On a recent episode of The Audio Cafe, I imagine many coffee lovers were taken aback at Gordie Bufton’s view of coffee as “the most widely abused substance on the planet”, referring specifically to caffeine. It plays into the view that most people hold, that coffee is merely a delivery mechanism for caffeine, something you drink to wake up in the morning.
Understanding this perception is key to explaining why many call coffee an “acquired taste” or focus their entire discussion of coffee and espresso on assumed caffeine content, using the word strong to define both flavor and caffeine as if the two were directly correlated.
Given the history of coffee consumption, at least in my part of the world, it’s not surprising. Coffee has long been the legal stimulant of choice, and I count myself lucky to have discovered how much more coffee has to offer, beyond the simple morning jolt. That said, there are still hours in the day when I need a cup of coffee before brewing a cup of coffee, and that’s why our home coffee bar includes the Bonavita Automatic Drip Coffee Brewer.
It all started with office coffee service that I found undrinkable. As I dove deeper and deeper into the delicious realm of specialty coffee, I lost my tolerance for stale, commodity grade brew, which is all we can get from our local business coffee provider. My dad asked if I could brew more than a single cup at home so that we could bring it to work in a thermos, and thus I started looking at batch brewing options.
I settled on the Bonavita brewer after seeing multiple mentions in trade magazines, blogs, and of course, the awesome video from Verve Coffee Roasters. The highlights of this brewer come down to two key points, but I like to add a third as well.
First, the Bonavita is tested for temperature stability. Coffee is (on average) 99% water, and both water quality and temperature play important roles in achieving an ideal extraction. Second, Bonavita designed a shower head to ensure even coverage of grounds, helping avoid the issue of uneven extraction due to inconstant wetting of ground coffee in the filter basket.
Third, and one of my particular favorite features, is the ease of cleaning. The entire top cover of this unit can be removed, allowing the shower head to be disassembled for thorough cleaning. It even comes with a special sponge brush for scrubbing the inside of the pot.
Of course, there are plenty of other great features: an insulated carafe (stainless steel outside, glass inside) with lid which alone will keep coffee hot for hours, Melitta filter cone, and single-button operation. Just one button turns the machine on, and it automatically turns off after 15 minutes. The simplicity of functionality makes the minimalist in me quite happy when I prepare our morning pot.
In case you missed my Holiday Gift Ideas post from a week back, I should mention that this brewer is SCAA certified, a voluntary but rigorous testing process to ensure consistent quality in the cup. I wouldn’t trust the delicate qualities of an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to most coffee makers you find in big box stores, but this is one of the most affordable options for easily brewing specialty-grade coffee at home.
My Bonavita Method
I follow a ratio of 10g coffee to every “cup” of water in the brewer. Although I’ve brewed smaller pots from time to time, most mornings I grind 80g of coffee and fill up the water to maximum. This fills up our Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle, which keeps the brewed coffee hot for hours (although we usually finish it long before it would start to cool), leaving one cup in the carafe for my wife to enjoy at home after I leave.
That’s really all there is to it. I always prefer a manual brew method, both for the coffee itself and the experience of focusing intently on each pour, but there is a place for auto-drip at home and I’m glad we have the Bonavita for that purpose.