James Freeman, the founder and owner of Blue Bottle Coffee, wrote the following in his book The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee:
“Making espresso at home is expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. Struggling to be better at something makes us better people. Parenting, graduating from college, running a marathon, building a house with our hands – these are all difficult activities, activities that no one should talk us out of just because they’re difficult. And perhaps making a really great espresso, although a modest endeavor, belongs on the list of things that we probably will never do perfectly but will benefit from in the attempt to do so. In other words, perhaps it’s worthy of our time, resources, and attention.”
It’s a long quote, but worth the read. I am in agreement with James that doing the hard thing will help you grow in character, though I’ve known plenty of marathon runners that were jerks. You probably know some as well. I also think this quote can apply to any specialty coffee drink, not just espresso. That’s because making a great cup of coffee can be challenging and difficult, depending on what your level of experience is.
I’m past the place in life where I think of trying to find easier ways to make coffee. I’ve written already about the ceremony of coffee, so I don’t want to get too much into it again. But I think developing the ceremony of making and serving coffee is a special part of the warrior lifestyle. It takes more work than brewing a K-Cup in a machine, but it’s worth the effort to me.
The challenge for me is when I offer my mom, wife, or visitors a cup of coffee. It’s too much trouble, they say. No, don’t get up- I’ll just drink this dirty dish water and be happy. I find it challenging to communicate to them that the effort that goes into making a cup of coffee- whether it’s espresso at home or a pour-over, is worth it. It’s my pleasure to serve them something special, and I enjoy the pursuit of something beautiful.
For my family, I don’t ask anymore. I know their habits, and I just start making them a cup of coffee. For guests, I just offer coffee and don’t tell them the method of preparation. If they accept, I just start. I ask them how they like it, or what flavors they like and then get to it. No back and forth over: “Is that too much work for you?”
Nope. I will benefit from the attempt to make the perfect cup of coffee for them. And they’ll certainly benefit from drinking it. They’ll also benefit from the experience of being there while I’m making the cup for them. Most friends, when they see the magic happening, want to be a part of it. Whether it’s a French Press, and AeroPress, or a Pour-Over, they sense something special is happening. That’s how you get someone to join you. So something special, because coffee is always worth the effort.