When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I need to do is make myself a cup of coffee.

I am not a coffee snob, but the coffee from Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts just doesn’t do it for me.

My journey to the find the perfect cup of coffee was completely accidental. In fact, when I was in the Navy as a young man, I never drank coffee.

Even today, I only drink ONE cup of coffee in the morning.

First Discovery: The Bean

CremaI worked with a guy who was an espresso fanatic. He bought broken espresso machines on eBay, fixed them up, and sold them. He knew the price of every bag of espresso beans and when he got a good price on a bag, he usually bought a case of  12 bags.

One day, he offered me a bag of Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean Coffee.

I promptly ground it up using a cheap bladed coffee grinder, put the grounds in a paper filter, and put it into a Mr Coffee machine.

It tasted better than the Folgers or whatever I was drinking.

My concern with the Mr Coffee machine was getting the AMOUNT of GROUND to WATER RATIO correct. I can’t do precise measurement in the morning when I am bleary eyed and sleepy.

Second Discovery: The Mokka Pot

machinetta-thumbnail2I was introduced to the Mokka Pot by way of a Polish girl who lived in Italy (long story). I was immediately  impressed by the simplicity of the device. My espresso fanatic friend often spent $500 or MORE on espresso machines, and here was an aluminum pot for $25 to 35 which had no moving parts.

The operation was simple.

  1. Put grounds into the cup. Warning: DO NOT PACK IN or TAMP THE GROUNDS!! 
  2. Fill water chamber up to the pressure nipple.
  3. Assemble (takes all of 5 seconds).
  4. Apply heat.
  5. Wait 5 minutes. When the espresso is ready, it will make a distinctive “rumbling” noise. When it starts rumbling, turn off the heat.
  6. When the rumbling noise stops, the coffee is ready.

Other things to consider

  • Do not open the lid and look in and see how the coffee is progressing. The water is under pressure coming up thru the grounds, and opening the lid releases the pressure and slows down the process, or so I was told. It’s not exactly a perfect seal.
  • Do not WASH the Mokka pot! In the first few uses, the coffee will form a “stain” on the inside of the aluminum, this stain is GOOD! It keeps out that “aluminum” taste and acts as a natural barrier. Bachelors of the World, this is the perfect kitchen appliance!
  • There is only ONE item that requires annual replacing: the rubber seal. There is a rubber seal under the top chamber. When it fails after about a year, coffee will come shooting out of the middle of the pot.
  • Most people in Europe have one of these pots at home.

Third Discovery: Conical Burr Grinder

saeco-titan-burr-grinderI was pretty happy with my coffee at this point. I had my mokka pot and my Lavazza beans and I thought I was set.

I was wrong.

Speaking again with my espresso fanatic friend, he said, “You really need a conical burr grinder”

He went on to explain that the conical burr grinder SQUEEZES the oils out of the bean, creates a more uniform grind, and the coffee will taste richer and smoother.

I discovered that a GOOD conical burr grinder is not cheap. I paid $120 for mine, and prices have come down. The good news is they last quite a while. I’ve had my current one for 5 years, without any issue.

This is my current conical burr grinder, a Saeco Titan. I highly recommend it.

Amazon doesn’t carry this model anymore, but the updated version of this grinder is quite cool looking as well and half the price that I paid.

A conical burr grinder is worth every penny you pay for it. The difference in taste is dramatic and immediately noticeable.

Final Notes

  • I no longer drink Lavazza Blue as I am totally addicted to Lavazza Crema e Aroma. I have a subscription thru Amazon, so it comes out to $22 a bag, every 2 months. I try different beans every now and again, but I always come back to Crema e Aroma.
  • I was travelling overseas and I met a pair of Italian ladies. Immediately, we began to discuss coffee and I asked them “How do YOU make your coffee?”I thought we would be coffee compagni, but I was mistaken.They told me they use Lavazza one-time use pods in a Nespresso Machine. When I told them my process they said they would do that but it takes too long. (Ridiculous: takes 5 minutes). Then they added, “You make coffee like a REAL ITALIAN”.