As promised, here is part two of my traveling coffee review, as my quixotic coffee quest continues on a second coast. After some misadventures with two ancient drip coffee makers, I bought a French press at Peet's Coffee and Tea on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. I also acquired some of the specialty chain's Aged Sumatra, on top of the plain old Sumatra I wrote about yesterday. Name: Peet's Aged Sumatra
Geographic Origin: Sumatra, Indonesia.
Description: Nothing on the bag, but the Peet's Web site says: "A very rich coffee with a slight hint of a tropical wood flavor, a concentrated dried fruit sweetness, herbal notes, and ample body."
Date Purchased: Dec. 28.
Date Roasted: Unknown, but presumably this weekend, based on the Peet's promise that beans are roasted six days a week and are stocked in stores within a day.
Source: Peet's Coffee and Tea, 12215 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, Ca.
The Pour: I had an easier time of it today with the Bodum Chambord, pictured above, because the Aged Sumatra was ground coarse, the proper method for a French press. The Sumatra had been ground finer, for an automatic coffee maker, which made it harder to apply pressure on the plunger. I was a little fearful on Sunday that it might all shatter, spraying me with glass and hot coffee. Today it was easy as pie. I enlisted a nearby child to time the steeping at precisely 4 minutes. Supposedly, aged coffee can be a bit of a shock, with a bite at first, and I suppose that was true in this case. But I found it tastier than the regular Sumatra, full-flavored with plenty of body. I guess I tasted the tropical wood, but I'm still trying to detect the dried fruit. It's certainly not an overpowering part of the taste, which is fine by me. The flavor is improving by the minute, in fact.
Effects: As I suspect is the case with most people, east-to-west jetlag is generally easier for me than the reverse. I just keep myself awake the first couple of days while sleeping in, which means I still wake up early on local time, yet refreshed from extra hours of sleep. But one drawback is that my body is aching for caffeine at inappropriate times. That makes me fuzzy, unfocused and crabby. The Aged Sumatra has taken care of that, giving me enough clarity to wonder, what's this about "aged" coffee? Isn't old coffee a bad thing? Apparently not. Here's what Peet's has to say about the aging process:
Good aged coffees are very hard to find, due to the lengthy aging process and the fact that coffee exporters usually want to convert their coffee to cash as soon as possible. But there are a few who are willing to wait, knowing that the fine aged coffee can be worth quite a bit more.... Aging must take place in a tropical environment, where beans take on moisture at the height of the monsoon season, and give it back during the drier season, without ever drying completely. This process deepens the flavor and makes it mellower, while accentuating certain taste components over others.
Well, whatever. I've had two mugs of the stuff, with no complaints, and I'm ready to roll.