Postum Partum

I love coffee.

I drink about a
gallon a day,
and cannot
conceive of a time
or a place
where/when
sane people
wouldn’t
feel the same
about it that I do.

However,
there are
those
folks…

you know, —
the ‘unleaded’ ones..

— who drink
de-caffeinated coffee
like it’s the
most natural
thing in the world,
when actually they’re
disturbing the fine-line
balance of the universe
even suggesting such
an irresponsible and
inconceivable concept.

Ughhhhhh!

(Ok, so I’m being a bit
snarky, I know,
but I haven’t had
my morning cuppa yet. )

Bitterness ?

Well, I mean,
I like the flavor
of coffee ok- I guess –

– there are certainly
things (and people)
that I’d rather taste-

but without that
wonderful ‘hit’ or ‘jolt’
I got from coffee,
I just don’t know
why I would even
bother going to the
trouble of making it.

I literally don’t do
anything before
some coffee gets
down my gullet .

(damn it, what’s taking
so long for that Java ? )

I’m not even sure
that my eyes would
open wide enough
to go anywhere or do
anything without it.

(oh, there it is. 
ahhhhhhhhhh… )

Habit?

Aww,
so what?

A guy’s just
gotta have
vices,
after all….

Talk about
making sacrifices.

I already had to
give up scratching
myself in public,
didn’t I ?

So, anyway —
once upon a time,
there was this evil
ad campaign to
make people think
that coffee
was somehow
bad for ya —

— it would interfere
with your sleep
(which of course,
is the point of Java)

— and that it would
‘stunt your growth’.

The product ?

A roasted cereal
product called “Postum”.

And their ads, which often
featured a character named
“Mister Coffee Nerves”,
were designed to create
doubt and fear in the
minds of coffee drinkers
of it’s safety —

— ultimately for
the benefit and profit
of the makers of
Postum,
of course.

As you can see
from the featured
print ads on today’s
post, all kinds of
insinuations about the
comparative healthiness
of caffeinated versus
decaffeinated beverages
were made —

— and the ads are a case
in point for how
‘down and dirty’ sponsors
are willing to get in order
to sell their products.

As far as flavor
was concerned,
it required a certain
adjustment when
used as a coffee
replacement,

— but since the primary
selling point was
that it was a hot drink
that contained no caffeine,
(and was a ‘healthy
nerve food’)
many people really
did make the switch
in the 1930’s,
and even more in the
times of coffee rationing
during World War II.

The 1950’s and 1960’s
were a struggle for Postum,
and the last spike in sales
occurred in the 1970’s,
during a sudden increase
of coffee prices.

After that, Postum
became all but
forgotten, and
today, it’s been
licensed-out
by the original
manufacturer
to a small company
relegated to specialty
markets.

Cranks.

Long may coffee shine !!!

!!! HOY !!!!

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The Magic of Coffee

a2Coffee.

One word.

It’s interesting,
however,
the effect that
one word can have on a man, though.

That one word can singlehandedly….

( or single-wordedly, if you will )

drag me outta my nice, warm, cozy bed —

Just the sound of the word brings
on a Pavlovian response in my mouth
and makes all my synapses jump with anticipation.

C o f f e e .

When I’m in a particularly contemplative mood,

(usually after about 2 or 3 cups of coffee),

…. I ponder the possible deep spiritual significance
behind the two most sublimely delicious substances1
known to man ( chocolate and coffee)
being derived from simple beans.

Maybe I think too much.

Or maybe it’s the coffee–
–it’s got my brain on overdrive.

And that’s one of it’s most wonderful features.

The early story of coffee is,
like any good story, part truth and part myth.

And it’s actually much easier to
separate grounds from coffee1a
than the myth from this story.

So I’ll just tell it and you can be the judge.

In 9th Century Ethiopia,
there was a goat herder named Kaldi…

He noticed that his goats liked to chew
on the red berries of a

particular plant called bunnu-
and that they seemed more active afterwards…
……… sometimes even dancing.

One day, he decided to try it for himself..
he liked the effect, and brought some
to a local holy man for his opinion.

The holy man figured anything
that could make a person
feel so good had to be bad ,a4
so he threw the berries on the fire,
whereupon the resulting delicious aroma
of roasted coffee made both Kaldi
and the cleric believers.

Now, I know…
it sounds kinda half baked to me too…

But in 1671, the story was explained
by Professor Antoine Nairon this way:

The myth of Kaldi the Ethiopian goatherd
and his dancing goats, the coffee origin story
most frequently encountered in Western literature,
embellishes the credible tradition that the
Sufi encounter with coffee occurred in Ethiopia,
which lies just across the narrow passage
of the Red Sea from Arabia’s western coast.
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So I guess we can all agree
that coffee originated in Ethiopia,
and that it was a pretty cool discovery, goats or no.

 

The word ‘coffee’, or ‘kaffe’ —
is thought to have been derived
from the region in Southwestern Ethopia
where the whole Kaldi myth was based,
and where they happen to grow an awful lot of it-
namely, Kaffa.

Coffee spread slowly through the Middle East ,a21
reaching Yemen in the 15th century,
and that’s where the modern way
of preparing it was originally developed.

In Constantinople,
the world’s first coffee shop, Kiva Han,
was opened in 1475.

The Ottoman Turks tried very hard
to keep the coffee genie in the bottle ,
as it were, absolutely banning it
for export to non Islamic countries..
a32s
so, for the next 200 hundred years,
coffee growing was restricted to Muslims.

Coffee drinking started to catch on in the West,
and in 1645, a coffee house in Italy was opened—
—- a couple years later,
the Queens Lane coffee house opened in London.

Still, coffee had to be imported from the Middle East,
through Venice, and it was quite expensive.

Coffee growing finally reached the West in 1670,a53
when a Sufi named Baba Budan smuggled
seven seeds from the port of Mocha, Yemen
to Bangalore, India-
where they were grown and cultivated.

There is, in fact,
a shrine to him and this event at Karnataka.

Pope Clement VIII initially wasn’t all that thrilled
about this new import, and considered issuing
a Papal Bull against it, but decided instead
to declare it a drink compatible with Christianity.a63

Soon, coffee was being cultivated all over —
and was spread
to Indonesia, Java and Ceylon by the Dutch,
the Caribbean by the French,
Brazil and South America by the Portuguese,
and of course, India by the British.

Here in the U.S., coffee wasn’t anywhere
as popular as tea until the Revolutionary War,
when the scarcity and expense of tea ,
coupled with it’s British-ness,
drove many a colonist to drink java instead.ac3

At one time, Haiti supplied half of all the world’s coffee…
but the horrific working conditions under which
it was harvested eventually contributed to that country’s revolution –
— and the coffee industry there never recovered.

Brazil is currently the largest producer of green coffee,
producing over 2 million tons in 2011.

One thing I really like about coffee—–

Coffee is all about choices.

You choose the bean,
the roast, the grind, the brewing method,
and how to serve it.

3There are two cultivated types of coffee beans,
Arabica and Robusto…

(over 25 species of wild coffee are also out there… )

…. the Arabica being the more expensive, sweetest and tastiest, with a wonderful aroma.

The Robusto beans have almost twice the caffeine, and are produced by a heartier plant, resistant to a disease specific to coffee.

Of course, other things certainly have a bearing on coffee flavor,
other than what type of bean you’re using.

There is something called ‘terroir’ahug

how the soil, climate, water, topography, etc. of a local area effects the flavor….

An Arabica bean grown in Southern Minas Gerais of Brazil has a much different growing environment than one grown in Yergacheffe, Ethiopia, or in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, for instance.

Water— the type of water you use to brew also affects the flavor of your coffee–

Filtered water seems to work best .

And naturally, the ‘roast‘ — that is, to what degree a coffee bean is roasted,
……… will have a lot to do with what it ends up tasting like.

There are several methods,
…… including air roasting and drum roasting

But the “roast” of the end product coffee can be divided into the general categories of :

Light (American ) Roast– ( mild, toasted grain flavor)

Regular (Medium High) Roast– ( sweeter, more body than light roast)4

Full (Vienna) Roast– ( bittersweet, smoky )

and Dark (French) Roast– ( very dark, oily, intense )

Now, it’s ready for the next step….

Once you’ve chosen your ‘roast’,

then, you’ve got to choose your ‘grind’,

Very Fine, Fine, Medium, Coarse….
…….. and many inbetween !!

(which will be determined, by and large, by the brewing method)

or better yet—

……. grind the beans yourself for the freshest tasting coffee!

The finest grinds are like talcum powder,
and work best in Turkish and Espresso pots.

A French Press uses a coarse grind, with grains like Kosher Salt,arf

……. while most Drip coffeemakers
with paper filters use a medium grind, with grains like sand.

If you want to do it yourself, and you should

There are two types of coffee grinders generally available:

A blade grinder, with a small hopper for the beans and a blade which chops up the beans.

They’re usually inexpensive, but have no real control on grind level… you gotta go by eye.

Cleaning is as simple as wiping it out.

A burr grinder, which uses something resembling wheels to grind up the beans.

These are more expensive and elaborate, but you have control over the grind.

If you get one of these, make sure it’s parts are fully removable for cleaning.

As I said earlier, the ‘grind’ level you choose is mostly determined by your chosen brewing method.

But, before we talk about brewing and serving…

I guess I’d better mention that big ole elephant in the room that I’ve been kinda hesistant to talk about, since it goes against nature and all…

5There is this substance that they call “Decaffeinated Coffee “.

I’m not sure I understand the point of it,
exactly,

but apparently they take most of the caffeine out of the coffee
( along with much of the flavor )

and then sell it to you at a higher price than good ole ‘regular’ coffee.

There are several processes they use to do this horrible thing…
…. one involving solvents like methylene chloride,
another “Swiss” method that percolates coffee thru charcoal,
and a newer system involving pressurized carbon dioxide.

Sorry, but I don’t get it…

Drinking decaffeinated coffeea3
is like putting a Pinto engine into an Aston-Martin.

Without the vvvvaaarrrrrroooooooom, why bother ?

Brewing Method

Now here is where you can really make a big difference in how good your coffee tastes.

It goes without saying that some methods of brewing coffee are easier than others…

And nobody’s suggesting that you go through an elaborate cafe ritual every morning before you rush out the door ….

It’s just nice to know that when you want to take the time for a very special cup-o-joe you’ll have the where-with-all to make it.

Most of us in the United States have ‘Drip Type’ coffeemakers …
using that on a day to day basis is a great way to get your fix using coarse grind coffee.

….. but remember to turn off the warmer plate–6
direct heat ruins coffee fast !

I like my coffee Espresso style… that is, very dark and strong, in a small cup.

For this, I use a small range top ‘Stainless Steel Espresso pot’ ….

You put the water in the bottom, a fine grind coffee in the middle, and when the water boils, it’s forced up into the top of the pot, through the grounds once, and that’s where is stays.

A good friend of mine swears by his ‘Percolator‘… the problem is that the coffee simply regurgitates back through the grounds time and time again, picking up a lot of bitterness along the way.

I recently got to try out a ‘French Press’, and I have to say, the coffee came out just lovely.

It is a bit less user friendly than the drip method, but not all that complicated…

You put the coffee in the bottom, add hot 200 degree water, wait three minutes, stir, add more water, and then push the plunger down to separate the grounds from the coffee.

Serving

There are also a miriad of popular ways to serve coffee.

Espresso , Capuccino, Americano , Latte , Au Lait , Mocha , Macchiato ……

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Here are some of the more popular styles:

Americano — Espresso with hot water added.

Cafe Au Lait — Strong coffee with scalded milk added.

Cafe Ron — Espresso and Sweetened Condensed Milk @ 1:1 ratio.

Cafe Latte — 2 parts steamed Milk, 1 part Espresso.

Cafe Marocchino — a Cafe Latte dusted with Cocoa Powder.

Capuccino — Espresso, hot Milk, and steamed Milk Foam @ 5:6 ratio.

Decaf— Don’t ask.

Doppio — a double shot of Espresso.

Espresso Roma — Espresso with Sugar and Lemon rind.

Irish Coffee — Sweetened Coffee with Whiskey, Cream.

Macchiato — Espresso with a dash of Milk Foam.c23

Mocha — a Latte with Chocolate Syrup .

There are also many varieties of coffee styles that use flavored syrups, etc.

Finally…. after your coffee is ready… you’ve got one final choice.

Do you like your coffee in a mug, a glass, a china cup ?

Truthfully, some days, I think I’d drink it right out of the pot !!!!

Well, however you like it , I hope you liked this post, too …

Cheers !!!!

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