The Coffee Nerdist: Happy New Gear
by A Real Person on January 28, 2011
Welcome back everyone. What? I’m late for the new year wishes? To the contrary, I’d argue that I’m just in time… to ask you probing questions about your gear. So, how is your coffee gear these days?
Let’s say some well meaning person bought you a coffee toy over the holidays. As with all new year’s resolutions, it’s officially been over a month, so it’s time to be honest with yourself.
Are you using your new coffee gear a lot?
Has it replaced your previous coffee routine?
Whether your previous habits were constantly paying full retail for coffee at a cafe or just being disappointed with the coffee you brewed, if you answered NO to either of the questions above, it’s time to make a change.
Where did it all go wrong?
If the coffee do-gooder in your story meant well, but bought you gear that just won’t cut it (a Mr. Coffee one-shot steam espresso machine when nothing less than a pump-driven PID’d Rancilio Silvia will satisfy your discerning tastes) take it back to the store. Don’t know where it came from? Find a store that carries it and do the deed. Or, get it up on craigslist, ebay, SOMEWHERE so you can get the unwanted gear out and cash back into your hand.
You know what your problem is?
If you received the right stuff, there is another possibility. It could be…oh, how do I say this? Maybe it’s all your fault. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Coffee gear isn’t foolproof. Sure, you can BS your way to a drinkable cup of coffee, but teasing tamarind flavor out of your cup of Bolivia Finca Valentin is going to take a bit of playing with your coffee grinder and maybe plunking a turkey thermometer into your stove top kettle to verify your water temps. If you’re reading this, though, I’m confident that you’re up to the task. All you need is a tune-up. Visit a shop you respect (outside of the morning rush hours!!!) and ask if they can give you some pointers. If they hold cuppings or brewing workshops, all the better- sign up and get some pros to help you. If you’d prefer to work it out yourself, I heartily recommend reading up at Coffee Geek and Brew Methods.
Win x win + win = WIN!
So, you’ve traded your unwanted equipment for a stack of Andrew Jacksons or maybe you didn’t get any equipment at all and you have cash burning a hole in your pocket. Boy are you in luck. You’re not the only schmuck who returned their gear after the holidays and those stores (1) didn’t want that junk back and (2) are in the midst of annual inventory. This means some ridiculous fire sales are within your grasp.
The other coffee trend in your favor is that all the innovation seems to be happening in old-timey by-the-cup brewing (Chemex, Pourover, Aeropress, etc). In practical terms, this means that coffee roasters are focused on producing coffees that taste good when you make them in small batches for yourself and even better-the equipment they have in mind is cheap.
Folks like Coava are bringing the beat back on Chemex with their photo-etching processed KONE metal filters. I’m a big fan of mine- it’s flavorful, I don’t have to buy filters, and cleanup is easy.
Remember the Aeropress? Coava has made metal filters for those too when you’re ready to step up from the included paper ones.
[Full disclosure: Coava sent me a couple DISKs to play with. I’m not surprised- I waited intently and bought the KONE literally seconds after their web shop went online. Also, they’re awesome people.]
Tired of your press pot cleanup routine? Kaffeologie will set you up with a Coffee Catcher so you can dump those grounds and get back to business- making more tasty coffee.
The best part of all this? Brewing coffee for yourself is cheap in addition to being a great time. I roll my eyes every year as personal finance experts demand we give up our coffee shop habit, mostly because coffee roasters don’t deserve the blame. But there is a way you can simultaneously sate your coffee demons and help out your favorite shop- buy their whole bean coffee. The margins on roasted coffee are just enough that your shop will stay in business so that on those days you’re too lazy to brew for yourself, they’ll get your back. In the meantime, you’ll be able to suck down gallons of the finest coffees the world has to offer for less than 80 cents a cup, world coffee market prices be damned. You can easily brew more than (16) 12 ounce cups of coffee out of a one pound bag of coffee while satisfying the rules of just about any by-the-cup brewing method out there.
So, what are you waiting for? Out with the new! In with the old!
If you have burning coffee questions that would make interesting Nerdist Coffee fodder (or if you scored one of those Virtuosos in the Seattle area and want to sell it to me cheap), please @ me or add a comment below.