Searching for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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My morning cup of coffee is my treat of the day - and I never go without. I have learnt to live without perfect fried potatoes, finger sized and crisp on the outside. I can easily live without out-of-season soft fruit. If I never see a kiwi fruit again it won’t upset

me. But, my morning cup of coffee is sacred. Real coffee, mind you, not caramelised instant rubbish. The problem is that I have to make my morning cup of coffee whilst I am putting the cat out and then letting him in, feeding him, and letting him out and in

again. No, we don’t have a cat flap!

This means that although I have filled the electric kettle with fresh-filtered cold water it may well have boiled before I can get to it! Coffee demands very hot, but not boiling, water. This is because not only does boiled water scald the grounds, but its bubbles

drive away the oxygen that carry the rich aromas. At home there is an old Polish blue enamel chocolate pot that we’ve had for ages - this is a very useful ‘chocolate’ pot. I warm the pot, put in two heaped measures of ground coffee and then add the hot water. Stirred and left to stand for three minutes it is nectar in the morning. Percolators are messy things and seem to filter out the richness of the flavours, while the electric ones have to boil the water to make them work.

Tea, which I drink throughout the rest of the day, has to be made with freshly boiled water. This scalds the leaves freeing the haunting flavours of Ceylon or the champagne-finesse of Darjeeling. This is why the French can seldom make a good

cup of tea. Electric kettles are not often found in French kitchens. They boil their water in saucepans and when it gets to a rolling boil they pour it on to the coffee grounds. But the temperature of a rolling boil, while ideal for coffee, is not hot enough for tea.

What is needed is a two-setting kettle with a just-offboiling point for coffee and well-and-truly-boiled for tea. Such a device should not be beyond the wit of man. Getting hold of really good ground coffee is no longer a problem, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer

and Waitrose have serried ranks of vacuum packed coffee beans and grounds in various styles and blends. It’s also very rewarding to visit a small independent coffee bean retailer (most towns have one) where you can chose from a multitude of cosmopolitan blends, roasts, strengths, acidities, and flavours.

Once you open your pack of coffee beans let the magic aromas fill the kitchen; but do keep opened bags in an airtight container in a cool dry place. The fridge is not an ideal place as condensation forms on the container and can dampen the beans.Now, I am going to sit and drink my perfect cup of coffee whilst I wait for someone, somewhere, to invent an electric kettle for the perfectionists amongst us who savour the taste of a cup of coffee made at 88c, poured in to a prewarmed, delicate china cup, sat on a dainty saucer next to a fluffy croissant. Aaah, perfect.


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