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Some Mornings the Coffee is Perfect

February 08, 2012

Morning coffee on my deskIt started out as one of THOSE mornings. I woke up at 4 am, still sitting on the couch where I fell asleep while editing an assignment -- which was already late. The house was freezing -- which meant that the boiler needs refilling in the cellar. And it was 4 AM. Did I mention it was 4 AM? And then there was coffee...





Well, not at 4 AM. There wasn't coffee for a few hours, but oh, what a difference the coffee makes.Here's the thing. I don't believe that coffee makes everything all right, but sometimes when the coffee is perfect, your day just gets a little bit brighter. And this morning, the coffee -- that's said cup of coffee in the photo to the left -- is perfect. It may not have a pretty little latte art heart on it, but trust me when I tell you that it's absolutely perfect.

The coffee in the cup is Paramount Coffee Roasters Tanzanian Peaberry, roasted medium. It's just about 9 days post roast, putting it right in the sweet spot for maximum flavor potential. I ground it just a tad below espresso fine for brewing in the moka pot, and ground just enough to fill the filter basket for a double cup. 

Since I'd already been writing for 3 and a half hours, I took my time with the preparation. I did little things I don't always bother with. I warmed my cup with hot water while the moka pot was brewing. I chilled the frothing pitcher with ice cold water from the tap while the steamer was heating up. I took a moment to flip the top on the moka pot and peek inside, and caught it at just the precise moment when the stream of silky dark  coffee became a gushing froth of mocha-colored foam. It seems like a silly little thing to take so much pleasure in, but it was a beautiful thing to watch. It also meant that I caught it at exactly the moment that it was perfectly ready to pour -- which, of course, I did.

And then to the steam wand. There, too, I took pains I don't always bother with. I bled the wand before the light told me it was the right temperature, drawing off any dribbles of hot water. I purged it a couple of times into a glass until turning the knob produced a heady, thick steam that didn't leave even a dribble of water in the glass. Only then did I put the wand to the surface of the milk and turn the steam wand to full steam. 

And I was rewarded with OMG velvety, frothy milk that's as close as I've ever managed to come to liquid foam. I almost got carried away watching the little whirlpool of milk swirling around the inside of the pitcher, but I avoided the trap of steaming the milk until it erupts into bubbles. The payoff was beautful, thick, rich foam that poured out along with the milk instead of before it -- and for the first time ever, foam that was the perfect consistency  to swirl around the cup and squiggle into a semblance of a zig-zag tree on the surface of my cup.

I know. If you do this routinely, it all sounds a bit silly and schoolgirlish to wax poetic about getting the frothed milk right. Right now, though, I'm basking in the glow of accomplishment. It's sort of like the way you feel when you've been balancing on your bicycle and crashing it for days and then one day, you just GET IT. And you know that you'll never NOT get it again.

Did I mention the heavenly taste yet? Because, yep, that's perfect, too. The medium roast seems just about right to bring out the darker, chocolate-y and earhty notes of the peaberry without muting the bright cherry-citrus that teases your taste buds into asking for more. Which I'm happy to provide.

Even better, I have enough of the Peaberry to last me just about three more days... which is just about how long I'm willing to wait to crack the Dean's Beans Timor Atsabe that arrived yesterday. Today, the coffee is perfect. And even though I've been up writing since 4 AM, I'm feeling pretty good about the day.










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