If you know me at all, you are aware of my coffee obsession, evidenced by the hefty stash of fair trade whole beans on my counter and the coffee plants growing throughout my house. Now I have a new coffee-related toy, and I couldn't be prouder: it's a lovely coffee grinder I got from an antique store in downtown Waukesha last weekend.
A few years ago I relied on my large combination coffee/espresso machine to make a latte for myself every day. But as I became interested in relying less on fossil fuels in my everyday existence, I started boiling water with a very heavy duty, 1950s tea kettle and using a French press to brew my daily caffeine fix. In the summer I can use my wood-burning stove outside to boil the water, but until recently I could not go completely off the grid with my coffee because I still used an electric coffee grinder to prep my beans for the press.
I stumbled upon hand coffee grinders while looking online to see if such a thing as hand paper shredders existed (they do -- I bought one, which I use to create bedding for my vermicomposter). That's when I saw my first hand coffee grinder and it occurred to me that I could probably find one at an antique store. Sure enough, there are plenty of them, in many styles and a variety of prices. Mine was about $40, which, to me, is worth it, not just because it enables me to grind my own coffee off the grid, but because it is a beautiful work of American craftsmanship. Compared to my late 1990s coffee grinder, which looks like a dull kitchen robot, this grinder is so pretty I just can't take my eyes off of it. Don't you agree?
The down side is that it now takes me about five minutes of uncomfortable grinding to make my daily cup. Also, instead of getting a good course grind suitable for a French press, this little mill grinds the coffee so fine it tastes more like espresso or Turkish coffee when brewed. Which actually isn't a big problem, because I like my coffee in the thick-as-mud range.
Now if I could just find a hand-crank TV set...