Hello again . . . Boots is back in the saddle! Oh, and tip your barista!

Greetings to all of you good people!  I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, have been away — out on a trail gig — and have missed our coffee connection!  The past weeks, I’ve been out in the woods, away from any form of Internet communication, and restoring my Inner Outdoors Girl.  It has felt great!  And now I am back, so we can catch up on coffee. Tell me . . . What have I missed?

While out on the trail, I ran into a hiker, Niccolo, who was a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur from Italy.   We got to chatting about travel, trails, and coffee, and Niccolo said that he was curious about a lot of things in America but, once on the topic of Coffee, he asked why American baristas are so under-paid and under-respected.   Now, I might not speak Italian, but Niccolo was certainly speaking my language when it came to this conversation!

I really didn’t know how to answer to this — this not being one of those common questions that comes up when you start Coffee Talk.   I got to thinking about all of the things that American baristas have to be good at and their many multi-tasking duties.  I mean, just look at them.  They pull shots, steam milk, make eye contact with customers, do foam art, remember to ask about someone’s job interview, call back the next drink order to the register barista, and hand off your drink with a smile.   Impressive!

Now that I am back in town, I went to a busy coffee shop and observed the baristas in action.  Let’s take a look at what they have to do to serve an amazing cup of Joe.   A good barista . . .

  1. grinds coffee beans correctly so that the shots aren’t too long or too short
  2. tamps the grind into the filter perfectly
  3. pulls good shots
  4. times shots for high standards
  5. pumps liquid sugar into cups
  6. steams milk to satisfy requests (absolutely no foam, light foam, shaving-cream foam, dry cappuccino foam, bone-dry cappuccino foam)
  7. connects with the customers
  8. rinses shot glasses
  9. fills the bean hoppers
  10. continually re-adjusts the burr grinder to maintain perfect shots
  11. keeps everything clean and shiny
  12. re-stocks the refrigerators
  13. keeps the queue of drinks marching forward
  14. calls back drink orders
  15. works both the hot bar and the cold bar
  16. draws a cute smiley-face on certain cups
  17. asks about the family to the customers they know well
  18. smiles at you when s/he hands off your drink
  19.  . . . and I know that there are many other things . . .

This is a heck of a lot plates to keep spinning — all while maintaining a pleasant demeanor.   Now that I, Boots the Badass Coffee Babe, am back in town, I want to give a big shout-out to all of you baristas who work so hard to perfect your craft and to serve us fabulous beverages that many of us could never dream of making at home.

Just saying!  It makes me think of when I was young, pretty impressionable, flat broke, and just starting to work for someone who was eking out an existence on a history-laden homestead that he had inherited from someone who was as old as dirt.  The history of the place was pretty amazing and this old guy certainly knew it.  He was cocky and demanding and expected me to be his personal barista.   Well, I tamed that idea right out of him.

Sure, I was willing to haul the water from the lake and start the fire in the cookstove.  And I was even willing to grab a mug from the cupboard and set it to warm on the warming trivet.  But make the coffee?  Nuh-uh.  I knew that once I got roped into that lasso, I was going to be on call every morning at oh-dark-thirty to meet this buckaroo’s caffeine demands.

It’s weird to think that I wasn’t a coffee drinker yet.  I opted for healthful options that involved herbs and botanicals that now don’t even smell that good if I now catch a whiff of them brewing.   And this old-timer used the strangest contraption for making coffee.  He said it operated on a vacuum system  that involved some elaborate siphoning.  He expected me to learn how to use it and produce damned-good coffee, but I feigned ignorance (which was genuine) and confounded his expectations by making the very worst coffee (which was a ruse — I was smart enough to figure it out) that he swore — and I mean swore [#@$&*$$@!] had ever had the first day on the job.  I’ll give it up for the guy for having a colorful vocabulary.

I would call this a Big Life Lesson: There are benefits to Being Inadequate . . . this becoming a carefully-executed skill set of feigned ignorance that I happily applied to other areas of my professional life such as how to un-clog the paper in the copier machine on campus, how to clean the yuck out of the microwave in the break room, and how to sharpen a chain saw.   Some things are simply better left to those who feel more inclined toward responsibility.  And to showing others their higher state of abilities.   Thank God for different personality types is all that I am saying.

You’ve got to check out this old timer’s crazy way to make coffee below.   This gentleman’s contraption looked more Frankenstein-ian than this modern and sleek version, but it is the very same concept.  Who would have thought that you could extract coffee via a siphon?  Weird, right?  Go to Amazon by clicking on the images/links below:


http://amzn.to/29ROXI7

and how about this lower-priced one . . .

http://amzn.to/29SjLCz

AND . . . tip your barista.  As Niccolo pointed out, they are under-paid and under-tipped.   Your barista is partly responsible for your morning happiness . . . why not reciprocate with at least a very nice smile and a “Good job!”

Oh, and one more thing.  I am so excited to be back, I can’t stop adding coffee stuff!

Check out this new organic, Arabica coffee I found on Amazon.  I am going to try it out!  The name alone sells me — Happy Belly — let alone that it is organic, sustainably sourced and Fairtrade!


http://amzn.to/2aro1e5

PREMIUM COFFEE BY HAPPY BELLY

spacerHappy Belly makes artisan, small batch roasted blends like those found at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop, conveniently delivered to your doorstep. From growing and harvesting to roasting and packaging, ensuring our coffee’s freshness and flavor is our main focus.

Life is a darn good event.  Have fun, drink coffee, and tip your barista!!

 

 

 

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Retro Percolator Coffee, Grandma Cussing in Polish, & All’s Well That Ends Well

old percolatorBoots the Badass Coffee Babe here to talk Percolator Coffee . . . Are you thinking that this brewing method is just too old-timey or outdated or un-hipster-esque?  Does the image of a percolator bring back your mother’s or grandmother’s Wednesday morning kaffee klatch?  Or a church supper?  Or a rousing Saturday night of Polish polka on a waxed dance floor? Or Uncle Dean’s summer mountain cabin?  Or old-timey conversating between the old folk sitting around a kitchen table?

I can’t think about percolators without hearkening back to my very early childhood and my morning-grumpy, bootlegging, Polish grandmother.  It was at this tender age that I learned the life lesson that caffeine serves as an Adult Lifeline and Morning Saviour.  And another thing that I learned: Don’t mess with Grandma’s coffee and no one will get hurt.

percolator topIgnorance is bliss, or so they say.  What I considered to be an innocent Borrowing turned out to be an act of Brazen Temerity: I borrowed (translate: nearly lost) the glass plug that fits into the percolator lid for my playtime pleasure.  I was setting up an opulent mud-pie party for my dollies and, after scavenging the kitchen cupboards and drawers for Items of Elegance, I came across the glass perking plug — which was to become the most perfect and elegant crystal teacup.  I didn’t give it another thought until the next morning . . .

. . . when my caffeine deprived grandmother went on a cussing rampage while she looked for the necessary glass plug.  Looking back, she probably dropped the equivalent of a few muttered F-bombs, but as for me being the Guilty Party who had absconded with such an Integral Element of her Morning Ritual?  Well, I was quaking in my Buster Browns, I am telling you.

If you have never heard someone cussing enthusiastically in Polish, you will not understand how terrifying and mesmerizing this was to my innocent, yet guilty, little soul.  To put it plainly, Grandma wanted her coffee and she wanted it bad.  And I knew that my intrepid borrowing had led to this moment of extremely-motivating personal terror.

Grandma searched the dish drainer, the kitchen junk drawer, and garden bucket of peelings.  It didn’t take long for me to realize the error in my judgment, the epiphany of which sent me on a reconnaissance mission to Recover the Crystal Grail.  I found said Grail out in the sand box and, surreptitiously so, replaced it in the dish drainer that my grandmother had already checked 3 or 4 times.  It was gritty and dirty and it bore all the signs of having been abused by someone who was not yet of an age that could fully appreciate the Sanctity of the Crystal Grail.

Sigh.  I get it now.  Mr. Shakespeare had it right: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”  My anguish could have been greatly minimized had I simply fessed up to Grandma and asked her to help me find it. I don’t know.  I still feel mildly twitchy when I think back on this event.  William Shakespeare wrote: “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good an ill together.”  In other words, All’s Well That Ends Well — as his play is so aptly entitled.

Mr. Shakespeare knew his stuff.  Being a sensitive kid and a quick learner of Human Nature in the Morning, I was never to borrow The Crystal Grail again.  All I can say is thank God for Saint Rita, the Patron Saint of Desperate Causes, for I was able to recover the Precious Plug.  My grandmother received her morning dose of caffeine, and all was, once again, right with the world.  Like Helen, in Mr. Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, life sometimes does end with a nice, neat ribbon tied ’round the Event. And like Bill tries to tell us: Don’t worry.  Be happy.  It’s all good.  You’re gonna be fine.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Things are going to turn out fine in the end.  And don’t mess with an Uncaffeinated Grandma.

So, if you are like me and you like happy endings and you like to have more than one gizmo for making coffee in your kitchen, why not add one more?  A percolator is fun, retro, and old school.  It has all of these cool parts that fit together kind of like Tinker Toys, and you will experience the beauty of making coffee with Essential Parts of a Greater Whole.

And people who perk say that perk coffee is the best.  After seeing my grandmother’s Tizzy Fit unfold, I am a believer.  So why not try it?  The percolator pot isn’t expensive to buy, and you will always be ready for whatever coffee emergency that may occur.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A PERCOLATOR?

Why use a percolator . . . when you already have a French press or an automatic drip machine or a pour-over cone or an espresso machine?   Here are some reasons why it might be a good idea to have a coffee percolator in your coffee arsenal:

  • You live in an area where you have frequent power outages.
  • You live off the grid.
  • You’ve run out of fine-grind coffee for your espresso machine and your grinder only does a coarse-grind.
  • You feel like doing something to honor Throwback Thursday.
  • Your grandparents are coming to visit and this is the only coffee they like to drink.
  • You like to try new things.
  • You are going camping and you want something that is super simple and unbreakable to bring along for your coffee brewing.
  • You like the look of a percolator on the campfire grate.
  • You feel inspired to belt out cowboy songs when you hear the percolator bubbling.
  • You feel a sense of magic when you see the coffee perking into the glass top plug.
  • You think of your grandmother and wish that you had learned how to cuss in Polish from her when you had the chance.

IS PERCOLATION A DINOSAUR BREW METHOD?

Is it a generational thing?  Are percolators going the way of cursive handwriting and mental math?  I don’t think so.  There are many people who still use this method of brewing.  And I know a few people who are pretty proud to make coffee with such a cool, retro looking pot.

HOW THE HECK DO YOU USE A PERCOLATOR?

This is a great question.  And I’m not going to lie.  It was TOUGH to find a decent video about percolating coffee to share with you.  I came across this particular one with Quaker Anne and said Eureka!  She walks you through the steps and convinces you that percolating is the way to go.  I especially like the way she talks about her special coffee treat of adding pure maple syrup and cream to her coffee as she is relaxing at the end of the video.  It looks like this gal knows how to savor and enjoy life’s little pleasures. Check it out.  It goes for almost ten minutes, but it is kind of restful and meditative to watch.

Quaker Kitchen: Stovetop Percolator Coffee (9:56)

As Quaker Anne so wisely says: “That which is worth having is worth waiting for.   I am thinking that QA is one smart cookie.

And here is a recipe/summary of QA’s How-To video:

  1. Use excellent coffee of a coarse grind . . . Grind is Essential
  2. Use good water . . . Good Water is Essential
  3. Use the right proportions of water to grounds . . . Proportion is Essential: (I don’t agree with Quaker Ann . . . As a rule, I use 2 T. per 8 oz water for brewing any coffee with any method.)
  4. Spread coffee evenly around basket and place lid on basket put in coffee pot and put all of the Percolator Guts into the pot..
  5. Assemble all of the pieces . . . oh, and make sure that the glass bubble is secure.  You don’t want it to go percolating off the top of your pot.  Messy clean-up.
  6. Put pot on stove and turn heat up to a medium heat and wait for the coffee to start percolating.  People who perk love this sound.  And who wouldn’t?  Coffee is on the way!
  7. When coffee begins to perk . . . turn temp down so coffee gently perks.  You don’t want a raging inferno perking into the glass bubble.  Think Gentle.
  8. Set a timer for approximately 8 minutes.
  9. Do not over perk.  Turn heat off right away.
  10. Let the percolator sit for about one minute to let all water drain through the basket.
  11. IMPORTANT: Pour the percolated coffee into a thermos or an insulated carafe.  There will be no microwaving coffee on Boots’ watch!  Keep it properly hot and you won’t have to reheat it!

And I like QA’s idea to use real maple syrup as a sweetener.  Have you tried it yet?  It is as special a treat as she describes.

Shopping tips: Buy a stainless steel or a granite ware percolator.  Stay away from aluminum.

Have fun with this!  I love trying new ways to make coffee, don’t you?  Plus, it’s nice to have a dependable way to make coffee the next time a lofty windstorm pushes some giant Douglas firs down across the power lines.  At least you’ll have your percolator to fortify your day with some Joe!

Life is a lively event.  Percolate some coffee, pull up a chair, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

Happy Shopping for Cups, Percolators, & Carafes below!

For starters, how about these Retro cups for your freshly-percolated coffee?  I love these cups!  Makes me think of all of those Kaffee Klatches that my grandma shared with her other Polish-speaking friends.  I couldn’t understand a word, but I enjoyed their stories, nonetheless.
Momugs Unique Retro Hit Color Ceramic Coffee Cup with Spoon and Saucer Set, 10 oz mug, Orange

http://amzn.to/1Qee3iB

Or these?  Fun!
Diner Coffee Mugs Red Set of 6

http://amzn.to/1UJpLhl

Copco Brushed 4 to 8-Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator

http://amzn.to/1tE2MOM

Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator

http://amzn.to/1UJokzj

And for those times when the percolator glass knobs go missing!
2 pack Fitz-All Replacement Percolator Top, Small (2)

http://amzn.to/1SdkNYk

And every kitchen should have at least one carafe:
304 Stainless Steel Double Walled Vacuum Insulated Carafe with Press Button Top, Quality Thermal Carafe, Water Pitcher with Lid, coffee Pots, Serving Pitchers Coffee Thermos, 2-liter,Silver

http://amzn.to/1UJol6y

Panesor 2 Liter(68 Ounce) Coffee Carafe Thermal, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Carafe, Hot and Cold 24 hours

http://amzn.to/1YC0cV7

Happy Perking!

xox  Boots

A Cup of Coffee, Freebird Boots, & Lynyrd Skynyrd

Good morning, People!  Yay for Thursday!

Grab a cup of coffee, scroll to the bottom of this post, click on the music link courtesy of the good Lynyrd Skynyrd, and check out these Thursday boots.  The Sadie boots and Mabel boots are especially cute!

Life is a lively event.  Pull on some boots, drink some coffee, and get to it.

What’s stopping you?

good morning coffee cup

These boots need no special occasion . . . they are for everyday fun.  Happy shopping!

Freebird Women’s Sabra Boot

http://amzn.to/1WOgMkU

Freebird Women’s Sadie Boot

http://amzn.to/1UwILna

Freebird Women’s Mabel Boot

http://amzn.to/1PuXDNd

Freebird Women’s Phoenix Low Boot

http://amzn.to/1sHhOmd

Freebird Women’s Belle Boot

http://amzn.to/1UwK7y6

Freebird Women’s Chief Boot

http://amzn.to/1UwKlFE

Freebird Women’s Sammi Boot

http://amzn.to/1PuYlKg

Wowza Summer Booties to Start Your Monday!

Red, blue, tan, black, bone, taupe, brown, gray, and white! Fringe, straps, buckles, perforated, and lace!  Leather, vegan, eco-friendly!

Aren’t these booties darling?

Take a few minutes on this busy Monday morning at your desk to check out this splash of cuteness!

Your boot expert, xox Boots the Badass Coffee Babe

For a seriously fun fashion statement , , , these red boots are guaranteed to turn some heads.  Great with jeans, mini-skirts, and sundresses:


http://amzn.to/1tbexMp

For that darling floral sundress in your closet:


http://amzn.to/1tbeT5V

For that flirty linen skirt that you haven’t worn for a while:


http://amzn.to/2123TSG

These?  For anything and everything?  Love the look and the straps!


http://amzn.to/1XvMUdT

For those summer colors that need a punch of bisque:


http://amzn.to/28etjlq

Love this combination of lace and vegan-friendly materials in taupe-nubuck:


http://amzn.to/1RUZuKR

These are just plain cute for a night on the dance floor doing the Boot Scootin’ Boogie:


http://amzn.to/1Usuovz

Cute, casual, simple:


http://amzn.to/1tbe3Gc

These are adorable!  The colors are just perfect for so many outfits.  And the style?  So classy . . . guaranteed to catch a compliment!


http://amzn.to/1UsvKGP

Love this look with the Western toe, accented straps, and chunky heel:


http://amzn.to/22I1DBx

Just plain cute and darline with a floral sundress:


http://amzn.to/1XvNiJg

These are so cute and feminine and love the heel:


http://amzn.to/28euDEX

And here are some cute sundresses!


http://amzn.to/28eBZZ0


http://amzn.to/1tblUn3


http://amzn.to/1TVS69G

Have a GREAT Monday!  Treat yourself to a new pair of summer boots and sundress!