At Christmastime I was trying to figure out what to give an uncle that has everything. I thought maybe he’d enjoy a gift of things that are local to my area of San Francisco – items that he might not be able to purchase at home in Massachusetts.
Remembering that my mom always talked about what a big coffee lover my uncle is, I thought that I would leverage my proximity to such great local San Francisco choices and send him some good coffee as part of his gift.
It’s been multiple decades since I lived at home or in Massachusetts, but I figured that he would probably enjoy some really good coffee as I smugly believe that SF is the coffee hub of the universe. On my street alone we have several nationally known small roasters. At home, all I remember is Dunkin’ Donuts.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am always boasting about a few tiny cult coffee spots in my neighborhood that I obsess over (Philz, Ritual Coffee, Blue Bottle and Four Barrel). Still, I can’t deny that I love Peet’s Coffee & Tea. While the company has expanded considerably and is considered a chain (something we, San Franciscans usually pooh-pooh) I am a proud Peetnik. It’s my go-to coffee every day at home.
A few days after Christmas I received a call from my aunt mentioning how much my uncle loved his gift from me – especially the coffee. The only downside was that my aunt had to go out and a buy a coffee maker so he could brew the coffee.
What? How could a supposed coffee lover not have a way to brew coffee? Well, I guess my mom’s definition of being a big coffee drinker was that each day my uncle drank a cup of (gulp) instant coffee. Leave it to my mom, who doesn’t drink coffee, to call someone who adds hot water to Sanka a coffee lover. Clearly, we have very different ideas on the subject of coffee.
Over the last few months, I heard that my uncle had been going online to buy his Peet’s coffee. He began buying Peet’s at his local grocery store but found the choices limited and I guess he decided to go directly to the source.
So, when I went back East for a visit last week, I thought I would bring my uncle more coffee Peet’s coffee – the special Anniversary Blend only available in stores where I live – along with a French press (a standard 8-cup Bodum Chambord). I had his coffee ground for the French press. I knew that if he didn’t have a coffee maker previously that it was unlikely he had a grinder. I just want to show him just how delightful and simple making coffee could be. After all, he was clearly familiar with adding water to something and calling it coffee. I figured this would be basically the same process only with delicious results.
My uncle, an engineer by trade is very specific and precise. When he gets into things he goes over every detail and wants to become an expert. Upon receiving his new gift from me, we spent over an hour discussing the differences in making coffee using a French press versus a drip coffee machine. He even spent some time examining the difference between beans ground for French press, comparing them to coffee ground for drip. He was really into the whole process. It a nice bonding moment and I felt happy to share my love of coffee with him. Plus, I was proud that I had indoctrinated him into the ways of great coffee.
He loves his French press and is now set on trying different types of beans. It’s exciting that he wants to taste a variety of coffees from different regions. What an amazing transformation for my uncle from Sanka drinker to would-be coffee connoisseur.
My husband’s mission seems to be to pet every dog on the planet. Mine is to convert everyone I know to experience the joys of drinking better coffee. I am now one step closer to my goal.
Lisa Picarille is a San Francisco coffee enthusiast who enjoys being jittery and breaking out the siphon pot to impress house guests.