Sweet Potato?

Posted by Somnium Exertus | Posted in , , | Posted on 15:17

Sweet. Sweet potato. Sweet.

 Hey look, it's a sweet potato! I think they're pretty snazzy, I eat them raw and my body loves me for that. No, I won't judge if you don't. I WILL, however, judge if you're reading this and don't read the actual body of the blog, which has nothing to do with sweet potatoes. I promise! Hell, now you want to check just to see if I'm lying or not. BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION COMPLETE!

Coffee! Totally not sweet potato, see?

If you know me at all, you'll no doubt be aware that I like my coffee. I figure it's about time to say a few things about that. Consider it an exposé of a coffee lover. If you feel a strong urge to learn the gritty details of coffee, hit up Wikipedia.

The best way to start this post is probably introducing things as they'd be encountered in preparing my dose of fun stuff. Of course that means the beans! I buy whole bean coffee instead of pre-ground, primarily for the reason that I require a finer grind to extract espresso. Buying whole bean also allows you to mix and match your own blends of coffee, which is a fun experiment in its own right. Of course starting with my own beans mean I have more control over the quality of the coffee, since once the bean is ground it starts to lose the awesomeness compounds.

I tend to get a mix of beans from the big dispensers in the grocery store, picking the ones that look freshest. Currently my 'house blend' is a Hazelnut-Vanilla Decaf of the Van Houtte variety, though I also have some packets of pre-ground dark roast from Cafe Britt in Costa Rica that I got from family recently, and I also have my bag of fancy coffee! The fancy coffee is currently Java Blend Coffee's K2 Signature Espresso, a product of Halifax. Though I could get mine directly from them, I tend to pick mine up when I'm at my favourite coffee location in Halifax - Smiling Goat Organic Espresso Bar. No, I'm not receiving handouts for all these name drops, just giving credit where it's due!

Latte art from the Smiling Goat!

So I have the beans, great. Now it's time to grind them! For now I have a rather cheap grinder from Superstore that I bought when I first started amassing my coffee tools, I expect it'll be replaced soon now that this has become a clear hobby. With a fine grind setting for espresso, it's game on! Ideally you should only grind what you'll be using in that moment, as some of the compounds that create the flavour of coffee break down when exposed to air for as little as 10 minutes! This is why coffee snobs tend to laugh when they hear someone declaring the great taste of their coffee when it comes from a 5lb tin of preground ;)

With coffee in hand, usually this goes into my espresso machine, a nice little Via Veneto from Saeco. It's definitely an entry-level rig, but I managed to snag an older but rarely used model at an auction a few summers ago for a whopping $5. I like that it's small enough to move around with me in my not-so-stable stage of life, perfect for residing on my desk at school or making the trip to wherever I rest my head. I now have a new 'machine' to make my coffee, another thing picked up in Costa Rica. It's called a coffee sock, and basically it's really fine cloth that you put your grinds in and pour hot water over them, collecting the coffee as it comes through the cloth. This will be a huge benefit for those times when you'd like a coffee without all the noise of the espresso machine.
My beast, if it were ever clean.
What probably amuses me the most about my usual setup is how quickly it's paid for itself. The grinder and espresso machine together cost maybe $40, and if I had to estimate how many shots have been poured over their lifetime with me I'd say it'd be safe to go with an average of a shot a day at minimum, so around 1500. To cover the fixed cost of the machines it'd be 2.6 cents per shot, mere pocket change. The main cost of the shot comes from the beans in my case, since I don't have to worry about marking up the value of my shots to pay myself a wage. For my standard 'double' shot it takes 16g of ground coffee, meaning 37 cents a pop for the beans if I'm using something fancy like K2, so it's 40 cents per shot for me. I can't find a price for straight espresso shots at the Starbucks joint on campus, but they sell a 12oz Americano Espresso for $2.30. A 12oz Americano is literally a double shot of espresso watered down with hot water poured into the shot to reach the 12oz volume. See why I'm laughing so much? I save $1.90 each time I make myself an Americano like that, essentially I passed the 'break even' point for my investment after 21 Americanos, which I can assure you I've had. I'll update this if/when I get the price for straight shots on campus.

Finally, I'll note that I enjoy coffee simply for the taste, not for the caffeine. As such, I drink a lot of decaffeinated coffee so I'm not addicted to it, if I were to drink the regular stuff in the same volumes I'd be a case for stimulant addiction and dependence! Remember kids, know your substance of choice and respect it!

Song of the day: Quicksilver Messenger Service - Who Do You Love? (live footage 1973)
Page of the day: How to grow coffee =D

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