Writing and coffee

by Alexandre Leclerc

Writing is a lot like brewing coffee. There are many ways to brew coffee. All methods have their staunch supporters. Some brewers swear by their method and will try to convert every brewer. They hold their method as the one true way to get the best coffee, and any other method is flawed for some reasons or others.
But every brewing method is different. And each yields coffee, in the end. But the aromas and tannins and bitterness will differ.
Some methods are simple and require basic skills and equipment. Turkish coffee, for example. Pour boiling water on fine coffee grounds straight in the cup. Voilà! Strong gritty coffee.
Others ask for a bit more time and equipment. The ubiquitous percolator comes to mind. The coffee grounds go in a filter. Water is heated to 95 degrees, then dripped on the grounds. The water flows through the grounds, filters through the paper, and cascades in the pot. The filter absorbs some of the essential oils of and tannins the grounds. The result is a gritless coffee with more body and less bitterness.
Then comes the art of brewing. The barrista, artist of coffee, uses the espresso machine like a painter uses his brush. They grind the grounds, press them just right, and set it in the machine. They precisely set the water temperature, and the machine will push the water through the grounds. Done right, this process results in a small cup of a strong, aromatic coffee topped with light crema.
There are countless other ways to brew coffee—stovetop, French press, and mesh filters come to mind off the top of my head. And let’s not forget to factor in coffee bean roasting and place of harvest. They are key components of the taste of the hot beverage you will enjoy.
Like I said, every brewer will have a favorite method, by preference or habit. But all brewers will gain a better understanding of their art if they explore the various methods. Even if, in the end, they stick with their favorite method, they will be more rounded brewers for having explored the art.
In the end, the artist must take pleasure in the process and share the product with those who will appreciate it. Not all will like it. To each their own. But some will be grateful to have discovered something new and unexpected.