I don't know about you, but I really don't like waking up in the morning. Some people jump out of bed ready to greet the day. I tend to roll out sideways, stub my toe on the dresser, curse myself for not going to bed earlier and then walk blindly into the kitchen on the hunt for one thing...coffee.
I am fully willing to admit that I am a coffee snob. I've spent most of my young-adult life working as a barista. I even spent some time serving Joe in Seattle, where I transformed from a coffee brat to a full-blown snob. I think that a cup of coffee can make or break your day. A quality cup will leave you feeling satisfied and ready to go. A crappy cup will leave you jittery and wanting more.
I'm on a budget so I can't afford to buy coffee from a cafe, making my wantonness for quality coffee a challenge. As it turns out I don't have to outsource my coffee, I can make quality espresso at home without an expensive machine. This is a trick I picked up while living in Europe and I'd venture to say it's improved my quality of life. Yeah, that's a ridiculous statement, but I stand behind it...
The 6-cup size makes 6 shots of espresso which equals roughly 2 cups of coffee.
Step 1 - Grind it! Don't skip this step by using pre-ground coffee. Grinding coffee beans right before you use it enhances flavor and caffeine. Plus it smells amazing! Percolators have a basket that holds the coffee and water boils up from the bottom, through the coffee, through another screen and then into the "holding chamber". You want your coffee to be at a medium-fine grind - similar to the texture of sea salt. If the grind is too fine, coffee grounds will seep through the screens and into your coffee - ick. If the grind is too course, the water will pass through the basket without gathering enough flavor and your coffee will be watery - double ick.
Step 2 - Fill the bottom chamber with water. There should be a fill line on the inside of the bottom chamber. Fill to this line, no more, no less. Oh, and use cold water! It makes boiling take longer and flavor taste better.
Step 3 - Fill the basket with ground coffee. Fill it to the top, but don't compress it or flatten.
Steps 4, 5 and 6 - Place the basket in the bottom chamber, screw the top chamber on tightly and turn the stove on high.
Step 7 - Let the percolator do its thing. It will begin to make a boiling sound, don't panic. Wait until the sound stops and that is how you know it's done!
Look for organic, fair-trade coffee, from a local company if possible. This promotes a healthy earth and more economic stability on a local and international scale. The coffee may be a bit more pricey, but you will need less of it since the percolator only uses a small amount per brew.
Espresso is a stronger blend then other coffee beans and roasts. You can use an espresso roast or a regular roast (like a French roast) depending on the amount of caffeine you are looking for.
Learn to enjoy your coffee. As with eating meals, if you can make drinking coffee a pleasant treat for your senses you will find you need less of it.
My favorite brand of percolator is the Biaetti Moka Express. This particular product comes in a variety of sizes and there is a stove-top option as well as an electric counter-top option.