Monday, January 14, 2008

morning coffee


Three words: chemex, intelligentsia, bodum.

I have loved coffee since I was two. We (my mom, dad & I) lived in the basement of my grandparent’s apartment in Brooklyn. Every morning I would crawl up what seemed to be an enormous flight of stairs and sit and have coffee with my grandma. Not sure what we talked about, or what we ate, but I am sure that I loved the coffee. I loved how it smelled and how comforting it was. By the time I was 4 we had moved from Brooklyn and the basement apartment, and I callously turned my back on my beloved coffee. Instead trading it for stuff like hi-c and chocolate milk. By the time I got to college, I let it back in, but not for pleasure. It was just the best way to keep myself awake to write the term paper that I had procrastinated writing until the night before it was due. After college coffee became more of a social thing. Starbucks was just taking off and my friends started saying things like, “let’s meet for coffee.” So I met them for coffee, and I met blind dates for coffee and sometimes I just went and got coffee by myself never really paying attention to whether it was good coffee or bad coffee. Actually, I’m not sure that I would have been able to tell the difference. And then I was shown the light. A stylist from Australia hired me as her assistant, she was very fancy, always dressed to the nines and ran around town in 3inch manolo blahnik’s (her casual shoes). While I busted my ass working for her, she educated me on good food & great coffee. Starbucks tasted “like burnt ashtray water,” she would say, and then she would take me to get a “proper coffee.” Well, there was a difference. it wasn’t long before I was criticizing the texture of the foam on my cappuccino, and looking down my nose at starbucks. Well, now several years into my addiction I have found the perfect combination when it comes to coffee: chemex, intelligentsia and bodum.

It wasn’t too long ago that I saw this really cool carafe at a friend’s house. It was clear glass, had an hourglass shape and a beautiful wood collar. I asked her where she got it and she told me that it was thrift store purchase, and even better, it wasn’t a carafe, it was a chemex coffee maker. Hmmmm. Ok. It doesn’t look like a coffee maker, but I wanted one because I am in the habit (and business) of collecting “pretty things.” That night I went home and found one on ebay and within a couple of weeks it was sitting on the “these are all the cool things I have, but don’t use” shelf in my kitchen. And there it stayed, collecting dust, for at least 8 months.

Through my work as a prop stylist I get to meet a lot of great people. A lot of people in the know. A photographer friend of mine mentioned this amazing coffee place called Intelligentsia that had just opened. His words. . . “It will change your life.” Well eventually I made it over to intelligentsia, a very hip, and a bit uppity, coffee shop. The second I walked in I knew my life was going to change. Right in front of me on their “these are all the cool things I have, but don’t use” shelves was a row of chemex coffee makers. I bought myself a cappuccino (the best I have ever had), a pack of chemex coffee filters and a bag of their librarian’s blend decaf. I know, DECAF!? Long story short, I found out that chronic insomnia and daily panic attacks are not normal and can be eliminated by kicking caffeine; so I did.

After enjoying my second cappuccino (did I mention that it was the best I ever had?), I headed home and realized, “this is perfect!” I had just used these amazing bodum mugs for a fit pregnancy shoot I worked on and now I can test them out. I arrived home and began preparations for chemex coffee brewing. A bit involved, but if you are interested you can read the instructions here. I brewed myself one hell of a good cup of coffee. Clear, flavorful, not burnt, not bitter - - the damn thing was designed by a chemist, and sits in a museum, so you it’s going to make amazing coffee. Well I felt like a real coffee connoisseur, and I have enjoyed this combination every morning since.

17 comments:

chris said...

jen, this is great. i love reading your thoughts on food, and of course, your photographs. the meal you made rudi and i was very good. i haven't stopped thinking about the roasted tomatoes and the pignoli pasta. and you know i must go by this intelligentsia! i am rethinking my aversion to living in silverlake now that i have discovered this...

jen said...

yes, i love that carafe too!

carrie said...

andrew and i have been dying to go to Intelligentsia! i love the chemex as well but unfortunately it's being moved to second rank after a fun new espresso machine purchase - now we're even more addicted!

Lisa said...

hi jen,

i found your blog through a comment you posted at orangette. i really like your blog; it's very sweet. i especially found your post on "what is a foodie" worthwhile.

i also swung by your polaroid blog and i think that the idea of polaroids in the digital age is really unique and interesting.

best,
lisa

Heidi said...

We just had a conversation about coffee a few minutes ago and now I'm reading your story about coffee! I noticed that you let my comment about my husband loving Starbuck's go by without mention. You're so politically correct...and yes, I'll be telling him about it tasting like ashtray water. I can just hear Miss D saying that!

Whitney said...

You are amazing. Not only does this reaffirm the fact that you are ao much more sophisticated than I am, but that, although I never know it, I am also a foodie. Way to go and good luck. I'll be stopping by again.

jen said...

whit. i am offended that you think i am sophisticated.

jen said...

heidi. i still like you.

jen said...

thanks, lisa. please keep checking back.

Whitney said...

jen, there is really no discussion needed about your sophistication. As a stay-at-home mother of two who lives in Orlando, all you have to do is breath to be more sophitication that me. But, please, I mean NO offence:)

lottie said...

your food musings are great - so vivid - and this post clinches it, I have to get a chemex. I wonder if they ship to the uk...

jen said...

whit. you crack me up! and lottie, thanks for reading. i'm glad you like it. i have a link to the chemex site in this post. i'll bet they ship to you. if not, sometimes you can find them on ebay.

kate ortiz said...

love the chemex. i posted a few days ago on a "handpresso," yet another coffee item i definitely "need".
great blog!

jenni said...

I can't drink as much coffee as I used to, but the next time I partake, I hope to God it's this way.

jen said...

i know what you mean, jenni. that's why i am a decaf girl. i am still allowed the coffee vice, without a lot of the side effects.

ratman said...

Jen,

Great post and blog. When I was 2, I used to drink Cafe Cubano with my Tio Pepe and smoke candy cigarettes. Ah, to be 2 again!

Amy said...

love this! i'm going to get a chemex for my husband's birtday, but I never thought of a warmer...i love the one in the photo...where is it from?