I recently set out to accomplish my goal of doing something to make myself more cultured. I considered my options as I sat on the couch watching a show about a morbidly obese woman showing the world that you can be both fat and fierce. The possibilities included: journeying into the German Village in Columbus to try schnitzel for the first time, visiting an art gallery to immerse myself in art history, or staying home and having Adam, my hipster housemate, give me a lesson on how to make a pour over coffee. I am mildly lazy/not really into art, so I chose the latter option.
Adam responded in the calm way of a seasoned barista when I approached him with the idea of teaching me more about coffee culture and said that he would be “down” to show me the intricate process of unconventional coffee making. I was elated by his response and waited in the kitchen with the excitement of a white woman on the Oprah show in 2004 as he prepared to teach me the art of the pour over.
He had decided that the best way for me to learn would be by watching him make a cup first, so I looked on with awe and wonder as he started the process. Unlike the method of making coffee the conventional way, this technique consists of many steps:
- Scoop 2 1/2 tablespoons of coffee beans into the coffee grinder. As he did this, he explained what the various types of coffee roasts signify, how to grind your coffee in a way that gives it a fuller bodied flavor, and something about notes of citrus (To be honest, I struggled to find the connection between fruit flavors and coffee, but I resisted the urge to voice my thoughts on the topic)
- Boil water (Such a simple task, but it was complicated by the fact that I had never boiled water in an electric hot water boiler. The struggle was truly real as I fumbled with one of the two buttons on the machine to get the water to heat up. Clearly, there is a reason I did not major in mechanical engineering)
- Place a filter into the ceramic funnel contraption that allows you to “pour over” the coffee (As I positioned the water filter, I thought, “If we are using a filter already, why don’t we just use an actual coffee maker so we can be productive while the coffee drips?”)
- Set the funnel on top of your coffee mug (Make sure that the mug looks like it was just crafted by an Indonesian potter to add to the authenticity of the experience)
- Dump your freshly ground beans into the filter (At this point in the lesson, I was surprised that the pour over technique doesn’t require you to place each individual granule of coffee into the filter as a means of “preserving the taste”)
- Carefully pour the boiling water into the filter in a circular motion. (While explaining this, Adam poured the water with the precision of a scientist splitting an atom. I was impressed)
- Occasionally lift the ceramic funnel from your coffee mug to make sure that it is not about to overflow (Again, when did coffee makers stop being ok to use? The level of meticulousness that it took to make a single cup of coffee seemed a bit extreme)
- Remove the funnel and take many artistic photos to prove to the world (or, in my case, my 222 Instagram followers) that you are a true coffee connoisseur
I began making my own cup once Adam had finished his cup of pour over coffee. Surprisingly, it was not too difficult, and I was able to successfully craft my first pour over coffee. After following step eight by spending roughly nine minutes taking photos of my coffee mug resting on the floor in a stray beam of natural light, I settled into a chair and prepared to drink my creation.
I savored the few moments before tasting the coffee, because I knew that this was a giant step in my evolution towards becoming a hipster. I figured I was just one pair of skintight jeans and an antique typewriter away from being fully assimilated into this culture. However, after my first sip, I realized that I am nowhere near that point.
Tasting the pour over was a mildly traumatizing experience. I wanted to seem like a seasoned coffee drinker in front of my housemate, so I forwent any cream or sugar. As the first drop of coffee touched my tongue, I knew I had made a ginormous mistake. It tasted as if I had mixed gasoline with the liquid from a Porta-Potty, and I fought hard not to gag.
Seeing that I did not have a look of serene pleasure etched across my face, like most coffee-lovers after their first sip of the day, Adam asked if there was a problem with my coffee. Not wanting to further erode my projected image of being a grade-A coffee expert, I forced a grimace and told him that it was a little hot.
After a few moments spent allowing the coffee to “cool down”, I proceeded to take another sip. Like a CIA agent who knows that they are about to be waterboarded, I was better prepared to handle the foul taste. I somehow managed to drink half of the coffee before Adam finally went upstairs. Once he was gone, I hurriedly poured my coffee down the sink and chugged a glass of water to remove the battery acid taste from my mouth.
This was certainly an experience, and if I could boil it all down into one lesson, it would be: never trust someone who has science laboratory equipment instead of a coffee maker to make you a cup of coffee.
I will probably never make pour over coffee again, but I am happy to have had this chance to immerse myself in the culture of coffee. I can certainly appreciate those who make a craft out of their coffee experience, but I am content with the hazelnut coffee at Panera Bread. So from now on, I will let the hipsters be themselves as they work feverishly to reject social constructs, and I will continue savoring my convenient, cream-filled coffee.