I live for my cappucino maker. It does to lattes as well, but it’s the cappucino that I crave. Plus it looks good on the hob (it’s a bialetti stove top cow pattern whatsit).
But I firmly believe that people should stick to what they are good at. Twinings - for example - should not try and sell coffee. It’s Godawful stuff. Coffee and tea might be related in the whole FMG category, they might sit next to each other on your kitchen bench, and they might be served as alternatives to each other. BUT - that does not mean that anyone who makes tea should consider themselves an expert in the other.
Indeed! There is a run of cafe’s in west coast U.S. called Peet’s Coffee & Tea house. They serve, with a few local cafe exceptions, the best coffee. It is so good, that the difference between their coffee and the stuff you get most anywhere else, makes you wonder just what the others are doing to those beans to torture them into such a state of flavourlessness! It is like fine chocolate versus the hard shell ice cream dipping chocolate—no exaggeration! Dozens of interesting flavours and intricacies verses one flat mildly repulsive flavour!
But their tea! To give them a little credit, they are (again with local tea cafe exceptions), doing tea better than 99% of the United States where hot tea means nothing more than a tired waitress slapping a sachet filled with weak mass produced orange pekoe grounds from the bottom of a million barrels, and no indication of when it is supposed to be removed. At least Peet’s understands the role of a tea pot! And they do have a large selection of loose leaf teas from which to choose. The problem is, whoever their tea purveyor is, well, they aren’t very good! So while you can choose between seven green teas and five oolongs and ten blacks and so on—none of them are very tasty in comparison to good tea.
I chalk part of it up to employee ignorance. I had one make me a Russian Caravan that was so strong I could have gone outside and used it to tar up pot holes in the road.
P.S. I agree on cappuccinos vs. lattes, though I never understood the point of enjoying a cappuccino in a cup with a lid?
If you buy Peet’s loose tea and brew it yourself the results are pretty decent. Not in the same league as their coffee, though: my mother is from New Orleans, and claims Peet’s French Roast is the best she’s ever had. For both coffee and tea, mail order is probably fresher than what you get at the cafes.
For tea, if you’re in a wilderness without good local options, you might have a look at Samovar Tea Lounge. They only have locations in San Francisco, but they do mail order and have a nice selection of more unusual stuff. samovartea.com/
Peet’s is OK for coffee, but not what they were even ten years ago.
Best coffee is: 1) Go to Sweet Maria’s, (sweetmarias.com) get a home air roaster; 2) Get a few half-pound varieties of green beans to explore. 3) Enjoy! There are other sources of green beans and roasters, but I find Maria’s has the best and reliable info on the various beans.
I set up a program a year or so ago where we brought beans up from South Mexico, small farmer coops, and roasted the beans in a small 1 kilo roaster. We paid a bit over true fair market for the beans to help build schools in Mexico, and used the profit from roasting and bagging here to fund soup kitchens. It was a lot of fun, and one learns a lot about coffee.
Some beans are great for roasting to make cappuccino, and Maria’s has a good selection of those, as well as other fine coffees. The point is, the flavor of roasted coffee is best 24-72 hours after roasting. It drops way off after that, no matter what.
I have been wanting to get into roasting myself, but haven’t had the time to research properly. You are definitely right about how quickly quality decays as time goes by. I’ve had freshly roasted coffee before and it was orders of magnitude better than anything off the shelf. Peet’s has a one week policy so their stuff is usually pretty fresh, but yes if you get it toward the end of a rotation there is a quality drop.
Any tips on where one should start out if they want to get into roasting? How much would one be looking at if they wanted to get a machine for their home?
There’s more info at sweetmarias.com than anywhere else, really. Most of the books are rather dated. There are a few other sites that sell coffee, and I’ve found great beans at all of them. BTW, green beans last for 2-3 years without any problems. After roasting, best to let them de-gas for 24 hours or so.
Outside the big kilo roaster, I use a Fresh Roast 8 air roaster for smaller quantities. Easy to control, quite efficient with the electricity. You’ll want to be near a window to let the smoke out (or you’ll set off every smoke alarm in the house…grin).
Looks like the current Fresh Roast and 4 lbs of assorted beans is currently around $85 at marias. Of course, you can also roast green beans in a heavy frying pan, stirring a lot. That’s how most homes prepared their coffee until the last 100 years or so. You can also use old hot air popcorn poppers, though keeping the beans in the things for full term is a bother.
I wouldn’t worry too much about a roaster with heat sensors and all that. Even on the big roaster here, with digital readouts, I roast more by sound and time than anything else.
Well, as is likely well known on these forums, I am an avid tea drinker. But…I do like the occasional cappuccino. Of course, well, it has to be decaf, which I know makes me even more of a weenie in the coffee world. But too much caffeine makes me, literally, shake! And I’m allergic to dairy, so can’t do too much of that. Ha! That’s the consequence of being a highly sensitive vata-type body person. Thank goodness for all those wonderful teas in the world for people like me!