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The method of no method

October 14, 2010

If you’ve found your way here, and somehow haven’t watched/read some coffee brew guides – go and do it now! I recommend the Brew Methods website as a great starting place.

I suppose the point of this post is to recommend watching other peoples guides, but it’s also to encourage you to not use them. What I mean by this is that a brew guide is a well defined method someone is using to make a consistent cup of coffee – but consistency is not always a good thing.

Surely, you say, consistently good coffee is what we want? Well yes, but brewing coffee is a complex activity, with all sorts of variables that impact the end result. Some of these you control to some degree – things like water temperature, grind size, turbulence/stirring, etc. are in this catergory. Other variables you can’t (or won’t want to) change – for example your beans (variatal, processing, roast, age, etc), the ambient temperature or the amount of coffee you want to make. You need to be able to deal with these variables changing – and make the best cup you can within these constraints.

To do this, you need to be able to alter those variables you can control to compensate for those you can’t. Watch brew guides, try their methods, then play with mixing and matching techniques. Whilst doing this, some results will be terrible – but others will be exceptional. With each experimentation you’ll learn more, improve your understanding and make better coffee more often.

So watch the brew guides, learn and understand their techniques, and incorporate them into your arsenal – but don’t let them dictate your way of doing things.


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