College Basics: Coffee

During your college career there will be few cliches more common than the struggling college student constantly carrying a coffee. This, I’m sorry to say, will probably include you. You don’t need me to tell you how much a little pick me up can help when you’re running to your third class of the day, finishing a paper late at night, or need some way to get you out of bed in the morning. Be careful how much you drink, and be sure to take in more water than coffee to keep your body in working order.

During the course of my studies caffeine intake has taken on four different forms:

Mr. Coffee

Keurig

French Press

Mr. Coffee is the classic set up you have seen in homes across America. Spaceballs, anybody? This machine is not difficult to operate and makes fine coffee. In addition to the coffee maker itself, you’ll need coffee filters and ground coffee. You have to make sure that the filters are the right size for your particular machine, though it’s pretty easy as they generally come in small, medium and large. You might have noticed that some are brown and others are white. The difference is that the white filters have been bleached. It’s no big deal, in my opinion, although I do like the brown type because they seem more organic and the when the coffee is finished they look a little less muddy. My general rule for how much coffee grounds to put in the maker goes like this:

1 cup = 1-2 tablespoon scoops (not just a tablespoon, but a healthy scoop with one)

2 cups = 2-3 scoops

3 cups = 3-4 scoops and so on and so on

Recently, I’ve gotten to use this Keurig on a regular basis and I’ve liked it a lot. The best quality is that it makes a really good cup of coffee (if that’s all you need). The obvious downside is that you can only make one cup at a time. If you drink one cup of coffee on the way out of the door or only need a little bit for your pick me up, then the Keurig is perfect. If, however, you need to make coffee for a group of friends or study partners, it will be more tedious to make the coffee than to just go to a coffee shop. A plus is that K-cups are still less expensive than the coffee shop you might make a run to, although commonly K-cups are more expensive than grounds; the typical grocery stores around me carries them for about seven dollars for 12 cups, but I have found similar 12 packs at discount grocers for four dollars. Again, this Keurig makes individual cups of excellent coffee. The prices add up, but that’s how it goes with quality products.

When I studied abroad my coffee drinking habits stepped it up a notch. I was in Europe, where it only seemed proper to make my cup of joe in a French Press (plus the university apartment I was in only had a press). I don’t know them to be as common here, though I still use one occasionally (check out my How To Use a French Press post when it’s up!), but over there it was very easy because everyone has a water kettle. To make the coffee, you need to pour your grounds into the press adding in about the same amount of tablespoon scoops I mentioned above, followed by the boiling kettle water. Stir the grounds and water together and let the mixture steep for a few minutes. I haven’t found a super sweet spot for the timing yet as my tastebuds are still fine tuning themselves to excellent coffee, but my suggestion is to leave the press sitting for at least two minutes. Then, when it has steeped for a few minutes, you slowly slowly press the coffee, and that’s it! You have fresh coffee. Cleaning a press is the hardest thing about them, but again check out my upcoming post about French Presses where I’ll have some tips on cleaning.

For the freshest coffee, whether you are brewing with a Mr. Coffee or a French Press, using a coffee bean grinder will give you the best taste possible. You will have to buy whole coffee beans instead of the more common grounds, and it can be a little loud if you have neighbors who can hear you in the morning, but trust me, the taste is worth it. The best part is, this particular coffee bean grinder will portion out how much coffee you need for the number of cups you are making.

College will prove to be a time of a lot of work and sometimes little sleep. I had a lot of experience taking multiple classes in one day and really needing some help to stay focused through all of them. Coffee is a the obvious choice, but how you drink it is up to you. Depending on your tastes, one of these coffee makers will do just the trick.

Enjoy that sweet sweet morning aroma and study hard!

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