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Coffee, complexity, and clutter

April 25, 2012

I don't have a specific link/quote in mind, but I've noticed here and there that people often differ with respect to what methods they consider easier, or (alternatively) more hassle-free.

Take the Aeropress, which I’ve been using quite a bit of late. It’s widely touted as part of the ideal travel kit because it’s nearly indestructible, low-profile when packed, and capable of making very good coffee. I’d say the Aeropress is extremely *easy* to brew with at home or on the road, so I’m always surprised to come across negative reviews of it.

Setting aside the usual possibilities re: where people could go wrong with the Aeropress (coffee freshness, grind, technique, etc.), maybe complexity enters into the equation? Think about clean-up. I don’t mean in the usual sense, because it’s hard to imagine an easier brewer to clean—unscrew cap, eject puck into trash, rinse. Rather, there are lots of parts, and those need to dry somewhere and then be reassembled. Next to my sink right now on a dish towel I see my Aeropress plunger, the tube (with the cap resting on top of it and a DISK Fine leaning against one side), and the funnel (with the stirrer protruding from its narrower end). There’s also a small cup, which is what I transferred the Aeropress onto when I was done pressing into the mug I drank from this morning (yes, I’ve been stopping my press when I hear that hiss). A decent-sized plate would occupy the same amount of counter space. Now some of these bits are optional, but I do opt; for example, I can’t get my ground coffee from the LIDO’s catch jar into the tube without the funnel. By the end of the day, I’ll typically have another gizmo or two drying on the towel alongside my Aeropress detritus, and it starts to add up.

More generally, the sets of “easiest” coffee brewing methods—however you choose to define “easy,” i.e. with or without reference to clutter—and most *effective* brewing methods fail to intersect significantly from what I can tell. No matter. Some of the best things in life don’t come easy, and it’s amazing what we can become accustomed to.

Anyway, what do you all think? Is the number of parts and accessories needed to use a particular method an important factor in terms of which method(s) of coffee preparation you favor?






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