October 25 2019 – Kevin Mbundu
Sometimes, convenience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s handy to be able to get a cup of takeout coffee whenever and wherever you want one, and sling it back while dashing to your next appointment. But, as we’re learning, there are hidden costs to this kind of always-on, always-available lifestyle. That’s why we’re team home-brew.
From a personal enjoyment perspective, takeaway coffee is not always a rewarding experience. While the coffee might be decent (depending on what you’ve bought and where), it’s probably not going to be exactly to your taste. Takeout coffee is also often a little on the tepid side, or, conversely, so hot it boils your tastebuds.
Then there’s the matter of the cup itself – typically a piece of single-use soon-to-be trash. The vessel affects our experience of a beverage: the materials and craftsmanship can enhance or detract from your coffee. Most people who enjoy wine prefer not to drink it out of polystyrene cups if they can avoid it, but when it comes to coffee, convenience seems to outweigh all other considerations. It’s time to change that.
It’s not just about the individual experience of a brew – as we know, the personal is political, and increasingly environmental. A reliance on speed and convenience is resulting in tons and tons of trash pouring into landfills and our oceans. We’ve all seen the photos and videos but sometimes putting these things into numbers can help us grasp the magnitude of the problem.
Among the environmental offenders are disposable coffee cups, an estimated one billion of which are tossed away each year. Except for the lid (sometimes, in some parts of the world), the cups usually can’t be recycled, and they don’t break down easily – leaving the earth to continue dealing with your on-the-go cup long after you have.
The coffee industry recognizes this massive issue, and it’s heartening to see progressive coffee shops embarking on a drive for reusability and recycling packaging. It’s also great to see people taking along their own reusable coffee mug when they want a takeout.
However, switching to home brew is even better – and if you’re in a rush, you can pour that into your travel mug too.
If you have a handle on the basics of home brewing, you’ll know that the coffee tastes better. You get to choose what you drink it out of, and what grind and filters to use.
You can decide exactly how much water to add, and how hot you want it.
You have access to your favorite beans and blends, and full control over the quality of the coffee that passes your lips. There’s a lot of excellent, sustainably produced coffee available but not always at your local coffee shop.
Another argument for home brewing is health. This goes beyond the choice of filter, water and extras like milk and into the realm of relaxation and stress relief. Slowing down a little and taking the time to prepare your coffee at home not only gives you the opportunity to savor it properly, it can be an exercise in mindfulness and possibly meditation. Breathing deeply while brewing your coffee, appreciating all the different aspects of the drink, and sipping it slowly can help you start – or end – your day on a less frantic, more balanced note.