If you’ve been drinking coffee for decades, you might still think of big bags of coffee beans shipped from exotic locales and then ground, split into smaller bags and shipped to your local store. Or, heck, you might not think about it at all and just grab that K-Cup and pop it into the machine, making a quick breakfast as the aroma of coffee fills the kitchen.
That’s too bad. Coffee not only has a colorful history, it’s also an important agricultural export for lots of relatively impoverished nations. And that’s a problem, because historically coffee growers have also been exploited, with the actual bean pickers barely paid. That was the impetus behind the creation of the Fair Trade movement from coffee companies, and it applies to coffee growers in South America, Africa, Asia and Central America. A step in the right direction, ensuring that farmers are paid a reasonable rate for their crops.
But boutique coffee blenders like King’s Row Coffee out of New Hampshire take a step beyond, as it explains on its Web site, pointing out that Fair Trade : “does not pay farmers enough to produce truly amazing coffee. By linking the supply chain, growers are paid directly and incentivized to produce consistently amazing coffee, while treating the workers and the land fairly.”
Cool. Coffee as a facet of global politics. But what about the King’s Row Coffee itself? To find out more, the company kindly sent me a sampler set of various beans:
Since you might not be able to read the packages, left to right, they are the Bonbon Blend, Espresso Blend, Coastal Blend, Shelton Signature Blend and the smartly named Monday Grind. Each is a ziplocked, foil bag of beans, as you can see in this close-up of what’s inside the Shelton Signature Blend bag:
Can’t you just smell that fabulous coffee scent?
To make a perfect cup of coffee from beans, I needed a couple of tools: A coffee grinder, a French Press (I have the Bodum unit, $19.99 at Amazon.com), the King’s Row Coffee beans, and a lotta boiling water:
I measured out roughly a 1/4 cup of beans — plus or minus! — and dropped them into my newly purchased Krups coffee grinder ($19.99 at Amazon.com) and pushed down to chop up the beans into a coarse grind.
Why coarse? My theory is that the balance of grounds in the final beverage to flavor is best matched with a coarse, not fine, grind. Plus it’s faster 🙂
Here’s what the coffee looked like once ground up:
That’s really all the effort required. Now I simply pour the grinds into the French Press, then pour in the approx 16oz of boiling water. The result is a rather alarming layer of coffee muck floating atop barely discolored water, but that’s where patience is required.
After just a few minutes of steeping, it’s ready. At this point, the “press” part of the French press comes into action as I push down on the main stem to push all the steeped and ground coffee to the bottom of the container. Floating atop the screen is now some perfectly brewed coffee, which you can see in this video of me, yes, pouring it into my coffee mug:
Admit it, you just watched that video and wished it was your cup of coffee, right? 🙂
Add a splash of organic half-and-half and a really delicious, very non-acidic cup of joe:
It was indeed a very good cup of coffee, thanks to both the good King’s Row Coffee beans and knowing the steps required to brew a fresh cup rather than just settle for a K-Cup. I’m eager to try the other coffee blends and since I often drink cold brew coffee too, getting the Espresso blend is ideal too: Many cold brew aficionados recommend that a stronger espresso bean makes a far better cup. I shall find out!
Now, tell me about your coffee rituals. Are you a K-Cupper? Do you just stop by Starbucks 2-3 times/day? Do you just get coffee out of the urn at work, without a clue where the beans came from, or do you even use freeze dried coffee like Starbucks Via or Folgers and sugar the daylights out of it to get that caffeine in your bloodstream inexpensively?
Disclosure: Thanks to the team at King’s Row Coffee for supplying me with a great sampler of different blends. You can pick up a sampler yourself for a quite reasonable $28, and you can learn more about the company at Kings Row Coffee.com.