Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Does filtered water make coffee better?

The short answer is usually. But no one puts stock in the short answer.

Ask any coffee enthusiast if the type of water matters in their coffee and everyone of them will (read: should) say yes. The three types of water available to the average household are usually filtered, tap and bottled water. To quickly rule out one option, I would agree with the growing number of people that bottled water is indeed a waste of money and resources, especially since numerous bottled waters are practically the same as tap water in terms of health and taste benefits.

That leaves the duel between tap and filtered water, with the two issues being health effects and taste. Depending on where you are, your tap water can contain harmful agents that you might not want in your body. But at the same time, there are some regions of the country with exceptional tap water. So, it really comes down to your specific geographical source and hygenic philosophy as to whether filtering offers any real benefits for your health.

And then there was taste. Since coffee is mostly water, clearly the water you use to brew your coffee will make a severe impact on the taste of your coffee. Thus, while I know some cities boast amazing tap water, we're all not so lucky. Thus, I took up an offer from Pur to test out a Pur Water Pitcher to see if it made a difference in the taste of my coffee versus coffee brewed with my tap water.

While I do not have the specific information on the health qualities of my local water system, I would say that it ranks fairly high in taste comparatively to other taps I've tapped. As for my methods of testing, I compared my tap water versus the filtered water in both glasses of water and in cups of coffee.

Drinking the water straight up, my tap water produced an alkali-esque quality in the aftertaste compared to the Pur water which had a much brighter and sweeter flavor to it. This held true through multiple trials and even when my wife produced me a blind taste test, I was able to differentiate the tap and the filtered.

As for my coffee, the results were similar. The coffee brewed via the filtered water was a little sweeter and acidic in taste while the tap water produced coffee slightly more basic with a metallic aftertaste.

Thus, I can vouch that the Pur Water Pitcher did make a noticeable difference in the taste of my water and coffee. If you're looking to get better tasting water from your tap, a water filter could do it for you though there's no guarantees. And if you like being uber careful about possible threats in your water, then filtration will definitely help you sleep better (whether it really does the job, only time will tell).

So if you have less-then-stellar tap water and/or you want to take a step in the direction of water safety, then try out a Pur Water Pitcher.
note: pitcher was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CC: Georgio's Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Huntington, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
5+ [
see key]

While I know traveling through Long Island is never easy, I still can't figure out how such a large land mass has so few attractions. Sure you have the beaches and west Long Island contributes to New York City, but otherwise I have tried to find tourism fodder and every time, I seem to come up empty.

Much like my search for things to see, my hopes of finding good coffee east of Brooklyn is usually nil. For all of the amazing things happening in NYC and the surrounding areas, Long Island has not really developed many quality coffee destinations. But as my fortune would have it, while I was driving through the island on business, a quick internet search for a coffee gamble turned up Georgio's Coffee, an operation that was featured in Roast Magazine's July/August edition.

Needless to say, I stopped by on my way home to find the place in a small strip mall right on the corner. The exterior's no frills mirrors the inside: a shop that has little as far as seating or ambiance but dedicates much more focus to the coffee and 1on1 customer interaction.

Upon my arrival, Georgio and his wife welcomed me and instantly began talking coffee with me. After they went through the many coffees to try, I settled on a Kenyan (a coffee that was no longer available via whole bean due to demand) brewed via siphon (aka vac pot) and an espresso of their 4 bean blend. The Kenyan proved as delicious as it was popular, holding notes of bright citrus, sage, caramel apple (complete with a tinge of apple skin on the end), grapenut, a little grass and a fine dusting of tobacco at the very end. The espresso, pulled short with thick crema, smacked of lemon, rock candy, a tickle of bitter cocoa, an intense darkness and bits of cinnamon and cranberry all served in a paper cup. Given the recommendation for a macchiato or for sugar in my espresso, it would seem their espresso was not designed to stand alone and the philosophy seemed to fit more of an Italian's model of preparing espresso (all in all, a decent espresso). I did not note tea.

Thus I wouldn't really recommend Georgio's if you're looking for a place to study or a place to chill. But if you are on Long Island and looking for a great cup of coffee, stop by Georgio's and experience some of the finest customer service in the state of New York as a bonus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CC: Bodhi Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Bodhi Coffee
Location visited: Philadelphia, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

South Street Philadelphia, while overrated in some ways and unbeknown in others, holds a lot of great memories for me. I remember late nights walking the streets of Philadelphia, getting a slice of pizza and hanging out in a late night cafe talking theology with good friends.

Alas, it's been many a year since I've been able to stay out past midnight but fortunately, South St is picking up some great establishments that are wondrous at any time of the day. One is a German place called Brauhaus Schmitz (amazing roll mops, wursts and pork) which I highly recommend on a nice day for lunch or dinner. The other place of recent existence is a coffeehouse called Bodhi Coffee.

Technically, Bodhi exists closer to Pine St on South 2nd but it's clearly connected to the South St foot traffic. The shop is a narrow venue with but a few spots to plop down (in and outside) but since they use the space wisely, its more cozy than cramped. Bodhi kicks out Stumptown Coffee, serving coffee via pourover and standard drip as well as espresso in a no nonsense fashion. I ordered a cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado and an espresso of Hairbender. The Adado offered notes of bright blueberry, wheat, little blackberry tart and cocoa amidst a light but potent brew. The espresso, pulled short with a marbled crema, delivered ginger, dark cocoa, sea salt, bell pepper, black pepper and a nice sweetness. The tea is House of Tea.

I have to say that Bodhi fills a niche that has long been vacant in the vicinity and to top it off, they do it quite well. Whether South Street is a regular hang out or an occasional stop, swing by Bodhi for some delicious coffee.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mugged: Sumatra Mandheling [Coffee Labs]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Coffee Labs Roasters
Coffee Mugged:
Sumatra Mandheling

Rating: 4+
[see key]

*updated 4.19.11

hen the topic of favorite coffee comes up, many people seem to throw out Sumatra as their top pick. Granted I am sure some of them actually have carefully weighed out that designation but for most, I think people just like the idea of getting their coffee from an exotic Pacific Island.

Regardless of how much research goes into it, Sumatra does produce some decent coffee. Recently, Roaste offered a chance to review one of the many coffees they purvey and looking to try out a decent Sumatran (Africa and America have been dominating my cup as of late), I set my sights on Coffee Labs Roasters' Sumatra Mandheling. Having store credit, I glided quite quickly through Roaste's checkout process and awaited my coffee directly from Coffee Labs.

Upon first inspection, the beans were plump and medium-dark. I sampled the coffee via drip, french press and siphon.

The drip threw notes of pound cake, pepper, dark cocoa, a little molasses, some cinnamon, graham cracker and a little smokiness. The overall flavor was a little dark but with pungent sweetness amidst a medium to full body.

The french press held honey, rye, pepper, a little lemon, tobacco, vanilla and cinnamon. A slightly different cup but still a sweet, dark cup.

The siphon proved sweeter, with facets of honey and caramel, a little cashew, some sweet wine, black pepper, tobacco throughout, some apple and a olive oil. The brew had a medium body and a mellow profile.

All in all, Coffee Labs put together a decent Sumatran though the smoky and dark flavors seemed to detract from the other parts of the coffee in my opinion (maybe a lighter roast would have done it). If you are on the lookout for medium/dark Sumatran, give Coffee Labs' Sumatra Mandheling a whirl.
note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Update 4.19.11
In reading back through this, I realized that I breezed over the impact Roaste had on my experience unfairly. Roaste provided a very simple shopping experience that made purchasing coffee a breeze, from decision to check out to delivery straight from the roaster. The only facet that could improve is that some coffee roasters led to empty pages (such as Kickapoo).