Drinking delightful coffee makes me smile
I drink delightful coffee every morning and afternoon. It makes me happy. Puts a smile on my face. In fact, I cannot recall the last day when I did not enjoy at least one cup of coffee. Usually, I drink three cups a day — two in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It is rare that I drink more than that. I will also confess upfront that I despise ice coffee. Never drink it — even in the summer. I am writing a short series about three more ways to have fun…when you are older. Last week was about traveling the world. This week is about enjoying a great hot cup of coffee.
I did not drink coffee when young
A few good reasons. First and foremost — I did not like the taste. It makes sense to me now because good coffee was rare. I remember my dad drinking a lot of instant coffee when I was young. He drank bland brands like Taster’s choice and Folgers. Both are bad. Although cheap coffee was all the rage years ago. Starbucks was not taking over the world of coffee yet.
I started drinking coffee in the Army
I became a coffee drinker during US Army Ranger School. You do not get a lot of sleep or much to eat in Ranger School. You are hungry and tired all the time. One way to combat this problem was to drink coffee in the morning. So that is what I did. All of us would pour MRE instant coffee, cocoa mix, powdered cream, and sugar into our canteen cups and boil water. The concoction it created was awesome. The best way to start a long day was with some Ranger coffee. I carried that habit forward with me during my Army career. I always added cream and sugar to my coffee which helped off-set the taste. Most Army coffee was pretty bad. No Starbucks, Peet’s or Caribou in the Army.
The average American coffee drinker
Turns out that I am pretty average when it comes to how much coffee I drink. Some statistics about American coffee drinkers from the Internet.
- Coffee statistics show that among coffee drinkers the average consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day.
- 50% of the population, equivalent to 150 million Americans, drink espresso, cappuccino, latte, or iced/cold coffees.
- Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.
- The average price for brewed coffee is $2.38.
- 30 million American adults drink specialty coffee beverages daily.
- The average price for an espresso-based drink is $3.45.
- 35% prefer black coffee, 65% prefer to add sugar and/or cream.
- Seattle has the highest number of coffee shops per capita in the US.
Starbucks became a daily stop for me
Like many Americans, Starbucks completely changed my perspective on coffee. Visiting the local Starbucks became a habit for me. I started going there a lot. I did not mind spending a few dollars each day for good coffee. Eventually, it became normal for me to visit Starbucks every day on my way to work. The barristers learned my name and knew what I drank. Venti drip with room for sugar and cream, except on Friday’s when I would order one of their wonderful espresso drinks. Marble Mocha Macchiato was one of my favorites. Cinnamon dolce latte was another. I was probably spending more than $100 a month at Starbucks which was stupid. BTW — that is over $1000 a year.
The calories started to add up
I started to notice that the calories from Starbucks were impacting my weight. I could drink cream and sugar in my coffee during my Army days. We did physical training on a daily basis so the calories did not matter. As a civilian, it was a problem since I did not work out nearly as much. I decided to start using sugar substitutes. Turns out that they are actually not much better for your body. I did not like black coffee. After completing some research, I learned that black coffee much better for you. It actually tastes better as well. The reality is that I did not know what I was doing when it came to brewing coffee.
TED Talk about Coffee
Coffee is actually a superfood
I watched several YouTube videos about coffee to learn more. It has a fascinating history. I also read the book The Coffee Lover’s Diet: Change Your Coffee, Change Your Life by Dr. Bob Arnot. This book blew me away. Not only is coffee good for you. It is a superfood with all kinds of health benefits. The key according to Dr. Arnot is that you have to buy the right kind of beans and prepare it properly. He recommends fresh coffee beans that are grown in high altitudes and then lightly roasted as the best. No cream no sugar, no sugar substitutes — just plain black coffee. Great advice. Black coffee is all that I drink now.
The most important ingredient is the beans
The problem with most store-bought coffee beans is that you have no idea how old they really are, or when they were roasted. Ground coffee is worse. Even the Starbucks coffee that you buy in their store is probably not that fresh. the good news is that there are many companies that will deliver freshly roasted coffee beans to your front door. Over the past few years, I experimented with buying coffee beans from the companies listed below. I am providing a few observations for each. It is worth noting that I would never spend more than $20 for a bag of coffee beans. I love coffee, but not that much.
- Craft Coffee — they roast in New York and ship within a few days. I started a monthly subscription a few years ago. One bag a month. Great coffee at a decent price. I highly recommend them.
- Atlas Coffee Club — they send beans from around the world. This is my second subscription which I started just a few months ago. So far, so good. Great coffee and the price is fair. Plan to continue.
- Green Beans Coffee — great company. They provide free coffee to soldiers deployed overseas. You pay them and they serve it. Military members are able to send thank you notes which is a nice touch. Their coffee beans are nothing special, but I love this company for what they do.
- Henry House of Coffee — west coast company. I like their coffee and buy it a few times a year. It is somewhat expensive. I plan to buy their Armenian coffee kit next year just to see what it is like.
- Trade Coffee Company — they have an awesome tool for matching beans to your taste preferences. They offer a wide range of choices and usually provide a discount. I recommend them.
- Bixby Coffee Company — tried them once based on a recommendation. Good coffee at a decent price. Nothing special here.
- Beanbox — they have great coffee but tend to be expensive. I do not buy from them unless I have a coupon, or get free shipping.
- Fire Department Company — founded by Firefighters who probably drink more coffee than anyone. Love the concept. Coffee is good but can be a bit pricey. They make some really strong coffee.
- La Colombe Coffee Company — they offer several great Ethiopian blends and other wonderful light roasts. I buy a few bags from them each year.
- Barrington Coffee — a good company with plenty of choices. Dr. Arnot recommended them so I purchased a few bags from them.
Nowadays I buy only whole beans and grind them myself. It ensures the coffee is freshly ground and I love the smell. The aroma of coffee is one of the components that helps put a smile on my face in the morning. Sometimes I shove my nose in the bag just to get a whiff before grinding.
To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.
You need the right coffee maker for delicious coffee
If there is one thing I have learned it is that you need a great coffee maker for delicious coffee. It is a game-changer. No — Keurig is not one. I know. I owned one for years and it made mediocre coffee. Sure — it is fast. But, speed misses the point. Mr. Coffee is also not a great coffee maker. I used one of those for years when I could not afford a decent one. I know I am going to get some flack for this next comment.
If you love coffee, spend the money to get a highly rated machine
The one I use these days is a Mochamaster. It was a Christmas gift from my old girlfriend who oddly enough was not a coffee drinker. Considering the price, it was a generous gift and boy does it make great coffee. I use it every single morning at home. I have not done the math, but I bet it has more than paid for itself since it is rare that I go to Starbucks in the morning anymore.
Pour over and french press are also great options
If you have the time I highly recommend making pour-over coffee at home. It is excellent, especially if you enjoy strong coffee. I use a Chemex on the weekends, or if I am home in the afternoon. It works well and is worth the time and effort required. I am also a fan of French press coffee. I use a Bodum press and have a mini version for my office. Yes — I keep coffee beans in my office. The stuff they serve at work is horrible.
I collect coffee mugs as mementos
If you are already convinced that I am a coffee nerd, it is about to get worse. When traveling I like to collect coffee mugs as mementos, especially if I am in a foreign country. I always visit the local Starbucks, or the one in the airport, to see what is available. Over the years I have amassed a small collection. Why collect coffee mugs? It will sound dorky, but I like reminiscing about my visit to that place while I drink from the mug. Plus coffee mugs are usually not that expensive — less than $20 is the norm. Don’t worry boys you can sell them when I am gone. No need to keep them…unless you want to.
One way to learn about a culture is to drink their coffee
When traveling I recommend visiting the local cafes and coffee shops. Buy a cup of coffee and watch the world around you. It is one of the best ways to learn about a country’s culture. Fond “coffee memories” from many locations to include Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, New York, Venice, San Juan, Brussels, London, Dublin, and several city squares across Europe and America. Pure joy is a good cup of coffee wherever you are, and people watching. Never dull.
Not all coffee is created equal
With all this talk about coffee, you probably think that I am a coffee snob. I am actually okay with that label. Life is too short for cheap coffee. Having said that I still drink coffee at other locations when necessary. I actually like coffee from Sheetz when on the road. They offer several tasty blends. I will admit that I don’t like coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Panera. Too acidic for my taste buds. Now that both of you are older I recommend drinking delightful coffee. It will warm your heart, put a smile on your face, and make sure you are awake to enjoy life. I will finish by saying that I never drink decaffeinated coffee. It does not taste good, and I don’t get the point. Either drink real coffee, or something else. Not neutered beans.