Manual brewed coffee.
Back in the ‘80s if you brewed your coffee with something other than an auto-drip brewer you were a coffee savant. You were someone with distinguished taste and an appreciation of the finer things – or simply a freak.
Over the years millions upgraded their Mr. Coffee to a different version of the same thing. Newer models came with the addition of a blue light or some such. Ultimately it’s all destined for the landfill as white plastic brewers with a glass carafe become passé and give way to stainless steel ensconced brewers with thermal carafes. Better? No, just different. A few distinguished souls quietly ritualized their morning brew with the simplest of instruments: a kettle, a Melitta cone filter and maybe a grinder accented with a raised fist salute. Whole bean for life!
As coffee drinkers, we’re all on a journey. A continuum of progress that is important for us to own. Many never get past the stuff at the gas station. Others dabble in café exotica, while a select few, with the Hipsters leading the charge (God bless’em) have turned the lights back on in the attic of our past and invited the world to get re-acquainted with the authentic and tactile retro methods of brewing, previously abandoned in the race for convenience and speed.
Now obviously this is going to mean different things for different folks. For a couple of bucks you can pick up a little #2 filter Melitta cone – you already have the kettle – and make a pretty damn fine cup of coffee. This is going back almost 20 years for me and I know many who could recall similar memories much further back than that. Fresh ground whole bean coffee with a little whirly bird grinder, brewed promptly and enjoyed. Extra credit for those who rinsed the paper filter with hot water before brewing.
The picture described above hasn’t changed for many of us even to this day. But if this more considered method of brewing is already a step away from the mainstream, take a few more steps to where the madmen and madwomen of Specialty Coffee live. Testing, tweaking and trying different methods all the while honing the process so the resulting cup isn’t just left to chance but delivers on the promise of something dynamite. We’ve come back to the charms of “manual brewed” coffee in a big way in Specialty Coffee. Currently promoted as the ne plus ultra method of preparing a cup both at home and in the café. Oh, the irony.
In the range of methods for manual brewing there is one that stands out. It’s called the KONE. The “Cone,” or the “K-One.” I can’t get a straight answer on the actual pronunciation. Regardless, it’s a lovely development by some folks in Portland who through an obsession with coffee and a desire for a better brew, designed a permanent filter that keeps the spirit of the Melitta cone but without the paper filter!
Unlike the pseudo permanent filters already out there (some are gold coloured, some are not, but all share the similarity of sucking) the KONE actually works and works well. The cup it produces is a cross between a French Press and a regular drip coffee. Being a fan of a clean cup of filtered I like this hybrid version. Sediment is present but not distracting.
These things don’t come cheap but their construction is first rate. They’ve just released a version 2, fine tuning some of the rough edges (literally and figuratively). I have the first one. It’s great. Buy and try either Version 1 or 2 with confidence.
There are many paths you can take with a KONE to achieve a delicious cup of coffee bliss. The recommended recipe as per the creators of the KONE can be found here. Start here but consider it just that a starting point.
The KONE is available online from a bunch of different vendors. Google it. Pick one with the nicest website. If you’re in Vancouver and partial (as am I) to paying and then walking out with the product, head down to see our friends at Revolver – it just opened! Gorgeous space, sensational service and not only can you pick up a KONE to take home but they use the KONE to prepare all their brewed coffee. Test-drive a cup before you buy. If you see someone that looks like me, it probably is. Be sure to introduce yourself.