Anyone who knows me, knows that I love coffee. Over the past five years I’ve experimented with various methods and types of coffee. I’ll warn you, I am extremely opinionated. If you are happy with your Folgers or Maxwell House, just move along, nothing to see here; BUT, if you want to know how coffee could be so much better, read on. Please also note that while I used Amazon Affiliate links, these are the products that I own and have used nearly every day for years.
I’ve expirimented with various methods of making coffee. For the past five or so years, my favorite way of making coffee is the pour over method. I use a Hario glass coffee maker.
I started out by using the fabric filter, but I didn’t like it very much. My favorite filters are these thick folded filters from Chemex. They cost more than filters at say, big box stores, but they work much better. The thick paper filters out much more of the acid and it is much more sturdy than a plebeian filter.
I used to use a kettle on the oven, but as we use hot water many times during the day, we switched to an electric kettle that heats to variable temperatures. The kids drink a lot of herbal tea, so they can set it on a lower temperature and not have to mess with boiling water.
A crucial element to a good cup of coffee is the beans. The freshest beans are the most desirable. I exclusively get my coffee from Burning Bush Coffee Roasters. It is a part of the bookstore that Matt used to manage at St Tikhon’s Monastery Bookstore. The beans are fairly sourced and roasted by either the monks or members of the monastery community. When you buy coffee from the grocery store, it can actually be quite old already. Freshly roasted beans really do taste differently.
I prefer to store my beans in a container designed for keeping coffee fresh. This one is my favorite. I’ve been using it for a few years.
So you went through the effort of sourcing freshly roasted coffee, now what? Do you buy the beans pre-ground? Of all that is good and true in the world, please don’t ever do that. If you are going through all of the effort by buying fresh beans, would you want to ruin them? I say not, my friend.
I use this handheld coffee grinder. You can read a lot of articles written by beautiful, beautiful coffee experts who explain that burr grinders are far superior to blade grinders. I’ll suffice to say that a burr grinder grinds much more evenly and it is easier to control the size of the grind. Most burr grinders are quite expensive, but with a little calorie burning every morning you can grind them by hand for much less.
So what are the steps?
- Prepare water for boiling
- While it is heating up, measure your beans in the grinder. I’m a bad person and like 3 tablespoons for one extra large coffee cup. I usually run the paper under tap water for a few seconds to purify it of paper dust (OCD), then put the filter in the coffee maker.
- When the water boils, turn it off and start grinding your beans. This serves two purposes: A) The water needs to be cooler than a full boil so this allows the water to cool down just a little while you are grinding and B) The moment that air touches the ground beans they already start losing flavor (again, read: OCD).
- Put the ground coffee in the filter and lightly wet it with the hot water. Now you have to wait for about thirty seconds. The beans need to soak up that first splash of water so that it reaches its full flavor. If you watch, you can see the beans swelling and bubbling as they soak. If you don’t wait the coffee will be very weak. (I have lectured this to Katherine many times and she can make it like a barista now.)
- Once the coffee has soaked up the first bit of water, you can pour over the rest of the water in a swirling motion until you reach the desired amount (can you ever really reach the desired amount?).
Why do I like putting myself through this intricate process every morning? I am not a morning person. Why would I want to stumble out to the kitchen each morning, half alive, going through the motions of making coffee- when I could just push a button? Honestly, I have considered getting an electric pour over machine many times. A few of my friends have them and they make excellent coffee. However, for this stage of my life, I like taking things slowly. I enjoy grinding the beans by hand while the water dances in the kettle. It feels old. I like getting away from electric appliances and doing the work myself. I like having a lovely glass jar tied with leather and wood rather than another electric appliance on my counter. I like feeling like I just created something.