Tag Archives: barista

Being a Coffee Snob is Really Inconvenient

I love good coffee. I’m not a coffeeholic who hits up the local Starcorps (phraseology borrowed from Tina Fey) on a twice daily basis. Actually, I try to limit myself to less than one cup a day (you do the math), but I do appreciate the taste and “mouth feel” of extremely good coffee. By “good” I mean, well-raised, not-burnt, flawlessly-executed-by-a-career-barista coffee. Does this make me better than the average person? No. Does it make my life less convenient than yours? Yes. Allow me to explain…

So what if I can't make a rosetta with my froth? Barista-in-training here. Tips welcome.

Good coffee is expensive. The average price of Folgers ground coffee is around $0.30 – $0.40 per ounce (I looked it up on the interweb, okay?). The average price of whole bean coffee that tastes good and doesn’t have bits of ground up cockroach in it (more on that later) is about $0.60 – $0.80 per ounce. That’s double the price!!! “Ouch,” goes my pocket book.

Delicious coffee is complex and requires, yup, you guessed it…expensive equipment. Sure, a French press costs just $20, but what about a coffee grinder? That’s another $20. And that’s just the average blade grinder. Sooooo amateur. A sexy Burr coffee grinder that allows you to consistently grind all your beans to precisely the right coarseness (coarse for drip or French press, fine for espresso or Turkish style, otherwise known as “tasty sludge”) will run anywhere between $60 and $150. And what if you’re like I am and you’re married to someone who lives and dies by French press, but you have thick, rich espresso coursing through your veins? Well that means you have to have an espresso machine, silly! Breville Espresso Machine = $200. Thank God for wedding registries.

This is all the equipment that I need to make one cup of espresso (Not pictured here: microwave).

Oh, and since my paycheck actually qualifies me for food stamps (you’re probably scratching your head, thinking, why does she waste her money on $0.60/oz. coffee?!), I can’t splurge and buy myself a vintage Mazzurco espresso machine with a ridiculously powerful steamer. Instead of watching the grass grow every time I try to steam milk for my cappuccino using my novice home-espresso machine, I bought a milk frother (a.k.a., God’s gift to the world) for $20. All the pro baristas zap their milk in the microwave and then whip it with this battery-operated piece of genius, right? Totally hip.

The Aerolatte in action

So that brings the total value of my snobbish addiction to: $320 (as you can tell by my math, I opted for the cheap, $60 burr grinder. Food stamps people. Food stamps!). And this doesn’t even include the cost of coffee, mugs, a teapot (for my French press-loving hubby), and an Italian Bialetti stove-top espresso maker which I slaved over before the glorious days of Breville ownership.

Coffee for snobs takes forever to make. Now that I’ve assembled my coffee paraphenalia under one roof, I get down to business. First, I grind my beans (and I curse the grinder as it jams and spews coffee grinds all over my kitchen counter.) Second, I pack coffee grinds into a 2 oz. cup thingy (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for this) and attach it to the espresso machine. Third, I make the espresso. This sounds waaaaay less complicated than it actually is. In reality, I need to be sure I have the machine turned on way in advance, so that it has sufficient time to heat the water and I don’t get stuck with room temp. espresso. While I’m actually making the coffee, I have to “eyeball it” and make sure I don’t leave the machine on too long, lest I end up with a very watered down cup of Joe – think Starcorps.

This is my most-used wedding gift.

Crema to die for

While the espresso is pouring, I need to be heating up the milk in the microwave. Whilst… I turn the espresso machine off and then take the hot milk out of the nuker (tip: don’t burn the milk, it tastes really bad and mixing it with coffee will not cover up the burnt flavor). Now I froth the milk with the battery-operated gift from God, add espresso to a mug, then top with frothy milk, as desired.  I indulge while I dread the fourth and final reason why being a coffee snob is really inconvenient…

Doing dishes ≠ having fun

Did I mention cleanup? Run hot water through the espresso machine after each use. Ugh. Thanks instruction booklet. Clean drip tray. Clean 2 oz. cup that I’m sure has a more technical name. Clean milk frother. Clean glasses I used to make the espresso and froth the milk. Clean coffee grinder and coffee scoop. Clean counters that are littered with coffee grinds. Clean sink that is clogged with espresso grounds. Wash mug. Seriously consider how things got this bad and why I can’t just enjoy a cup of “the best part of waking up” already. Oh yea, the roach thing. Damn you NPR for exposing me to that horrid story! Did I mention that when I visit people I bring my own coffee because I know I’m not going to be able to stomach theirs? I’m such a snob. At least I don’t drop phrases like “single batch” and “estate grown” into my coffee parlance, yet…

Got beans?


Filed under Coffee