Monday, February 8, 2016

DIY -- perked coffee

Manage your expectations.  Yep, perked coffee is great...
The good things: no filters.  I'm a tea purist and I know I can taste the paper in tea bags so 99% of the time I use leaf tea.  Same with coffee filters.  So much for drip makers.
Also no plastic to go in the land fill.  So much for K-cups.
Goes anywhere.  If you buy the right stove-top percolater, you can take it camping or use it on your hibachi if your electricity is out.
Tastes really great.  Most coffee I put sugar and milk into, especially the milk to cut the acid.  I bought some "house blend" coffee at a website where I've been buying my mother gourmet drip-grind coffee for years, and it was so smooth that a spoonful of brown sugar with no milk was almost overkill as far as dressing it up.  I'm trying classic 8 O'clock and Chock Full of Nuts next.

It took me about a week to work out the settings and timing and get some coffee to actually perk.
First, put 1 cup COLD water in the pot and 1 TBSP ground coffee in the basket, then put the basket lid on.
That's for 1 person.
You need the basket lid for two reasons: it keeps the ground coffee from splashing into the pot, and in my percolator it supports the top where the glass knob is.
Close the pot. 
Set it on a cold burner and turn the burner on to just below the middle of the dial.
On my electric stove, that was setting 3 of 7.
When you hear the percolator rattle, the water is boiling.  Notice that you can't have your earbuds in or be in the shower and still catch it before it overcooks.
You should be able to see the water (and a few grounds) hit the glass knob of the pot.  That's the "perk" part.
After 15 minutes, pour a test splash into the cup. 
If it's clear, keep perking another 15 minutes at least.
On my electric stove I find that some of the water will go out the spout, so when I get a clear test splash, I prime the pot by running some more cold water into the spout.  If you have a gas stove, this may never happen to you.

If all else fails you can boil water separately and pour it over the coffee but that's not the point of having a percolator.

Put your coffee grounds in your compost heap and mark that spot to save that stuff for your acid loving plants.  I'm going to put mine on the hydrangea that was next to my porch when I moved in 25 years ago.

There are bigger issues: can you be a locovore and drink coffee?  Only if you live where avocados can grow.  In California they are growing coffee bushes in some avocado orchards. 
Yerba mate can grow where temps normally stay above 25 all year round.
You CAN be a locovore and drink real tea if you live in growing zone 7b (like the DC area) or south of that.  A farm in North Carolina grows tea and sells seedlings of different varieties of Camellia sinensis, the true tea bush.
One, called Sochi, is a Russian variety.  It is frost-hardy but you have to be able to shade it for at least half the day in winter, to reproduce the solar conditions in Russia in winter.  Check out Camellia Forest Nursery, including the blog that shows how to process the leaves into drinkable tea.

And again, that's only if you can't live without your caffeine.  You can grow herbal teas in your yard almost anywhere, including chamomile and medicinals such as horehound or feverfew.

Growing tea or giving up caffeine, are both less expensive than continuing to support a coffee habit because they require less energy to produce and move.
Think globally, act locally.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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