Grinding Coffee Mindfully
I only drink pre-ground unfiltered black pour-over.
Naturally, I never* had a coffee grinder. It felt like too much effort and a waste of time in a world where pre-ground coffee exists.
Well, I just got my first-ever manual grinder. And I was kinda wrong.
Why unfiltered pour-over?
It's what mom used to make when I was a kid, and I guess it stuck with me.
No fancy coffee machines, no presses, no filters, no nothing. Just a few spoonfuls from the jar, add boiling water, enjoy. Perfection.
(I don't remember the first time I had coffee, now that I think of it. Beer yes, coffee no. Interesting thought.)
And here's why I still love it:
- It's quick.
- It's simple.
- It's cheap.
- It's strong.
- The texture is great.
- And it gives me the energy I need.
The drawbacks? None, really.
To me, coffee is a quick to make slow-release source of energy and joy. Espressos? Too quick. Everything else? Too sweet, too complex, too cumbersome, too whatever.
Which is why I was never into other types of coffee much. Let alone artisanal coffee, with the ceremonies and everything. I'll still drink and enjoy it given the opportunity, but I won't choose to do it. Not good for my routines anyway.
But I practice curiosity, so I like to keep my mind open.
Last month, I stumbled upon a great story of the Bialetti Moka Express pot. I love a good story, and Renato Bialetti being buried in a moka pot shaped urn made it just perfect.
To pay respects to the man, I decided to get myself a Bialetti Moka Express pot.
And even if it didn't make me a moka (mocha?) fan, I liked the thing. Its simplicity and angularity make it feel retro and futuristic at once. Not enough return on effort to make it my daily driver, but I use it occasionally just to slow down and enjoy the process.
(Pro tip: opening a still hot moka pot will not result in joy. Not even with a towel. Lesson learned.)
Now that I had the pot, a couple of my coffee-loving friends saw the opportunity to send me further down the coffee rabbit hole by suggesting I get a manual coffee grinder.
* The only grinder I ever had was the Straume Soviet electric blade grinder. I'm sure it can grind sticks and stones, but it's not a great coffee grinder. And I rarely used it anyway since I'm in Club Pre-Ground.
The idea of getting a manual grinder was intriguing, though.
On one hand, it felt like effort. Can I grind enough for like 25 cups in one sitting so I don't have to do it every time? Laughter. You're supposed to grind just prior to brewing, that's the whole point!
On the other hand, it sounded like a fun little experiment that would add a little more mindfulness to my days. If only I could stick it into my lightning-fast coffee routine without disrupting it too much...
(There's some irony in trying to stick a little bit of mindfulness into something mindless without slowing it down.)
Anyway, I did my own research. The top manual Burr grinders like 1Zpresso and Timemore cost $$$'s, which would make the fun experiment not so little.
Fortunately, I learned that decent budget grinders also exist. In the worst-case scenario, I'd have an unused coffee grinder for under $50. And since I already had one unused grinder, I figured that'll cheer it up a bit.
In the end, I didn't get to buy one. While I was considering getting a Hario Mini Mill, I received a Christmas present with a Bialetti Hand Coffee Grinder from one of my two friends. Apparently he had ties in the coffee world.
I'm now a proud owner of a manual coffee grinder. And guess what? I was wrong about the extra effort. It's 15 seconds to grind a single dose, and I do it while the kettle's boiling. Perfect.
I noticed a few:
- The freshly ground coffee does indeed smell and taste better than pre-ground. Surprise. Not "where have you been all my life" better, but still. Just a little nicer.
- Having a grinder means I can try different types of beans. More openness to new experiences, no matter how small.
- Grinding coffee manually gives me the extra 15 seconds of workout and mindfulness, making me physically and mentally stronger.
- Most importantly, I can still enjoy my plain black pour-over without messing with my productivity.
This didn't make me an artisanal coffee convert, and I still drink pre-ground when I'm in a hurry or just don't care.
But when I don't skip my 15 seconds of mindful grinding, I feel just a little better.
Definitely one of those little experiments that paid off.