I love coffee. I love it a whole lot. I drink several cups a day. However, for years, I treated coffee like gasoline; you just put it in your tank to make your engine go, it doesn’t matter what brand it is. But recently, inspired in part by my brother’s quest to make his own, improved-on Clover coffee machine, I’ve been spending a little more time and paying a little more attention to the quality of my coffee. Like a hobbyist who races antique cars, I’ve started to care about the acidity, the ratio of impurities, and the very chemical composition of the fuel that I put in my coffee mug each morning. I appreciate the gentle, balanced bitterness of a good cup of coffee.
My office has a big, shitty drip coffee machine, that brews directly into those insulated carafes that you see in hotel lobbies. Even a fresh pot comes out weak yet overbrewed and acidic. For a while I made myself coffee using an Aerobie AeroPress, which makes great coffee; but cleaning it after every cup began to get on my nerves. So I decided to see what kind of results I could get using just the disposable supplies in our break room. Inspired by legitimate, fancy pour-over techniques, I’ve managed to make many very-decent cups using nothing but the cheap (definitely not Chemex-quality) filters that our industrial drip machine uses perched directly over my mug (so that it sits down into the mug an inch or so). Then I pour the hot water over the pre-ground Starbucks (meh) beans, paying attention to making and maintaining a bloom. While accepting the so-so quality of the beans, I end up with a full-bodied, well-balanced cup every time. Would a *really* fancy coffee maker like a Clover, or even a real Chemex, make a better cup? Probably; but probably only incrementally better than what I’m getting now, especially with the industrial-quality beans that my office buys.
So that’s how I was inspired to make a better cup of coffee, without spending big bucks on complicated apparatus. Next time I do it, I’ll take some pictures of my whole pour-man’s pour-over process and make another post! But in the mean time, next time you go for a cup of coffee, give pour-over a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.