My wife is a coffee nut (or bean, if you prefer) of the highest order. And I'm not much different. This means we're always experimenting with new methods of brewing different varieties of coffee bean. In the space of the few years we have been together, we have been through more coffee pots than Gza Gza Gabor has been through husbands (is she actually married at the moment?). We've tried:
French Presses, espresso and cappuccino machines, regular perculators, filter machines, coffee pots that defy description.
In fact, so many have vied for space on our crowded countertop that I'm struggling to picture them all as I write. However, we may well have found the ultimate coffee machine combination that meets both our needs. Finally.
The Mimalist's French Press Coffee Machine
I'm a cappuccino afficianodo, but my wife is more minimalist in her
tastes, and prefers to hunker down with a smooth black brew. Although it wasn't long
ago I remember her sipping Vienna M�lange, heavy on the chocolate, since she started design school she has streamlined her habits. Now she employs a one-cup Bodum French press. This produces coffee of industrial strength with a caffeine content high enough to revive a dead donkey. It also looks great on the counter top, and its diminutive size leaves plenty of space for our other current coffee brewing experiments. The size has another advantage. French press coffee machines aren't partcularly good at keeping the coffee warm for very long. In fact, after ten minutes, it's already verging on the undrinkable, so having a coffee machine that only makes enough coffee for one cup means you get a great-tasting optimal cup of coffee every time. It is, however, fiddly to clean, and my wife is not one to encumber her life with meagre cleaning tasks before whizzing out of the door to work every morning. I, on the other hand, work from home. I get to poke that French press mesh with my washing up brush a little more often than I would choose to in a perfect world.
The Grinder/Coffee Pot Combo
We went through a phase of trying out grinder/brewer combos. This was largely my fault as I'm a stickler for grinding my own coffee beans so they are fresh for each brew. While the coffee pots functioned as they should, I was never really 100% satisfied with the grinder elements. They didn't allow enough control over how fine or grainy the beans could be ground, they warmed the beans - especially if I was preparing coffee for a lot of people - and they tended to be very noisy. Stand-alone grinders win hands down every time.
Pleasing All the People All of the Time - at least at Home.
At the moment we have returned to using a stand-alone coffee grinder that suits both our requirements. My wife uses her Bodum French press with a course-grained bean, and I am fortunate to have a Gaggia coffee machine that takes a finer grained bean, makes all the right noises, fills the kitchen with the finest aroma known to man and makes the milk foamy and stiff, just right for the perfect capuccino. And I can always re-steam the milk if I want another cup later on, so there's no danger of leaving the coffee on a hotplate and burning it, which is handy because contrary to my wife I believe that one cup is never enough.