How To Easily Clean A Vintage Coffee Percolator

>> 18 June 2011

Today's blog post is brought to you by... C O F F E E ! ! !

Click image to embiggen
Warning: I'm obsessed with ways to make good coffee on the cheap so I think several upcoming posts are going to be about coffee!  I'll resume my regular standard posts as soon as I get over this kick.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm totally into making coffee with a percolator.  It turns out, the brand I own is called a "Universal Coffee-matic" (image left) which was made by an American company called  Landers, Frary & Clark throughout the 50s and 60s. The company manufactured housewares from 1865 until its assets were sold to General Electric in 1965 when the brand itself faded into obscurity.

Landers, Frary & Clark may be a thing of the past, but my fantastic Coffee-matic still works and brews some excellent hot coffee.  I use it at work, where I bypass the crappy drip coffeemaker they've got going in the kitchen and percolate a batch every morning. Since I only consume one single cuppajoe a day, I share the remainder of the pot with co-workers.  The fun part is it's becoming a stone soup situation wherein they bring in delicious roasts from their local mom and pop coffee roasters for me to brew.

How To Clean A Vintage Coffee Percolator

On a daily basis, the interior of the pot (NOT the heating element) needs to be washed with hot soapy water after every use.  DO NOT IMMERSE the pot in water if you're using a Coffee-matic (like I am) or any non-immersible brand percolator or you'll destroy the heating element. Also: remember to unplug the darn thing before cleaning.

On a monthly basis follow the steps below to really deep clean your percolator and get the most flavorful cup of coffee. I also recommend this method if you just purchased a used percolator. You'll need these supplies on hand: vinegar, baking soda, towel, toothpick, needle, pipe cleaner, dish brush, soap and water.
  1. Throw in 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the coffee basket and add water to the pot.  Turn it on and let it run through a percolating cycle. After it's complete, turn it off, wait for it to cool and then throw the liquid out.
  2. Fill the pot a second time with a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar and once again run it through a percolating cycle. Wait for pot to cool and throw the liquid out.
  3. Finally, fill the pot a third time this time with plain water and let it run through a percolator cycle.  Empty the water and allow the pot dry.  
  4. Wipe down the exterior with a towel but do not apply any scouring device, cleaning powders or steel wool because you will only damage it.
  5. Remove the pump tube and basket and thoroughly clean any debris or coffee residue with a combination of toothpick, needle, pipe cleaner or a brush as needed. Allow to dry.
  6. Inspect the washer and perk tube flange for debris.  If this element does not rattle upon shaking it, poke the holes with a needle, toothpick or pipe cleaner until it does.  Rinse and allow to dry.
  7. Reassemble all the pieces of your percolator and you're good to go!

In my next post, I'll offer my recipe for cold brew coffee!

"This Is Coffee" (1962) or "How To Percolate Coffee"

>> 14 June 2011

Last summer I went camping and enjoyed the best cup of joe I've had since my travels in Europe when I graduated high school. Maybe it was the great outdoors. Maybe it was the fresh clean air. My friend who brewed it fresh every morning swore it was the fact that it was percolated using a camping percolator coffee pot.

Life was good.

Summer came and went and along with it was those mornings of fresh coffee brought to my tent.


Cut to: this year where I'd been laid off and out of work for almost five months. Fun-employment can be pretty brutal and not so very fun so every day I went to my local multinational coffee chain store, paid $2 bucks for a cup of drip coffee and hammered away on my computer utilizing the store's free WIFI in search of my next gig which I got at the end of April.

Now I'm in a 9-5, at a desk with no windows so I remember fondly last summer's camping trip and the great coffee. I remember and wonder about my pals at my morning coffee klatsch as we pored over job listings and Craigslist posts.  But one thing's for sure: I don't miss spending $14 a week on coffee.

Do. The. Math: a two buck-a-day habit multiplied by 365 days and your average coffee expense amounts to a whopping $730 a year! That's a round trip ticket to Paris or a cruise in the Hawaiian Islands, egads! I mean, that's a lot of money, especially when you're coming off an extended bout of unemployment and accepting significantly less pay than you're used to because of this economy.

Now my new gig has a coffee service, and the coffee is just OK. The brand is good, so I'm thinking that maybe it's the coffee maker itself from which flows this mediocre coffee and wouldn't you know it? I was right!

I went out to my local thrift shop and got a good old-fashioned electric coffee percolator, cleaned it out really good with vinegar and starting making my own fresh perc'd coffee and let me tell you (exaggerated sotto voce): it tastes 100% better.

But it took awhile to get it right. At first, I was flummoxed. I paid only $4 bucks for the percolator but I didn't have the foggiest idea on how to use it. My camping buddy made the coffee daily, so while I was blissfully caffeinated I was also an utter doofus for failing to get the instructions on how to make it from him.

So I went on-line and found several forums and tutorials. There seems to be a huge debate from many coffee snobs who argue the merits of drip or even French pressed coffee over  percolated coffee.

However, for me, percolated coffee tastes better, is darker and stronger, and the equipment is much less expensive. There no filters to change or buy so I save the trees while making things easier on my wallet and the environment. Not only that,  but my co-workers also think it's better tasting than the company's coffee maker or the local multinational coffee chain store down the street.

I think the trick is I make it strong and the percolator dispenses it hot so like, who doesn't like strong hot coffee? Right?

This documentary was brought to you by the Coffee Brewers Institute and produced by Visions Associates. On one forum I read where this guy took a class from the institute back in the fifties when he claims he was the night manager at Hody's Restaurant in Hollywood.  He said that upon completion of instruction "We were awarded a 1/2 gold colored coffee cup and hung it over the entrance to the bar."

So when you get a moment, would you be so kind as to put down that cuppa joe and let me know your secret for the best method for making coffee? Cheers!

How To Add FancyBox to Blogger/Blogspot in 7 Steps

>> 05 June 2011

Hello everybody!

Long time no post, but I'm back today with a nifty tutorial on how to add lightbox effects to photos posted to Blogger/Blogspot.

Did you notice I didn't entitle this post "How To Add FancyBox to Blogger/Blogspot in 7 Easy Steps"?

That's because adding this feature takes some pretty advanced coding skills so be prepared to spend some time with this and look up other tutorials on the Web if my directions fail to give you results.  I installed this feature through trial and error and took me about four hours to get it right.

We'll be using a free tool called FancyBox which displays images, html content and multi-media "lightbox" that floats overtop of web page. Click on the photo (above left) of the glamourously bombastic Audrey Hepburn to see what I'm talkin' about!

FYI: this  photo and more very high quality images of famous screen stars can be grabbed for free from Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans.

OK! Now that you've seen what FancyBox can do you want it too,  right? Let's get crackin' on how to install it!


Step #1
First of all BACKUP your template just in case you want to revert back to it.

Step #2
Download FancyBox for free!

Step #3
Rename the downloaded FancyBox folder to something simple like "fb".

Step #4
Upload the folder to your webhost. In this case you will need to use a hosting service to store the FancyBox files because Blogger/Blogspot does not offer storage capability. If you don't have a hosting service, you can get 2gb of storage from Dropbox for free ⬅ Please use this URL so I also can get some free additonal storage in referring them to you!

Step #5
Open the file "jquery.fancybox-1.3.4.css", change all the image URL to the correct image path. Scroll through the text box directly below to view an example of what it's supposed to look like. Remember to change all the URLs in the css document to your webhost. Upload the css file to your hosting site after you're done editing it.

Step #6
On Blogger, go to Edit HTML tab under Design, paste the following code before the </head> tag:

Make sure to change the js and css files to the correct path. I've highlighted the required changes for you!

Step #7
Upload your photos to your blog as you normally would. Then modify the code for the image under the "Edit HTML" tab from this:

<a href="" imageanchor="1" style=""><img border="0" height="240" width="400" src="" /></a>

 to this:

<a class="default" rel="fancybox" title:"Download FancyBox" href="" imageanchor="1" style=""><img border="0" height="240" width="400" src="" /></a>

That is to say to insert the code class="default" rel="fancybox" title:"Download Fancybox"
in between the the "a" and "href" of  "a href=".

I'm still pretty new to this so I'm not sure if I can assist you if you have any issues.  I had to fiddle with it for awhile to get it to work, but it was worth it.  If you need support, your best bet is to read the "How To" page directly on the FancyBox website.  If you have better methods on how to install FancyBox, I'd appreciate (as would other readers of this blog) if you would post your tips in the comments below.

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