I’m sitting in my home office right now sipping a sample roast of an upcoming Black Label coffee and thinking about how this may be the position many of you are in. Many of us used to drive to work in a busy sprint to get to the start our workday. Now, we are trying to get into a new routine where our kids are home. We’re struggling to segment our lives between work and home because the line is now blurred. I know there are other circumstances these days too. Many are still heading to their essential jobs and some are furloughed or just out of work completely (if this is you, I’m sorry…better days are coming soon). Regardless of what has changed, I think we all are building some new habits. I want to write this blog to talk about how to integrate coffee (my favorite “meal” of the day) into these new habits.
Personally, this is kind of the normal for me. I find when I go into the shop, I get caught up in the production of the coffee business and fail to focus on the tasks that I need to get done to keep this business moving forward. When I was talking about leaving my full time IT director job to focus on Sagebrush a small business owner told me, “Congrats on being a business owner, now you can work any 16hrs of the day that you want.” Truer words have never been spoken. My days usually start with a cup of coffee as I head to the home office that I’m sitting in right now. I tend to leave production for Sarah to run, so I’m not looking over her shoulder. If I make my way to the shop, I try to go after lunch. Some days I’ll go in and we’ll do some quality control cuppings. Many days I’ll chat with whoever is in there about upcoming coffees, what’s selling, any customer issues or how we can optimize our production. Or sometimes I’ll just go in to talk through how to take better care of our customers in all areas.
OK…so that’s my day, I forgot to talk about how coffee is integrated. I’ll get there soon.
About a decade ago, I was roasting coffee on my own for personal consumption. I was telling my brother in law about some of the beans I’d gotten my hands on and how great they were. He asked me, “that sounds awesome, but what do you use for utility coffee?” I was confused, I didn’t think about coffee that way. He went on to explain that he loves a great cup of coffee on Saturday mornings or he’ll run to a coffee shop for an espresso one or two times a week, but every morning he drank a generic coffee to get him through the day. I was baffled and realized that he needed to change (there’s no way I was wrong in this one). It worked out that I picked him in our family Christmas gift exchange that year, so I bought him a Whirlypop popcorn popper and several pounds a green beans. Gave him a quick roasting lesson, he picked it up quickly and utility coffee has ceased to exist in his household.
However, I wonder how many people think about coffee that way. It is very easy to have ‘utility coffee’ and drink that each morning. But as we’re starting to look at this change in life, wouldn’t it be great if utility coffee didn’t exist? Wouldn’t it be awesome if every drop of coffee was a memorable, relaxing, and peaceful experience? I believe it can be. I drink a few cups of coffee each morning brewed in our Technivorm coffee pot. That’s right, Jenna makes a pot of coffee each morning and we split it. Nothing special happens in the Kellso house for morning coffee, except I’m almost always sampling new coffees. I love to just drink coffees to pick them, but I rarely pick a new coffee unless it has held up to a few days of our morning coffee pot. I want to say, “that’s a good cup of coffee” several mornings in a row before I pick it and hope that you do the same. And that’s kind of the point. A generically brewed cup of coffee can be amazing with the right coffee and the correct perspective. Brew a pot and sit down. Pause the morning for a few minutes and say, “that’s a good cup of coffee.”
I use one of my four favorite brewing methods for the afternoon ‘break’ cup of coffee that I need to springboard to the finish line of each day. What are my four favorite brewing methods to make coffee change from utility to pleasure? The answer to this question is easy and probably surprising. I don’t drink a lot of espresso. I LOVE espresso, I’ll take a Breve Cortado anytime someone wants to make me one. But I’m a little too lazy to fire up the espresso machine every time I want one. So, I have to branch out and use some brewers that are easier on the cleanup, significantly less expensive, and quicker to brew. I’ll give a brief overview here and then I’ll write a follow-up post that goes into more detail of each.
- Chemex ($42): I love the Chemex for the bright cup of coffee. I think no brewing method produces the flavor notes we describe in a cup of coffee better than this.
- Pour Over ($30): I use a Hario V60 most often, but there are several options. I like this for a little bit more rich of a cup than a Chemex.
- Cold Brew ($50): This brewing method takes a while at first (~16hrs) but results in a concentrate that lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge, so you can have a nice iced drink throughout the week. In the summer, I love this, and I like to pour the concentrate into a pint glass over ice and then add about 2oz of Half and Half to the cup to make a VERY strong iced latte-like drink.
- Aeropress ($30): This brewer produces a super smooth cup. I generally brew two presses worth for the amount I like to drink in the afternoon and it almost makes an Americano style drink.
- French Press ($40): I know this is 5 and I said 4, but this is my least favorite. I don’t love the clean-up and it is a little more bold of a cup than is my preference. However, if you like bold and rich coffee, this is the one for you.
So, as life is changing, I think it’s a good time to pick a Sagebrush coffee that fits your price range and build a coffee habit that makes coffee as enjoyable of an experience as picking it up at a coffee shop was before COVID-19 changed things. Take 15 minutes in the afternoon or morning break, pick your favorite brewing method and then brew, sip, and relax. It will be worth every minute.