morning coffee routine

being a new parent means losing sleep. getting less sleep means you gotta have a morning coffee routine to get things going!

even though there’s a bunch of coffee places within a 5 minute walk of where we live, it’s not super convenient to get some first thing in the morning (hitting the starbucks next door to our house in PJs might be a bit odd). there’s also the cost factor of course. recently, my favorite coffee has been philz, just down 4th at Berry St. – but it’s too far to make the trek in the morning and they do charge $3 for a small cup of single-drip coffee. ($1.50 for the next few weeks as I use up the $20 GC I got through groupon 🙂 )

anyhoo, looking for a home option, my criteria were:

  • high quality taste
  • single serving
  • quick/easy to make and cleanup

at first, i tried using a french press with pre-ground coffee. we registered for a bodum chambord double wall coffee press in our wedding registry and i had gotten a bag of starbucks grounds on clearance at target.

i tried using this setup a few times after we had first gotten married 2 years ago, but with these tools a few major problems were evident:

  1. the pre-ground coffee was the wrong coarseness, which meant that the french press was unable to filter cleanly and there were small grounds in the produced coffee
  2. the double wall feature was nice in that it kept the coffee hot longer, but it only comes in a rather large size, which wasn’t conducive to a single serving. i’d usually end up with multiple cups, which is way too much normally
  3. cleanup was a nightmare. the french press has a ton of pieces and the cleaning the plunger/filter is too much work for daily use

paired with my inexperience at getting the right final mix (coffee/sugar/milk), the coffee was horrible and a ton of work.

fortunately, we got the coffee press at bbb which has an awesome return policy (better than REI and Nordstrom!). so, in addressing the serving size problem, i exchanged it for a smaller french press: a 17-ounce bodum shin bistro

excited, i brought it home eager to give it a go the next morning. however, results were really disappointing. the serving size problem was solved, but the single wall construction meant the coffee was lukewarm after brewing (you have to let it steep in the press for a few minutes before plunging). the cleanup was still terrible and the finished product was still subpar compared to my local coffee joints.

the french press goes into the cupboard, months go by and riley join us… and the need for coffee increases dramatically 🙂

i do some online research and find this brilliant contraption:


swissgold® KF 300 One-Cup Coffee Filter

it solves the serving size problem, is much easier to clean, has no moving/complicated parts, and produces nice drip coffee just like you find at blue bottle, cento, and philz without having to get paper filters.

now i was getting really close, but my bag of pre-ground coffee had pretty much lost all its flavor. i knew i wasn’t going to be able to use up bags of pre-ground coffee fast enough for it to stay fresh so, using some bbb store credit, i bought a breville conical burr grinder and some peet’s whole coffee beans.

in the weeks that followed, i made the final few adjustments:

  • the swissgold filters coffee best if it’s ground at the “fine” setting, which is used for filtered coffee (it’s in between the setting for plunger and espresso)
  • i switched to using organic turbinado raw cane sugar
  • i now use heavy cream – which i’ve discovered is a must have in the kitchen! you can also add it to eggs for scrambled eggs and curry yum!
  • to heat the water, i use filtered water from our fridge and nuke 8 oz. for 2.5 minutes in the microwave
  • cleaning the swissgold just takes a quick wash with our oxo soap brush

end result: coffee as good as philz in 5 minutes every morning. cost? hmmm… $16 for the swiss gold + $100 for the coffee grinder + $8 for bags of beans (25 servings) + $3 for a pint of cream (10 servings) + $3 bag of sugar (~100 servings). doing a little calculus, limit as n approaches infinity of ($16 + $100)/n is 0, so the cost per cup is something like $0.32 + $0.30 + $0.03 = $0.65 / cup!