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While on our trip to the Chicago Cubs Convention, we took an afternoon to hit the town.  We went to this great little restaurant Bella Bacino’s.  I had a good Chicago pizza, and Jen had some really fancy chicken with mushrooms and truffle sauce.  Afterwards, we went somewhere that I have been longing to visit for years: Intelligentsia Millennium Park.

Intelligentsia Sign

Intelligentsia is one of the top roasters in the country.  As someone who works in the specialty coffee industry, I have had the pleasure of drinking Intelligentsia coffee many times, but I had never been able to go to an actual Intelli location.  I was not disappointed.

Intelligentsia Millennium Park

We came in around 1pm, and it was packed.  There were 4-5 people working on bar, and they had the line flowing well.  As someone who sells coffee gear, this place made me giddy.  From the Mahlkonig grinders to the offerings of Eva Solos, Siphons, Chemexes, and V60 Pourovers, Intelli offers anything my coffee-snob heart could desire.

Intelligentsia Brew Methods

I ordered a Single-origin espresso. I also bought a bag of Zirikana, Rwanda coffee and an Intelli mug.  Because I was buying the mug and coffee, I got a discount on the nearly $5 espresso shot, which was cool.  I’m not one to talk about mouthfeel and tasting notes and all that stuff, but I will say that this was the best espresso I have ever drank in my life. No joke. It was legit.  Next time you are in Chicago, you need to check out Intelligentsia.  Whether you are a coffee snob or not, they will treat you well and give you a great cup of coffee.

Until later friends…

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Coffee and Coffee Snobbery are recurring themes on this site.  As you know, I work for the nice guys at Prima Coffee.  Naturally, I have a fair amount to say about coffee equipment.  Many coffee snobs find themselves (to their chagrin) receiving Starbucks cards for Christmas.  While I am thankful for such gifts, because Jen really likes their hot apple cider, I think it helpful to provide a list of good gift ideas for your favorite coffee snobs. So, here’s my list of great Coffee gifts divided under: $0-$25, $25-$50, $50-$100, and $100+.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS $0-$25

DCILY KeepCup$14.50

DCILY Keepcup

(http://dearcoffeeiloveyou.merchmo.com/products/detail/oz_DCILY_Mission_KeepCup_6087)

This is a sweet reusable travel cup featuring one of my favorite coffee blogs – DCILY.

Clever Coffee Brewer$16

Clever Coffee Brewer

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/clever-coffee-dripper-abid)

I have said multiple times before that the Clever is the best entry-level manual brewer on the market.  I absolutely love this brewer.  It is a great gift.

Intelligentsia Gift Card$25

Intelligentsia Coffee Gift Card

(http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/product/merchandise/intelligentsia-gift-card)

Intelligentsia is one of my absolute favorite roasters.  Their coffee subscription service on their website, however, is confusing. Thus, I recommend a gift card.  Intelli ships all over the place, and you can find great coffee (and sweet mugs) on their site.

Sweet Maria’s Green Coffee – $$$

Sweet Maria's

(http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.mvc.php?source=side)

These vary in price, but if you know someone that does their own roasting, Sweet Maria’s is a great resource.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $25-$50

Aeropress$25.95

Aerobie Aeropress Coffeemaker

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/aerobie-aeropress-coffee-maker)

The AeroPress is a great little brewer.  A little more effort than a Clever, but it makes a great cup of coffee.  Mind you, it only makes one cup, but it does it well.

Hario Metal Coffee Press$27.75

Hario Metal Coffee Press

(http://prima-coffee.com/hario/coffee-press)

If you’re into French Press coffee, this is a good little brewer for you.  Prima is also selling it dirt cheap for Black Friday.

Hario Mini Mill Manual Coffee Grinder$31.95

Hario Mini Mill Grinder MSS-1B

(http://prima-coffee.com/grinder/hario-coffee-grinder-mini-mill-slim)

The best little hand grinder out there.  Gives you a good workout while grinding your coffee.  Functional for espresso to French Press, which is quite versatile…trust me.

Jennings CJ4000 Scale$38.75

Jennings Coffee Scale

(http://prima-coffee.com/catalog/jennings-cj4000-scale-29075)

I find that I brew coffee best when I am exact with the weights of both the grounds and the water.  The Jennings scale is precise.  It also has an AC adapter so you don’t have to buy batteries every six weeks.

Hario V60 Pour-Over Set-Up$43

Hario V60 Coffee Brewing Set-up

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/hario-v60-pour-over-set)

I have this set-up at home (except with a ceramic brewer).  I love this system. Although you will need to purchase a pouring kettle as well (see below).

Bonavita Electric Pouring Kettle$49.99

Bonavita Electric Pouring Kettle

(http://prima-coffee.com/bonavita/electric-pouring-kettle)

This is the kettle I rock at home.  It is also helpful for warming up my daughter’s bottles.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $50-$100

AeroPress and Mini Mill Combo$57

Aeropress Mini Mill Travel Combo

(http://prima-coffee.com/catalog/coffee-travel-kit-aeropress-and-mini-mill-17033)

Put two items from the list above and get ’em for cheaper. Enough said.

Hario Buono Pouring Kettle$53

Hario Buono Pourover Kettle

(http://prima-coffee.com/hario/buono)

Pours better than the Bonavita kettle, but it costs a bit more and doesn’t heat up water automatically. Your call as to which is better.

Counter Culture 3-month Coffee Subscription$64.95

Counter Culture Subscription

(http://my.counterculturecoffee.com/coffee/subscriptions/)

I love Counter Culture Coffee. They have a good subscription service for varying durations.

GIFTS FOR COFFEE SNOBS – $100+

Tonx Coffee 3-Month Subscription (2 12oz bags per month) – $114 ($38/mo)

Tonx Coffee Subscription

(https://tonx.org/7dd531b4)

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder$129

Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder

(http://prima-coffee.com/grinder/baratza-encore-conical-burr-coffee-grinder)

My favorite entry-level electronic grinder.  It is very flexible and reliable. We use it everyday in the office.

Six-month Craft Coffee Subscription$134.94

Craft Coffee Subscription

(http://www.craftcoffee.com/products/artisan-coffee-tasting-box)

Great subscription service. Craft coffee sends you great coffee from several great roasters.

Prima Tamp$140

Prima Tamp

(http://prima-coffee.com/prima/prima-tamp)

Just talked about this yesterday. It still rocks.

Bonavita Thermal Carafe Automatic Brewer$149.99

Bonavita Automatic Coffee Brewer with Thermal Carafe

(http://prima-coffee.com/brewer/bonavita-automatic-coffee-brewer-thermal-carafe)

The only automatic coffee brewer I recommend.  Great gift for anyone at half the price of a Technivorm (another good automatic brewer).

Until later friends…

One of the great shows of 1980s was Transformers.  I don’t have many memories of watching the show, but I do distinctly remember being fascinated and frustrated by the toys as a child.

Optimus Prime Cartoon

I think the cool thing/most-frustrating-thing-ever about Transformers was the mechanical-mindedness it took to play with them.  The fact that your toy could be two different things blew the minds of many a child in the 80s and 90s.  Now that my generation is all grown up, we don’t play with Transformers.  However, I think that subconscious love of adjustable/mechanical devices remains.  That is part of the reason I love the new Prima Tamp so much.

Prima Tamp - World's First Adjustable Tamper

I have been privy to the entire development process of this sweet device.  I have been able to use it to tamp and pull some good shots of espresso.  The more this thing developed, the more geeked out about it I became.  While this doesn’t transform from an espresso tamper to a little robotic man with a bazooka and a sword, I feel the same sort of fascination towards it.

Prima Tamp InstructionsTransformer Toy Instructions

OK, so it’s not nearly as complicated, but that makes it cooler right?

We recently brought a whole heap of new products into our inventory at work.  You know me, I am greatly entertained by new coffee stuff.  One new product I am particularly excited about is this Hario French Press:

Hario Double-Walled French Press

As I have written before, I have mostly disavowed the French Press in honor of the Clever.  This French Press, however, is out to change my mind.  The actual working design has no real difference than a standard French Press, but aesthetically, this thing rocks.  It just looks good.  I was tempted to proclaim this the most aesthetically pleasing home coffee brewer, but then, that made me think of all the other well-designed brewers.  So, lets pit them all against one another and see who wins.  In honor of this contentious election season, we’ll have a vote.

Be sure to read up on the candidates below:

Hario Double-Walled French Press

Hario French Press with Olive Wood

This French Press includes a double-walled design, which aids in temperature stability.  It also makes it look pretty sweet.  The design incorporates glass, olive wood, and leather. I think this is a beautiful brewing apparatus.

The Chemex

Chemex in the MOMA

The Chemex is designed so well that it is exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I think that puts it in contention for most aesthetically-pleasing home coffee brewer.

Walküre Karlsbad Coffee Brewer

Walküre

The tea-inspired porcelain design of the Walküre Karlsbad is beautiful.  This is the kind of brewer you put in a china cabinet as a conversation piece.

Eva Solo Cafe Solo Brewer

Eva Solo Cafe Solo Coffee Maker

The Eva Solo is hip.  It is the John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever of the coffee brewing world.  It is a force to be reckoned with in coffee style.

The Siphon

The Siphon is the only coffee brewing apparatus with which I am familiar that uses an open flame.  People (and moths) are drawn to the beauty of an open flame.

Happy Voting. Until later friends…

Today’s post might seem a little sales-pitchy, but it’s for a great cause folks.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  This means several things.  For one, you’re going to see a heck of a lot more of these around:

Pink Ribbon for Breast Cancer

It also means that you are going to see some really burly men wearing pink gloves, pink sweatbands, pink shoes, etc. starting this Sunday.

NFL Pink Gear for Breast Cancer

All of us have been effected by cancer in one way or the other.  I have known several ladies that have fought breast cancer.  Some people say that the whole “pink-ribbon-breast-cancer-awareness” stuff is overplayed.  I understand that breast cancer gets a lot more airtime than a lot of other diseases that have had devastating effects on families everywhere, but I do think these campaigns are valuable.  Although I’m not a scientist, I’d be willing to bet that advances in medicine focused on one type of cancer will have far-reaching effects on other types.  The chance of a woman getting breast cancer is 1 in 8, with 1 in 36 women likely to die of it (According to American Cancer Society’s Facts About Breast Cancer).  We all love our moms, sisters, and grandmoms, and if there is a chance to defeat one of the top killers of these lovely ladies, lets do it.

That’s why I am really proud to work at Prima Coffee right now.  We are taking practical steps to team with the American Cancer Society in their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign.

Tamp Out Breast Cancer with Prima Coffee & the American Cancer Society

Please check out the Tamp Out Breast Cancer with Prima Coffee & the American Cancer Society blog.  Prima has three ways of contributing to Breast Cancer research:
1) Buy a pink maple tamper and 100% of the profits go to the American Cancer Society

Pink Tamper for Breast Cancer

2) Bid on a one-of-a-kind pink briar tamper, and 100% of the revenue goes to the American Cancer Society.

3) For people buying from us that don’t want a tamper, all customers can add a $1 donation to each order and Prima will match it.

You can also simply donate straight to the American Cancer Society.

Making Strides American Cancer Society

So whether you want to knock two birds out with one stone and pick up coffee equipment and donate, or if you just want to donate straight to cancer research, Prima wants to help further the cause.  Prima won’t be making any money on these tampers.  We thought it was a great way to spread awareness, and to get the specialty coffee community excited about the cause. Together we can beat breast cancer with a baseball bat.

Chicago Cubs Pink Breast Cancer Bat

(OK that was a really lame way to intro this picture, but I also wanted to include the MLB’s Breast Cancer research drive and my beloved Chicago Cubs)

Until later friends…

I’ve written several times about the Clever Coffee Brewer.  I am a big fan of it.

The Clever Coffee Dripper is New and Updated

The Clever Coffee Dripper is (in my opinion) the best introductory manual brewer.  If you have a friend or family member that likes coffee, but doesn’t want to jump straight to the siphon, then the Clever is just what they need.

The Siphon Coffee Brewer is one of the most advanced coffee brewing methods

There are a few changes made to the Clever.  We at Prima Coffee put together a comparison photo to highlight the differences.

Although, the differences are mainly cosmetic, I do think the new one looks pretty sweet. Be sure to check it out. It may be the perfect Christmas gift for your favorite coffee snob.

Until later friends…

It has been really hot lately…record-breaking hot.  We have had a lot of fun in the office over the past two weeks experimenting with a DIY Cold Brew Coffee Maker.  This Cold Brewer is made with a mason jar, Aeropress, and a water bottle.  Here is an image of the Cold Brewer and the instructions from our Prima Coffee Facebook page.

Prima Coffee Homemade Coffee Cold Brewer

DIY cold brew for $30! You’ll need: Aeropress with 2 filters, bottle, sewing needle, sharp knife, water, ice, and coffee.

[1] Empty bottle and cut off bottom.
[2] Remove bottle’s cap and puncture w/ needle. Replace cap. Test flow by filling w/ water and watching rate, aiming for about 40 drops per minute.
[3] Wet filter and assemble Aeropress, filling w/ 45 g (9 tbsp) of medium-fine ground coffee.
[4] Moisten grounds and stir gently, subtracting water used from total water dose. Level coffee bed with finger.
[5] Trim second filter to fit inside of Aeropress and place atop coffee bed, pressing softly to level.
[6] Place Aeropress on jar and mount bottle on top.
[7] Fill bottle w/ 300 g (10 oz) water and 200 g (7 oz) ice.

After bottle has emptied, serve coffee over ice.
Be sure to Like Prima Coffee on Facebook  for more coffee equipment updates like this.

Until later friends…

No, I’m not talking about these Valkyries

Valkyries carrying dead soldiers to Valhalla

Prima has recently begun carrying the Walküre Kaffemaschinen (Valkyrie Coffee Machines).  Any of you that have read this blog for very long know that this combines two of my favorite things: Coffee and German culture.  There are two styles of the Walküre coffee maker: the Bayreuth and the Karlsbad.

This is the Bayreuth (pronounced “buy-royt”).

The Bayreuth is named for a town in Germany.  Bayreuth is famous for the annual Bayreuth Festival showcasing the music of Richard Wagner at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

The Walküre Bayreuth calls to mind Wagner’s most famous piece: “The Ride of the Valkyries.”  You no doubt have heard this piece.  If not by a symphony, at least by Elmer Fudd.

The Walküre Karlsbad has a much more traditional design than the Bayreuth.

Like the Bayreuth, the Karlsbad is named for an area in Germany.  I’m not sure if there is any further relation to Wagner with Karlsbad.

The Walküre Coffee Brewers are elegant devices.  They produce great cups of coffee.  You can see the ceramic filter in the picture of the Bayreuth brewer.  The Walküre brewers do not require paper filters.  It is a complete brewing system that only requires freshly ground coffee and hot water.  I’m excited about getting to play with these in the office some more over the coming weeks.

Until later friends…

 

Dear readers,

I have been woefully inactive on this blog as of late.  Life is busy, as I am sure your life is.  We are in the midst of preparing for the birth of our first child.  So, blogging has not been at the top of my priority list.  It occurred to me today that I have around 50 followers that have only heard from me twice in the past month.  I realize this probably has not caused you any undue stress, but when I subscribe to blogs, it is because I like what they write.  So, when they don’t write anything, I might just take them off my blog reader.  So, in case your mild interest in For Aslan…and the Volunteer State is waning, I have put together a playlist for you my favorite readers (and you people that got here via random google searches for things like “Andrew Jackson,” “Louisville Slugger Museum,” or “Bodum Monkey”).

For my fellow Rickrollers….

For my fellow coffee nerds…

Here is my friend Matt making tampers for us at Prima Coffee.  He’s really good, and this is a sweet video.

For fans of literature and films…

This might be cheezy, but I think it looks great. I mean, Edgar Allan Poe murder/mystery movie? Yes please.

Edgar Allan Poe Meme

Until later friends…

Baratza has recently announced a new development in the home coffee burr grinder world.  My friend Matt posted an informative blog about it at Prima Coffee: Baratza Encore Grinder Announced: Maestro Series Rides Off Into the Sunset.  This is a pretty sweet development in home coffee brewing.  The Baratza Encore is – in my opinion – the best entry-level coffee grinder on the market for various coffee-brewing methods.  I have yet to purchase an electric burr grinder due to the fact that Jen is not a big fan of coffee, and if I’m going to spend big bucks on something, it should be something for both of us.  The Baratza Encore is tempting though, and I might just find a way to put it on our baby registry ;).

The Baratza Encore is pretty sweet, but it is still somewhat sad to say goodbye to the Baratza Maestro Plus.  The Maestro was the first to go, and now the Maestro Plus.

Baratza Maestro Series is Dead

I feel like the passing on of the Maestro series is like the loss of a great mentor, like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Highlander).  Yet, as is the case with both Kenobi and Ramirez, the death of the master (Maestro series) allows the student (Encore) to grow in power.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Death

Speaking of Sean Connery. I have to share this.

Sean Connery Moustache You a Question

I love that reading this out loud necessitates a Sean Connery accent.  I am also reading King Solomon’s Mines for the first time.  You may not be familiar with that book, but you may be familiar with the protagonist Allan Quatermain, whom Sean Connery played in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Allan Quartermain Sean Connery

Since my first exposure to the character of Allan Quartermain came from that film, I can only imagine him as I read as Sean Connery.  This is especially entertaining, because the book is written in the first person in the character of Quartermaine.  Therefore, I read each word with Sean Connery’s accent in my mind.  Even if this book shapes up to be awful, I think I’m going to love it for that reason alone.

Until later friends…

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