Toward Morning Coffee Perfection

I still haven't decided how I feel about The Talk Show- on the one hand, it's geeky, fun, and delves a little deeper down into the day's tech issues than the usual round of short-form blogs. On the other hand, you can fit a Gabfestand an episode of This American Life into a single one of Dan and John's plodding hour-and-a-half conversations. 

A few weeks ago, though, Gruber dropped a gem. I'm paraphrasing here, but he says the three keys to Internet success are:

1) A clicky keyboard

2) A fussy coffee routine

3) A Sodastream

I have yet to get a clicky keyboard, and the Sodastream holds no interest, but #2 definitely resonates with me.

I've been through many iterations of my morning coffee routine- I grew up putting some grinds in a one-cup filter, and that worked fine for a while. Clean taste, easy cleanup, and it doesn't take much mental energy. Everyone experiments during college, though, and pretty soon I found myself playing with an Aeropress, grinding whole beans, and even a garage sale-salvaged espresso machine at some point. There are so many variables in such a simple process that paralysis by analysis becomes inevitable.

For the past year, I had a routine that worked pretty well: I grabbed whole beans from a local shop, ground them with a cheap Krups grinder, and tossed them in a Hario ceramic filter holder. I would have been happy with a plastic filter, but the ceramic one was a gift, and the giver insists that its spiraling grooves do something good to the coffee. 

Setup #1:

Krups blade grinder ceramic filter holder 007

This worked well, but it had a few issues:

-I needed a knife to scrape out the coffee from the inside of the grinder.
-The coffee drips through the filter very quickly, and feels like it's underextracting unless I pour very slowly.
-It's loud and makes a mess. 

The coffee tasted fine; I was just sick of babying it and cleaning up. That's the same reason I stopped using an Aeropress– too much fussing about grind and temperature.

A few weeks ago, I finally broke down and upgraded. I went from the electric blade grinder to a Kyocera ceramic burr grinder, a cute little hand-cranked gizmo that drops the grounds into an easy-to-clean, static-fighting glass jar. It does take a little elbow grease (a minute or two of cranking for a cup's worth of grounds), but it's quieter, cleaner, one less cord on my counter, and the grind is more consistent.

Setup #2:

Kyocera grinder and clever coffee dripper 008

The thing on the right is the Clever Coffee Dripper, a very cool little engineering project. You place it on a counter, add a filter and coffee grounds, and then….wait. It has a valve that gets closed by the weight of the liquid, and only opens when you put it on a cup! It gets you all the long immersion benefits of a french press, but without the messy clean-up.

I've been using this new setup for about two weeks now, and I'm loving the simplicity. I grind while the water is warming up, dump the grinds into a filter, let it sit, and a few minutes later, I have a hot cup of joe.