January 1, 2020

Coffee - Brewing Coffee - Your How-To Guide

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 ofa ratio of 16:1, essentially 6 grams of coffee per 100 ml of water (I use a very accurate digital scale by Acaia that I treated myself to a few years ago). I boil my water in a Hario electric kettle that I recently got from a friend. Gooseneck type spout design. Water for coffee. Good water is critical to great tasting pour over coffee. You need the right concentration of magnesium, calcium and sodium to make a "slippery" water to extract all the flavor. I make my own water using formulas from the web. There are lots of recipes there but you need epsom salts, baking soda, distilled water and calcium carbonate and a very good digital scale. But there are some other ways to have better water for your drip coffee. Some people speak highly of the Crystal Geyser brand water one can pick up at Dollar Tree. I've used it and like it. Matt Toomey of Little Dreamers Coffee likes Glacier brand bottled water. I've also made excellent coffee doing a 50/50 of filtered Houston tap water and distilled water, probably the most economical route to go other than Crystal Geyser which is a buck at Dollar Tree.

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. 

If you want an easier method for making good coffee (but still want more control over your coffee making), consider the immersion method and 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. 

Brewing with the Clever Dripper

More Instructional Information:

One of the most popular pour over units is the Hario V60. Personally, my first choice is the Kalita, followed by Chemex. For me, at least, the V60 is not a preferred method. It's for people who really want to fine tune their morning brew (like the golfer who spends a lifetime trying to improve his swing)

James Hoffman's Technique for the Hario V60 (Recommended)

The Scott Rao Hario V-60 - The "Rao Spin" (Read This First)
Hario V-60 Instructions and the Rao Spin

(Chemex Video : Baratza setting 18.      24 grams of coffee.    400 ml water)

Seattle Coffee's Guide to Pour Over Methods

Seattle Coffee - Chemex

Stumptown Coffee - Chemex

Kalita versus Hario versus Chemex

(I have switched to the Kalita 185 for my daily coffee making. I do a 300 ml to 18-25 grams extraction with it, which is enough coffee for my wife and I to enjoy in the a.m.)

My Kitchen in my Home:

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)

Tex Mex - The Greatest Combo Plate in Texas - El Ranchero in La Porte

Is it possible? I'm tempted to call this the greatest Tex Mex combo plate in Texas. But there are too many restaurants vying for that title. So, if I call it the 2nd greatest combo plate in Texas, I'm probably safe. But seriously, it was perfect. Big scoop of delicious guacamole. 

Perfectly realized Mexican rice (with just the right hint of cumin). Excellent frijoles refritos (made with manteca). A mild and perfectly seasoned chili gravy covering cheesy enchiladas. 

And, as you'll see from the photos, they make their own leche quemada, and it is chock full of pecans. 

Highly recommended. It's worth the road trip. You can have fun visiting all of the antique shops on Main Street and then having your terrific Tex Mex lunch.

Fried Chicken - Houston

Fried Chicken Houston – August 2020 – Houston Foodie Friends Recommendations

#1 Chicken – 4621 Almeda
Al Aseel Grill & Café – 8619 Richmond
Alice Blue – 250 W. 19th Street
Barbecue Inn – 116 W Crosstimbers
BBQ Chicken Katy – 1519 S. Mason Road
Bonchon Korean Chicken
Breakfast Klub – 3711 Travis
Buffalo Grill – 4080 Bissonnet
Chicken Plus – 6210 N Wayside Drive
Choong Man Chicken – 1927 Gessner
Cleburne Cafeteria – 3606 Bissonnet
Dak & Bop 18th – 1805 W 18th Street
Frenchy’s Chicken – Multiple Locations
Goode Company Armadillo Headquarters -
Grace’s – 3111 Kirby
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – 1815 Washington Avenue
Himalaya Restaurant – 6652 Southwest Freeway
Hotsome Chicken – 10020 Long Point Road
Jollibee – Multiple Locations
Jupiter Pizza and Waffle (Sugarland) – 16135 City Walk
Krisp Korean Fried Chicken = 9486 Long Point Road
La Lucha – 1801 N. Shepherd Drive
Loch Bar Seafood – 4444 Westheimer
Lucille’s Fried Chicken – 5512 La Branch
Max’s Wine Dive – Multiple Locations
Mico’s Hot Chicken – 1603 N. Durham
Soho Korean Fried Chicken – 9393 Bellaire Boulevard 
State Fare (Sugarland) – 15930 City Walk
Toreore – H-Mart – 1302 Blalock

2nd Hand Stores - My Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

The Google Map (Click on any of these in the sidebar to get full address)

Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

Screenshot of the map:

Mexican - Casa Morales on 76th Street in "Canaviburg" (aka Eado)

Tucked away on 76th Street near Canal Street is Casa Morales, a place that Will Springfield and I came across a year back. What we love about Casa Morales is that the menu and the cuisine, well, it's like being transported to Monterrey, Mexico. Well, technically, the town of Ciudad de Allende, just south of Monterrey. (Interesting thing about Monterrey. If you remember, Monterey House had only one "r", same as Monterey, California. But it's really two "r's" for the city. People from here are known as "regiomontanos")

Regiomontanos have their own slang words. Here's a list of some common ones used there:

Link to Regiomontano words

Fare like you might run across in any little comedor in northern Mexico. 

Lunch specials every day. Tuesday's special was an asado de puerco with the fixins'. Irene had fajita "burritos" and Robert went for the big plate with the carne guisada and the asado de puerco. It's a good little place and I recommend it. 

Note: they close at 3:00 in the afternoon. Note 2: They have honey to sell from Nuevo Leon.

Mexican - Habanera and the Guero

First things first, it is "ah bah neh' rah", and not "hah bah nyera". Habanera means "from Havana" (female). Which is why you are starting to see people using Latinx instead of Latino. Because the "o" indicates male, they started thinking if they put an "x" there it would also encompass females. But that's kind of getting silly cause, in Spanish whenever you go plural and its mixed female and male, the default is to just use the male "o". 

Be that as it may, I had the pleasure to return to HatG after the big Food Network remodel. I love the way it looks now. They did a fantastic job in my opinion. It is open, airy, the seating arrangements are super comfy. Just a great job by the Robert Irving crew.

On to the food. I ordered the regular guacamole (enough for two or three as an appetizer) and it was so tasty that I finished every bit.

For my main course I went with the Tour de El Paso, which is a sampler of three El Paso style riffs on Mexican food, accompanied by rice and beans. Totally delicious and recommended. A flauta "drowned" in a delicious salsa verde was a high point.

As I walked out I spied a serving of nachos at another table and just had to take a photo to show you.