Candles and Coffee

This was not the three-day weekend I thought I’d be having. For one thing, it was gloomy and rainy. For another, I ended up spending a fair amount of time helping my kid move into a new apartment. Say, what’s the cutoff date for having to help your kids move their stuff? This kid is turning 23 tomorrow. At 23 I had moved myself back and forth (alone) from college in the Midwest, into a shared apartment outside D.C., then into my own apartment downtown. It never occurred to me to ask my parents for help. And at 24? I was married.

And so it feels bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s nice to spend time with this kid. On the other hand, I’d like to spend it in a restaurant over a burger, not hanging a shower curtain in a bathroom that isn’t mine. I don’t know…. I’m so grateful for the relationship I have with my kids, which is much closer than the one I had with my parents growing up. I think that’s pretty typical; things have changed. A lot of them for the better.

So, speaking of change – can any candle nerds help me find a couple of candles to love in the heat of summer? I want it to be background noise, green/aromatic, not gourmand. It could be citrus. It could be verbena, or lemon, or rosemary, or lemongrass, or green tea, or some combination thereof, or something in the same vein. A lot of candles are waay toooo sweeeeet. Anything labeled “beach” or “escape” or “serenity” either has a bunch of aquatic/ozone notes, or smells like the kind of tropical drink you’d serve in a tiki mug.   My beloved Soi green tea candle is almost gone, and they don’t make ‘em any more. My house is small and I love that candle because wherever I put it – kitchen, bedroom, bathroom – it’s nice and soothing and doesn’t smell weirdly out of place. Suggestions?

Second, I gave my nice Braun electric drip coffee maker to my kid for her apartment. I want to try a low tech pour-over setup, either a Chemex or one of those doodads that literally sits on your cup. Then I’m going to buy some really good coffee instead of the cheap crap I buy for the household. I’m going to use filtered water heated to exactly the right temperature (hey, I read the hipster manual!) and I am going to do all this because I’m curious whether the results will be that much better. Honestly, I suspect they will. And my goal is to drink one cup of really excellent coffee in the a.m., instead of four cups of watery dreck. Your turn! What’s some good coffee that ain’t Charbucks?   What’s a good low-tech setup? Thoughts and mockery welcome.




  • Paige W says:

    I’m also for the Aeropress. It does something magical to the coffee – my aeropressed cups have a rounder mouthfeel than anything I’ve made with a pour-over model. 🙂

  • MrsDalloway says:

    Another vote for Aeropress. I also love my Heeley Florentine Leather candle. Even unlit it scents the room beautifully.

  • Danica Radovanov says:

    Linnea’s Lights candles are wonderfully transparent and pretty, while also room filling. Tomato Leaf is very uplifting.

    You will definitely make better coffee using filtered water at the right temperature. Try Aeropress, it’s foolproof.

  • MaureenC says:

    Hi March, a quick comment our kids rather than coffee (though I’ve definitely moved to the one cup of high quality model). I think your experience is common for parents of our generation it’s almost as if the milestones have been moved ten years later. Certainly in the U.K. they live at home for much longer as they can’t afford to buy or even rent in big cities. If they want to live in London they live in shared accommodation like students which keeps them in a younger mindset. The plus side is that I think we do have a better relationship with them, much better than many of our generation had with their parents who were young adults in the 1950s. That means that our adult kids think of us very differently – almost as friends who have greater material resources and experience to draw upon! I’ve pondered this on a great deal and on the whole I think we are better off – I’d rather the people organising my care home felt like that!!

  • Kate E. says:

    I use the Melitta pour over too just because it keeps me from drinking more than one cup (ok, sometimes two). Clean up is quick & easy too. My coffee pot is just stored away for when we overnight coffee drinking guests.

  • Musette says:

    I drink coffee with cream and sugar so my palate is ‘damaged’, according to purists. Eh. as far as candles go, I really like Camille’s (SoYphisticated Candles in Mason City IA) ‘Grace’ which is Italian Bergamot & Lemon as well as her Olive Blossom.


  • Nina Z says:

    Yes to the high-quality, low-tech coffee with filtered water. It will be so much better, I promise. Remember the old Melitta plastic filter cones? They still sell them–the hipsters now call it pour over coffee. Anyway, we’re still using a Melitta cone. Four-cup size. Obviously very inexpensive, and you can make one mug at a time if you like with it. If you want to make a whole pot, instead of using the beautiful glass Chemex pot, which has the negative of cooling the coffee down quite quickly, we use a thermos coffee pot, that way it keeps the coffee hot for half a day. Maybe later I’ll put a link up to the one we have cause it was ever so carefully researched by my husband.

    Right now because we live in Berkeley, California we’re drinking Bicycle Coffee: Hand roasted in Oakland and delivered by bicycle!

  • Suzy Q says:

    I’ve been using a Hario one cup ceramic cone for years because it makes better coffee than anything I’ve tried over the years. It’s very low tech. I don’t know why it makes such superior coffee. I can’t find the filters locally so I buy them on line. That’s my recommendation. Have fun.

  • I use the Aeropess from Black Rifle Coffee Company; it goes with me everywhere. I like their Caffeinated As F***, but I’m weird like that.

    I also like Votivo candles and Red Currant is lovely background noise for me.

  • tiffanie says:

    Can’t help with coffee as I am caffeine-avoidant. I’ve been told I’m jittery enough on my own.

    My favorite candle for summer is a hand-poured soy candle given to me by a friend. It’s scented with bergamot. It smells great in warm weather, even unlit it wafts gently.

    Agree that things are different with kids this generation. I may be overstating, but it seems to me that they get fewer breaks in life in some ways, and so rely more on family of necessity.

  • Caroline says:

    Recommend Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien candle–$63 at N-M for a fairly substantial 5.8 oz size. Lovely and non-cloying.

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, dear! You know me, more of a tea gal, so can’t help much on the coffee (but someone mentioned Peet’s and the few times I’ve had it it was pretty good, also Seattle’s Best, perhaps?). Do you eBay? If so, set up a search for that candle you love — you never know when someone might be selling one that they got as a gift a while back or something. Any results/hits will pop up in your e-mail. There’s a candle brand that Musette likes (can’t think of the name of it) that has some nice items in it. And I hear you on the moving. It is a good bonding experience, but you’re so right about the independence issue. At 17, I was literally on my own, finishing up high school and off to college, and by 27, had moved by myself in and out of numerous dorms and apartments. I used to really envy those kids who came to college with a mom, dad, boyfriend and brother to help them move; they made it in two trips, and I was up and down about 5 times, at least. But I guess every kid is different. I see that mine will have to have some serious hand-holding (already does, ha!), but we do the best we can, right? Hope you have a great week and get some time to yourself!

  • shiva-woman says:

    I tried Nespesso in Holland, and some friends of ours had one too there. Then, in Italy, everyone had a Nespesso. My stomach issues disappeared over holiday. So, when I got home, I ordered one. That was a year ago. I now cannot bear anything else but Nespresso. No matter the grind or the maker, all coffee tastes like dreck. I got the Pixie style coffee maker. I LOVE it. Capsules are recyclable and we do.

    I recently ordered the Lace Garden candle by Teo Cabanel. Another love. Good luck with the search!

  • caellen says:

    Melitta single cup pour over with a #2 filter and stump town coffee, or Peets. Chemex if you want more coffee in the morning. I like press pot coffee but got tired of cleaning the pot.

  • cinnamon says:

    Absolutely — far better and different relationship with my son than I had with my parents. I miss my mother terribly — i think we could have changed how we related had she lived longer. My father is unchangeable. Alas, I lost my taste for coffee and tea this past February, after having the worst flu I’ve had in a very very long time. I can still drink hot chocolate, but the thought of the other two makes me nauseous. I do have suggestions on candles, though. There’s a place in Chicago that makes nice ones:

    My absolute fave candle of all time is the Cezanne’s studio which I have only found at Lucky Scent ( It’s stupid money (and out of stock at the moment) so I burn it sparingly. Truly gorgeous.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’m definitely not a coffee drinker but a tea drinker, so I have no recommendations for anything related to coffee. I usually stick to the Bath and Body Works candles. Fresh Bamboo is pretty good but my ultimate favorites are the Lilac and Farmstand Apple. The lilac one is pretty heavy but the Apple is much lighter and a seasonal one. The great thing about the Bath and Body Works candles is that they burn evenly and do have tons of throw.

  • Sarah says:

    Candles-Malin&Goetz. Fragrances the best. Expensive and not as long lasting as some.
    Scent of the candles second to none.
    Coffee-Wide based Porcelain Immersion Dripper or Clever Coffee Dripper. Less tooing and froing than my Chemex for morning mainlining. Kaldi’s coffee (especially single origin) just ridiculously satisfying. Why some of the best coffee I’ve ever had comes from MISSOURI (?) makes me slightly nuts. They ship free over fifty$ I think.
    Stumptown good also and easier to obtain.
    Thank you March for all the beauty of your posts.

  • RoseMacaroon says:

    I second both the vote for Stumptown and against Blue Bottle (and I’ve had plenty of both). Pourover seems to be very hit or miss, for me at least, so Ive stuck with French press probably out of laziness as much as anything else (but it is dependably great).
    Thanks so much also, Clarochka, I never would have thought to look for free tutorials on Stumptown’s website! ? (blue bottle offers classes, for $, bien sur).

    • Clarochka says:

      Not surprised Blue Bottle does 🙂 They are one of th hottest startups in coffee space – VCs are lining up to give them money 🙂 the line to their store is out of the door and I am not able to comprehend all these people paying a ton of money for mediocre coffee.
      Not sure if you tried Rwanda Coffee, Rose, I highly recommend it. They are starting to re- grow the coffee after the war and it is amazing – it is slightly more expensive than others but well worth it

  • GrandmaGaga says:

    I understand your developing wish for quality over quantity…and maybe with your kids out of the house you don’t need quite as much caffeine in the mornings! I’m a tea drinker so I can’t give you any coffee brewing tips but I will say that with tea and coffee, I believe that water quality and temperature do make a great deal of difference. Good luck!

  • Clarochka says:

    I highly recommend Stumptown coffee – their Hairbender is amazing. Chemex is a fairly low tech set up and you can get a very decent one at Williams -Sonoma (EDP if you with 4 cup one). Stumptown has a realm good tutorials and overview on their website for different coffee prep methods. I was not too impressed by Blue Bottle (too much hype and not enough quality). Klutch is another good one but not sure if they are still around