If I were to ask any given person how they brew coffee at home, odds are they would likely tell me one of three things.
Common nowadays are Keurig, Nespresso, or similar “pod” coffee brewing contraptions—essentially glorified and overpriced instant coffee sputtering out convenience store swill. Others may own a Mr. Coffee maker or similar low end automatic brewer which is practical, albeit unable to truly produce high quality coffee. Still others may tell me that while they could make coffee at home, they simply go to their local coffee shop every day because they don’t have time to make it themselves.
From my experience, it seems that brewing coffee manually at home isn’t very popular for these main reasons: the time it takes to brew it, the perception of difficulty and inconvenience, and the cost of quality coffee and brewing equipment creates an entry barrier. I believe that the answers to these problems lie in the idea that coffee at home should be the intersection of craft, quality, and value.
Craft, the act of making something by hand, is intertwined with the narrative of humanity and it is impossible to remove our basic need to make, create, or craft. Instead, we have opted for convenience, citing the increased efficiency and ease that attempts to compensate for the satisfaction of doing it yourself. Initially, the concepts of brewing might be a bit daunting, but with a small amount of research and a little practice, coffee brewing easily becomes second nature. It may take a few more moments to grind the coffee and boil water every morning, but it is well worth the wait. You will enjoy the coffee more after making it yourself and may even find that enjoying one cup made by hand satisfies your need for coffee as much as a whole pot of auto-brewed coffee might otherwise.
Quality is intrinsically connected to craft. This quality comes from where it was grown, how it was processed, and the careful application of heat during roasting, among other sources. All along the way, the quality of coffee is connected to individuals crafting the product. These individuals invest themselves personally into it all along the supply chain in order to provide you, the consumer, with a product worthy of enjoyment. You can continue this by buying high quality coffee from a credible roaster and taking it into your own hands, investing yourself in it, and making it by hand. It can be helpful to discover a roaster that you trust and ask questions so that they can help recommend coffees that you will like and give you more tips on how to best brew the coffee.
As I have written previously, “the value of the coffee, derived from the objective quality of the beverage, is also firmly based on the value of those who produced it.” Purchasing quality coffee might be a bit more expensive than you are used to paying, but it might be worth reevaluating your perception of the cost and, subsequently, the value of coffee. Instead of spending $5 a day at your local coffee shop, spend $15 to $20 on a bag of coffee and make yourself coffee at home. A 12 oz bag of coffee will last a week or two, depending on the quantity brewed and frequency of consumption. Spread out over 7-14 days, a bag of quality coffee can cost between $1 – $3 a day. If you calculate the time and gas saved from making the extra trip to the coffee shop, even with investing a good burr grinder and some simple brewing equipment, in the long run you will likely end up spending less than you would have from a local coffee shop every morning.
For those who own a Keurig or other coffee pod brewer, the savings are two-fold for buying whole bean. The proprietary pods are sold at an incredible markup of 3,500% to 5,000%—often for the lowest quality coffee available on the market. The premium price you are paying is entirely for convenience. These pods are also massively wasteful and contribute to unnecessary plastic waste piling up in landfills all over the country. By buying whole bean, you can limit your contribution to this waste.
It is at this intersection of craft, quality, and value that we can find freedom in our coffee experiences from the bondage of convenience and compromise. If you don’t yet brew your own coffee at home, I encourage you to give it a try. And as you do, share with us your favorite method or coffee that you tried!
Image courtesy MistoBox Coffee
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