Moka Express

In my quest to find a great replacement for my afternoon cup of coffee, having ditched the pod machines and spent a solid year tuning and enjoying my pour over game, Santa was kind enough to bring me a moka pot for Christmas this year.

And I’ve been having a great, well-caffeinated time learning to use it.

As I understand it, the moka pot is a bit old fashioned. Originating in Italy, it was a popular home brewing gadget after the Second World War but prior to the proliferation of the drip machine.

A three part contraption, the funnel-filter in the middle is filled with ground coffee and as the water boils in the bottom chamber it pressure-rises through and up, percolating and filling the upper chamber with espresso-like coffee.

The result is not a true espresso, though it’s close. An yet it’s much stronger than drip coffee.

I’ve been mixing hot-to-boiling water into mine at a ratio of roughly 1 part moka brew to 2 parts water, and the result is an almost-Americano-like drink that is full of flavour and body in a way that even my best drip coffee pour overs have trouble achieving.

About a scoop and a half of ground coffee fills the filter and less than ten minutes on my simmer burner has a steaming cup of better-than-average-joe in my mug and ready to fuel the afternoon office push of video meetings and budget plotting and government paperwork.

None of this is push button, but between my pour overs (which are cheap, fast, and simple) and my moka pot americanos (which are slower, use a bit more raw ingredients, but overall tastier) I think I’m narrowing in on some old fashioned solutions to a modern problem: single serve simple afternoon coffee for the work-from-home desk jockey.

At the end of the day, my whole scheme here is one of reducing the number of plastic, disposable pods I formerly used to create mediocre (and relatively expensive) afternoon cups. Pour overs and moka pots are about exploring something quick and easy in the coffee brewing effort.

And overall I’m rating this adventure quite high.

Also… the Coffee Singularity Has Arrived

I asked ChatGTP how to make coffee with a moka pot. Here’s it’s answer:

A Moka pot, also known as a stovetop espresso maker, is a simple and traditional way of making coffee. Here’s the basic process for using a Moka pot to make coffee:

  1. Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot with cold water, up to the level of the pressure valve.
  2. Add ground coffee to the metal filter basket in the middle chamber, tamping it down lightly.
  3. Assemble the Moka pot by placing the middle chamber with the coffee and filter basket on top of the bottom chamber with the water. Make sure the gasket and filter plate are properly in place.
  4. Place the Moka pot on the stovetop over medium heat. Do not use high heat or let the water boil.
  5. As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, it will begin to create pressure, forcing the water through the coffee and into the top chamber. Once the coffee has started to fill the top chamber, you can hear a gurgling noise, at this point you can remove it from the heat to prevent the coffee from getting burned.
  6. Once all the water has passed through the coffee, the pot will make a distinctive “hissing” sound, indicating that the coffee is ready. Carefully pour the coffee into cups, being careful not to burn yourself on the steam or hot metal.

Note that, Moka pot often extract a strong coffee with a bold, rich flavor and a thick crema on top. Also remember, to clean the pot after each use, to ensure that you’ll always get the best flavor out of your coffee.

Clock Works

As my 101 year old grandmother transitions between living situations, she found herself giving away some of her most carefully curated possessions.

At some point in the last forty-six years I (apparently, though unintentionally) impressed upon her that my (genuine) interest in her cuckoo clock, the same clock that hung on the wall of her house for most of my childhood, the same clock that my (late) grandfather would wind daily by pulling the chains down to the floor each night, the same clock that would fascinate us with it’s animations when we visited, that such a clock should end up on my wall some day.

That day was today.

I am feeling a little emotional and humbled, to be honest.

As my parents and relatives assisted with the job of packing up her room and sorting out what needs to move to the next place, my grandmother firmly asserted that the clock was to go to me.

So, suddenly there I was, with something of a family heirloom in a heap on my kitchen table after a short delivery visit by my folks.

As it turns out, my grandmother got tired of the tick-tocking and hourly cuckoos about fifteen years ago, so the beautiful beast has done little more than hung lifeless on her wall as a decoration for that whole time.

I hung it up, set it up, reset it all, and … the ticking doesn’t tock as well as it used to.

The pendulum ticks and tocks for a few seconds… or a few minutes… as long as eight minutes once, keeping accurate time for a fraction of an hour, but then tick-tock-tick… tick…. tick… silence.

I opened it up to see if there was something obviously wrong, but clock works are not my specialty (nor, if I’m being completely honest, a thing that I have anything other than a passing experience) in diagnosing or fixing.

So, for the moment, the family clock is hanging decoration-like on my wall looking sharp and elegant and like it belongs there. But thus starts an adventure to restore it to the glory of the 70s and 80s and those days I remember from my youth, and to bring back the ticks, tocks and maybe even a cuckoo or two.

Inflatable Summer

December 7 of 31 December-ish posts

Following my (un)inflatable winter, when last spring finally rolled around I was able to unpack my inflatable kayak from it’s box, spread it out on my small backyard lawn, and figure out how to work this fabulous new toy that had spent the winter taunting me from my basement storage room.

What excited you most in 2022?

We took the new kayak out multiple times over the spring and summer.

Our inaugural trip was a twelve klick journey down part of the river that winds through the middle of our city, the dog perched with her paws on the edge of the craft and all of us watching the world drift by as we slowly paddled downstream to where we’d left our truck.

The rest of the season had us carting the gear around the province in the back of our car wherever else we found ourselves travelling. To the lake with friends where the boat rarely left the water for the entire day as everyone took turns, or out to the mountains for a chilly traverse of an expansive reservoir, we pumped, paddled, and deflated our new vessel on many of our little local adventures.

Enjoy some photos I didn’t get around to posting earlier this year.

Our not-so-new-anymore kayak is all dried and folded up for the winter, now, but I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of it next year again.

Black Hat

Every guy needs a good hat.

Personally, I’ve been a Tilley Hat loyalist since my years as a boy scout in the early 90s, but it was only in the last couple years that I expanded my collection beyond the single version of this Canadian outerwear icon that I’d bought way back when.

And this year I added to that collection with an order of a simple black bucket hat that arrived in a nondescript cardboard box through my mail over the summer.

What object will forever
remind you of 2021?

As with my new one, my previous Tilley hats have all been bought with purpose.

I own a great brimmed hemp hat that I purchased a few years ago and is really a wandering and travel hat, the head gear I wear on hikes and camping, into the woods and out into the wilds.

I also own a great big orange sun hat made by Tilley. This is my backyard hat. I wear it when I mow the grass or work in the garden or sit by the fire cooking steaks, and it keeps the sun off while staying pretty cool.

This past summer. I got it into my head to get myself a local adventure hat. We weren’t going far over the past year, so I wanted a lid that I could take along with me as I walked the dog, went to the park, or stepped over to the farmer’s market without looking like I was about to embark on a wilderness adventure.

I landed on a simple black bucket hat with a floppy brim and a comfortable sense about it.

It quickly filled that role and became my go to hat for summer and fall, and my favourite purchase of 2021.

Forever is a long time, but right now I think the object that will forever remind me of the year we left behind is very simple, faithful hat that I toted around the neighbourhood upon my noggin for the better part of a strange and adventure-sapped year.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

This is not an endorsement. This is simply commentary on a product I have purchased myself. Do your own research and do your best to buy local products that support businesses that deserve your business.