Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

92 Days Later- Where did John go? (Excuses, Summaries and a Fresh Start)

Well, It’s been over three months since I have posted something on my blog. That is a long stretch. The Brewing Coffee Manually blog has fallen into a lull that is quite common in the blogging sphere. Some blogs emerge from the lull rejuvenated and spur onwards with content creation. Some blogs never recover from their lull, post a few more times and gently succumb to burnout and a blog that has run its course.

I’m hoping the Brewing Coffee Manually blog is going to fall into the rejuvenated category. Blogging has been an enriching experience so far, although it must be obvious by now, I am finding it harder and harder to make time to write.

I have some exciting ideas for posts but before I attempt to return to a regular posting schedule, I thought it would be good to give a synopsis of the last three months of my coffee experiences.

Excuses and Explanations

It’s been a busy three months and I haven’t had much time to create meaningful coffee content. This doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. I have several posts that are nearly completed (they are just waiting for finishing touches and a picture).

The truth is, I am having a hard time balancing it all. I’ve stepped back from blogging to focus on some more important things. I have also shifted some of my free time focus on to regular exercise (a new bike trip approaches) as well as taking some classes to pursue other creative interests.

This year I’ve been trying to focus on simplifying and decluttering all areas of my life. I am not sure exactly how coffee blogging fits into this.

Coffee (like most hobbies) has a focus and temptation to accumulate things. There is always a better grinder, new brewing method etc. I like to explore new brewing methods and gadgets but my coffee cabinet is overflowing and I need to eliminate some things. I will be thinking about reducing my amount of gear and how that impacts me as a coffee geek and coffee blogger (maybe I will borrow a play or two from Essentialism).

Ok enough excuses, here is a rundown of the Brewing Coffee Manually noteworthy coffee happenings.

New Gear Report

A few sentences ago, I was talking about wanting to simplify and pare down my collection of coffee products. Well…I am happy to report utter failure on all fronts, I have made some significant additions to my coffee gear this year (doh).

There were several new products I was interested in exploring, so I picked them up. As you can read below, I am still in the early experimenting and exploring phase with most of them.

Here is what I’ve acquired in the last several months:

  1. The Handground Precision Coffee Grinder– I decided to pick up a Handground Coffee Grinder on a whim before Christmas. While I have been pretty happy with the Hario Slim Mill for my traveling coffee needs, I couldn’t overcome my curiosity and all the pre-release buzz Handground was creating. It is a sleek and easy to use handmill that has been on the road with me several times already.
  2. The Kruve Sifter– After a long wait, my Kruve sifter arrived early February. The Kruve sifter is a simple way to sieve your ground coffee. It takes out the fines and the boulders from the coffee to give a more uniform particle size for an alleged better cup of coffee. To be honest, I have only tinkered with this guy a handful of times (I managed to make quite a mess and expend quite a lot of time fiddling with it). The verdict is still out on this device (for me) and I am excited to commit some time to sitting down and actually exploring the capabilities before I make a decision.
  3. ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker– The ROK Presso is a pretty cool manual espresso maker. As I’ve been dabbling with it,  it has opened up a whole new can of coffee worms while simultaneously exposing how little I know about espresso.
  4. The American Press– This is a brewer that I am getting excited about. The folks that make the American Press were kind enough to send me a sample to play around with. I have only had the brewer for a few days but I have made some great cups of coffee.
  5. Keep Cup- Since my wife gifted me a Keep Cup in December, I have used it almost everyday. There are some pros and cons to it’s design and I look forward to sharing more in a post soon.
  6. Third Wave Water- This is another product I am super amped about. I haven’t done a lot of side by side comparison testing but I was impressed enough with this product to buy a case from their Kickstarter campaign. You can expect to hear more about Third Wave Water. Heck, I might even have to give some away (a case is a lot).
  7. Acaia Pearl Scale– This sleek little beauty was a want, not a need. The Acaia Pearl is a Bluetooth scale that interacts with a few different apps. It has been fun to tinker with it, however, I have not been using it to it’s full potential.

Where’s the Content, What’s the Plan and What to Expect

Honestly, I can no longer promise a regular posting schedule. I do have a list of items I would like to write about and will pick away at it when I can.

As you can see, I have added some really interesting items to my manual brewing arsenal and I want to talk about them. For the most part, I have shied away from doing product reviews but I think it is time to mix some in. I am also going to include some more general discussions about the new gear in my upcoming posts.

I’ve been toying with the idea for doing some roasted coffee reviews. I brew and taste a lot of coffee and most of these coffees are really good. When I find ones I like, I feel like I should share them. If I can get some parameters and guidelines set up, I would love to do an occasional coffee review.

Thoroughly Reviewed

I wanted to take a quick moment to thank the people over at ThoroughlyReviewed.com.

A couple weeks ago, I was honored to be chosen on one of their top coffee blogs. This was something that was unexpected and I feel I am in some very good company on their list.

If you have a little time, go check out some of the other great blogs on their list. There is a wealth of knowledge and coffee perspectives out there.

Coffee Shop Travels

I’ve  spent some time traveling this year too. While this has led to a lot of practice brewing on the road (thankful for the Handground here). I have also been visiting some wonderful coffee shops. Here is a quick shout out to a couple shops I have visited so far this year.

  1. Perq (Sarasota, Florida)– I have visited (and even written) about this coffee shop before. It is a multi-roaster with a killer lime green Slayer espresso machine. The coffee is always delightful and the kids love the donuts (okay, I also love the donuts). I always plan to stop in here if I am in the area.
  2. Crema (Nashville, Tennessee)– A month or so ago, I received a bag of Crema’s Guatamala Guayabales in my MistoBox subscription. It was amazing. Around the same time, I learned that I would be headed to Nashville for a couple days. Needless to say, I made a little time in my schedule to swing by, check it out, and procure more amazing coffees.
  3. Steadfast (Nashville, Tennessee)– Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville, Steadfast was another shop I wanted to pop into. I enjoyed discussing the finer points of Nashville Hot Chicken with the staff as well as getting a killer drip coffee and bacon cheddar scone to go.
  4. 392 Cafe (Clinton, Iowa)– This is probably the closest legit Third Wave coffee shop to the west of me. I have been following these guys on Instagram and wanted to stop by and show my support. Their muffin game was on point and the coffee (from Brandywine Coffee Roasters) was delicious.
  5. Mars Cafe (Des Moine, Iowa)- I really did not spend a lot of time here at all but they serve Kickapoo Coffee with other guest roasters on occasion. If you are ever looking for coffee in Des Moines, check it out.
  6. Kindred Coffee (West Chicago, Illinois)-This is one I have not had the pleasure of visiting yet but I wanted to give a shout out. Congrats to Ryan and the Kindred Coffee team as they have purchased a building and are working hard to get their coffee shop up and running. They have coffee shop pop ups on the weekend and are hoping to open their doors full time soon. I can’t wait to stop by and check it out.

Request for Feedback

Lastly, do you have something you would like me to write about? I would love to write about things that you guys are interested in and don’t mind doing research or experiments to find out the answers (if you are patient). Send me a message or leave a comment below with posting, product or coffee review ideas. I also welcome constructive feedback.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the blog over the last year. I have seen a huge uptick in visitors (even in my absence) and I think it is in part because of my regular readers. Thanks for sharing my work. Cheers!

10 Comments

  1. Glad to see you back! Understand the balance can be challenging…post when you can!

  2. The path will meander, be sure to enjoy the brew. I learned that one eh?
    I’m curious what you think of your Handground. I backed them during Kickstarter and loved the process. I use it almost daily at work but it has really been variable with grind consistency. Part of that I have to assume is that since I’m home roasting, my roasts aren’t 100% consistent as a commercial venture — I mean I can just see it and it’s something I practice to reduce half my roast being super light and the other half charred.
    But it gets the job done beautifully and is easy to use and a conversation starter with other folks who see it (and smell the grinding in process) so I’m not likely to toss it. It’s also better than the previous manual grinders I used (the same one you mentioned and a lil cheap thing on Amazon that broke quickly under heavy use).
    Great to hear from you!

    • I second this…I’m trying to upgrade my hand grinder and am really considering the Handground. I’ve heard both good and bad things so far

      • Hey Mike!

        I addressed the Handground a bit in my response to Sharon but I would love to answer any questions you have as well. Like I said, it might still be awhile before I put a post out on it. In the meantime, send me an email or message me on Instagram and we can talk about the pros and cons for your situation.

        Cheers,
        John

    • Hey Sharon,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      To be honest, I haven’t decided one way or the other on the Handground. I like it better than the Slim Mill (no surprises there). The grind consistency definitely starts to go a little wonky the coarser you go. This is no different than all the other burr grinders I have owned but I do feel that it looks a little inconsistent starting at about 4.5-5.

      I’ve been using it in the 3-4 range and have been pretty satisfied with it. I have mostly used it while on vacation (coffee always tastes great on vacation) and a few times at home. I let a friend borrow it for a few weeks and have been using my Virtuoso at home most of the time.

      I intend to evaluate it a little more thoroughly and maybe even use the Kruve to add something less subjective. I have recommended this grinder to 3-4 people and they have been happy with it, but I don’t think I would recommend it to everyone. Hopefully I get some time to really dig into it so I can organize my thoughts and fit them into a post.

      Thanks again,

      John

  3. Hi John,

    Welcome back! We’ve missed you!

    When you say you’ve been missing 92 days, you do realise that this is the ideal temperature for brewing pour-over (in Celsius, a proper temperature scale… ;-) ). Coincidence…?

    Brian.

    • Hey Brian!

      Maybe it is a sign! Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment, my list of coffee shops I have visited in the last three months falls laughably short of your number I am sure. :D

      John

  4. I’m super curious about the American press. I was so close to backing it on kickstarter to grab the discount but decided against it since I was still pretty new to coffee. I’m curious to hear what it most closely compares to when it comes to flavor…

    • Hey Mike!

      I am about a week into brewing with the American Press and I have been enjoying it. It has a lot of similarities (but some differences) to an Aeropress in the brewing process. I don’t have a stainless steel Aeropress filter for comparison but I would guess that you might be able to get something similar with that set up.

      If I had to pick something, that is where I would try to place it.

      Thanks,
      John

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