Lessons learned over Christmas

January 8th, 2010

I didn’t do very much this Christmas. (It was wonderful.) I did, however, do something that I almost never do:  make coffee at home.

I don’t make much coffee at home for a lot of reasons – I work a lot, I have lots of lovely coffee and equipment at the roastery a mere half mile away, and sometimes its nice to be at home and not do anything related to work.  Christmas was different, I made coffee at least once a day with some basic kit:  a hario skerton hand grinder, a v60, a standard electric kettle.  What did I learn?

I am lost without scales.

I had to go to work to grab some when my set at home died.  It isn’t that the coffee suddenly tasted awful – more that it just made me very frustrated to not know what was happening.

It is good to work through a single bag of coffee.

I have a lot of different coffee available at the roastery – not just ours, but coffees from great roasteries around the world.  Rarely do I drink the same thing twice in a row – and to be honest I hope to keep it that way.  However, there was something to be said for working through a bag from start to finish, enjoying what it had to offer through different brews and as it matured.

The French Press is your friend

I know I said I used a V60, and I made some coffee with it that I really enjoyed.  However, it was hard work without a pouring kettle.  I wish I had just taken a press home, as the coffee would have been great and required little effort and work.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this way of brewing!

London Water

Should not be allowed near coffee without being filtered first.  Seriously.  At the least buy a Brita filter, the difference it makes is astounding.

Lots of lovely equipment = disconnection from consumers

Most embarrassing of all: the realisation that the way I make coffee at work isn’t easily replicated in the home.  However, it is absolutely fundamental that people get the most out of their coffee at home so they feel like they got value for money.  We need to share more with the consumer, but also make sure we offer techniques and advice that are practical and approachable.  For example – I am all for pushing weighing scales as part of the brewing process, I have less interest in promoting syphon stirring techniques.  I don’t want to compromise, but I don’t want to intimidate, bore or frustrate.  I don’t think I’ve done enough of the education stuff this last year – I’ll try and change that this year.

I’d be interested to hear from any non-industry readers about whether the information and brewing guides online are genuinely useful?  What is being overlooked?  What isn’t clear, or properly explained?  Does most of the online discussion/materials feel geared to the industry or the consumer?

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