Along with cooking, baking and music, another of my passions is coffee. I have built up an impressive collection of ways to brew coffee in the home. And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Additional note: The Katy location of Best Buy has an extensive coffee section. I've added their address to this blog.
Recently, I loaned a Chemex, Sowden, and some other brewing devices and grinders to a friend who is just starting to take her coffee making to the next level. While putting together some favorite instructional videos for her, I decided it might be fun to create a blog with links to some of these.
Rule of Thumb. I weigh my coffee (medium grind, ground with a burr grinder...blade grinders are okay for spices but not for coffee...in the Chemex video below he is grinding with the Baratza, the same one that I use as my default grinder) and start out with the SCAA recommendation of 6 grams of coffee per 100 ml of water (I use a digital scale...although two of mine have come from resale shops and I also own the $140 Acaia Pearl (super accurate to 1 gram), I recommend the OXO digital scale if you are purchasing one new, though it is nowhere near as accurate as the Acaia; so, if money is no object for you, definitely consider that Acaia digital. It is amazing). I boil my water in a Hario electric kettle that I recently got from a friend. Gooseneck type spout design.
Here is how to test a digital scale that you may be considering. A dollar bill weighs 1 gram. If your scale accurately reads out 1 gram when you drop a dollar bill on it, it's a good one. The OXO that I recommended above isn't this accurate, but is a good scale choice for the price.
If you want a more effortless, easy method for making coffee (but still want more control over your coffee making), consider a Clever Coffeemaker. It has a valve that won't release the coffee until you set it on top of your cup or carafe. This allows you to steep your coffee for four minutes before extraction. Two tablespoons of coffee per 6 fluid ounces of water is what the folks at Community Coffee recommend for their medium grind, to start with.
My new, beloved, Acaia digital scale (awesome). Bluetooth. Programmable. iPhone app. My Chantal pour over electric kettle (I came into possession of a Hario gooseneck electric and that is now the one that I use 100%). My Javelin digital thermometer (also highly recommended). And my Kalita 185.
A NEW option for shopping for coffee makers and other coffee related products is Wish dot com. The stuff is really cheap. Your purchases mostly ship from China so be prepared for a slightly longer delivery lead time. Hasn't been a problem so far. Having said that, I have had no problems with anything that I have ordered. Recently, I bought this adorable little mini Chemex knock-off for around $11. It works perfectly with Hario V60 filter paper, and it does come with a metal filter that works pretty well too (I was surprised). I've also picked up a laser digital thermometer for a couple of bucks there and it works great, too. I've seen a Hario V6 knock-off on the site, too (for not much money). Use 'coffee maker' or 'glass coffee maker' as your search words.
The can is here to give you a size perspective. Wish is downloadable as an app or on the web.
The Sowden SoftBrew (as good as a French press) is a favorite method, especially for cold brew. Note: The coffee is a little thinner than with a French press so you will probably need to adjust by adding more coffee.
Note and Update: I recently played around with one of my numerous French presses and found that I needed to revise my previously lower opinion of this method. The coffee silt in the bottom does not annoy me as much these days and I enjoyed my French press brew. If you buy a French press, consider one that is double walled in order to keep the coffee warm. French presses show up ALL the time at 2nd hand stores so don't pay retail.
The Hario product line (V60), et. al. I go to 2nd hand stores a lot and recently found a V60 carafe and filter at the Goodwill on 20th for only $8! You never know where you will find something good!
(More coffee making photos for your viewing pleasure)
Recently, I had the pleasure to put together a little tour
of my favorite places for Mexico related food and shopping here in Houston for
my friend, Mely Martinez (www.mexicoinmykitchen.com).
Mely and her husband and son had decided to come down to
Houston for a few days of vacation. Now, Houston is not really a tourist
destination in my opinion; compared to, say, Austin or San Antonio. We do have
some wonderful museums and some outsider art venues that are world class. But,
Houston is kind of a business and industry kind of place.
However, Houstonians have found that the best way to
socialize with friends is over food and this, plus the incredible
multi-culturalism of Houston has led to a city with amazing selections of
places to dine, of every ethnicity and of every price range.
Whole areas of our town have sprung up around dining:
Bellaire Boulevard – Chinese and Vietnamese (incorporating
Beechnut and Bissonnet now)
Hillcroft Street – Indian and Pakistani primarily, but also
Persian and Middle Eastern
Long Point Road – Korean and Central American
Airline Drive – Mexican
Harrisburg – Mexican
Scott / Cullen / OST – African-American
But on this particular meet-up with Mely (Facebook friends
for several years, first physical meeting), we focused on Mexico!
Our tour began on Airline Drive, and this is the route that
I am mapping out for you today:
El Bolillo Bakery (2518 Airline Drive) (www.elbolillo.com) - The person that
started El Bolillo had a doughnut shop or two, originally in Galveston. His
workers were from Mexico and one day they suggested to him that if he opened a
Mexican bakery, they would join him and make all of the types of breads of
Mexico. This is the default bakery for Mexican breads and your jaw will drop
when you see the selection here. It is a beautiful venue and very pleasing to
just hang out.
And then, a walk across the street to the Canino’s Farmer’s
Market complex (2520 Airline Drive) (www.caninoproduce.com).
Canino’s has been Houston’s market since 1958. The Farmer’s Marketing
Association is a private corporation whose shareholders are the original
farmers or their descendants. As you walk through the complex, you will
discover all things Mexican: dry goods like molcajetes, masa grinders, toys,
piñatas, and more; food products associated with Mexico like dried chiles,
huazontle, flor de calabaza, chepil, cilantro, tropical fruits and more.
Next, cross back over the street to Lone Star Culinary
(formerly Flores Spices and still owned by the same family) (1299 Gibbs at
Airline). Recently remodeled, the place looks fantastic. Here, you will find
any spice you could think of and much more, in the way of specialty products.Special note: the Houston location of
Penzey’s Spices is also located in the Heights at 516 W 19th Street.
And now, across the street again the Carniceria Teloloapan
for shopping or something to eat (2430 Airline Drive). And then, next door to
Reyes Produce (2426 Airline Drive) for a look see at their extensive collection
of cookware, candies, dried chiles, and more.
Finishing up, we now head south on Airline for a stop at the
local cheese purveyors: Houston Dairy Maids (2201 Airline Drive) (www.houstondairymaids.com)
And then, across the street to Tampico Seafood (2115 Airline
Drive) (www.tampicoseafood.com) for
a huachinango. You will pick your fish from their market section, which will
then be grilled a la plancha style and served on a bed of grilled onions and
bell peppers with a side of fries or fried rice (a Tampico tradition from the
large Chinese population there). They have a full bar and other food choices
We continue south on Airline Drive crossing Cavalcade (just
to the west on Cavalcade is the Asia Grocers, featuring Thai, Lao, Cambodian
goods and serving food as well) and come to the best candy store, Delicias
Mexicanas (1777 Airline Drive) (www.lasdeliciasmexicanas.com),
your one stop shop for traditional Mexican candies including glorias, dulce de
leche, cajeta, hard candies, candied fruits and more. Reyes Produce also
carries sweets, so you can cost compare at both places if you wish.
Further south, where Airline Drive dead-ends into North
Main, three recommended restaurants: Spanish Flowers Mexican Restaurant,
Teotihuacan Mexican Restaurant, and Pinkerton’s Barbecue (quickly turning into
one of the top five places for barbecue in Houston)
The tour is finished. Turning west on North Main will take
you to the Heights via 20th and turning east will take you to I-45.
Both of which will have even more interesting places to shop and eat. But we
will save those for another time.
I'll be the first to admit that this list is not exhaustive. But. Here are some of the places that I love to go to for shopping and just all around walking around. All are amazing. I especially love the Turkish grocery, Acacia and the Indian grocery, Subralaxhmi Grocers. For everything Mexican, I go to one of the new El Rancho Markets (they're all over town) or to the Mi Tienda (H.E.B.) or to Airline Drive to the places around Canino's Market including Granel Spice Market and El Bolillo Bakery. And, don't forget the food sections at the most excellent Spec's downtown on Smith Street.