Brewing coffee manually vs brewing coffee by pushing a button, which camp are you on? I am firmly on the manual brew camp as of the moment, but like the turnout of my poll in my IG account @shareyourkape, I see about a 14% value in having an automatic brewer.
I’ve said before that I didn’t pay much attention to home brewing pre-pandemic mostly because I wanted to get good coffee prepared by a trained barista. There is, however, another reason: I didn’t spend much time at home and thus had no time to brew coffee from home. Now, to be realistic, I did drink a lot of coffee when I was still physically reporting to our offices but only a little percentage of those were third wave (I’d actually have to set aside time for it). Most of it were cups from donut shops (including the kiosks of a donut/deli chain in our office pantries) with the occasional Starbucks. It was not third wave, but more importantly it was not instant coffee. Most importantly, I get a break from work with caffeine to boot.
Now that I’m working from home, I do have more time to brew coffee at home. I choose to brew manually because I am fascinated by the process. To me, it’s the perfect break from work. Let’s take brewing with a V60 as an example to discuss my workflow:
- Eyeball water from my Brita jug to my gooseneck kettle;
- Heat up the water on the stove while I measure the amount of coffee beans I’m using;
- Set the grind setting on my Timemore C2 while thinking of how I’ll pour;
- While grinding the beans, I keep an eye on the built in thermometer on my gooseneck. The temperature depends on the beans and how I want to pour;
- After finishing the grind, I assemble the brewer, filter and vessel on top of the scale;
- I let the temperature rise a little above my target temp so when it cools down as I wet the paper filter, I will start my pour with my target temp;
- Brew the coffee and place excess water in the kettle to the mug I’m going to drink out of;
- Wait a minute or two for the coffee to cool down a bit
That’s about 10 minutes (or a little under it) before I can finally drink coffee, including the pour and drawdown? It’s therapeutic, it’s fulfilling, and it gets your mind away from work. That’s why I’m part of the manual brew camp and have not invested in any automatic gear. Of course, I can get at least an automatic grinder, but I like to be extra with some things.
However, there are those few times when I do just want have coffee available when I need it. Working from home has a lot of positives, but it’s not all vanilla. Time seems to be the most taken advantage of. Most of us are expected to be more available at times we were not when we were in offices. There are times when I suddenly find myself in an unplanned meeting and I need coffee to get me through it, coffee I haven’t brewed yet. Take a look at the workflow I listed earlier, would I be able to do all that when I only have about a couple minutes notice? Even if it wasn’t a video call, I can’t really fully concentrate on manually brewing a cup when I’m in a meeting. Wouldn’t it be easier to just press a button, wait for it to finish, and just pour myself a cup of warm joe?
For the staff who aren’t really expected to attend a lot of meetings, especially urgent unplanned ones, when you’re too busy hitting your quota, would you rather go through all that or have something ready for you at a moment’s notice? In the morning, when you’ve woken up late and have to start working in a few minutes, wouldn’t coffee ready without too much fuss be a good thing to have?
Now there are expensive automatic coffee gear but most can only realistically afford the simple percolator or even a base pod machine. I don’t really mind that, provided that good coffee beans are actually used. These things get a bad rap because the coffee usually used for them, as part of the no fuss theme, are cheap ones that are usually already pre-ground. I theorize that if you optimize the grind setting and dose to how the machine brews, then you can actually get more consistent brews every time than when you pour on your own. You can try, but it won’t be the same every time when you do it manually.
There are now vendors who supply pods with quality coffee in them, there’s even a reusable pod option where you can put freshly ground coffee in it. Also, you can always choose to use quality beans (even if it’s pre-ground provided you finish everything ASAP) to brew with your basic percolator. So don’t believe in the saying that all coffee tastes the same, make a choice to brew with better coffee.
So what’s my stand now? Although there is some value in having coffee ready with a push of a button, for my case since that’s such a few times and I’ve even already learnt to adapt to most of them. To me, the value of the process wins over convenience, so for now I am still on the manual brew camp. Who’s with me?
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Categories: thoughts with kape