Coffee | The Observer | Roz Rogoff | |

Local Blogs

By Roz Rogoff


Uploaded: Mar 14, 2014

I'm an obsessive person. In the past I've been obsessed with old cars, sailboats, hats, and food of course. My latest obsession is with coffee ? not different brands or varieties of beans, but the method of preparation.

A few years ago Mike Rowe did a "Dirty Jobs" show in on how coffee beans are grown, harvested, and prepared for sale in World coffee markets. I was amazed at all of the steps and processes organic coffee beans go through before they even reach the bulk coffee buyers here in the USA.

Rowe's show was on coffee grown in Hawaii, but most of our coffee comes from South America, Central America, and Africa. American workers, even in Hawaii, and yes it is part of the USA, are treated better than workers in many of the countries where most of our coffee comes from.

Coffee workers in third world countries should not have to work a hard, dirty job and still not make enough money to live on decently. That's why I pay a little extra for fair trade coffee. It is usually better quality coffee too. I typically buy premium coffee like Starbucks or Peet's and other brands that pay fair trade for the beans.

Anyway back to coffee makers. I gave away my Mr. Coffee, which was about 3 years old and still working, because it made too much and I wasn't impressed with the output. I wanted to find the best coffee brewing method for me.

I purchased a French Press from Sur La Table online, which arrived yesterday. Coffee lovers on the Sur La Table website all insisted that the beans must be fresh ground right before making the coffee. I have a blade grinder, but it doesn't grind as uniformly as a burr grinder. The reviewers on Sur La Table definitely prefer the burr.

I called the Starbucks and Peet's in San Ramon to see if they carried burr grinders here. Starbucks had a Cuisinart burr grinder but it was sold a few days before I called.

I knew Target carries upscale coffee makers, so I check the Target here too. They had a Mr. Coffee burr grinder but it looked like a piece of junk. So I ordered a Capresso burr grinder online from Sur La Table.

When I was checking out the coffee grinders at Target, I saw they carried the Bialetti Moka Express. This is often called an Espresso maker in English, but it doesn't require the very finely ground coffee bistro machines use.

I wanted to compare my French Press with the Italian Moka coffee maker, so I went back to the Target today to buy one. While I was at Target I did some grocery shopping.

Target has changed in the last few days. All of the employees are soooo helpful now. An employee is stationed on every aisle to say hello and ask if I need help finding something. Usually I've had to chase after someone for help finding things at Target, but not today. At least five employees exceeded their helpfulness quota. I suspect that the Target here is preparing for an influx of customers from the newly sold Safeway stores.

I was half way to the check out when one of the helpful employees asked if I needed help finding something. I told him I couldn't find half-and-half when I was in the grocery section. The half-and-half was in the milk aisle which was the very last aisle at the back of the store.

I have a quart of Coffeemate at home, but since I'm being so obsessive about my coffee these days I wanted real half-and-half and not Coffeemate. I need everything to be perfect to judge the different coffee grinds and makers.

I walked back to the dairy section and the helpful man was waiting for me with Land O' Lakes half-and-half. It was in a slightly different location from where he said I'd find the half-and-half. He said the store brand is further down the aisle, but I said Land O'Lakes would be fine and took a pint.

Once my coffee grinder arrives I shall try a fresh brewed cup of French Pressed coffee and Bialetti Moka and my regular Melitta one cup cone filter which I bought at Nob Hill for around $6. That's what I've been drinking lately and I like it a lot. So these new machine have a way to go to impress me.

At least my latest obsession with coffee isn't going to cost me thousands of dollars as some of my past obsessions with old cars, sailboats, and cats with high vet bills have in the past.