Sunday, January 1, 2017

Grinding In The New Year

Good advice for a new year.

In lieu of some resolution post celebrating the new year or despairing about what is to come, I offer this post about grinding coffee.
Over Christmas holiday, knowing I would want coffee at my non-coffee-drinking brother’s house, I bought a bag of decaf beans at our local Recess Coffee shop and had them ground. For the week, I’ve been using the ground beans and the coffee tastes has lacked something.
I’m a traditionalist who embraces new technology. I type on a 1938 Smith Corona typewriter while listening to streaming music on 1990s Boston Acoustics speakers. The typewriter coaxes different writing from me than does the laptop. Streaming music beats buying albums and feeding them into the stereo. The speakers have sounded great since I bought them in high school. Tradition and new invention work together.  
As for coffee, I used a drip pot for years but couldn’t get the flavor I wanted. I switched to a French press but the didn’t like the clean up or the grounds in my cup. The Aeropress has fit the bill. But this week, using the ground beans, has been less than satisfying.
The problem is that my coffee has been too convenient.
In the age of Keurig (terrible coffee and terrible waste in one package) convenience is king. Anything requiring work is bad. The sales pitch is that coffee should be so automatic that you don’t make it so much as it is already made for you and appears immediately ready to drink.
The truth it the easier coffee is to make, the less likely I will appreciate and enjoy it.
This morning I ran out of ground coffee and had to grind beans myself. I do this in a hand grinder, turning the handle for two minutes while the water boils. I pour the ground beans into the press, warm my mug with the hot water, add water to the press, stir, and press a dark cup of coffee. Before enjoying the first sip, I unscrew the press, pop out the grounds into the bin, wash the press, and set it in the dish rack. Then I can enjoy my inconvenient coffee knowing that I did a little work to make it. That work tastes good. Convenience is tasteless.
I don’t want a convenient new year. Convenience obscures what’s necessary and good. It’s something sold to me that I need not buy. It diminishes flavor. I’ll buy my beans locally, grind them by hand, pour in the water, and clean up my mess. Then I can savor what I have made.

Maybe that’s my resolution. Whatever it is, Happy New Year. Let’s make it a good one rather than something that’s merely convenient.