When my wife and I got married we got a Keurig because my wife didn’t drink coffee and I didn’t need to make more than one cup at a time. This worked for us at the time. (Although I wouldn’t recommend it now that I have realized how expensive and bad for the environment they are.) The k-cups were expensive but we both had jobs, not great jobs but jobs. When we had our son, we started cutting back on our spending because… kids are expensive. This led me to sell our Keurig and buy a french press(or cafetiere). I started with a french press because they don’t require paper filters. That meant I wouldn’t be paying for anything after the first investment of the maker, other than coffee. However, I soon found out that you need to grind your own coffee to get the most out of the french press because pre-ground coffee is too finely ground. Luckily, my mother-in-law gave me her old blade grinder so I was set. This is how I made coffee for a while. Then something happened.
I started enjoying the process, the ritual of getting up and taking my time to make a cup of coffee. It became more about making coffee than drinking it. From there, it started to turn into a hobby. I bought a metal pour over cone filter with a stand so I could make pour over coffee. (Which is still my favourite way to make filter coffee.) That way I still wasn’t buying paper filters. Then things got a little out of hand. I bought a cheap electric block burr grinder. It was definitely an upgrade from the blade grinder but the grind consistency wasn’t where I wanted to be, so my brother got me a ceramic conical burr hand-grinder for my birthday. It was a lot more work but the results were much better. My mom got me a moka pot. Then I bought a goose-neck pouring kettle which may have been the best purchase I’ve ever made. I started experimenting with all the ways I could make coffee. In addition to trying to make coffee in all the things I already mentioned, I started making cold brew as well. Then I calmed down a little and spent more time trying to get better at making coffee instead of trying to learn more ways to make it. I watched YouTube and read articles and newsletters trying to learn all I could about making the best cup of coffee I could. I wanted to learn everything I could about coffee.
From that, I learned that getting the best brew was all about controlling your variables. Variables like time, amount of coffee, grind size, temperature, flow rate, ect. This lead me to start measuring everything. I got a kitchen scale. (Second best purchase I’ve made.) This let me know how much coffee and water were going in and how much brewed coffee was coming out. By this time coffee had left the territory of just a hobby and turned into a passion. I wanted to control everything I could and learn everything I could from doing, not just reading or watching. My next purchase was a rotisserie roasting basket and a camp stove. I wanted to try and roast my own coffee. So that’s exactly what I did. I got some Brazilian single origin green coffee for Christmas that year and threw a half pound into the basket and turned it over my stove. The first batch was burnt. I didn’t know what I was doing or looking for but I learned a lot from that first attempt and the next time I had a pretty decent batch of coffee. You could tell it lacked a little from high quality commercially roasted coffee but it was way more fun to make than to just go buy a bag and it was still way better than cheap pre-ground coffee. Then I tried a few more times with varying levels of success. I even roasted the coffee for the mornings of my brother’s bachelor party weekend.
All this time I was dreaming of getting an espresso machine. It felt like the final frontier of coffee for me and it was no-where in my reach. Espresso machines are expensive and I didn’t have that kind of money. It also felt like the ultimate challenge. There’s a lot of craft that goes into making coffee with an espresso machine. I’m not a person who is very good about keeping my passions to myself so about everyone in my family knew I was really into coffee and wanted an espresso machine. My dad is an avid “eBay-er” and deal seeker. He heard I wanted an espresso machine and which one I was looking for so he kept an eye out for it on ebay. One day, while we were on family vacation he was “ebaying” from his phone and you hear “Oops, um happy early birthday and Christmas Micah.” He had seen the espresso machine and an accompanying grinder on ebay that was a little bit of a fixer-upper but priced too good to be true so he bid on it thinking he would be out bid but he wasn’t and he “accidentally” bought it. I was extremely excited! As I said it was a little bit of a fixer-upper, but I didn’t care. I was more than willing to put in the work, (and my dad is a handyman) so I knew we could fix any problems with it. As soon as it came in my dad started fixing and cleaning it up. And by a little bit before my birthday I had an espresso machine and a great grinder. I have used it just about everyday to every other day since (going on 6 months now). In that time, I’ve gotten several more accessories like: some frothing pitchers, a couple tampers, a distribution tool, ect. That’s pretty well where I am today. My coffee journey is far from over, but it has been started. Are you into coffee too? Do you have a coffee journey? Let me know. I’d love to hear from fellow home baristas and home roasters.