Coffee

For more than 30 years, I never drank coffee. Then I became a father, and I started drinking it at work. On nights when Max was restless, or teething, it was the only way I could make it through the work day without falling asleep. At first I had to force every cup down. I hated the taste. Thankfully at work, they have a Keurig with 6 different coffee flavors, so I was able to sample each one and experiment with using Splenda vs sugar, and liquid creamer vs powdered creamer. I finally started enjoying the flavor, and started making a cup of coffee part of my morning ritual.

Last summer, I started getting really bad headaches on the weekends. At first I didn’t put two and two together, but with the help of my better half, we theorized that me not having coffee on weekends was the cause. So to test Rachel’s theory, I would walk over to 7-11 or drive to McDonalds to get coffee. And sure enough, the headaches went away.

I considered buying a Keurig for at home, but they take up a lot of counterspace, and the little coffee pods are expensive. Typically, coffee costs about $7.00-12.00 a pound. I think I remember reading that when you buy the little Keurig K-cups, the price is more like $25-$30 a pound. Since I only drink a cup or two a day, and Rachel doesn’t like coffee, getting a Mr. Coffee that makes multiple cups of coffee seemed like a waste. So I started doing a little research on other ways to brew single cups of coffee.

I saw all sorts of brew methods, who knew there were so many different ways. Moka pots, Chemex pour through brewers, and even these things called vacuum pots which look like something I’ve seen Walter White use on Breaking Bad. Then I saw this thing called the Aeropress. It kind of looks like a toy. It’s two chambers that fit together and act as a sort of plunger. Review after review said that this made the best coffee ever. Could the hype be real? I wanted to find out, so I asked Santa to bring me one for Christmas. Luckily he obliged.

In between putting batteries in Max’s new toys and picking up all the crumpled wrapping paper, I got my Aeropress out and gave it a try. I followed the instructions that were in the box, and it came out ok, but kind of on the strong side. Far stronger than the Keurig, but with good flavor. Good, but not great. So I typed Aeropress brewing into Google and was flooded with tons of info. Videos, blog posts about the Aeropress Brewing Championship and all sorts of how to’s. It’s amazing how serious “coffee people” can get. Some people go as far as measuring out the number of grams of coffee they use, and how much water they use, by measuring on a digital scale. 

I tried a number of different methods. The nice thing about the Aeropress is that you can control a lot of different variables. How much coffee you use, how much water, how hot the water is, how long you let it brew/extract etc. After about a month of experimenting, I finally found a method that yields delicious, consistant results:

2 tablespoons of coffee, 11 ounces of 200 degree water (bring it to a boil and wait about 30 seconds to pour), and a 30 second extract/brew time. Combined with liquid creamer and 2 packets of sugar or Splenda, this made for one amazing cup of coffee.

I tend to be a little messy in the kitchen, and one day while using the Aeropress, I ended up tipping the thing over, which sent scalding hot water and wet coffee grounds all over the stovetop and kitchen floor. This prompted Rachel to get me a single serve drip brewer. She found this one with a reusable filter on sale at Kohls for like $10. It makes a good cup of coffee, and it’s a lot easier and less messy. But the taste just isn’t the same. For whatever reason, the Aeropress seems to extract all the good flavor, without any of that harsh bitterness. Apparently it has to do with the short brew time and the oils of the coffee beans.

So I alternate between the two methods. If I’m getting ready to leave for work and want a cup of coffee, Ill use the drip brewer. I can throw everything in, and it is ready for me by the time Im done getting dressed. On weekends, when I have a little more time, I still like to use the Aeropress. I recently bought a metal filter to replace the disposable paper ones that come with the Aeropress. I think it makes the results even more consistent. The paper filters meant having to rinse the filter before using, to get rid of that paper taste. The metal filter is reusable and seems to work well.

It’s been fun the past 2 months or so experimenting with different types of coffee. I’ve tried run of the mill stuff like Folgers, to more exotic stuff like blends from Sumatra and Costa Rica. I think my favorite thus far has been Newman’s Own Breakfast Blend. It has nice bold flavor, and is very rich.

As good as the coffee that comes from the Aeropress is, I can see myself experimenting with another brew method. The Chemex has me quite intrigued. It seems a little more complicated, and the initial investment is a little more, but it seems like fun to play around with. I will inevitably end up buying one, and end up pissing off Rachel in the process. I guess I should order some roses from Pro Flowers when I plan on getting the Chemex.

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Health Scare

So many times, you hear someone say “Never take your health for granted”. It seems so cliche, but it’s so true. We’ve been dealing with Rachel’s dads health the past few months. Right after Thanksgiving, he was not feeling well and ended up spending 4 days in the hospital with pneumonia. He felt better initially, but in the weeks that followed, he started feeling very weak, his skin color got very pale and he always seemed to be tired. He continued to go back and forth to different doctors, and they couldn’t seem to figure out what was ailing him.

After the initial bout of pneumonia was over, they did a followup CT Scan, and they found dark spots on both his lungs. He learned of this on Christmas Eve, and seemed very down and depressed. He continued to sound and look weak, and he barely said two words to anyone. Naturally we were all very concerned.

After the new year, they adjusted his medication, added anti-fungal medication, and ordered a biopsy and additional cultures to test for a wide range of possible infections. We anxiously waited for the results to come back. The biopsy results were supposed to come back in about a week, and the cultures would take about 3 weeks. Luckily, the biopsy came back clean, with no signs of cancer. That was a huge relief, but the doctors still weren’t sure what the spots on his lungs were. They ordered a P.E.T. scan, which took place on February 6th. The results of cultures and P.E.T. scan results came back the following day.

The doctors determined that he was suffering from Coccidioidomycosis. It is more commonly referred to as Valley Fever or Desert Fever. Essentially it’s a fungal infection of the lungs, that is prevalent in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. My father-in-law travels a lot for his job, and spends a lot of time in Phoenix. So the diagnosis makes sense.

The P.E.T. scan showed that the spots were getting smaller, and they feel that with additional rest and anti-fungal meds, that he will be fine. He has a follow up with the doctors in 2 months to make sure everything clears up.

Needless to say, this was a huge relief to us all. My father in law is a very tough, strong man, so for him to come back early from a hunting trip because he wasn’t feeling well, we knew he must have really felt sick. Things were very tense the past few months, and we are all very thankful that it turned out to be something that is easily treated and curable.