For coffee, the search for perfection is the enemy of the good. So let’s start with the basics. My brewer is a cheap $29.00 basket brewer from Cuisinart. With this bit of piece of 10-year-old plastic and metal, I can consistently brew great coffee. To my tastes anyway – of course, my preferences go back to the pot in my dad’s workshop, the Navy, and the Capn’s little pot on board his ketch Psyche. To the uninitiated, this is seaman’s or sailor’s coffee. 

Second-class petty officer John O’Toole once told me that there were seven grades of Navy coffee starting with Joe and winding up with varnish stripper. Wardroom coffee was not on the list. It was made for officers who had no proper standards of what good coffee was.

My father and the Cap’n ( my first father-in-law) were both Merchant Mariner’s, and before signing on for a voyage, wanted to know who the cook was. No dishwater coffee allowed there, or Cookie could get a Jonah Lift over the side during the midwatch.

So should I give away the critical secrets? Simple – 

  • Good beans. Only grind enough at a time for a day or two.
  • Good water. Not fluorinated tap. Filter it
  • A well-seasoned pot. Yes, I know you’ve heard the rumors about seamen never washing the pot, and to some extent, it’s true. We never scrub the coffee pot, and we never wash it with soap. Use soap, and your following ten pots will taste off. Just take that pot and lightly scrub it with a soft sponge. Softly mind you – leave that damned Brillo pad alone! You are not Holystoning a deck!

So this upsets you. Think of it as a sort of cast iron pot or skillet. You’ve spent all that time seasoning it, and then cousin Bertha scrubs it bright. I ask you! Does Bertha deserve to survive after such sacrilege?

Finally, your brewing equipment needs consideration. The reason for this rant was a series of articles I read on fancy coffee brewers. Some cost as much as a good quality planer for my workshop. Frankly, too much complication is not my thing. The only tool in my shop with a computer attached to it is the laser cutter and engraver, and it’s too damned fussy for me most of the time. I generally like things simple.

My goal is to drink my coffee, not spend an hour arguing with the buttons trying to get it simply brew. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had a few of the fancy ones. I gave them away as gifts to people I didn’t like. Better them than me.

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