Brew Quest Coffee Basics 101: Do You Suffer From Coffee Brewer Fatigue?
Do you enjoy coffee and want to learn more about how to brew it, but are discouraged by coffee brewer fatigue? Discover now about how that coffee brewing can be draining on both your psyche and your wallet. And, what you can do about it.
Coffee Brewer Fatigue
Recent news stories tell us that now more than ever, a large percentage of non-coffee brewers are turning to brewing coffee in their home in response to COVID-19 social distancing. The reasons are varied. For some, it’s a matter of getting their morning caffeine fix safely before working remotely from home. For others, it’s a matter of taking up a new interest with free time on their hands due to coronavirus-mandated social isolation.
A problem I’ve found is that if you are new to coffee brewing or if you are someone like me who already has some knowledge and experience about how to brew pretty good coffee, but wants to up their game by stepping into the world of the coffee aficionado, there’s an information glut online that causes what I like to refer to as “coffee brewer fatigue.”
To me, coffee brewer fatigue is what I get while researching brewing methods to improve my coffee brewing skills, but wind up confounded by the sheer volume of advice and the cost of brewing-related equipment. Just look at the pros and cons, previews and reviews, and cost comparisons of coffee grinders alone. It’s almost enough to justify that morning beer.
In other words, the internet infoglut can be a stumbling block to learning how to make really good coffee.
And why do I say “really good coffee” as opposed to seeking the ultimate flavor in coffee and espresso imaginable? Sometimes, good enough is good enough.
Perhaps there’s a philosophical view to the distinction between really good coffee and the best of the best. Do you really want to have the best of the best in coffee taste every day? Every time you have a cup in hand and a day of possibilities ahead of you?
How can one learn about good coffee without experiencing—accidently as well as deliberately—bad coffee. It would be like living a life without pain. Think about it for a moment—a life without ever experiencing any type of pain. Ever. It would become boring to say the least. And your coffee drinking experience is no different.
As I’ve said before, my philosophy behind coffee is that, “I believe that brewing and drinking coffee is not just about an achievement of taste, but about the mindful experience that comes in a cup of Joe whether you are aware of it or not. How that the empiric drive makes coffee so universal; A fountain whose sip evokes memories and creates new futures…a time machine that goes forward and back.”
That said, future articles will take on a slightly different approach that is geared for those who are new to coffee brewing; and, those who want to up their game by stepping into the shadows of the coffee aficionado without going into debt. You can expect less coffee-related news and more brewing info that you can put into practice—my solution to avoiding and curing coffee brewer fatigue.
More specifically, the focus will be on that gray zone between specialty coffee from the big chains and the craft coffee you discovered in that out-of-the-way coffee shop that made such an impression on you and has encouraged you to try to replicate their coffee in your kitchen.
You can achieve this. However, it requires learning what I will refer to as “Brew Quest Coffee Basics 101”—a daily guide that teaches you what you need to know and understand so that you will have a solid foundation on brewing coffee that will allow you to experiment and discover the coffee that is perfect for you.
Always remember: Everyone has an opinion on what makes a good coffee or not, but it’s your taste buds and your mood that will tell you whether or not a coffee is to your liking.
Your First Brew Quest Coffee Basics Lesson
Since we’ve already discussed what coffee brewer fatigue is and how we can avoid it, let’s finish the lesson with some basic coffee terminology to clarify some of the lingo you will hear about in future articles.
Commodity Coffee: First, you need to know that not all coffee beans are equal. Just like people, some are better than others as a matter of both nature and nurture. Essentially, commodity coffee is primarily Robusta beans used in making instant coffee found in diners and chow halls. Think of your parent’s or grandparent’s big red can of Folgers. However, this is not to say that Robusta is bad, just that it’s cheaper and different from the Arabica beans used in the coffee you love. You will learn later that Robusta has its uses and that not all instant coffees qualify as bad coffee just because of its nature and nurture.
Specialty Coffee: At its most basic, specialty coffee is typically the ground and whole bean bag of Arabica you see on your grocer’s shelves separate from the instant coffee. Often the bags will have a one-way valve for degassing and trendy marketing that offers the promise of great taste…among other things.
More specifically, specialty coffee is about the pedigree and quality of the beans and how well they have been processed from off the bush to brewing in the cup. It’s all about grading and quality; where any bean can go from good to bad if there is any break in the chain of quality control that fails to meet industry standards designed to insure good coffee by the time it reaches your kitchen.
Craft Coffee: The best distinction here is that all craft coffees are specialty coffees, but not all specialty coffees are craft coffees. Craft coffee is your goal. It is coffee that has been specially graded and brewed to an artform where although taste is everything, the process is equally so to many brewers. You will see bags of coffee advertised as “Craft Coffee”; but in reality, it is a type of specialty coffee that has to be brewed at its best to have truly earned the distinction of a craft coffee.
Coffee Talk is meant to encourage discourse between you and someone you are having coffee with, as well as for the comments section below. If you agree or disagree with the topic and what is said, or have something you would like to share, Coffee Talk is there for you.
Pain—As mentioned earlier, a life without pain could be seen as a life that is lacking. In nature as well as in people, adversity is one type of pain and it sometimes results in some interesting and progressive developments—"ad astra per aspera” (through difficulty to the stars) and all that.
In literature, we can learn a lot about others and about pain. Call it the human condition and all that it entails—especially during these times. Some of my favorite books are those that troubles the mind in some way; but leaves us a slightly better person for it. The type of book you start reading with a cup of coffee, but somehow wind up finishing it with a beer or something stronger.
If you have never opened a book about the philosophy of pain, one recommendation is to read “A Tapestry of Pain: a review of 'A Philosophy of Pain'” by Chuanfei Chin about the Norwegian philosopher Arne Johan Vetlesen and his views on pain and its meaning. It is available free online and provides a small dose of philosophy and a revelation on the scope of what pain is really all about. Perfect for some coffee talk with a friend…or a session with your therapist.
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.
Image courtesy of Photo by Allie on Unsplash
Reference: “A Tapestry of Pain: review of 'A Philosophy of Pain’” by Chuanfei Chin from The Berlin Review of Books, 2012.