When the pandemic began, my coffee journey sort of took an unexpected turn. After working behind an espresso machine for the first six months of school, I was back at home, with coffee shops closed and no way to foster that coffee craving. In many ways, this sort of sent me down a rabbit hole on how to figure out how to make coffee with the things I did have and make it work.
In many ways, the process of brewing coffee can almost be just as rewarding as the final cup. When I’d be behind the bar pre-COVID, grinding beans, tamping into the portafilter, locking it into the machine, and watching that velvety espresso flow into a mug was just so cathartic for me. It was just something reassuring about whatever else I was doing that day, this sort of action to make something for someone else or myself was something in my control. I would tweak how long I’d pull an espresso, or I’d work on my milk steaming technique. I had a job that eventually became my hobby and a personal fun passion to explore and get better at.
After I got home, that almost instantly evaporated. I was struggling to find some sort of way to get back to making coffee that I both could very much enjoy and want to explore. I used a Moka pot, which is an Italian stovetop coffee maker, and experimented with that a bit this summer. I tweaked the grind size of my coffee, tried different beans. Ultimately, it’s a style of coffee that doesn’t allow you to tweak and tune your techniques. If I put in good beans, I’d get decent results that I would enjoy drinking, but I never eager to take a break from whatever I was doing to brew. And sure, I’d go to local shops to get great coffee and support local businesses I cared about. But there is just some greater satisfaction in making your cup that you helped perfect.
When I knew I’d be returning to Chicago and quarantine/studying, I knew I needed to make some changes. For my well-being, as well as for my fascination for coffee, I knew that a routine of brewing coffee needed to be a part of my life again. So I decided to take the plunge into pour-over. I got some gear and started using a Hario V60 as a way to try and see if I could get that same joy from brewing again.
And I do.
Every afternoon, I’ll stop whatever assignment I’m working on, and head to my mini barista station, and get to work. I’ll weigh out my beans, grind them, pre-heat the brewer, boil some water and get to work. I tweak how I pour my water, how much I stir the coffee grounds in the filter, what type of coffee I use. It all gets changed depending on whatever I’m feeling. That variability in my day that was absent for nearly six months has finally come back, and it’s rejuvenating. And, the bonus is just now also being able to share that with my roommates. We’re all not coffee drinkers, but I’ve been able to bring forth some new curiosity about my favorite caffeinated beverage I guess.
Do I have any idea when I’ll be back behind an espresso machine again? No, and that’s kind of sad. The community and culture of working in a coffee shop, for now, is unclear.
But, in the meantime, I’ll have this. And that’s special too.
Being Noah Tesfaye #154: A Return to my Coffee Routine
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