U.S. NEWS &
A Barista In PJ's
By Thomas Hayden
U.S. News & World
January 26, 2004
Gourmet brew is invading
the home, with countertop machines that can deliver fancy espresso drinks
and foamy milk--even freshly roasted beans. But for the serious coffee
fiend, the goal is still to come up with a decent cup of joe without having
to shed pajamas. So we subjected the new crop of coffee makers to the ultimate
test: a week's worth of this addict's morning cravings.
Monday: I assembled the
Hamilton Beach BrewStation the night before and, ignoring the "6:15" illustration
on the box, set the timer for a more indulgent 9 a.m. The machine drip-brews
into a plastic reservoir that dispenses a cup at the push of a button.
Other companies make carafe-style drip brewers with a built-in bean grinder--another
good anti-mess innovation--but the BrewStation made a richer, less acrid
cup of coffee.
Tuesday: Early to bed
and early to rise make a reporter more-or-less able to figure out how to
use a two-chambered automatic vacuum brewer. Hot water rises up into the
grounds, where it roils pleasingly until cooling air below sucks an eruption
of richly brewed coffee through a filter and back into the carafe. Bodum
and Black & Decker make similar versions. Pick Bodum for design appeal
and brewing time--about 8 minutes--Black & Decker for price ($30 cheaper,
with a 14-minute wait).
Wednesday: Hump day is
a good day for a strong jolt, so I went with the Krups Moka Brew. A heating
element forces pressurized steam through tightly packed grounds, emulating
the silver stovetop espresso brewers favored by Italians and artsy types.
The system delivers the most robust coffee of the lot, just this side of
Thursday: Ugh, a headache.
And no, I don't want to talk about why. Running late, so I opt for the
ultimate in automation. Melitta and Keurig both offer single-cup machines
that pump hot water through premeasured coffee packets in under a minute.
But when it tastes as if it came from a vending machine, does convenience
Friday: Definitely too
much coffee this week, and my stomach needs a break. Enter the Toddy Cold
Brew system. "Brewing" with cold water--plan ahead, it takes 12 hours--extracts
less acid and different flavors than hot brewing. Drinking it black, my
spartan brother dismissed it as "diner coffee without the 'ouch.' " My
more voluptuary girlfriend, coaddicted to milk and sugar, says she'll never
drink anything else. Guess that means it'll be sharing space with the Moka
Brew, my pick for the best of the lot.
Note: U.S. News &
World Report published the following editor's clarification in their 2/16/04
"Although it takes 12
hours to make a batch of espresso-like concentrate for the Toddy Cold Brew
system mentioned in "A Barista in PJ's" [January 26], it can be refrigerated
up to 10 days and used to make a fast cup of coffee. The user mixes one
part concentrate to three parts boiling water."