Making good coffee when traveling is a hassle, especially if you are staying with people who don't make it regularly, as is my current situation. So my search for the perfect shot has been somewhat disrupted. I went down to the Valley, as they call it here, and found a Peet's Coffee and Tea on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. My coffee geek friends from the West Coast have always sworn by Peet's. The list of beans on the wall was heavy on citrus-y flavors, and I asked for something richer, nuttier. The staff concluded that I should go with something Indonesian. I settled on this and had them grind it for use in a drip coffee maker. I took it back to where we were staying, and then my troubles began. Name: Peet's Sumatra
Geographic Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia.
Description: Nothing on the bag, but the Peet's Web site says: "Very full body, very concentrated flavor. Sweet, slightly earthy, herbal nuances... It's not the most refined or elegant coffee you can drink, but its gutsy and earthy richness is very seductive." It's a longtime standard at Peet's.
Date Purchased: Dec. 27.
Date Roasted: Unknown, but presumably Dec. 26 or Dec. 27 based on this promise on the bag: "We roast six days a week to fill the daily orders from our stores... We don't store our roasted coffee. Coffee we roast today will be in our stores... the next business day."
Source: Peet's Coffee and Tea, 12215 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, Ca.
The Pour: Our hosts had a couple of old drip coffee makers up on a shelf. Emphasis on old. And dusty. So when I got around to making coffee this morning, the first one did not function properly, and the water overflowed the plastic gold filter. The second one could not be compelled to push water through the filter. So it was back down the hill to buy a French press, a Bodum Chambord, at Peet's. This was my preferred method of making coffee before I bought the fancy automatic espresso maker I use at home. I also bought another pound of coffee, this time "Aged Sumatra," with a rough grind for a French press. In the confusion of re-learning how to make coffee this way, I ended up using the finer grind plain Sumatra for the drip machines. It worked out OK, though I did have some difficulty pressing down, which the French press instructions had warned about. I'll try the other grind tomorrow. After some trial and error, I had a good cup. The flavor was deep, rich, as promised, with a slightly bitter aftertaste (I may have made it too strong). It had a full, smooth body, quite pleasant. No citrus or hints of berry and so forth, as promised. I added a bit of soy milk to take the edge off.
Effects: It also took the edge off my mood, which had been aggravated by the broken drip coffee makers and the extra trip down the hill. I stopped growling at people and decided to do this blog post, even though I'm supposedly on vacation, because this is my strange idea of a good time. I look forward to comparing this cup to the Aged Sumatra tomorrow. Here's a little more detail from the Peet's site about the growing process:
Sumatra is another classic Indonesian coffee but totally different from Java. Java's coffees are grown on estates and processed by the washed method; Sumatra's coffees are grown by small landholders who may only have a few trees on their property, and they are processed by the dry method. The ripe coffee cherries are pulped by hand and spread in the sun to dry rather than being rinsed in water overnight. The net result of dry-processed coffee is very heavy body and very full flavor.