5 Reasons To Love Manual Coffee Brewing
There are a lot of different ways to make coffee. For hundreds of years, people have been brewing it simply by crushing beans with a mortar & pestle and combining them with water over a fire. While this is still common in some parts of the world, in many others, coffee brewing is inextricably linked with machinery now. From espresso machines in cafés to filter machines on kitchen counters, appliances play a big role in the coffee industry today.
Given the ubiquity of electric coffee makers, it's probably understandable that we sometimes are asked why Cape Coffee Beans is so focused on manual coffee brewing. If you have a look at the coffee makers we sell, they're all manual in nature. Even in our collection of coffee grinders, there is only one electric model.
The focus on manual coffee equipment is quite intentional. We have nothing against electric coffee makers. Some of them can produce truly exceptional coffee and, at some point in the future, we may add some to our range. However, we have decided to concentrate on manual gear for now. In this blog post, we've outlined some of the most important reasons that we think manual coffee brewing is such a great choice for coffee lovers.
1) Bang For Your Buck
It's unfortunate but it's true. A good coffee machine, particularly a good espresso machine, is very expensive. While there is a constant supply of cheap new machines available every year, we've yet to see a cheap one that makes great coffee. At the end of the day, good machines are expensive to build, so if the price tag on an espresso machine is too good to be true, it probably is.
Manual brewers on the other hand are inexpensive to make and so are much less expensive to purchase as well. More importantly, the quality of the coffee they can produce for the price tends to be leaps and bounds ahead of electric machines of any sort at a similar price point. So it's not just that manual brewers are more affordable - they also can produce a great cup of coffee without breaking the bank.
2) Ease Of Use
It's as important to the home barista as cost. If you're going to making coffee for yourself and your loved ones every day, your coffee maker needs to be relatively easy to use. People who really care about coffee aren't overly concerned about convenience (we know some of the dark paths that can lead down) but at the end of the day, an espresso machine is a complicated piece of machinery.
You need many days of formal training and even more practical experience to master the espresso machine. While you do need to take some time to learn how to brew with an Aeropress or a pour-over well, you can still produce something pretty good with only a couple of hours of experience.
3) Room For Creativity, Experimentation & Improvement
Even though ease of use is important, you still don't want to completely remove skill from the process of brewing coffee. There are those machines that can grind your beans and make decent coffee with the the push of a button. The good ones also tend to be expensive but equally, they completely remove you - the coffee lover - from the process.
Part of the fun of coffee is experimenting and seeing how minor tweaks in brewing can lead to changes in the flavour of your cup. Even though most manual coffee brewers are easy to use, they give you direct control of many of your brewing variables such as temperature, extraction time & brewing ratio. This means that you can get creative, experiment and constantly improve your coffee brewing skills.
Chances are that you enjoy coffee in lots of different places. You may drink coffee at home and at the office, on either end of your daily commute. You may even be a road warrior who doesn't know where the next cup of coffee is coming from. Either way, you may not want to leave the quality of your coffee to chance (or the purchasing manager) and you certainly aren't going to be lugging an espresso machine around with you.
Manual coffee brewers have the massive advantage of being highly portable. They're light, compact and some, like the Aeropress, are pretty hard to break. That means that you can throw them in your bag or your car boot and take them with you. We know lots of customers who take their Aeropress & grinder to work with them, or even on a business trip. It's a much better option than drinking your typical office or hotel room coffee!
5) Long Cups of Coffee
This last point might not make sense right away but please, bear with us. It's a quirk of the contemporary coffee industry that most cafés and restaurants use an espresso machine to brew their coffee, but how many people actually drink espresso?
Now, don't get us wrong, espresso is a WONDERFUL thing when it's made well but, like it or not, it's just not what most people drink. A huge chunk of the coffee-drinking population dilutes their espresso either with milk or with water. Some of this may be due to an aversion to the intense and concentrated flavours of espresso but we reckon that a lot of it may be due to the simple desire for a long coffee drink.
It's that preference for long drinks that brings us back to manual brewing. Most manual coffee makers only make long drinks and that's ok, because that's what most people drink! If you prefer espresso, then maybe you do need to invest in a proper espresso machine, build a relationship with your local barista or perhaps try to make something similar with your Aeropress. But if you like drinking long cups of coffee anyway, why brew a short one and then dilute. Instead, why not use a coffee maker that is designed to brew long cups?
For those reasons (and a few others), we really do think manual coffee brewing is a great choice for most people, especially when you're just starting out. Whether you agree or disagree, we'd love to hear what you think!