Matt Buchanan at Eater is way more anxious about his morning coffee than I am.
You still have to make the coffee, though. You’re so tired you’d love it if a machine made it for you, but cheap automatics aren’t good enough for your great coffee beans, and the good automatics aren’t cheap enough for your budget. The Chemex’s filter is so thick all you can taste is paper; the Aeropress doesn’t make enough coffee to get you through the morning, though it’ll do whenever you’re on the road or at a friend’s; the French press is for Europeans and charlatans who love sludge; and you’re reasonable enough to never try to make espresso at home. Obviously, you’re just going to have to make a pourover, which is fine and totally worth it anyway, you guess, because there’s nothing quite like the feeling of crafting, with your personal human hands, a perfect cup of coffee. One. Cup. At. A. Time.
Of course, you might mess it all up, and if you do — as you totally know — you’ll have at minimum rendered meaningless the life of a plant, the time and labor of a farmer, the care of a processor, the energy of an importer, the discernment of a coffee buyer, and the skill of a roaster. And there are so, so many ways to screw it up. If you grind the coffee too finely in your no-less-than-two-hundred-dollar burr grinder, or make the water too hot, or let it take too long to brew, it will be bitter, because you will have committed the sin of overextraction according to the gospel of the Brewing Control Chart, having dissolved more than twenty-two percent of the grounds’ solubles into your cup. Disgraceful.
As I write this, I’m drinking a cup of Three Beans Coffee I think my fiancé bought at Whole Foods out of a standard issue Starbucks mug. I mixed in a little Nestlé vanilla caramel creamer because 1) who cares how you take your coffee, and 2) it tastes good.
Tomorrow morning I might grab a cup at Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar across the street. I expect the interaction with the barista to go something like this:
Barista: What can I get for you?
Me: Can I have a small cappuccino and a croissant please?
Barista: Sure. That’ll be $5.
It probably won’t go like this, because I don’t live in Brooklyn:
Then there was that time you tried to order the “seasonal guest espresso” prominently listed on the hand-written menu, just to prove that you’re on the barista’s level and that you deserve respect as a knowledgeable customer who tips well if not as a human being, but he just mumbled that it wasn’t dialed in and so he wouldn’t serve it, and you’ve been beaten down ever since. Facing down that disdain is worth it though, knowing that your coffee is going to be absolutely perfect, because that barista has never made a bad cup of coffee in his entire life.
It’s not that bad, friend.