Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

3 Things I Learned From a Year of Writing About Coffee

Tomorrow is November 11, 2015, which marks the one year anniversary of my very first blog post “Getting Started- Drip Brewing 101.” In honor of this milestone, I thought it would be an appropriate time to write a bit about what a year of writing about coffee has brought about.

A summary of the year by the numbers:

3 Things I Learned from a Year of Writing about Coffee

The Best Way to Learn Something Is to Teach it

I have heard the old adage, “The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else” countless times in my life. However, I have never been as acutely aware of it’s impact until I tried to explain a few coffee concepts on the blog.

For me, the most obvious example of this would have to be three articles I wrote in succession at the beginning of the year (Green Coffee Explained, Coffee Origins- How Geography Relates to Taste and Understanding and Selecting a Great Roasted Coffee). My goal was to write a brief article about each subject as a resource I could point people towards as well as a building block for future discussions.

Almost as soon as I started I ran into a problem, I didn’t know as much as I thought about the subjects in question. I spent a good amount of time filling in my knowledge gaps and eventually after some editing, the articles were ready to be posted. Besides some solid content, I gained a depth of knowledge on the subjects that I wasn’t expecting. I’m now able to clearly explain this content if someone should ask.

I saw this cycle repeat itself when a colleague of mine asked about the coffee decaffeination process. I had read several articles on the subject but could not recall or explain the process to him. I went home and wrote a post about decaffeinating coffee. After that I was able to not only give him a full rundown of the process, but I also formed an opinion on the subject that I previously did not have.

I cannot emphasize this point enough. If you really want to learn about something, teach someone else. The process of translating your book knowledge to application knowledge is invaluable in learning something for yourself and making it your own.

I’m Amazed at how much has changed in a year

Last year at this time, my connection with coffee looked quite a bit different. I was coming out of a crazy busy season of life where I was drinking commodity coffee by the 12 cup carafe (I would still do the occasional pour-over when I had a little time or if I was lucky enough to have some primo coffee around).

This year, in stark contrast, my automatic coffee maker has been put away since mid-March, making only two brewing appearances on my countertop for large gatherings.

I typically manually brew a cup of coffee two to three times a day and there is usually an abundance of great coffee to drink (partially due to the generosity of roasters who have sent me coffee and partially due to a generous coffee category in the budget).

As my understanding of coffee has expanded, I’ve wanted to explore and learn even more. This has lead to a greater appreciation when I experience an outstanding “cuppa” as well as excitement about different roasters and coffees.

What a great community

A reflection on the last year of running the blog wouldn’t be complete without talking about how awesome the coffee community is. I’ve been blown away by it. Thank you to everyone who has reached out. There was been so much positivity and encouragement over the last year.

When I started the blog last November, I decided that I would try blogging for a year and reevaluate at that point. I can say that I probably would not be continuing the blog if I had not had such a great experience and gotten the response I have.

I’ve experienced many outstanding coffees and met some amazing people. It’s been really fun to peer into the specialty coffee world through the lens of social media. I’ve learned about many awesome roasters that I want to try (and try and try and try again) and discovered some great events and projects. I can’t wait to see how things develop in the next year.

2016 Brewing Coffee Manually Preview- What’s going on next year?

For the upcoming year, I have quite a few ideas I’m excited about. I hope to further develop some of them and reveal more as the year progresses. Here are a few things you can (hopefully) look forward to in the future.

The Brewing Coffee Manually Blog T-shirt and other products

Last month I commissioned a few designers to help me come up with a T-shirt design and some graphics for the blog. I absolutely love the results and can’t wait to share them with you. I already have a hand stamped notebook (the first in a series) available for purchase and have ordered the a first run of T-shirts.


I had hoped the T-shirts would be available for this posting but there were a few hiccups along the way. I ordered a limited amount for the first run so if you would like one don’t drag your feet. I have started a pre-order page with the final mockup and some information, if you want to get in on the action early feel free to purchase one at any time.

A quick note on the blog’s shop:

Another thing I learned about coffee blogging (and a coffee hobby) is that it can be dig into your pocketbook a bit. I would like to do more things with blog but don’t always want to personally foot the bill.  My goal with the shop is simply to help the blog support itself and to finance coffee related projects.

Once a week schedule

I am going to try and stick to a once a week posting schedule. I say this but also want the understanding that coffee blogging is not number one on my priority list. I am going to do everything I can to stay on schedule but some weeks may fall through the cracks.

Realistically, you can probably expect around the same number of post as this year (40).

Learn and Grow

Last year my big push was to put myself out there and start this blog, this year I would like to take it to another level. I’d like to make some deeper connections and step out of my comfort zone a little more.

I hope to profile a few local roasters, review a coffee shop or two (maybe some coffee) as well as get out there and brew some coffee for people.

I would also like to dig a little deeper into some topics that interest me (that whole teaching helps learning thing). Coffee origins specifically are something I would like to focus a little more on.

I also want to dig into some topics that are interesting to my readers. Please continue to give me feedback. I want to hear the good stuff and the bad stuff. What am I doing that you really like? What I am doing that is not really working for you? What sort of subject would you like to see covered? Send me an email,  I really would love to hear for you.


  1. You did a great work on Coffee writing. I have enjoyed reading your blog and I am looking forward learning more about Coffee. Thx for your great effort and work John!

  2. Congrats! Sounds like it’s been a great journey so far! Looking forward to your posts :)

  3. Hi John,

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your first year; I find your blog to be a great resource and your writing to be clear and concise. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

    Re the shop: tell me about it. I sell calendars every year, which hardly makes a dent in the amount I spent travelling for the Coffee Spot, let alone the time I spend on it (when I could be doing other things, like earning a living!).

    But you know what? I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, I’d love to be able to break even, but I do this for the love of good coffee, not to make money. While I have the passion, and as long I don’t starve(!), I’ll keep doing it.

    Looking forward to year two!


    • Brian,
      Thanks for your kind words. You are one member of that excellent coffee community that stands out.

      Keep up what you are doing and definitely don’t starve. I like learning about the best places to get coffee (and cake).

      Thanks again,

  4. Congratulations on your achievement! You’ve produced some really great blogs and I completely agree that the best way to learn is by teaching. Blogging is also a really great way to learn new things as you interact with a massive online community which, as you say, for the coffee world is a fantastic, knowledgeable and widespread one. You can learn so much from people’s comments on your posts. Keep up the good work!

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