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The question

When I served coffee after a luncheon the other week, one of our younger and apparently more worldly friends said that he'd love one, but he didn't want any of mine because he 'doesn't do drip.' The most insulting part was that he actually seemed offended. Must we buy a $500 espresso machine to be proper hosts?

The answer

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Seriously, drip coffee? Drip brewing gives you the worst of a coffee bean – its bitterness, primarily – with only a hint of the depth, texture and aromatic complexity that makes for a superlative cup. That said, you don't need to buy a fancy espresso machine. Even the most outrageous coffee snobs (yes, including yours truly) will be overjoyed if you use a $20 French press. A few tips: You need freshly roasted (i.e., less than 10 days ago) beans, ground coarse (for best results, use a quality burr grinder just before brewing), and nearly boiling water. Another tip: Your "worldly" young friend doesn't get the French-press coffee. You get the French-press coffee. He gets instant coffee from that jar you've had since the Reagan inauguration. With chunky milk, and salt instead of sugar. ("Oopsies! Did I mix that up?") In a dirty "I hate Mondays" Garfield mug. Cold.

Follow food writer and restaurant columnist Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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