Mystic mud

Oct 18, 2000 at 12:00 am

Want to learn the inner secrets of a double mocha latte? Pay a visit to xhedos coffee shop (240 W. Nine Mile, 248-399-3946), Ferndale’s very own Church of the Almighty Bean.

“We’ve done an amazing amount of education on coffee,” says proprietor and resident java guru Caleb Grayson. Start your first lesson by studying the cafe’s deceptively bohemian surroundings: There’s a huge blackboard on the wall, chock-full of coffee recipes. Next to it, a computer-generated graph shows the caffeine ratios of various drinks. And across from the cash register, a sign reads: “Xhedos uses 50% more coffee per pot. Why? Because it tastes good!”

And then, of course, there’s Grayson.

“People know who I am because of my coffee knowledge,” he says quietly, adding, “mostly because I talk about it all the time.”

With wild spiky hair and a Mephistophelian beard, he looks a bit like a mad scientist ... the Willie Wonka of caffeine, perhaps. “You don’t want to overextract or underextract coffee,” he explains, referring to the way well-trained baristas use water pressure to flush just the right flavor from coffee grounds. “The quest is for the perfect extraction.”

So is that the secret to a flawless cup of joe?

Actually, says Grayson, there are several secrets. First, you need a good, even grind. “The more uniform the grind, the more even the extraction,” he explains.

Next, you must decide how fine to grind your coffee. Says Grayson, “A coarser grind definitely requires more water.”

After that, you must apply water for precisely the right duration; not too short, not too long. This can only be discovered through experimentation: “It’s a time-based thing,” says Grayson. Otherwise, your coffee will be overextracted, and taste bitter.

Finally, don’t be stingy. Use lots of coffee. “We use a quarter of a pound to get nine cups of coffee,” says Grayson with pride. That’s double what most places use, even though xhedos doesn’t charge more.

Of course, not everyone can tackle such complicated java physics.

“Places like Starbucks and Caribou put so much milk in their drinks,” he says, “People have gotten used to what’s basically a big cup of hot milk.”

Instead, try thinking small. “I always suggest the shortest shot possible in the smallest cup,” he offers, recommending his MicroShot — a half-sized espresso shot with twice the flavor. “It’s the sweetest, purest form.”

But in today’s climate of corporate coffee shops, why does Grayson spend so much effort — and expense — on a simple cup of joe? Perhaps it has something to do with the divine. “This is God’s beauty right here,” he says, motioning to his shop, “It’s a spiritual endeavor to focus on perfection and trying to get things just right.”

Meanwhile, with rumors of a Ferndale-based Starbucks in the works, Grayson is not above a little salesmanship. “You want to know how God drinks his coffee?” he asks. Stop by Xhedos and Grayson will pour you a cup.

Visit xhedos on the Web at —Adam Druckman


Buffalo? Boar? Wine? If this tickles your palate, call 810-979-1420 to reserve now for Loon River Café’s Wild Game Dinner and Wine Tasting, this Tuesday, October 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person, and the café is located at Van Dyke and 15 Mile in Sterling Heights. … October is Farm Market Month, as officially declared by Gov. John Engler. Find out about Michigan’s more than 250 farm markets at the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s Web page,

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