

Ma'atouk Coffee

Coffee drinkers, rejoice!

The heavenly brew, once deemed harmful to health, is turning out to be, if not quite a health food, at least a low-risk drink, and in many ways a beneficial one. It could protect against diabetes, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

What happened? New research – lots of it – and the recognition that older, negative studies often failed to tease apart the effects of coffee and those of smoking because so many coffee drinkers were also smokers.

“Coffee was seen as very unhealthy,” said Rob van Dam, a coffee researcher and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Now we have a more balanced view. We’re not telling people to drink it for health. But it is a good beverage choice.”

[From Good to the last drop – The Boston Globe]

So many health practitioners and health writers are stuck in the old paradigm: insisting coffee must dropped from one’s diet. I assume the reasoning derived from the thought that anything good must be bad for you. I reject that reasoning myself, but hear it repeated in myriads of forms.


Twenty studies worldwide show that coffee, both regular and decaf, lowers the risk for Type 2 diabetes, in some studies by as much as 50 percent. Researchers say that is probably because chlorogenic acid, one of the many ingredients in coffee, slows uptake of glucose (sugar) from the intestines. (Excess sugar in the blood is a hallmark of diabetes.) Chlorogenic acid may also stimulate GLP-1, a chemical that boosts insulin, the hormone that escorts sugar from the blood into cells. Yet another ingredient, trigonelline, a precursor to vitamin B-3, may also help slow glucose absorption.

For both heart disease and stroke, recent studies are reassuring that frequent coffee consumption does not increase risk. In fact, coffee may – repeat, may – slightly reduce the risk of stroke. A study published in March in the journal Circulation looked at data on more than 83,000 women over 24 years. It showed that those who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had a 19 percent lower risk of stroke than those who drank almost no coffee. A Finnish study found similar results for men.

With Parkinson’s disease, a progressive, neurological illness, it’s the caffeine, not coffee, that carries the benefit. No one knows for sure why caffeine protects. Several studies show that coffee drinkers, men especially, appear to have half the risk of Parkinson’s compared to nondrinkers. Women also get a benefit, but only those who do not use post-menopausal hormones, said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. All it takes for a measurable reduction in Parkinson’s risk, he said, is about 150 milligrams a day, the amount in an average cup of coffee.

and of special interest to me with my Irish liver:

Coffee also seems to protect the liver against cirrhosis, especially that caused by alcoholism. It’s not clear, either for cancer or cirrhosis, whether it’s coffee or caffeine that may be protective.

Intelligentsia coffee bar in Venice Beach

Awesome! I want to go here, especially since I’ve never been to Venice Beach.

Best Espresso Ever

This spring Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee & Teaplans to open a coffee bar the likes of which the world has never seen. The cafe, still under construction in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, will feature five stations and five baristas who will personally attend to each customer who walks in.

“We want the role of the barista here to be like a sommelier or a great server at a restaurant,” says Intelligentsia CEO Doug Zell.

As Zell explains it, guests will be greeted at the door by a barista and taken to an individual station to talk about the kind of coffee experience they are looking for. The barista will help direct their choices from “beginning to the end. After they make the coffee they can discuss it with the guest or take them to the home brewing area and help explain some of the coffee or equipment for sale. They can also suggest pairings for the coffee.”

[From Intelligentsia plans a groundbreaking coffee bar in Venice Beach | The Stew – A taste of Chicago’s food, wine and dining scene]

Intelligentsia Coffee is the default coffee bean that I buy. Nearly always perfectly roasted, and fresh. Even better is an espresso pulled by an expert Intelligentsia barista. I wish there was a location closer to me.

AeroPress Looks Cool

“AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker” (Aerobie)

Forget the bitter, acidic coffee you’re used to drinking from a standard coffee press The AeroPress from Aerobie takes only 30 seconds, but makes the smoothest, best-tasting coffee that coffeereviewcom, Sunset Magazine, Vogue Magazine, Cooks Junction, and you, have ever tasted Features: Total immersion of the grounds in the water results in rapid yet robust extraction of flavor Total immersion permits extraction at a moderate temperature, resulting in a smoother brew Air pressure shortens filtering time to 20 seconds This avoids the bitterness of long processes such as drip brewing Laboratory pH testing measured Aeropress brew’s acid as less than one fifth that of regular drip brew Microfilter prevents the gritty texture of French-press methods Makes 1 to 4 cups (1 or 2 mugs) of coffee or espresso

This actually looks like a pretty cool coffee maker. For $25, worth a try.

From their website:

The AEROPRESS™ is an entirely new way to make coffee.

• Water and grounds are mixed together for ten seconds.

• Then gentle air pressure pushes the mix through a micro-filter in 20 seconds.

• The total brewing time of only 30 seconds results in exceptionally smooth flavor.

• Tasters ranging from professional cuppers and author Kenneth Davids, to coffee aficionados all praise the smooth, rich flavor.

Pump driven espresso

I’m on the hunt for the smallest pump-driven (or semi-pump driven) espresso machine. I don’t really have an obsession with crema, but am nearly ready to splurge on a proper coffee making device.

Breakfast Beverage
[This is a fine machine, capable of making a good, strong coffee, but it ain’t espresso. The coffee Geek writes:

There is a fifth type of machine often (mistakenly) called an espresso machine; these are the steam driven machines marketed by companies like Krups and Braun, usually found for under $100. Rather than producing authentic espresso, these machines produce a strong coffee, more akin to what a moka pot or Bialetti stovetop device brews. There’s nothing wrong with these types of machines; it’s just that, for the scope of this guide, we’re going to be pretty much ignoring them.]

Anyway, back to the hunt. Alex Abramovich of Slate was on a similar hunt a few years ago:

I should upgrade to a pump-driven espresso maker, which heats water in a sealed reservoir, then forces it through pre-ground espresso beans at a requisite 15 atmospheres of pressure. (Click here for a more detailed description of how these high-tech machines work.) These espresso makers are bigger, heavier, and more difficult to use than their steam-driven cousins. They’re also messier and a lot more expensive. But they’ll produce a dark, rich, foamy espresso, with the flavorful oils of a good coffee all on the surface. Once you’ve made a few shots, it’s hard to go back to anything else

[From Which espresso machine is best? – By Alex Abramovich – Slate Magazine]

“Bodum Chambord 12-Ounce Coffee Press” (Bodum)

I’m still on the look-out for my next machine. I don’t really want to spend over $300 dollars, and I have a fairly limited counter space to keep the thing, so I may settle for an also-ran machine that fulfills these parameters. Does seem to be more available than last time I researched the subject. Hmmm.

Any suggestions?

"Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel" (Gaggia)

Intelligentisia Good to the last drop

Chicago’s own Geoff Watts gets more kudos, this time from Michaele Weissman. The best cup of coffee I’ve had, probably ever, was a double espresso poured at the Intelligentsia Cafe on Broadway. Rich, delicious, there is little that compares. I tend to purchase Intelligentsia beans exclusively these days, and am rarely disappointed.

Salon: You chose three specialty coffee entrepreneurs, Counter Culture’s Peter Giuliano, Intelligentsia’s Geoff Watts and Stumptown’s Duane Sorenson, to be your guides for the book. Why these three?

Michaele Weissman: After the story on office coffee, I wrote a piece on young coffee entrepreneurs and their impact on the specialty coffee industry for the New York Times. All the experts I interviewed named Peter, Geoff and Duane as the most talented, or among the most talented, young specialty guys in the industry, and the coffees they roasted topped all the “best coffee” lists, so I called them up.

One thing led to another, and I wound up traveling with Peter Giuliano and Geoff Watts to Nicaragua on yet another coffee story for the New York Times. Peter and Geoff’s passion for, knowledge of and eloquence about coffee blew me away.

[From Good to the last drop | Salon Life]

Best Espresso Ever

The perfect cup requires a good bean

Philosophy aside, what makes the difference in coffee? Is it the bean? The roast? The brew?

It all matters. The genetic qualities of the bean. The agronomic skill of the farmer. The climate. The processing of the bean, which is multi-stepped and fraught. The way the bean is transported. The roasting. The grinding. The brewing. Each step either enhances the bean’s potential or degrades it.

Think about wine grapes or olives that are pressed to make oil. You can begin with the most exquisite cultivars, but these products, fine wine, fine olive oil, only reach their potential when each step leading toward consumption is consummated skillfully and in a timely fashion. Same with coffee.

Only coffee is even more vulnerable to human error, because of the assaults to nature that occur when consumers take their newly purchased specialty beans home.

and a good method for brewing:

What is the best home coffee-brewing device: percolator, French press or just basic Mr. Coffee?

Percolator — never.

Mr. Coffee — throw it out immediately. Most standard automated coffee pots don’t heat the water hot enough or consistently enough. The water needs to be around 205 degrees F. as it pours over the grounds. Otherwise the grounds will be over-extracted and bitter or under-extracted and tasteless.

French press — this plunger system makes very nice coffee but requires a certain deftness of hand and it produces slightly gritty coffee that some people like and others don’t.

I prefer old-fashioned, inexpensive drip pots that use brown paper filters, such as the Chemex where you pour nearly boiling water over freshly ground coffee.

Oh, and always use filtered water.

The most important piece of home equipment: A burr grinder. Those little blade grinders most people use basically beat the crap out of the coffee. Not good.

One of these days I’m getting a quality grinder. Some suggestions on that topic from a few years ago include:

“Breville BCG450XL Ikon Conical Burr Grinder” (Breville)

“Solis Crema Maestro Plus G385 Conical Burr Grinder” (Solis Crema)

or even for the wealthy:

“Mini Mazzer -Timer” (Vaneli’s Espresso Machines)