My First Visit to Space

My first experience with a shuttle – an open house at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California in November 1984. Fittingly it was also the very first Space Shuttle built.

(Click for full size view) The tall orange jacketed man is my dad and I’m holding my dad’s hand in the blue jacket. All of 4 years old. My mom and younger brother, Joe, only 4 months old, were behind the camera. I have no idea who the guy looking at the camera is.

I’m holding my dads hand in this photo that my mom dug up, looking upward at the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Besides being on tour around this time, it was used to test the shuttle launch pad at VAFB. It’s now in New York and and officially designated as a historic “place” in the National Register of Historic Places.

Sadly, I have no memory of this first-person view, but I was a devoted fan of space exploration and science from my earliest memories not long after that. And even my earliest memories of computers, and inter-connecting them, involved NASA (I remember, specifically, how I thought I could access NASA computers, even before I owned or even knew what a modem was. Not sure why I wanted into their computers, but it made sense at the time.)

The least you need to know to experience the joy of better brewed coffee

I’m into good coffee. I’ve owned my own espresso makers and roasted my own coffee at home, and I rely on a French press for my daily consumption. 

Don’t let that fool you though: Most days I’m too lazy or too busy to wear my aficionado hat. That’s why I’m going tell you the least you need to know to experience the joy of better brewed coffee.

There are a million things aficionados will tell you that you “must” do to get a good cup of plain old brewed coffee. It’s unlikely you’ll follow much of that advice (unless you’re obsessed or just deeply interested and willing to dedicate the time and energy to it).

You wouldn’t mind a great cup of coffee (even just slightly better), but you don’t want to put time, energy, or money into it. I get it. Most days I don’t either.

That’s why I’m going to tell you the only thing you need to know to raise the bar a bit on your home (or office) brewed coffee with least amount of effort, distraction, and energy. It’s the pragmatic approach I actually use 99% of the time (despite my occasional deep dives into the dark arts of high-end coffee).

It’ll take one minute to read through, about one minute extra the next time you are at the grocery store, and another minute if you follow my number two suggestion (which can be ordered on-line), and nearly no consumption of your time and energy on an ongoing basis after that.

Here’s the least you can do to get the most improvement…

  1. Buy whole beans.
  2. Buy a bean grinder (<$50 – might I suggest the KRUPS Grinder 203-42 for ~$22 at
  3. Store the beans sealed as tightly as possible (exposure to oxygen/air speeds up their deterioration).
  4. Consume the beans within 7 days.
  5. Buy the whole beans from a regional roaster (or even Starbucks).
  6. Don’t let the brewed coffee sit on the coffee warmer. (Consider a small french press if you don’t mind boiling your own water)

That’s it. Heck, do any one of these and things will get better (well, the grinder is a requirement if you get whole beans so I guess two). Do just a couple and, well, you can see how they build on each other.

 Bonus tips

  • If you use Half & Half, avoid the ultra-pasteurized variety (it has a more cooked flavor along with other off flavors added as preservatives)
  • Use the same amount of coffee grounds in your maker regardless of whether you’re making a full pot or not.
  • Experiment with different bean sources, types, and roasts to find roasters, origins, and roast levels that best match your flavor preferences. It doesn’t have to be $20/lbs coffee. I’ve found decent coffee at local super markets and chain superstores (but local roasters will have a wide variety of too and almost always fresher and, generally, higher quality).

Most importantly…

Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks — ignore any one’s advice (including mine) and simply enjoy your coffee no matter what. 🙂

Additional resources

If you are inclined to learn a bit more you might also enjoy these two resources: