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The Coffee Obsession: The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

October 5, 2012

These past few years have been a good one for coffee aficionados. In New York City, there's no reason to leave the city to drink some very good coffee. You have your local roasters such as Joe, Oren's, and Gorilla, just to name a few. More recently, a number of transplants from across the country have set up shop--Stumptown, La Colombe, and Blue Bottle immediately come to mind--which have helped boost New York's vibrant coffee culture. Each of the roasters has its own story and appeal but perhaps the one cup of coffee that really stayed with me was the one I had at Blue Bottle's Mint Plaza location in 2008. Let me just say the buzz surrounding it lived up to the hype. The visit also happened to reignite my interest in coffee: I'd already invested in a burr grinder but I soon started making my own pour over coffee (although I still held on to my French press). A couple of Christmases ago, I even requested a Hario kettle. I have yet to buy a digital scale or a thermometer or even try to roast my own coffee but I am not saying it'll never happen, especially after reading James Freeman, Caitling Freeman, and Tara Duggan's The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes (Ten Speed Press). If you've ever wanted to know what obsession and passion for coffee is like, this is the book you want to read. If you've ever wanted to understand the process of how coffee is made--from bean to cup--read the book. If you want to get the most flavor out of your cup of coffee, regardless of brewing method, read the book. And for those of you who aren't coffee drinkers but can't pass up a good baked good, pick up the book. Caitlin Freeman, the pastry chef behind SFMoMA's Mondrian Cake and other art-inspired goods, fills the latter half of the book with her recipes for delectable treats that pair exceptionally well with coffee and can be found at the various shop locations. What could possibly go better with an Americano (my drink of choice) than Liege Waffles or Brooklyn Bootleg S'mores? Recipes for cooking with coffee also make their appearance in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Coffee Panna Cotta and Chris Cosentino's Braised Boar Shoulder with Gigante Beans and Baby Vegetables, plus a few more. Rose Palazzolo just wrote about coffee snobs and I admit, I have been one at times. But I also think there's value in understanding just how good something can be, even if it's not something you'll make or do for yourself all the time. In that vein, Merry White's Coffee Life in Japan (University of California Press) is worth checking out. If you think Americans are coffee obsessed, think again. Recipes to try: - Ganache for Hot Chocolate and Mochas - Mocha - Strawberry Buckle with Lemon-Pistachio Streusel


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