My Minimalist Coffee Setup

At least a month has passed since I began my French Press challenge, and there were some definite ups and downs along the way. Here’s what I learned while trying to master this brew method in the sloppiest and least scientific way possible…

1. I can brew a solid cup of coffee without a scale or timer – As I got further into my challenge, I quit using a timer or scale, not even to measure the beans before grinding. I treated every variable as “close enough” in order to see how consistent the results could be without that scientific precision favored by coffee geeks (like myself). As long as I didn’t sip the last, sediment-filled sludge at the bottom of my mug, the brew was comfortably good, and depending on the particular coffee, even delicious. That said…

2. I still don’t like metal filter brews – My biggest gripe with the French Press is the same I would have with any non-paper filter, whether it’s full immersion or otherwise. I just don’t like that sediment, and if I try to finish a mug brewed in a French Press, that last sip is going to make me gag and reach for something else to drink. I got around this, mostly, by always leaving a little coffee in the bottom of my cup, but I really do prefer a paper filter for every coffee I drink. This experiment caused me to drink more French Press coffee than I ever have, and thus confirm my personal preferences.

3. Good coffee can taste great regardless of the brew method, however… Paper filters can produce a cleaner and clearer cup, showing more of the delicate characteristics of specialty coffee. While I confirmed that technique alone can produce a good, even great cup of coffee, the flavors of this brew style was always muddled. Flavor was there, but without any brightness or clarity, and I missed my favored brew methods as the weeks dragged on.

I spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about minimalism, cutting down my stuff, trimming the unnecessary coffee gear and wondering what I would choose if I wanted to brew as simply as possible.

Honestly, there’s not much of a contest for brew method. I’ve been a V60 fan since day one. It was my first piece of coffee equipment, and after spending the last couple years brewing countless cups at home, I’ve formed a decided preference toward this type of cone. I can use it for both hot and iced coffee. I can brew a small or large mug, even push it to 40g in the filter when I want to share a single batch.

So that’s the brewing device, but what else makes up my minimalist coffee setup?

Scale, kettle, grinder of course, and I do prefer to brew into a glass server rather than directly into the mug. It helps me to see the flow of coffee and judge any necessary grind adjustment.

v60-2

With those few things, I could easily let the rest go. No more Chemex, no more Aeropress (travel doesn’t leave much time for brewing coffee anymore), no more French Press… ok, I will always have a batch brewer for making a pot for the family, so the Bonavita stays. But for most of my hot or flash-chilled iced coffee, the V60 does the job.

And what makes it minimalist isn’t the design or the number of items. It’s knowing that I have enough.

And from that place of contentment I can better focus on the coffee itself.

2 Replies to “My Minimalist Coffee Setup”

  1. Like you, I’m on a mission to pare down my coffee gear. I have multiple French presses for different roast levels, AeroPresses, Kono drippers, Kalita Wave drippers, V60s, Bonmac drippers, Torch Mountain drippers, etc., etc. With all that gear I could never settle on just one brew method. I could easily do without the Wave, AeroPress and Bonmac. The Torch drippers are pretty but they maybe aren’t even as good as the Kono. I love the simplicity of the French press, but like you I don’t enjoy the fines in my cup. I tried to get into the CCD but I just don’t think it improved upon the French press or pour over. As for the Kono and V60, the “technique” is a turn off for me. So I am leaning towards just French press as my one brew method. I had over a dozen kettles too. I finally settled on the Aoyashi wood handled kettle. This exercise proved harder than I thought it would be and I’m still not sure. I admire your ability to make a decision and go with it.

  2. Hi, Matt. I gotta tell you, I really appreciate this post. It really got me thinking about the essentials of my coffee ritual. I had a lot of gear. I had too much gear. I was trying to create a Japanese coffee shop experience in my home. This post resonated with me. I started truly thinking about my set up and what is essential for brewing coffee at home. I’ve settled on my Bonmac dripper. I was ready to get rid of it because it’s so basic. I felt like I needed something more involved. But the single hole Bonmac is about as minimal as it gets. You don’t even need a pouring kettle to use it. And it delivers a consistently delicious cup of coffee. For now I’m keeping my Hario scale but I’m really thinking about moving to volume based brewing. Do I really need a scale to brew delicious coffee? I know it helps with repeatability but I’m not so sure I care that much. But for now you’ve helped me shed literally dozens of pieces of brew gear. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *