Coffee (Recipe: how to brew the perfect cup of coffee)
Guest post and photos by Sarah in Boston
Like every dad, mine gave his opinion freely, but there were some things he considered life skills. He couldn't understand how you would ever be able to get through life without them.
These included: how to drive a car while shifting between gears so you could glide through curves and down hills instead of using the brake; staying at a consistent speed on the highway to conserve gas (in the days before cruise control); parallel parking in three turns of the wheel.
He also felt very strongly about his coffee. This wasn't about buying expensive coffee or the perfect coffee pots -- just the basics on how to brew a strong cup of coffee. And whether you planned to use the brewed coffee in a recipe or drink it straight, the method was still the same.
How to brew the perfect cup of coffee
One saucepan. (My dad preferred a dinged-up aluminum one, but I like my Revere copper bottom pan.)
Measure one scoop of coffee for the pan, and then one for each cup, although I find no more than two at a time works best.
Dad used A&P's Eight O' Clock coffee, but I prefer Bustelo. I stumbled on it when I moved to Boston in 1974. It is a smooth espresso coffee that can serve as either a medium afternoon coffee, or can serve up an espresso punch. Artists love it for its affordable price and colorful cans; many a studio is decorated with the cherry yellow of Bustelo cans filled with paint bruches and supplies. I use them to store small sculptures. I must have hundreds of them in storage. At the time, many of the artists I knew used the cans for decoration or as paint cans and brush holders. In 1974 a pound of Bustelo cost $1.80 or so. Even though the can is now 10 ounces, you can still buy it for $2.50.
Use a cup of water for each cup being prepared. He used tap water, and I do, too, since Boston City water is considered a very good-tasting cup of water.
Pour the water into the sauce pan to boil. Once bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pan, slowly add in the measured coffee. Let it come to a rolling boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
You will see coffee grinds floating on the surface, so add a small amount of ice cold water. This will force the grinds to the bottom. You can either pour it directly into cups for drinking, or pour it through a small tea strainer into your cup for sipping. The addition of the cold water will make it the perfect drinking temperature.
My recipe is much simpler. I use the efficient one-cup drip method. By varying the amount of coffee between one level teaspoon or one heaping teaspoon, I can tinker with the strength of the cup.