A popular space-saving under cabinet coffee maker has been recalled by Black and Decker. The recall involves about 159,000 units sold under different model designations.
Category Archives: Coffee Talk
Prior to 1972, America boiled their coffee.
The instrument of this torture was the percolator coffee pot, that would boil water, force it up into a basket of grounds and drip it back down into the caudron below. Yes, by the end of the process you had heated brewed coffee to the boiling point and redripped it several times. This made for a powerful tasting (note here that powerful did not mean “good”) cup of joe that would grow hair on your chest. This ain’t the stuff folks stand in line for at Starbucks.
Then came a man named Sam Glazer. He made a little coffee maker out of plastic and paper filters. And he called it “Mr. Coffee.” And the clouds parted. And the people gave shouts of great gladness. No longer would they have to drink 40 weight motor oil sprinkled with non-dairy creamer. They would have a brew that was lighter, brighter and just plain good for the soul. His coffee machine was a big hit, selling millions of units in a short period of time. The addition of sports spokesperson Joe DiMaggio on television commercials made the Mr. Coffee machine a home and television icon of the 1970’s and beyond.
Everyone remember “Mr. Fusion” from 1985’s “Back The Future?” Well, without Sam Glazer’s contribution to pop culture, Marty McFly’s DeLauren would have been running on percolated coffee. Wow.
He passed away on the date of this entry, March 22, 2012.
The folks at NPR.org has posted an interview about Mr. Glazer, and how America rose out of the dark ages for coffee. It’s a nice, compact read … I recommend it: Follow here for the article.
Mr. Coffee commercial with Joe Maggio for all who wish to see a blast from the past.
Thank you, Mr. Glazer. Rest in peace.
A recent article on Foxnews.com indicates that the country of Cuba, known for it’s “cafesitas” is investing millions of dollars into revitalizing it’s coffee economy.
The money, 9.5 million dollars of the island country’s dwindling funds, was spent modernizing it’s production techniques. The goal is for the country to supply it’s own people with the valued crop, something that hasn’t happened in many years. Cuba still imports a large portion of what it needs in java.
In the past, the need for coffee was so bad in Cuba the coffee suppliers began mixing peas in along with the roasted beans. The article does not make clear what sort of peas are used, but indicates that the stretching of their coffee product began in 2005. People have become so used to the mix they comment that true 100 percent coffee now tastes strange to them.
This was a country known for their coffee output. The article notes that in 1960 Cuba harvested 60 thousand tons of coffee and was a major exporter. This year the crop was just 6 thousand tons and Cuba imported another 12 thousand tons just to cover the country’s needs. The reason for the fall off is blamed on citizens moving to the cities and the lack of upkeep on coffee farms in the country.
While those of us who aren’t very familiar or interested in Cuba and it’s history will only glance at this and move on, there are others of us who realize the impact of this downfall in coffee history. A primary symbol of Cuba, along with its well known cigars, is the coffee it produces. A “cafe cubano” is a supercharged hit of dark, rich espresso served with healthy spoonfuls of sugar. It is so rich that only the hardiest of drinkers will down it without the aid of a small side of ice-water to sip it down with. The drink is part of the Cuban culture, it is “As American as apple pie” if you want to think of it that way. To know that they are struggling to keep themselves in coffee could be compared to Florida citrus growers cutting their orange juice with tap water to make it go farther. It is a sad story for a country once rich in many things, not only coffee.
Here’s a cup for a knock out drink of java
Spring Break kept thing quiet at The Coffee Whisperer these last few weeks, but I had to bring you this submission from a reader: Here’s the perfect cup for a really strong cup of brew:
Every Friday, I’ll be posting a real coffee drinkers and their real mugs. Their coffee mugs, I mean.
I’ll be posting more in the weeks ahead…. reader submissions are welcomed!
Our first portrait … is CJ of Austin, posing with his mug that says it like it is.
The One Cup to Rule Them All….
In my life, there have been several moments when people have turned to me seeking guidance and help. Most have been in my professional sphere, where quick decisions were needed or some strange bit of proprietary knowledge was required to help save the day. I’ve found lately that such moments of total power come more often than before, but not because I’m smarter or better than anyone else here at work. The power I hold comes in the form of a small, dark bean. I hold the power of coffee.
Absolute coffee corrupts absolutely.
I will begin with the fact that my place of work has the WORST coffee on the planet. This is not the fault of anyone here … they spend money and make the effort to provide us with the ingredients and equipment to attempt a drinkable cup. The problem is the water, which is comes from limestone aquifers far underneath our feet. It is terrible tasting, and is too hard to make anything but swill from even the best roasted bean. So, I have taken it upon myself to provide a select few a good cup of coffee in the morning, made from “imported” water (East Texas will do) and some nice home roasted beans. I use a chemex drip maker, which delivers a nice, bright cup. As some say around here, I “murder” Starbucks. I accept that description with pride. But the problem is … once you have such power, the ability to have folks “ask” when you will grace them with another pot, things start getting out of hand.
The java junkies come to beg…
One becomes a bit of a coffee dictator of sorts. A despot of the demitasse. Who will I grace with a cup of “Gerry’s stuff” today? Who deserves to be amped up with some nice Columbian or some nice Kenyan Peaberry? The power becomes addictive, perhaps a wee bit dangerous. I have visions of standing at my office door, coffee pot in hand, in a Soup Nazi smock. “You clipped a mic on the cut-in … no coffee for YOU!” I see myself as kindhearted and humble, but the call of the precious, precious bean …well, it makes one think a bit differently. Precious…. my precious. Where was I? Oh, yes….
Perhaps a coffee lottery…
Or a mail-in essay, 500 words or less on why someone should get a cup of Peruvian Esparanza. Maybe I can build a coffee wheel of fortune of sorts, where everyone’s picture is on the wheel. Hmmm….. there must be away to make this democratic, a populist stance towards a decent cup of coffee for all. Perhaps I should write Mr. Obama, perhaps he can help figure out a “coffee-care” plan that would relieve me from the life and death coffee decisions that now haunt me every day. There must be an answer, as the java zombies now walk the hall in front of my office door, carrying an empty coffee mug and asking how my day is going. This is when the power turns ugly, when the burden of the bean becomes too much. I don’t want this power anymore, I must be free of it, before it consumes me too.
I will be strong, like a good espresso.
I will find an answer, a way to be fair and good with the caffeinated kryptonite that I control. Perhaps I will increase my roasting output and deliver enough so that the masses can be satisfied. Perhaps I will free myself of the petty concerns of my daily job and rise to the higher calling of the java evangelist, spreading the word of a good cup to those who have been deprived.
Maybe I’ll start charging. Wait a minute … charging!
Hmmm….. ! 🙂
The Loving Cup
My romance with the bean began over 20 years ago.
As with most things with love, it is best not to start too early. A young heart in love with the bean will get the jitters, become overexcited, and eventually unbearably irritable. I wasn’t a kid anymore when I really sampled my first home-brewed cup, and while it wouldn’t override my love for sweet diet colas and iced teas, I knew that a new door had been opened for me, a romance that would most likely never go away.
I was still a student at The University of Michigan when it happened. I was house sitting for some friends; folks who lived rather far out of town. It was a neighborhood where an illuminated house was a safe house, so these friends would invite house-sitters to stay and keep the place cozy while they were away. For one 2-week period, I got to be the watchdog.
“House is FULL of food,” I recall them saying, “Have whatever you like, we appreciate you keeping an eye on things.” I nodded and waved as they drove off, fully expecting to find all sorts of goodies to sample. Eating mass quantities was a primary focus of my college days, so such an invitation would not go unused very long. I recall padding over to the kitchen to check things out.
This was Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1982. The echo of the 70’s still reverberated through this community, and the owners of this particular house were grad students who majored in the late 1960s lifestyle. This meant that I was not going to find “french bread pizza” in the freezer. I found sprouts. Damn nice sprouts, but sprouts. And big mason jars filled with dried beans. And paper boxes with dried leaves and twigs. This was not a house FULL of food, as was promised … it was a house filled with hippy organo-crops that looked more like the product of a John Deere tractor than the grocery store.
I was in trouble. I was going to have to buy my own food while I was at the house. I had limited funds, so I had to be particularly creative … I think this is where I found a full can of refried beans over corn chips and topped with cheeze could keep me going for at least a full day. But there wasn’t a soft drink to be had in the place. Nothing, since these kind homeowners probably grew their own wild teas and let them infuse using sun jars or similar non-sense.
Wait a minute….
While I continued to rummage for old packages of Grape Kool-Aid, I spied a large, large glass jar. I mean a really big glass jar, something that looked able to hold 2 or 3 gallons of cargo if properly filled. I noted the contents to be dark and mottled looking, filled nearly to the top. The jar was filled with dark, shiny coffee beans. Hmmm….coffee. I remember my father enjoying cuban coffee in the afternoons when he got home from work. He really liked them…more like needed them, really. I peered through the side of the jar, twisted the lid open, and stuck my face near the open mouth.
Just one sniff. One little sniff, that’s all it took. It was like that first kiss, that twinkle in perfect eyes, that first uncertain smile. In just one deep inhale, the love of coffee took root. There was no turning back. I took a single roasted bean in my hand and rolled it back and forth. I would not have been able to tell you what sort of bean it was, or anything about the roast, other than the small round object was smooth, brown and sported a nearly iridescent sheen.
A few minutes later, I was at the coffee grinder in the kitchen. It was an ancient affair, a manual deal with a crank at the top and a catch box at the bottom. I tossed in some beans, twisted the crank, and even more of that wonderful smell filled my lungs. I hadn’t even brewed a cup, yet I knew I was going to really like this coffee thing.
To make a long story as short as possible, I will save the trial and error associated with actually brewing the stuff. I probably made a ton of errors and wound up with a cup half way to 30 weight motor oil. I tossed in several heaping spoonfuls of sugar, and started to toss the stuff back.
I recall working on a term paper, perhaps a review of a movie I had watched for a class. The normal drudgery of hand pecking papers out on my Brother typewriter seemed to lift that night; it became fun to fly across the keys and type all the movie-related drek that popped into my highly caffeinated brain. The big secret of coffee suddenly became clear to me: If you drink enough of it, you become …superhuman.
“Man, this is really good stuff,” I mumbled to myself in that modest country shack in Ypsilanti, “I gotta have some more of that, and I gotta have it NOW.”
A week later, my home owners came back. They found their sprouts intact, looking rather tired in the fridge. The same was true for the tofu, the goat’s cheese, and the organically grown dry pinto beans. The trash was filled with McDonald’s styrofoam and french bread pizza boxes. There were also several large mounds of spent coffee grounds. One of the homeowners stood gasping at the nearly empty 3 gallon jar of expensive coffee beans.
“That was pounds of coffee,” my landlord-warden shouted. He wasn’t happy I had sucked up all his expensive java.
“Oh, is that a lot?” I said politely, “I don’t usually drink coffee, but I had to do something to keep from starving in this 1960s hippie shack. Sorry ’bout that. Great coffee though.”
And so my love of coffee began with a wild, wild week of abandon one spring in the early 1980s. It was a romance of reckless, perhaps excessive indulgence, boiling hot and filling my senses with memories so intense that they stay with me to this day. That’s the week my love for the bean began, a relationship that continues unabated to this day.
I’ve put in a lot of time with the bean since then. I’ve also had a lot of fun learning how to roast, grind and make the best cup I can. I am not a barrista, so don’t ask me for one of those multi-syllabic concoctions that look more like ice-cream than a cup of joe. I’m just here to make a damn good cup of coffee.
I hope you are too.