(un)Gourmet coffee

Yet another kitchen-themed “Bring it Home” post for you today… this one, something that probably 98% of you will be able to appreciate and enjoy… (un)Gourmet Coffee.

Why (un)Gourmet?

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Quite simply… while it looks like gourmet coffee, it’s really just Maxwell House… all dressed up to look Gourmet!

You have already seen this theme and will see it time and again… French style is as much about details and presentation as it is about something distinctly exotic. In this case… preparation and presentation make all the difference in the world to your first impression one of the most common North American coffee brands.

You can see the foam on top and hot steamed milk at the bottom of the cups… with the coffee floating in the middle.

How to do it?

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Brewing the coffee:

First of all, in order to make this coffee truly memorable… do NOT run it through your traditional drip coffee maker. You’ll get weak coffee (or, “jus de chaussettes”) which won’t do justice to the presentation that you will be giving it.

Get yourself one of the little stove-top espresso makers (they are quite easily found in stores) for under $20 (bonus… great espresso look, withOUT the pricey espresso makers that “do it all”).

The water goes in the bottom, coffee grounds in the filter (in the middle) then screw the top on, place on the burner and turn to high (remove from burner once you hear the “whoosh” sound, letting you know it’s done.

Preparing the Milk:

Put about 1″ of 2% or whole milk in the bottom of a clear glass mug (there’s less of a show if you can’t see the separation of the milk and coffee). IF you sweeten your coffee, use a heaping teaspoon of either honey or sweetened condensed milk (to taste) and microwave it for 30-seconds per mug (if doing two at a time… 1 minute).

frotherWhen done, remove from the microwave. If by chance a veil has formed on the hot milk, remove it before frothing.

Now you’re set… using a conventional hand-held milk frother (available at most kitchen-ware stores for 10-15$), froth the milk until it’s nice and thick and a good head has formed. Depending on the size of your mug, you may need to adjust the amount of milk a bit… if there’s too much, it may overflow slightly as you begin the frothing process; just tweak as you get used to the strength of your frother and the size of your mugs.

Making the magic:

This part is easier than you might think… honest!

– Begin with your mug of milk (foamed/frothed milk on top, liquid milk below) on the counter.
– Take espresso maker full of brewed coffee in one hand (your most steady hand)
– Take a spoon in your other hand

Your going to insert the spoon, ever so slightly, into the edge of the frothed milk, not far down. The back side of the spoon is facing outward and resting on the side of the coffee mug.

Slowly begin to pour the coffee over the back of the spoon (if you do it too quickly, the coffee and the milk will mix and you won’t get the nice separation-effect). If you do it correctly, the milk at the bottom of the mug will not mix with the coffee. Continue to pour until the foamy, frothed milk reaches the top of the mug.

If you are serving someone else… presentation-wise, it’s always nice to put a spoon in it (a nice tall partfait spoon if you have one). The recipient gets the enjoyment of seeing your coffee-art and stirring the two together.

That’s it!

Simple as that!  Once you get the hang of it, it’s really very, very simple and you will find that friends will rarely refuse coffee at your house… even if they’re not normally coffee drinkers.

(Note: if people are not used to espresso and don’t think they’ll like it, let them know that with the milk and sweetening, they’ll be surprised at the “strength” of the coffee).

I hope you enjoy it, let me know how you make out!

Come back Saturday when I’ll have another (un)Gourmet Coffee post; an even more French way to serve coffee.

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