November 28, 2010

Practice Makes Good Coffee

Riding a bike is not, as they say, like riding a bike. That is, one cannot simply ride well, if well is to mean quickly and in control, without having practiced. Today, as if I needed to be taught that lesson, I rode a ~9 mile trail with my brother. It was, as bike trails go, somewhat friendly. I say this never having ridden any other trails, of course; but even still, goings could have been tougher.

And yet I could not keep up. I suppose, were I so inclined, I could make excuses about my bike being from Wal-Mart, and his being a Specialized (albeit used). But that would be disingenuous. The fact is, I had to go slow at many points, otherwise I'd have wrecked more than the one time I did. And even when I decided to go fast, it should be noted that my fast was not as fast as his fast. But I had never ridden a trail at all, much less this one, so my relative lack of grace was to be expected.

I also played basketball for a good two hours not too long after. I was, if I'm being honest, one of the less talented players participating. I don't handle the ball well, nor am I a deadly marksman shooting. I can run, of course, but having the best cardio on the floor doesn't count for that much. And so I was left, pink faced, drenched in sweat, and with a cut on the nose from an errant elbow, to hobble back to my car, and then home.

I made dinner, of course, but also coffee. I ground the beans, dosed them appropriately, boiled the water, and then poured with a practiced hand. Satisfied from my oatmeal, I drank the coffee slowly. It was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, roasted very light by the aptly named Roasterie. The acidity and light lemony notes were quite refreshing on the palate, as they always are; but they were perhaps more so in this context, having just ran myself in to the ground.

As I sipped, it occurred to me that the method I had just used to prepare my coffee - a manual grinder and Melitta cone - was one that, not too long ago, I struggled with, but have now achieved some level of consistency in performing. What's more, all of the steps were carried out with a sort of nonchalance, my mind free to drift elsewhere, to other places and times. That being said, the coffee was prepared well.

The lesson for me today is thus that the old truism about practice making perfect is, perhaps, not something to be dismissed offhandedly. Whatever it is you do, doing it well requires doing it a lot.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that practice makes good coffee. I prefer a Chemex coffee maker. I like to watch the grounds bloom, then pour the water in and watch the coffee drip down. Last week my wife was enjoying her cup and tells me that the coffee tastes really good. I let her know that I think I'm getting the hang of using the Chemex. A year ago I didn't own a Chemex coffee maker. Now its my favorite way to brew coffee.
    I've even been able to make coffee for three baristas that we've become friends with. They liked my coffee too. Practice does help you learn to make good coffee with confidence.
    I'll have to try the Melitta cone method some time.