When it comes to making coffee, having the right devices enhances the experience and not just marginally
REMEMBER when last year I started a love-hate relationship with coffee? No? Never mind. The term love-hate sums it up. Well, somehow it showed on the radar of this gentleman who, by day, goes by the name of Abhinav Mathur, but secretly has been put on earth with a secret mission: converting people to the tribe of coffee. He is quite the master of disguise, hiding his infectious passion behind a solid-sounding business entity, one that doesn’t anywhere give away the real propaganda. But the man is dangerous, for unlike an all-out attack, he gets you when you least expect it. His superpower is possibly planting the seeds of conviction within and then sitting back and sipping his pour-over brew at just the right temperature while he sees you metamorphose into a coffee lover.
And this is precisely how I succumbed. A box turned up with more contraptions than will be found in a coffee-themed time capsule were it to be buried today to surmise the prevailing coffee scene. It was so intense and surgically precise that I was almost tempted to read the instruction manual, but then in the nick of time, I remembered that I am a man and we don’t do any such thing. I mean, what next, stopping to ask for directions?
Nevertheless, eventually I panic-Googled, and then I finally called up the resources to derive the right information from the super-coffee-man himself. This is what has changed about my coffee habits since then.
1. Espressos are great, but sometimes you just want a milder and a longer drink. An Americano is one way to stretch it, but all this relies on you having an extensive espresso machine at home. I do but I rarely use it. Abhinav had sent me a portable manually-operated Wacaco Espresso maker and it works brilliantly. All you have to ensure is that (a) the coffee is ground for espresso-making; (b) the water is aptly hot; and (c) this is the most important, you are in a public place where people will watch you in utter awe as you squeeze out a fresh espresso, thereby catapulting your hipster quotient. In fact, I wanted to remake Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, recreating the opening scene with Christoph Waltz making himself an espresso using a Wacaco instead of filling ink in his fountain pen.
2. Moka-Pot: The old alla Italiana is still a global favourite, makes for a strong brew and also makes the kitchen radiate coffee-scented happiness after.
3. French-Press: I love the plunger. There is something ASMR-therapeutic about, well, plunging it.
4. Aeropress: This is a handy little device for making a decent cuppa without needing to lug too much equipment. Aeropress is the name of the company, but in coffee circles, it’s more of a common noun (and maybe even a verb).
5. Pour-over: Many people seem to swear by this method and here, watering the ground coffee with hot water and being greeted by this heady waft of fruity and spiced aromas is the equivalent of kitchen-counter petrichor to me.
Types 1, 2 and 3 above don’t involve any filter paper whereas the others do. The debate on whether filtered coffee is better for your health is still too young so won’t comment on which you should go for. I have organised them above in somewhat decreasing order of intensity, so choose according to what you may wish to go with. The Varia multi-brewer version is a versatile number, which combines 2, 3, and 5 into one device. Another lovely French-press comes from Hario.
Three caveats while enjoying coffee:
1. The fresher the grind, the better the flavours. “Grinding fresh is key” ordained Abhinav (and will be my next acquisition for sure!).
2. If it’s too hot, you won’t get all the nuances. To enjoy a coffee for all its flavours by itself is best. But if milk and sugar work for you, by all means go for it. This advice comes Abhinav-approved.
3. Too strong is never better. As I was instructed, 1:15 of coffee to water by weight is a good ratio to begin with, going up to 1:12 for a stronger brew and 1:2 for an espresso!
As you can tell, I am enjoying my coffee journey a lot more. In the end, it’s not entirely about the equipment but, believe me when I say that, having the right devices do enhance the experience and not just marginally. Check out Somethingsbrewing.in and click on it, knowing that you will spend more money than you planned to on a hobby you didn’t even know you had.
The writer is a sommelier