You say you want a resolution? We have a few coffee related ideas for you to consider if you're looking for some challenges in this brand new year. Whether you are a total novice or a seasoned specialty coffee drinker, there are ways to expand your horizons and further your enjoyment that can play nicely with the fresh enthusiasm a reset calendar brings.
The Pour Over Challenge
For those of you who still shy away from making your coffee by hand, rest assured it is not as difficult as you think. If you can boil a kettle and if you can spend around ten dollars on a Melitta brand pour over set up from your local grocer, you will be able to perform a very enjoyable experiment. Keep your preferred ratio the same, keep your grind setting the same, and simply have confidence that properly heated water and methodical ground saturation will make a difference you can taste.
Once you taste and believe in the difference, you can try adjusting other variables and learning about pour technique, greater control of coffee to water ratio, trying different grind settings, using better water, and so on.
Try New Methods
If you are already aware and confident in the value of manual brewing, perhaps you are ready for some new methods. Most industry standard devices are quite affordable (20-50 dollars). For example, if you are mostly familiar with a continuous pour, it may be time to give an immersion method a try. Exploring a method different from your favorite may reveal new wonders in the coffees you have become familiar with.
Try New Roasters
Roasters, like chefs, will use their craft to bring out elements they believe to be most desirable in the coffees they source. The subjective side of this makes for a frontier of aesthetic convictions to explore. Good roasters will be pretty up front about what it is they are trying to accomplish and it is a joy to take them at their word and taste what they produce. You may think you know what you prefer, but you need to try more examples to be sure. Many times, we don't even know what we will enjoy until we are exposed to it.
Commit Yourself To Seasonality
One of the most wonderful realizations in our modern coffee paradigm is that it is a fruit product that has seasonality. Different growing regions will have different peaks of freshness. Take some time to educate yourself on this seasonality and look for fresh crop coffees only. There are enough quality producers worldwide to keep your cup exciting year round.
The Ultimate Home Coffee Craft
Perhaps these previous examples are all 'old hat' for you. If so, it may be time to consider embracing the most fulfilling aspect of home coffee craft: roasting your own beans. Getting started here will require a slightly higher upfront equipment cost, but your actual coffee cost will become significantly lower. It is not uncommon for unroasted coffee to cost as little as one-third its roasted equivalent. In addition to this, green coffee has a much longer shelf-life, as the volatile aromatics are in a more stable, undeveloped state. Still, the greatest advantage in being your own roaster is the connectedness you will have with the bean.
There are resources that exist now which allow for previously unheard of levels of confidence in home roasting. Some great forums and blogs are devoted to this, and your local roaster should be glad to give you some pointers as well. Like any skill, there are basics which can be apprehended almost immediately. These basics, however, are coupled with a wealth of nuance you will spend a lifetime working through.
Final Advice For A Happy New Year
Don't try to do it all. Regardless of where you may be in your journey, take time to explore and be satisfied with the simple step by step process at your disposal. If you can't patiently enjoy the depth of simplicity within your current skill, you will never be fulfilled—no matter how far you take it. Remember, confidently crafting your best cup will be as enjoyable as drinking it.