I am a bonafide coffee lover. I drink a couple of cups in the morning and an Americano or a double shot of espresso with a protein bar in the afternoon. Without really breaking the bank, I try to enjoy the best of all things coffee. A good friend of mine is like that. He talks about “getting that last drop of goodness” out of his cup. He loves good coffee so much he’ll be up on the mountains of Afghanistan ( he’s military) where he packs a little bag with his beans, grinder and French Press. Ask him about the time he dropped and broke his french press full of steaming hot goodness on a goat herder’s hard, dirt packed floor… Anyway,the following are my suggestions if you like coffee, espresso, lattes, fraps, etc., and you’re tired of making Starbucks richer. The initial outlay is a little pricey so maybe you can ask for some of these items for Christmas. or buy one thing at a time.

Beans You have to  have fairly fresh, quality  beans to make good coffee, ideally ground immediately before you drink it. You should try to get beans that have been roasted no more than a couple of weeks. There’s a million places to get them, usually starting about $7 per lb to $13-14 per lb . Since Raleigh and I go through a pound pretty rapidly, I try to find the best quality for the best value. These two are my current favorites: and Bongo Java. Drew’s  beans are awesome.( Here’s a real cool video of Drew Park roasting beans and Rachel at Crema:   Go to video 18 when you get to that site.)They are probably the most popular right now at all the fu-fu places around Nashville but incredibly he also has the best prices; $7.99 per lb the last time I ordered. He’s strictly Internet and he charges a flat $4.00 shipping fee, right to your door, no matter how much you order. I usually get 2-3 lbs at a time, take out what I’ll use in a week or two, keep them in a airtight container and freeze the rest. The other place is Bongo Java, where every Tuesday they have $2.00 off per lb , which makes them about $ 8.00 per lb. You get them there so there’s no shipping  fee. At Bongos you  fill your bags out of bins where you can get as much or as little as you want. So I like to get several little 1/4 lb bags of different stuff for variety.beans1

  • Grinder In order to get maximum benefit from those beans you need to grind them and then immediately use it. Getting it ground when you buy the beans is only a little better than ground coffee off the shelf. Option #1 This one is fine if all you’re drinking is coffee and not espresso and french press. Go to Target or Wal Mart or wherever and pick up a $15-20 blade grinder which has a button that you hold down about 15-20 seconds. Option #2 Get a Burr Grinder from $50-100. This kind has about 12 settings from extra coarse to extra fine. If you want to do espresso which requires a fine grind or French Press which needs a very coarse grind you need one of these babies. I bought a Capresso brand for around $100 from Davis Cutlery in Hillsboro Village. I could have gotten it about $10 cheaper on the Internet but I bought it from them because older Mr Davis is a good guy and he highly recommended the Capresso. I’ve been very happy with it.
  • French Press This is the ultimate regular coffee. You’ve seen one. It’s a solid glass jar with a top with a plunger that goes down in the jar. The reason it’s the ultimate is because the filter is basically a wire screen so therefore you have to grind really coarse so the grounds won’t go through the screen. A lot of taste-producing oils are filtered out with paper filters ( less with the gold-colored metal filters which is why all the good coffee machines have them) So basically no oils are filtered out with the French Press. So, if you break down and buy a good burr grinder, go ahead and throw down another $20 or so and pick up a French Press and thank me later. Try a French Press at a coffee shop and see what you think.
  • Espresso There’s 2 or 3 ways to get espresso: 1) Get a combo coffee maker/espresso machine.This way is probably the most popular. The only problem with this kind of machine is that they are usually steam-powered and can’t produce enough pressure to produce the crema ( see picture at the top of my post. Kind of like a head on a beer or coke) which is an indicator of real espresso. If you’re adding the espresso to a drink like a latte, mocha, etc, this is fine but probably not for straight espresso or an Americano ( a combination espresso-regular coffee. It’s a couple of shots of espresso and really hot water that’s like  a regular coffee with a Hemi. Ummmmm good ) 2) Get a stove-top espresso maker or a Moka . These produce just as good espresso as the above, maybe a little better, and you can get one for around $15-25.  3) The best: Find a machine that produces about 15 bars of pressure, usually with a piston not steam. This option is where you have to spend a little money. After a lot of research, the best quality machine at the best value I found was the one I bought: a Breeville Cafe Roma .It retails for $229 at Bed Bath and Beyond but with their 20% coupon they send out all the time, I got it for under $200. It’s stainless steel, heavy duty and beautiful: Also check Amazon for reconditioned machines that are cheaper.  Before you say WHOA, that’s too much for a espresso machine, let me tell you it’s not if you want the real stuff. This price is considered the very cheapest, bottom of the range for good espresso machines. I’ve had mine now for a couple of years and am extremely happy with it. and it looks awesome sitting on my new tile counter top.
  • Frappes and Such If you’ve got a pretty good  ice crusher that will crush ice to a Icee-like consistency, pick up some whipped cream, some decent flavored coffee syrups, chocolate, etc. All this with your choice of espresso and  some Internet recipes and you can match anything  Starbucks can make. So, tell all the latte and Frap drinkers in your family that you’ll have that capability and they’ll be pitching in to help you buy all this

Favorite Place to drink Coffee

Crema’s They are at 15 Hermitage Ave. They’ve been there a year or so. Rachel Lehman and her husband are the owners.They are super-nice and have very, very good fare. Rachel knows her stuff, having earned her coffee-chops in Italy. She really duplicates the European experience with authentic drinks, coffee knowledge, and a  $5000 espresso machine, but  with true Nashville hospitality.She also supports local artists (I’m telling you, she’s got it going on).I got a drink awhile ago there that had about a half gallon of pure chocolate, a double shot of espresso, and some Cayenne pepper. Wow.Too good. She also frequently offers free classes like making espresso which I participated in and really learned a lot and enjoyed. Like I said, Rachel and her husband are great.So stop in and give them a shot( pun intended).

Tell me what you think; what’s your favorite coffee drinks, where do you get your beans, what’s your setup as far as coffee? Where’s your favorite place to drink coffee?


10 Responses to “Coffee-licious”

  1. Schmoffly Says:

    I can’t stand the taste of coffee. Caitlin worked at Starbucks for awhile so I have tried them all. Bleh.

  2. raleightatum Says:

    Well, you know my faves. But here they are, in order:

    1. Extracto Coffeehouse (NE 33rd and Killingsworth, Portland, Oregon) – Maybe a little bit of a drive, but there is absolutely not a better place out there. Anywhere. The people are WONDERFUL, the building is neat and makes for a great atmosphere, and the cinnamon rolls are off the chart awesome.

    2. Ugly Mugs (Eastland Ave, East Nashville) – My favorite place here in town. Only a couple months old, this place beats the living crap out of Portland Brew in likeable-ness (is there a word that encompasses really loving the two owners, Jared and Courtney, and the fact that they remember my name and where I live and where I go to school and other random facts, and that I feel like I am genuinely their friend? This is the thing that these top 2 have in common). Espresso is great. Their cupcakes rule the universe.

    3. Stumptown Coffee (Portland, Oregon)
    4. Fido’s (Hillsboro Village)

    Yep, four will have to work!

  3. Mmmmm….coffee. Favorite coffee places:

    1. Quills Coffee (Louisville, KY)–It will be re-opening in a month, and I have the privilege of overseeing everything pertaining to whole beans, which I’m really stoked about. Naturally, my place of employment must be my go-to. Trust me, it’s gonna be killer.

    2. Fido (Nashvegas, TN)–probably because I don’t get to go there too often, the place is dear to my heart. Their single origin beans are pretty fantastic, as well as their extensive selection of whole beans.

    3. Sunergos Coffee (Louisville, KY)–If you want a good doubleshot, this is the place to go. It’s also a micro-roastery, and they produce an overall very good product. Quills will be getting part of our bean supply from our friends at Sunergos. Sunergos is located right next to Nord’s bakery, which makes it ideal for having coffee and a donut. Plus, the staff is very laid back, friendly, and knowledgeable. Plus, my buddy Kenny does some crazy awesome latte art.

    4. The Dripilator (Black Mountain, NC)–This is a really cool shop in a small village-style town outside of Asheville. The place has a super awesome atmosphere, a very friendly staff, good drip coffee, and out-of-this-world scones.

    Raleigh, I must say I am jealous of your visits to Stumptown–the place is legendary, and a lot of what Quills is doing is modeled after them.

    My favorite drink is between a double espresso and regular drip coffee. Currently, my favorite way to make coffee is with an aeropress. It’s a really neat little device. Check it out:

    I don’t recommend it as a substitute for a double-espresso. The concentrate is good, but it definitely is not a shot of espresso.

    Thanks for the blog, Donnie!

    Oh, this book is a WONDERFUL resource–I’ve been using a lot of the information in it to put together some training material for Quills.

  4. hey Phillip,

    Thanks for writing!! When Quills reopens, let me know and I’ll put them on my blogroll. But you’ll have to put Raleigh and I on your taste team for all your beans!!!!!! Just kidding. I’m going to do my 10 favorite books soon so I’ll look forward to your input then. Talk to ya. Donnie

  5. Marla Troughton Says:

    Well, I don’t drink coffee, but I do appreciate nice tile and granite counter tops. Is the picture taken in your kitchen? I hear you’ve tiled everything except Kellye and Jordan!

  6. Hey man, just lettin you know I was here. And as for coffee: Lots of creamer, lots of sugar, chocolate syrup and a little caramel. That is a drink.

  7. Yes Marla , that’s the new granite counter top with tumbled stone back splash that’s setting the table (actually counter top) for those 3 amazing, caffeine-producing machines.
    I tries to tile Kellye and Jordan but the grout kept cracking.

  8. hey, that’s cool Brendan. Whatever tastes gooooood! Just add a couple of shots of espresso for a little kick.

  9. shawn troughton Says:

    My favorite place to drink coffee is the Starbucks in Covington, LA. I stop and grab a cup for the drive home to Birmingham, AL. I always need a mint afterwards. Kinda weird, huh? After 3 weeks at sea, anything that I can drink without using my bib, is good to me. I actually purchased a French press and have been using it some. We brought some Kona (peaberry) coffee back from Hawaii which is really good.

  10. what’s up Shawn. Good to hear from you. Maybe you guys can come over if you’re coming to Tennessee for Christmas. We’ve already talked with Marlon about getting together.
    I just bought 2 1/2 lbs of different blends of espresso beans from drewsbrews ( y’all ought to try his beans, as I mentioned above, he’s got great prices with a small shipping fee) and a couple of lbs of regular beans, one dark roast the other medium. So, we’ll drink coffee drinks until our livers cry out.
    I’ve never had any Kona. I guess my favorites are Papal New Guinea (medium, really sweet, like it has sugar in it) and Dark Colombian which is also sweet but also good and dark, a good combination in just about anything.
    talk to ya Donnie

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