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A Question for Coffee Drinkers

In my ongoing quest to be able to pass as a grown-up, I've decided that I need to be able to provide coffee to guests.  I never have been a coffee drinker and for years have kept nothing but an ancient jar of Maxwell House for those who can't make do with tea.  But I'd like to be able to offer proper hospitality, and coffee is part of that.

So:  what's the minimum setup and supplies that a non-coffee-drinker who is called upon every few months to provide coffee needs to have?  It's been suggested I buy a one-cup electric coffee maker, and that makes sense.  But -- since I genuinely don't know this stuff -- what do you put in it, and how would I store it?  Will pre-ground coffee do?  Do I keep it in the freezer?  What's a good type to buy, given that some people like their beans nearly charred and others like it ... otherwise? 

Thanks for enlightening the unenlightened,



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I'd say that you should just get a mid-sized french press and keep a small well-sealed package of ground coffee in the fridge. If there's a Trader Joe's near you, they have a pretty good selection of well-labeled (dark, medium, light roast) coffee at good prices and you can grind it right in the store. Medium roast might be a good way to split the difference, but my experience with coffee drinkers is that the people who like dark roast REALLY like dark roast and everyone else doesn't really care.

I'm not a coffee-drinker either, and Dave goes through phases. We have a huge cabinet that is like the Island of Lost Coffee Supplies, but when guests come over and want coffee, really all we ever use is the french press.
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There is a TJ near me (a little farther away in my new place) so that's an option.
Jun. 26th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Another suggestion is getting a one-cup pot that brews pods of coffee (these can also do pods of tea and cocoa as well). Look for something along the lines of Keurig's Mini Personal Brewer. Then just keep some pods of coffee around for when the occasion arises. And while I like P-L's suggestion of a French Press with well-sealed coffee (which should be in the freezer, not the fridge), these will get funky and stale if not used regularly. If you're not ever going drink it, pods are the way to go. Longer shelf-life, easier to store, fresher tasting in general.

Jun. 26th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Very much agree with this suggestion (in fact the Keurig's Mini Personal Brewer is what I want for Christmas).
Jun. 26th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
My M-i-L has one; I hope Santa is good to you!!
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Oh! Hope you get one!
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
Do the pods have to be refrigerated? Just curious.

I looked up the Keurig brewers - they do look nice!
Jun. 28th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
Nope! And they've become so common, you can find them in the coffee/tea section of most grocery stores.
Jun. 27th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
There's differences between the perfect cup of coffee that you would brew for yourself daily if you were a coffee drinker, and the acceptable cup of coffee that you want to have on hand to offer guests occasionally. Guest coffee should require no expertise on your part, as little special equipment as possible, and minimal expense; it should cause the host no anxiety. If your guests are *that* fussy, they can bring their own coffee with them, or drink some delicious tea for once. (If this is a guest who is likely to be there more than once a week, especially in the mornings, this does not apply.) So really if you have instant on hand for caffeine emergencies you are doing your hostessy duty already. But if you want to get a bit fancier than that:

I like the suggestion of a one-cup or two-cup french press. The advantages to this are that you won't make too much coffee at once (which you would end up throwing out), it's super-simple to use and hard to screw up (so you won't have to fuss with learning how to use it all over again when you take it out every few weeks), there is nothing in a french press that can break except in very visible, obvious ways (so you won't have the experience of turning it on and having it do nothing but make a sad beeping noise), they're cheap, they're easy to clean, and they make excellent coffee.

I agree that you should keep your coffee in the freezer in an airtight container, preferably not plastic (though you can always stick it in a plastic bag for double airtightness.) Buy as little as possible at a time and don't keep it for more than a year. Buy a medium roast and, if your guests fuss about it, direct them to the nearest Starbucks. If you have any use for a spice grinder, then get the whole beans and get yourself a grinder which can do double duty - whole beans will keep longer and make better coffee. But if you don't, no worries. Just get a coarse grind for pre-ground coffee, in the smallest amounts possible (so Trader Joes may not be your best option here.)

Sorry to go on at such length. I was waiting for the coffee to brew, you see, and ...
Jun. 27th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I like the idea of the pod-fed machine, I have to admit, because the pods could be kept indefinitely and I wouldn't have to worry about when the coffee in the freezer was purchased and how little I could manage to buy at a time. I suppose I could keep the pods in the freezer for extra longevity.

I also just like pods. They're cute.

ETA: but I totally relate to your comment about sad beeping noises! Sometimes the lo-tech solution is the best. I will have to get someone (probably my sister) to teach me how to use a French press as far as quantities and timing go.

The problem I've read about with spice grinders doing double duty is that you get cumin-flavored coffee. Which might be some people's thing, but might not.

I wish I *did* have a more than once a week morning guest! Or even a once a week morning guest! But, alas, I do not.

Edited at 2011-06-28 05:12 pm (UTC)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )