I’ve been drinking coffee regularly for nearly twenty years. They start us early in Portland, OR, after all. I have at least five methods for brewing close at hand in my 80 square foot kitchen, including three French presses, a porcelain drip cone, a Chemex and an red-handled espresso coffee pot. There’s also my beloved cold brew method.
However, despite all those methods, I’m not what you’d call a coffee snob. I’m not fastidious about the freshness of my beans and I’ve been known to brew elderly pre-ground beans in a desperate moment. However, I find the art of coffee and espresso fascinating. That’s why I was delighted to attend a Illy demonstration and tasting at the new Le Meridien hotel here in Philly a couple of weeks ago.
The session was led by Giorgio Milos. He’s an Illy espresso expert, is a champion Italian barista and is generally more passionate about espresso and coffee than anyone I’ve ever encountered. He walked us through the history of coffee, the way it’s grown, harvested and prepared. After our coffee primer (which included lovely phrases like “coffee should be a pleasure.” Imagine it said with a thick Italian accent), Giorgio introduced us to Illy’s new brewing system, which uses plastic cartridges like so many other new methods and machines.
The machines we tried out didn’t require any human calibration or expertise. You simply popped a plastic capsule into the coffee hopper, turned it to the right and pushed a button. Within 60 seconds, you’d have an espresso. I loved the ease of it and can truly see the appeal. However, I am really uncomfortable with all these new capsule brewing systems, because after each cup, you’re left with a piece of plastic trash to discard. I asked a question about the sustainability of the capsules and was told they are recyclable. Still, I don’t know that I’d be okay with one in my own kitchen because of the waste factor.
That said, I was delighted to steal a little time from regular life and learn a bit more about coffee. Thanks to Le Meridien for hosting us (their house coffee is Illy) and to Giorgio for sharing his knowledge with us. Thanks to all of you for reading and letting me write about something a bit beyond my normal scope (though I’ll have you know, I frequently drink coffee from jars).
And while we’re on the subject, what’s your favorite home brewing method?