March 4, 2011

Morning Melitta

Simplicity. There is something to be said for it, when you're still mired in your morning malaise. Your alarm clock blaring, half awake, you roll about and tug on covers, but the offending noise does not stop. So you rouse yourself, and with some effort, do not return to bed. There are things to do, probably.

Among those, coffee needs brewing. It will not make itself; though we are getting ever closer to that. So you dose the grounds, fill the tank of your automatic brewer, and flip the switch. It gurgles, spits, and pops, and in about four minutes, produces something which might be called coffee.

This is the norm, I think. The appeal is not in the artistry of the process, nor the flavor of the product, but rather the simplicity. Early mornings make that already attractive idea downright seductive. I've not completely ignored its siren song.

Full disclosure: I own, and indeed use, an $11 Mr. Coffee automatic drip machine. I have pre-ground coffee that I use for it. If my credibility among the coffee elite is diminished or altogether lost - if indeed I had any to lose - then so be it. There are mornings where I am not awake, and the simple act of preparing coffee with a melitta seems not so simple.

And though I say it, I know it isn't true. Pour over brewing needn't be as complex as it's sometimes made out to be; it needn't be as complex, even, as I've made it out to be. One must set a given amount of water to boil, dose beans, grind, place the grounds in the filter, in the melitta, and on the mug. Then the pour.

There is anxiety over what constitutes optimal pour over technique. Perhaps it is better to pre-wet the filter, to pour with methodical, zen like concentration, to wet the grounds like a gentle spring rain. In my experience, however, all that leads to a cup which is indistinguishable from one where the grounds are evenly and completely wetted. Provided you don't douse thing whole thing, and give the bloom a chance to settle a touch, I don't know that the technique matters too much.

Simplicity is pushing a button, but it is also relying on simple methods, old methods, that produce a better cup. Caffeine is a priority in the morning, no doubt, but not so much as enjoying the coffee.

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