This is a story about Italy and coffee, and how falling in love with one caused me to fall in love with the other.
The truth is, until I went to Italy I never drank coffee. I had often enjoyed the smell, but rarely the flavor. I tried coffee for the first time in high school when one of the seniors (I was a sophomore at the time) on my speech and debate team bought some of us Starbucks mocha frappuccinos before one of our tournaments. I enjoyed it enough to get another and every once and a while when I was out with friends who drank coffee I would get something like that: full of plenty of sugar, milk, chocolate, and flavoring so that I wouldn’t actually taste the coffee. Fast forward to last spring (about 10 years after that first frappuccino). I was in Italy. You can’t not drink coffee in Italy. I mean, you can, but I really wanted to do the whole, “when in Rome thing” (funny thing about that: in two and a half months I never once went to Rome). So during the course of my trip I had 22 cappuccinos and by the time I returned home I considered myself to be a huge coffee fan.
The only problem was, I had been spoiled on Italian coffee. When I tried cappuccinos here I found that they often ended up bitter tasting, which is exactly what had kept me away from coffee so long in the first place. So I began to research getting a coffee machine for the apartment* but they were all so expensive that it took me several months before I was able to get one (during which time I was spending $4 every other day on a cup of coffee….) and in the end I opted for a French Press, because I liked the idea of the coffee being something handmade & ritualistic, because my mornings feel special.
*Being that prior to all this, I never ever drank caffeine (I don’t drink soda) except for the occasional hot chocolate, I think I am the only person I know whose goals at the beginning of the year included drinking MORE coffee. However, I don’t believe it’s bad for you in moderation (oh my God, if we followed all the latest “this food will kill you” research we wouldn’t be able to eat anything, not to mention how it’s always changing, I mean, is red wine good for you or not?!) and I only ever allow myself one cup a day. Not to mention, I had a caffeine addiction that I wasn’t even aware of: Excedrin Migraine. I suffer from headaches (and occasionally migraines) and neck pain on the regular and after a couple of years had worked my way up to needing 2-4 Excedrin Migraine just to get through the day. One cup of coffee in the morning and I generally don’t need it at all. So if it comes down to two different forms of caffeine and one is delicious, I’ll take the delicious one over the potentially liver damage causing one any day.
My little coffee & tea station, which has since become more cluttered with bags of beans & a stovetop espresso maker.
I looked up a bunch of tips online from other French Press users and ended up creating a simple system that nonetheless produces some amazing coffee. (Of course, great coffee starts with great beans and my favorite right now are Moka Joe’s French Roast and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Kona Blend).
The smell when I open the bag of coffee always makes me smile.
Boil enough water for the press.
Meanwhile, grind the beans to a coarse grind (I like a blend of two types because the flavor seems richer) and fill the press up with hot water.
When the kettle starts to whistle, turn the heat off.
After a couple of minutes, dump the water out of the press, pour in the ground beans, and fill with an inch or two of boiling water.
Stir with a chopstick and let stand for a minute.
After pouring in the water to 3/4 or so full, stir one last time, put the top on and let sit for 5-6 minutes.
(The Bodum instructions say 2-3 minutes and 1 tbsp. of ground coffee but my coffee was super weak when I did this; after some experimentation I found I liked the coffee best when there were 2 tbsp. of French Roast to 1 tbsp. of Kona Blend and a brew time that was 3x longer than recommended).
Normally I stick with coffee and a bit of half/half but on Sundays I add a bit of hot chocolate to the cup before pouring my coffee.
The final step is to press the coffee, pour the coffee in the mug, and add half/half.
The result is smooth, creamy and tastes amazing.
And what better to go with Sunday morning coffee than brunch?
I love jam. Bonne Maman makes delicious jam and I recently discovered Maison de Monaco’s Strawberry & Cassis Cream.
(Creme de cassis is a sweet French liqueur made from black currants that can be used in any number of cocktails and recipes. — Easy French Food)
Keifer, Barlean’s Omega Swirl, & vitamins are healthy and delicious, and being that I live in the PNW I need plenty of vitamin D.
Salt, pepper, tarragon, half & half.
Add a bit of salmon for totally protein packed scrambled eggs.
Just in case you thought that Ambrosia was only good by itself — on top of waffles the fruit and dressing are to die for.
And while I drink coffee and read magazines, I can always count on my sleepy pets to hang out next to me.