Coffee != Rocket Science

I’ve been waiting for someone to articulate this thought better than I ever could:

No barista champion, brewer’s cup finalist, supercomputer controlled precision-engineered coffee contraption, or Michelin starred chef is going to add any outsized transcendence to a cup of coffee that you could not also achieve with the same beans and a modest level of meticulousness. Coffee brewing is not like rocket science nor like figure skating.

I think we are doing a disservice to coffee when we make brewing out to be more magical than it is.

Tonx Brewing via Marco Arment.

He goes on to caveat that espresso is a whole other beast, and I’m inclined to agree– I’ve made crappy espresso using great beans, and seen the change that a second or two longer pour or a slightly different grind or tamping can make in the finished shot. But brewing– whether in a pourover cone, french press, or similar– is pretty much a function of bean quality and time, with wide error margins on the latter.

image from
(The Clever Coffee Dripper: Photo via The Other Black Stuff)

Personally, I’ve cycled through a few different brewing apparatus and landed on the Clever Coffee Dripper. Add some hot water and ground beans, wait a few minutes, then put it on top of a mug and watch it drip through. All the timing control of a french press, all the convenience of a pourover cone. It’s simple, easy, and dummyproof, just what you need early in the morning when you’re not quite awake yet. I use Philz beans from down the street, grind them in an inexpensive little hand mill, and get a tasty, fresh cup every time.