Saturday, June 21, 2008

KV Brewing Tips

I received an email with this extraordinary expert testimony on coffee brewing from KV's "Son of Seth." It may mark the beginning of a new thread called "KV Helpful Tips"
I joined it with some complementary video.
I recently had the opportunity and the pleasure to journey over to the upper East side and visit with Allan and Vivien in their new digs on East 91st Street. While we were there, it just so happened, Allan expressed the desire for a cup of coffee and Vivien asked if I would do the honors and prepare a cup for each of us as, as it turned out, we all were bone tired from an exhausting hike through the environs of LES earlier in the evening. We had spent some time surveying rooftops circa Houston Street, collecting unclaimed Seconds and here and there a Spaldeen or two. So, let me leave off with the dilly dallying and get straight to the point here. I entered their kitchen apprehensive that they might not have the accoutrements that I generally favor in such circumstances. To my delight, I was able to locate a single cup Melitta, filters, requisite well-preserved and robust Bustelo blend coffee in the customary yellow and red can and, of course, a generous supply of freely running tap water. First I let the water run. In order to make a good cup of coffee you’ve got to have well-exercised water that is not craving a gallop, this will – it you attempt to use unexercised water – create a bitter taste lacking entirely in what the Japanese like to call “umami’ – or colloquially speaking, “deliciousness.” And the whole point of this little maneuver is to prepare an outrageously delicious cup of coffee and, right now, in this instance, I am attempting to pass on to you all the way to do so. So I allowed the water to run free for a good twenty minutes which, according to my chiropractor, is the gold standard for aerobic activity. I then filled the Al and Viv's English style electric water kettle with crystalline clear NYC tap water and pushed the button to allow the appliance to do what it does so well. At this point, it’s surely a matter of patience that comes to the fore. Stopping the machine before the water has had a chance to reach a uniform boiling point would, in a flash, degenerate the taste of the final cup in such a manner that it would be difficult for me to sympathetically portray my own feelings towards the individual who, after having gone to the trouble of purchasing a world-class electric kettle, then decided to prevent it from doing its job. That would be intolerably offensive and I refuse to entertain the possibility that any of the KV brethren or sistren, actual or honorary, would commit such an egregious error. So, having exercised the requisite patience, you‘ve got yourself a pot of water that has not only boiled but whose molecules have atomized, turned to steam and returned to liquid. These are well-excercized H-2-0 specimens each duly trained and ready to fulfill their coffee mission. Next you take the kettle and pour it over the grounds neatly arranged in the Melitta filter sitting atop the first cup. Then you replace the ground and repeat the process twice successively to obtain the three cups – this demonstration will yield three cups of A-1 world class brew. Once you’ve got the coffee in the cups you are ready to begin the oxidization procedure which is what is going to take your ordinary but excellent cup of joe into the taste stratosphere. Taking three empty cups along with the three, now full coffee cups you carefully pour the coffee, slowly in a single file stream approximately one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter, from the filled to the empty cups. You now have three newly filled cups and three newly emptied cups. Repeat the procedure so that the once filled cups become the newly filled cups. And, again, fill the once empty cups by pouring the twice filled cups into the once emptied cups. Repeat this procedure until each cup has contained and been emptied of coffee five times. At this point, the oxidization levels of the coffee will have peaked. There will be no reason to continuing to pour the coffee back and forth but if you are a little like me, you’ll find yourself continuing another five times for good luck and just because it’s good clean fun. But in any case. If the lucky drinkers have a taste for milk and sugar in their coffee, do your best to convince them to opt for a soy substitute because, let’s face [referencing Allen’s email circa 6 weeks ago] dairy has its drawbacks. As far as the sugar goes, be tolerant. If someone feels they need to sweeten their coffee, resist being judgmental. It will be a good exercise in self-control and besides if you feel obligated to make an issue over a bistle of sugar what kind of neighbor are you anyway? If they ask for sugar give them sugar. That’s the final answer there. So. Once you’ve squared away the add-ons you are ready to sit back and relax and that is just what Allen and Vivien and I did, enjoying a magnificent view of the lights of Manhattan, seen from the 26th floor of what, in most respects, could justifiably be described as nirvana. We sat sipping our brew. In silence for a while but each meditating on the moment and coming, I believe, to the conclusion that, of all the elements, neither the exquisite taste of the coffee, nor the expansiveness of the view could match the comfort of the friendship and sense of community that we enjoyed in that rare moment. So, follow the recipe exactly, but remember. Food isn’t everything. In case you missed that I’ll repeat it one more time. Food isn’t everything.

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