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Another Nick Cho Video

December 20, 2011


This one doesn't need a disclaimer -- but it did catch my attention because the "experimental technique" that Nick uses in this is awfully familiar to me. Watch:







Note the spoon. I bought my first manual drip coffee cone for $.50 at a yard sale 28 years ago. It was a seafoam green plastic drip cone made by Melitta, just the right size to sit on top of my favorite coffee mug. There was no coffee culture to speak of -- at least, not anywhere near me -- and no Internet to research methods to extract the best coffee flavor. I was even a couple of months away from my first cup of real coffee -- the Ethiopian Yrgacheffe served at the coffee house a mile away, but as yet undiscovered. Getting a decent cup of coffee out of the dripper was strictly a matter of trial and error -- but I have to tell you that even with ADC grind supermarket coffee, the brew was superior to anything my drip brewer was pumping out. And when I switched to espresso grind Lavazza -- the closest thing our supermarket carried to "gourmet coffee", it knocked my socks off.



I learned really quickly, though, that I couldn't just fill the dripper with hot water and let it drip -- first, it took forever and I was too darn impatient to stand there and wait. Second, it invareably washed the coffee grounds up above the edge of the paper filter (a #2 Melitta cone) and I ended up with grounds floating in the cup.  I found that if I poured in a little water first and waited for it to drip through before adding more, the dry grounds didn't float up on top of the water and slip down behind the coffee filter. And if I added water a little at a time-- little enough to keep the level of water well below the top edge of the filter -- I didn't end up standing there whisting and twiddling my thumbs while it dripped through. And obviously, pouring carefully around the center ensured that all of the coffee grounds got wet, which only makes logical sense. Also in the interests of avoiding the foot-tapping impatience to get to my coffee already, I took to gently stirring the grounds as the water settled in an effort to encourage the water to drip a little faster and to keep myself feeling "busy" as I waited for my coffee. 



Beyond the obvious lesson that pourover coffee made one cup at a time is in a whole other universe (even when made with mediocre coffee) than the same mediocre coffee made in a Mr. Coffee, I learned that indefinable something that comes with being involved in the creation process. Making automatic drip coffee doesn't take any involvement. You dump coffee into the basket, pour water into the tank, push a button and walk away. It's the same reason that super-automatic machines, no matter how great the coffee they make, kinda leave me cold -- the machine has no soul. And as silly as it sounds to people who don't feel it, there's a zen that comes with concentrating yourself entirely to a task, even one as simple as making a cup of coffee. Which reminds me, amusingly, of the other Nick Cho video and his comment that the second cup he brewed was pretty lousy, probably because he was distracted by the video and the lighting. I think he may have hit the nail on the head -- his distraction interrupted the zen, and without that, coffee is just flavored water.








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