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How to Make Coffee at Home – French Press and Peet's


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Wirelesspacket asked me how I do my coffee at home. He spends too much going to buy his coffee every day, and doesn’t like the taste of “store bought” coffees. I was all too happy to show him how I use a French Press to make my Peet’s every day.

I use a French Press to make my Peet’s Coffee every day. The biggest key is to not let your water come to a boil. You want it around 203 degrees Farenheit. The French Presses are very cheap and affordable, and easy to use. If you want some of the richest coffee you can get, a press pot can deliver. What may surprise most is that you can also get a relatively clean brew from it as well, if you have the right tools and prep everything correctly.

A French press consists of a narrow cylindrical jug usually made of glass or clear plastic, equipped with a lid and a “plunger” which fits tightly in the cylinder and which has a fine wire or nylon mesh acting as a filter. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, leaving to brew for a few minutes, then depressing the plunger to separate the coffee at the bottom of the jug. Because the coffee grounds are in direct contact with the brewing water, coffee brewed with the French press captures more of the coffee’s flavour and essential oils, which would become trapped in a traditional drip brew machine’s paper filters. French pressed coffee is usually stronger and thicker and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee. Because the used grounds remain in the drink after brewing, French pressed coffee should be served immediately so as to not become bitter from over-extraction.

Coffee for use in a French press should be of a consistent, coarse grind. The use of a burr mill grinder gives a more consistent grind than the whirling blade variety. The ground coffee should be more coarse than that used for a drip brew coffee filter, and far coarser than that used for espresso, as anything other than a coarse grind will seep through the press filter and into the coffee. A French press is also more portable and self contained than other coffee makers. Travel mug versions also exist made of tough plastic instead of the more common glass, and have a sealed lid with a closable drinking hole. Some versions are marketed to hikers and backpackers not wishing to carry a heavy metal percolator or a filter using drip brew.

Peet’s Coupons:

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Alfred Peet: Roast in Peace

I intend for the title of this post to be humorous and reverent. Mr. Peet’s style brought a smile to my lips so many times that I only hope to pass that flavor along to the next coffee connoisseur.

Via the official Peet’s Coffee & Tea blog comes word that Alfred H. Peet has passed away (1920 – 2007). Though I never met the man, I can honestly say that he changed my life. I never really knew coffee until I new Peet’s…

When Alfred Peet opened his shop in Berkeley in April, 1966 he started a coffee revolution. Nobody had ever seen top-quality coffee like this roasted in this unique style in America. The corner of Walnut and Vine quickly became a gathering place for UC Berkeley grads, undergrads, and faculty as well as local intellectuals, radicals, writers, musicians, artisans and any number of the colorful people who still make up Berkeley today.

When I first moved to San Francisco to take the job at TechTV, I couldn’t wait to hit a Starbucks (since, at that time, there were no Starbucks in Iowa). Starbucks was – and still is – the epitome of consistency. I drank coffee, but… it wasn’t more than a drink. A couple of friends told me that I had to go to Pete’s.

“Who is this Pete guy – and why is his coffee any better than the rest?”

Right. So, a couple of friends and I drove to the Peet’s in Potrero Hill (down the street from Digg HQ, if I’m not mistaken – around the block from the former TechTV studios). As usual, I ordered a large drip with heavy cream – and was handed a full cup of Kenya. It sat in front of me for about ten minutes, to cool to my preferred temperature.

Then, I took my first sip of Peet’s coffee. Without hesitation, I thought: “It’s like God spit into this cup and handed it to me himself.” I’ll never forget this moment for the rest of my life – it was THAT amazing. Life changing, really.

From that point forward, it’s been Peet’s – or nothing. Kenya remains my favorite.

I have tried brewing Peet’s at home in a variety of coffee devices, but I simply cannot match the flavor I get when I walk into a Peet’s store and have a cup crafted by a trained barista. Believe me, I’ve tried damn near everything – and I really don’t want to waste any more money on coffee machines if I know they won’t give me the same result.

Mr. Peet, we never met – but you touched my life beyond these taste buds. Thank you.

Peet's Vs. Starbucks

Jana seems like… someone who doesn’t deserve Peet’s coffee. Her review of the Redmond store through Judysbook was dated November 19, 2006 9:30 PM PST:

I admit that I am a Starbucks fan, but really wanted to give Peet’s a try. The minute I walked in I knew it would not stack up against Starbucks. The scones were dense and dry, the Freddo was disgusting, and the ambiance was not comfortable.

The Freddo is the Starbucks frappuccino equivalent and does not even come close. I took three sips and tossed the rest.

I will stick with Starbucks…why mess with a good thing?

I would not recommend this place to anyone.

If you consider yourself a Starbucks fan, you are to be considered someone who doesn’t know good coffee — and therefore, your opinion on anything related to coffee is completely null and void. I have nothing against Jana personally, but it really pisses me off when people try to compare Peet’s to anything else. Comparing Peet’s to Starbucks is like comparing Ruth’s Chris to the Sizzler. Gimme a break; they’re not even in the same league.

Yes, I’m a coffee snob, and the flavor of Peet’s turned me to the deep roasted side.

Everybody has different taste, but the only thing you can expect from Starbucks is consistency — certainly not quality across the entire menu. I can’t debate taste, but I also can tell you that I don’t go to Peet’s (or any coffee place, for that matter) for the ambiance. I go for the flippin’ coffee, man. I don’t go for the latest Paul McCartney album, m’kay? If you want love with that Frap, then Starbucks is (indeed) your place.

Jana, Starbucks is the McDonald’s of the coffee world, and for those who get their coffee at McDonald’s, Seattle’s Best is ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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Crashing Into Starbucks

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Chris lost over $100 (in fact, it ended up being a $500 deductable), here’s how:

It’s early in the morning when Chris & Ponzi are running late to shooting The Lab with LeoLaporte. Unfortunately they don’t have time to go to Peet’s, so they go to Starbucks.

Chris, half asleep and blinded by rage, decided to attack the Starbucks … with his car. He smashed the front of his car into a wrought iron chair.

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Peets Coffee Addiction

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Chris is addicted to Peets coffee, but why? What does Peets offer that Starbucks does not?

Peet’s explains their coffee better than I can:

At Peet’s we take freshness seriously. It is only by roasting and shipping the same day that we can be sure that you enjoy the distinctive deep-roasted flavor of Peet’s. We call it “Roaster-to-Cup” freshness, and you can taste the difference. When you choose Home Delivery, we ship right to your home – it is the freshest of the fresh. It’s the apple right off the tree, the bread right out of the oven…you get the picture.

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A Peet's Story

From a Gnomie named Theo…

You keep mentioning Peet’s Coffee Tea and Spices, so here is a story.

Back before the ‘seven day war’ in the Mideast, I shopped at Peet’s in Berkeley, CA. He always had good stuff, and the prices were affordable. I recall my like for his mocha java [presumably a blend of mocha coffee and java coffee – not coffee with chocolate flavor]. One day, I bought an bag of whole beans which was put inside another bag, stuffed into my backpack, and then bicycled home. I put the backpack down inside my room and within a minute the whole room smelled of that wonderful coffee. It tasted like heaven, and lifted my spirits the same way.

After the war, that was not available – and I went on to other enjoyable varieties. Moved away and satisfied myself in the last 10 years with Trader Joe’s French Roast, when I do coffee, which I have stopped mostly in last three years – too hard on the liver.

A few years ago, I started seeing Peet’s in my San Diego area. Naturally, I assumed Mr. Peet was no longer overseeing the purchasing and roasting of coffees, but what the hey, give it a chance. I sat down and had an espresso and it was not very good – lackluster, off-flavor, spoiled. Well, maybe once is bad luck, but I did not go back for fresh or packaged coffee.

Just the other day somebody brought in ground French Roast from Peet’s, so I figured that would be worth trying as a data point. At the usual indecent strength I brew coffee [heaping tablespoon for 6 oz water], it was fresh and clean, but very thin in flavor and aroma.

I think Gresham’s law applies [the bad swamps out the good when demand is high]. Also I read coffee and chocolate plants have become selected, cloned, grown in unnatural ways, forced to grow with fertilizer and pesticide, so we have things a shade of its previous self, and fungus etc. attacking what is left. ‘Course that has happened to much of our food.

Chocolate does not taste as it did decades or years ago, and not all because I am becoming older. Again, I recall in the mid 70’s when recycling just started to be a fad, people left all sorts of things at recycling centers to be “recycled.” One item I stumbled upon was a 25 pound [yes, pound] sack of Ghirardelli’s cocoa. I figured it was meant for me, so I “recycled” it. For over 10 years, I’ve taken from that unrefrigerated sack to make hot cocoa, etc. – and the flavor and aroma, though lessening with time, exceeded what I can find today.

Anyhow, hope we can find enjoyable coffees and chocolates when we want. I still have the memories. And just shared them.

I Spilled Coffee All Over My Computer!

Ugh. This week is not off to a very good start. Then again, it’s almost halfway finished now. I was just exchanging instant messages with my dad (who just got broadband this afternoon) – getting ready to help him through a few software issues. To clear my mind, I needed caffeine – so I reached over to pick up my full mug of home-brewed Peet’s. My periphery vision is not what it used to be, apparently. KLACK! SPLOOSH!

In less than a second, the creamy concoction had covered my computer desk – and without hesitation, I reached down to turn off the PC sitting at my feet. No doubt about it – this was one helluva mess. I could see that some of it had splashed onto the rear of my machine, still dripping from keyboard and monitor cables. Panic mode!

I grabbed paper towels and a dry washcloth, hoping for the best. During the cleanup process, I even invented a few new obscenities (which I dare not repeat here). Took me a good hour before I was able to reverse 90% of the damage. Holding my breath, I booted up the system – and everything seemed to be back to normal. There are still a few stains on the wall, but they should quickly disappear with a squirt (or two) of Formula 409.

I may still have to test Gateway’s hardware exchange policy – assuming that spilling coffee is not considered an “Act of God.”

Coffee Snobs

Dude. I just can’t stay off the juice! Last night, I was compelled to write about my experiences with the Tassimo machine (a wedding gift from Andru and Monica Edwards). Ponzi put it on our wish list – but I really wish the machine did more. Judging from the comments we’re getting, others do as well. Consider Pastor Scott Holder’s note to me a few minutes ago:

I consider myself somewhat of a coffee aficionado, and can fully relate to your comments on either automatic or perfect coffee brewers. Like you, I graduated from the Mr. Coffee era many years ago. I have brewed it, perked it, boiled, nuked it, steamed it, etc. Currently we have a professional espresso machine (it still makes the best espresso), 3 Senseo machines (1 for each: home, work, church), 2 regular brewing systems, and our recently added Tassimo Ultra. I wasn’t really interested in this machine, but my wife has become a kitchen-gadget person of sorts so we bought it. With our local SAMS Club having two on display it was too good a deal to pass up (less than half price).

I must say that the limit on coffee varieties is still somewhat perplexing. Surely there will be more forthcoming. However, I have found that Seattle’s Best does offer a couple of varieties that are worth mentioning. I like dark roast coffee so I have settled on Henry’s Blend as a good choice. Surprisingly, the Maxwell House French Roast is fairly nice, considering I can’t stand Maxwell House coffee. The Gevalia Signature Crema Coffee has a good flavor, but not as well-rounded as the Seattle’s Best. I have also tried the Mastro Lorenzo Crema and found it to be acceptable in taste.

I’m more of an espresso drinker and do like both the Gevalia Espresso and the Mastro Lorenzo Espresso. Both put a nice crema on top and have a rich, bold, almost citrus flavor to them. I’m venturing into the teas as I write this and have found Earl Grey, Green Tea (late in the day), and Tazo Awake Black Tea to all be nice options. Each has a very distinct flavor all its own. I do hope that more flavors and/or varieties will become available in the near future. I follow trends through SingleServeCoffee and also SingleServeEspresso. Both offer a wealth of information about coffee/espresso brewing and news. At singleservecoffee.com, I see non-USA sites with other options for the Tassimo and will probably try some – especially the latte and espresso offerings from Kenco. There are also a couple of different tea varieties not available in the USA that I want to try.

On the flip side, I do know that the Yuban Rain Forest Alliance Coffee is the nastiest-tasting coffee I’ve ever tried. I don’t want another cup of that stuff ever. While writing this email I noticed that Keurig is suing Tassimo over the piercing technology. It’s crazy that this kind of thing is going on. I really hope we don’t lose out after making this investment.

By the way (and this is just a pet peeve of mine): it’s pronounced “espresso” – not “eXpresso.”