I like coffee; but I only like a cup or two. I live alone so making a pot of coffee makes so little sense that I actually fell into the pit of making instant last year.
A couple of months ago I realized that someday I will be dead and no longer able to enjoy coffee. With limited time left, I decided I deserved to have the true brew. I went on a quest for the best single cup coffee system.
The obvious solution might have been an espresso machine . . . except for one thing: I’m not a big fan of bitter and even the best cup of espresso leans in that direction. A French press might have been the answer, too, except they usually make a sludgy beverage better suited to rain chilled urbanopoli: New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco. This is San Diego. The sun shines, the people smile and wear shorts. This ain’t no place for a thick, dark brew.
I started looking on Amazon and various other websites for possibles and reviews. There were many options, the most common being the K-cup machines. But that’s more than just a single cup brewing system, it’s a lifestyle choice. I mean: you gotta have all of those cup thingys stored somewhere and there’s all that plastic to throw away, not to mention the cost! A K-cup brew can cost $.50 – which is about 5 times what a regular cup costs.
My friend, Dusty, bought a Hamilton-Beach 4-cup self-contained unit that makes a passable cup if you’re willing to brew 4. Smaller quantities are inconsistent, sometimes too strong, sometimes too weak. I think this is due in part to a design flaw: the machine uses a flat basket which spreads the grounds out too thinly for optimum steepage. It would be a better system if it used a conical basket. Still, for $25, it’s not bad.
Finally, I came across what I was sure was the finest name in brewed coffee: Bunn. You know Bunn. Almost every restaurant, from Dennys to The Ritz uses a Bunn coffee system. The company’s reputation for consistent quality is unsurpassed, so when I saw a single-cup Bunn system, I ordered it. Ok. I hesitated a bit because I am cheap as chips and the unit was about $150. Most others were under $50 . But this was a BUNN for bean’s sake! It had to be worth it!
My first unit arrived damaged. The rubber gasket that seals the basket to the drip unit was improperly installed and on first use hot water spewed everywhere, shorting out my printer (which was on a shelf underneath) and wrinkling a ream of paper. It was shipped back the same day.
My next unit arrived and was inspected carefully. Perfect! I was so excited to make my first cup . . . which was dreadful. That’s ok: I was prepared for a little trial-and-error to figure it out. Seven cups later the beverage was still un-drinkable. The only word that comes to mind is ‘Harsh’ . . . almost take-your-breath-away Harsh. I boxed my Bunn and shipped it back to Amazon, gave it an ugly review and returned to instant coffee purgatory.
But then I came across something really different. The Aeropress coffee maker is a new approach to making a great cup of joe. A little like a French press, it uses a paper filter to keep the grounds from sludgifying your drink. The filter also traps some of the more bitter oils making the taste smooothe and delightful. As an added bonus, clean-up is ridiculously easy. Really: it’s a no mess 10 second ritual.
Here’s the video that convinced me to buy this system. Bear in mind, these women are in some rainy place and they use three times the coffee I do (and only 2/3 the water)! It seems their goal is to make a cup of coffee so strong you cannot see through it! But I think their assessment is pretty true. (This reminds me a little of a Saturday Night Live Delicious Dish segment)