We can take as a given that good coffee is to pod coffee as good people are to pod people.
Since seasonal sales are making the rounds, I thought I’d tell you about how I make coffee at home. It’s not super-complicated, but I’m very happy with it. Previously, my home coffee-making setup was:
- Hario Skerton ceramic hand mill and Aeropress for single servings.
- Cuisinart “Spice & Nut” blade grinder and French press for when I’ve got guests.
I bought the French press at a garage sale for $3, so altogether that setup cost me about $120 Canadian, and reliably made very good, if not world-class, coffee. After a while I found the 5 minutes of hand-powered grinding kind of tedious first thing in the morning, though, so I started looking around.
At one point I bought and immediately returned a Cuisinart coffee grinder; it had more than a few design flaws that I soon learned were common across much of that product category. After I realized that, I took the time to lay out my requirements:
- No custom and hard-to-clean receptacle for the grinds. In particular, a grinder that won’t work without that specific container inserted just so is out.
- Set-and-forget on the burr grinder. I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, so I want one button that does the right thing when I push it.
- Super-easy cleanup. Aeropress cleanup is easier than the French press, but not a lot easier, so I set the bar there.
- Not ridiculously loud, and
- Makes excellent coffee.
After some research and patience this is what I’ve settled on, and now I think I’m set for the foreseeable future. I’m using:
- A Breville Dose Control Pro grinder,
- Chemex and Hario V60 filters,
- A Hario ceramic dripper, and
- Hario Buono kettle.
So far I’m very happy with this. The Breville meets all my requirements for a grinder; I’m about four months into owning it and consider it excellent value for money. One nice thing about it is that there’s no intermediate steps; you put the filter in the ceramic dripper, tuck it in under the grinder’s spout and push the button. Once you’ve boiled the water, making the coffee is quick and simple and cleanup could not be easier.
You have to start with excellent whole-bean coffee, clearly, but Toronto is in the middle of some sort of coffee renaissance right now and there are a number (Six? Eight? Maybe more?) of local roasters all doing excellent work, so let your heart guide you.
- There’s no difference between Breville’s “Dose Control” and “Dose Control Pro” grinders beyond cosmetics. I’d get whichever’s cheaper.
- I can’t tell if there’s a difference between the filters I’ve got, but the Hario filters are cheaper. When I run out, I’ll only refill the Harios.
- It takes a bit of time to dial in your preferences, but five or six seconds of moderately fine grind is a good place to start.
- There’s a minor design flaw with the Buono kettle, in that if you heat it too quickly it spits water out the spout. Boil on medium-high, not on high.
So, there you go. This is not substantially more difficult than making pod-coffee, but the results are vastly better.