Cure for Horrid Hotel Coffee

For the life of me I could not figure out why the coffee tasted so awful.

I’m on a long term assignment, and I’m being put up in a nice hotel suite with a little kitchen. I already knew the coffee would suck so I brought my own. To my surprise and horror, it still sucked.

Must be the water, I thought, and went out and got bottled water.

Still sucked.

Must be the coffee pot, I decided, and cleaned it out thoroughly. Made a new pot.

It still sucked.

I cleaned it again, this time using that stuff that goes through and strips out all the lime and sediments. That had to be it, I thought. There was nothing else it could be. I was using some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I was using good water, and the filters were fine.

Yet, the coffee was still horrible.

Finally I figured it out by listening. It sounded like the boiler was never quite shutting off, that it kept trying to spit more water through. Upon opening it, though, I found there was no water in the tank. The boiling sound was coming from the coffee pot.

The stupid freaking hotel coffee maker was boiling my coffee! The pot warmer was set way too hot.

Well, that was it. I was finished dinking with this coffee machine. I decided to simply go and buy a little cup-top manual coffee maker like the one I use at home.

I gave up on that, as well, after days of searching. No one here carries them.

It came down to two choices … buy a coffee maker, or make my own coffee maker. Well, I certainly wasn’t going to buy one. I came close a few times — I was that desperate — but in the end I decided it wasn’t rocket science, I could construct my own.

I started with a travel mug that had its own lid. It was perfect because I already had an idea of what I would do, and needed the lid for support.











Next I took a Styrofoam coffee cup that the hotel provided and poked holes in the bottom with a plastic fork. This became the holder for my coffee filters.






After that it was a simple matter of stuffing a filter into the Styrofoam cup and measuring coffee into it.









I set the ad-hoc coffee maker onto the open lid on the travel mug and poured the hot (but not boiling) water into it.

The coffee steeped as it should, trickled down fresh into the mug, and guess what?

It tasted awesome.

Now, I know what some of you are going to say. I should have simply called down to the front desk and demanded another coffee machine. I have to admit the thought did occur to me more than once, but I didn’t because I figured they’d just bring another one of their horrid coffee makers. Besides, this was a challenge and I wanted to solve it myself.

And, truth be known, I thought it would be fun to write about.

This is a good example of how there really is nothing to brewing good coffee. You don’t need a $400 machine with its own cybernetic brain, or four dials and 37 valves.

All you need is good coffee, good water, and to brew it at an appropriate temperature.

That, and an unwillingness to settle for coffee that sucks.

Café Britt Tarrazu Montecielo

Standing up at the top of a mountain in the early morning, walking right up to the edge, and yelling out, “Hello!”

After several heartbeats it echoes distantly back. “Hello…”

You grin and take a sip of coffee. Ah, this is the life. After breakfast you might grab your fly rod and go down to the stream. But for now, you’ve got a coffee to finish, and Café Britt‘s Tarrazu Montecielo is its name.

All of this is going on in my mind. Feet up on my desk, leaning back, eyes closed. A mental vacation. The coffee is real, though.

This Costa Rican treasure is very bold and dusky, with delicious wood smoke notes. Bit of a sharp edge to it … it could be smoother. Still, the taste is outstanding, and a far cry better than other Tarrazu roasts I’ve had (including Gevalia’s).

I find it goes especially good with chocolate.

(Which I’m not supposed to be eating.)

Stone Creek French Roast

This isn’t just French Roast, this is amazing French Roast.

It’s amazing that they could take a coffee that is, by its very nature, a harsh kick-in-the-paints wake-up-and-go coffee, and make it taste so refined and elegant — and, at the same time, still retain its urgent zoom pow blam quality.

I mean, face it, one does not drink a French Roast when they want to relax. This is an action coffee. It’s like rocket fuel for the brain.

So, in essence, Stone Creek has managed to roast and blend an elegant rocket fuel. And that, my coffee loving friends, is amazing.

The flavor definitely features that dark, strong French Roast edge. Once brewed, it’s as black as deep space between stars. We’re talking devoid-of-all-color opaque black. It has the French Roast bitterness but somehow reined in and mellowed just enough. You can taste the buzz that you’re about to get. And when you get the buzz, you feel it.

I’m feeling it right now. Can you tell? Can you? Huh? Huh?

It’s just freaking amazing. I love it. It’s good as a drip, and it also makes a great espresso. It goes without saying it would be outstanding in a French press.

As far as a French Roast goes, Stone Creek’s is definitely one elegant strong black buzzing delicious Groovy Brew!

Café Britt Tres Rios Valdivia

Wake up and smell the coffee. Yes. That is one of the pleasures in life.

This is a sunrise coffee. Not a rushed, the alarm didn’t go off, I haven’t had enough sleep type of sunrise — this is more like, oh, I woke up early, it’s a beautiful morning, let’s make some coffee.

Let’s make some Tres Rios Valdivia.

Café Britt‘s Valdivia is plucked out of cool volcanic mountains of the Tres Rios region, and the coffees from this area are considered “the Bordeaux” of Costa Rica.

I found it to be fruity, medium bold, with a nice sweetness and edge. They suggest you might find hints of plum and allspice, but I didn’t get that. I did get a clear pure coffee flavor that could have been a bit fresher and more smooth, yet at the same time, it was satisfying enough.

I wouldn’t consider this an outstanding jump up and down oh my God this is incredible coffee, but it is very good, and especially makes a good choice for that relaxed sunrise breakfast.

Stone Creek Fair Trade Blend

Milwaukee has got to be a cool place to live for it to have such a cool coffee company. I have never been there, but I’ll get there eventually, and when I do I’m going to pay these people a visit and thank them personally.
They roast and blend some fantastic coffee. This one is no exception.
Stone Creek‘s Fair Trade Blend starts off with a nice strong bite, then settles into a toasty complex flavor that mixes a hint of fruitiness in with walnut and pecan notes. It finishes clean on the palate and leaves you wanting more. It’s not too bold and it’s not too mild. It’s perfect for a rainy weekend afternoon, when you’re kicking around relaxing, or working on some fun project.
Their company motto is, simply, “Sip slowly.” They know what they’re talking about. Coffee this good needs to be savored.
The fact that it’s Fair Trade and Organic is just icing on the cake.
At the heart of Stone Creek, their mission is to roast “Amazing Coffee.” That’s their actual, official term for it. They look for amazing beans, they roast them to amazing perfection, and they mix it into amazing blends. If it doesn’t have that quality of being amazing, they’re not interested in it.
I love companies like this. I love unpretentious people who actually commit to quality, and not just in business, but to life itself. I think I’ve said this before but it bears repeating … a good portion of our world runs on coffee, almost literally. Imagine how much better it would run if we all enjoyed better coffee.

Café Britt Organic Shade Grown

Orgasmic shade grown … oh, pardon me. Where’s my mind?

I meant organic.

But it’s a justified Freudian slip. I’ve sampled several of Café Britt‘s coffees lately and this is by far my favorite. It’s rich, full bodied, naturally sweet, dusky, with a hint of wood smoke and hints of nuttiness.

Costa Rican coffees are just plain yummy. The fact that this one is orgasmic … I mean, organic, is a bonus. Organic, Fair Trade, yadda yadda yadda…

It’s good.

This is an all day drinking coffee. This is a coffee to serve at a party instead of alcohol. This is a coffee to drink in between dances with your sweetheart.

It’s lick the bottom of the coffee cup delicious. I mean it.

It’s truly organic … I mean orgasmic.

And legal to drink in public!

Toulouse Caffe

They started with some good beans.
It seems to me everything went downhill from there.
I did everything I could to brew this coffee so that the flavor would come out. I think I succeeded to some extent. You can taste underlying quality, and the ghost of a pleasant, full bodied roast.
Sadly this taste is veiled behind curtains of staleness. To me it tastes not only stale but somewhat sour. Not sour as in it’s gone bad and is going to kill me, but the taste itself has soured. It’s an aluminum can taste, mixed with shredded old socks and perhaps a pinch of vacuum bag dirt.
Seriously, this stuff is turning my stomach. I can’t even finish it. I’m dumping the rest down the sink.
You may see this in your hotel room. You may see it in on a bottom shelf at your supermarket. You may find it in the garbage.
If you do, leave it there.

Stone Creek Cream City Blend

This coffee is already gone.

From the very first sip, I completely lost interest in writing a review. I didn’t want the distraction. The taste is so smooth, so dramatic, that I wanted to simply enjoy it.

It struck me that so many coffee drinkers out there are happy with what they have. Ignorance is bliss. Because once you find out something is better, then what you have will no longer keep you happy.

That’s human nature.

If I were to take this coffee down to the corporate offices, make a fresh pot with some good water, at proper strength, I would ruin the sedated and complacent palates of a couple hundred people. Is this liberation or cruelty? To know something out there is so much better is good for the spirit, but then having to settle for something you now recognize as horrible would be … well, horrible.

A blend of Ethiopian, Guatemalan and French Roast coffees, this Cream City is the smoothest coffee I’ve ever had. The taste is rich and full bodied, and yet mellow. It would mix well with anything. Black, or sweetener, or with cream, or with ice cream, or as a cappuccino … this is the perfect all-around coffee.

I am so completely spoiled. I don’t think it’s a curse. I think the search for excellence is the high road and I recommend it to everyone. The answer is to not settle.

So here’s a shout out to the folks at Stone Creek. You people are awesome. This coffee is world class outstanding, and it is most definitely a Groovy Brew.