Slow Coffee

Slow Coffee Some of you may have noticed that there has been a longer lapse than usual between posts. I could blame my hectic life but instead I’m going to use it as a teaching moment. Some things are worth waiting for. In this age of instant messaging, instant downloads, and instant coffee (blech) we have become a society that expects things immediately. We want things when we want them and waiting for anything just takes away from our perceived productivity. I see it all the time at the coffee shop. People race through the front door and “need” their fix right away. They stand impatiently behind the other people in line tapping their foot, and giving the oh-my-gawd- I-can’t-believe-this-guy look. I do understand that Sometimes you Just need a Quickie but I can’t help but wonder when was the last time this customer had a nice, long, drawn out, intimate experience with their coffee. It seems to me that the way people drink their coffee these days is in keeping with the speed of life. It’s no secret that consumption of espresso-based drinks are on the rise. Just take a look at the word espresso. It even looks fast. Everything about espresso is fast. It is brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under 10,000 units of pressure through finely ground coffee beans. A properly poured espresso takes less than 30 seconds to pour and is recommended to be served within 30 seconds of pouring and consumed in under a minute. I remember the first time I was in Europe and seated in a café watching a never-ending line of people walk in, rap their hand on the coffee bar, throw down a euro, slam back an espresso, and walk out the door. In most cases, no words were even exchanged. Not quite that bad yet in North America but we’re getting there. Even in home brewing, I’ve noticed some changes. When I was a kid, I used to wake to the wonderful smell of my mom’s Mr. Coffee coffeemaker spurting and splattering through its first pot of bad coffee that day. Today’s kids likely hear the mechanized whirr of the Kurieg machine as it makes mom or dad’s preferred drink pre-portioned and perfect every time, leaving no room for the art or science involved in making the perfect cup, and no acknowledgement toward the coffee’s journey from bean to cup. At no point do you even SEE the coffee grounds! And isn’t that a bit impersonal considering your relationship with coffee is likely one of your life’s longest? (See The First Crack) But I have faith that this need for speed will pass. There is a growing movement towards all things slow that advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace. It started with Slow Food and has developed into other areas like Slow Cities, Slow Travel, Slow Design, and even Slow Sex. And I think the time has come for people to embrace Slow Coffee too. Slow coffee is not new, it’s just new again. If you’ve ever enjoyed the flavour balance that comes from using a French Press, you’ve had slow coffee. And it’s not just slower, it’s simpler. It’s quiet. It doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. I bought mine a few years ago for less than $20. It can be made during a power outage. It requires no replacement filters and creates no non-biodegradable waste. Some people think it’s hard to make a delicious cup but start with the right beans and then use the proper ratios using Math+Science+ Better Coffee and you’re well on your way to a satisfying drink. Also a rising trend among coffee lovers is to use the single cup Pour Over brew method. Essentially, it’s a simplified manual version of mom’s automatic drip coffeemaker. It uses hot water dripping through coffee grounds held by a paper filter and takes about 3 minutes to prepare. But instead of relying on a machine, brewing by hand allows you to control all the variables to create a cup that’s exactly suited to your preferences and can highlight the unique character of your chosen beans. I have only recently discovered this method and bought my first pour over brewer, a Hario V60 at a cost of $30. It has quickly become my preferred brewing method. There’s just something about it that is so uniquely personal. I wish I could have each of your over for a cup so you could try slow brewed coffee. Not only to see how much better it tastes but to experience how much more gratifying it is to take the time to slowly create a drink and then sit and enjoy it slowly too. No travel mugs allowed. But my kitchen isn’t big enough. So, it’s up to you. Make slow coffee your first step to a slower life. Buy a manual brewing tool like a French Press and commit to enjoying slow coffee even if it’s just on the weekends. I promise, you’ll wonder why you waited.