While most parts of my coffee routine remained the same in 2022, it’s nice to take inventory and comment on what’s working and how my gear and process has evolved over the span of a year.
The only “new gear” I acquired in 2022 was a larger filter basket for my Picopresso (more on that below) and a Hario coffee scale. I’d had a cheap Amazon kitchen scale for a long time that I didn’t enjoy much, and in 2021 I bought a minimal matte black scale on Alibaba that ended up only working for a few months. When it was time to buy a replacement, I decided to go for something that could be a long-term solution, even if it was slightly more expensive upfront. I make multiple cups of coffee each day, so having items that are reliable and enjoyable to use are important to the ritual.
Other gear purchases were not necessarily new, but replacements or backups for items I already had. My Fellow Stagg EKG stopped working, and after some trial and error with a replacement base only, I ended up ordering a full replacement of the matte black model I’ve had for several years. While I am disappointed that the original stopped working, it’s a great product that I’m satisfied with the usage I’ve gotten out of it, considering the fact that I use it 3-5 times daily for years without issue.
The mug that I’ve used at home for many years now has a neat backstory. My wife called into a radio morning show contest 8 or so years ago, and won a Starbucks coffee basket prize. Being that she’s not a coffee drinker, the basket came to me and I’ve been using the limited edition mug ever since. It’s a great shape, size and features a nice mosaic tile print in various grays and browns. It was part of an 8 design collection that Starbucks did as a limited run many years ago. My variant is labeled as the ‘07/08’ edition from that collection.
For my birthday last year, Isa managed to find two more of the exact mug via secondhand online marketplaces. I was surprised gifts of both “backups”, plus a cake and shortbread cookies modeled after the mug design. We’re not big “gifters”, but it was a gesture of love towards not only me, but a ritual she knows is so core to my routine and inner peace. If the original (or OG, as it has been coined) mug ever meets an untimely fate, I have two replacements ready for service. The rule of good backups is upheld… one is none.
My “daily driver” brew method is still a V60 pour-over. When making more than one cup when we have company, I swap out to the Chemex. I still use the Aeropress occasionally at home, but it’s become my main mode of brewing while traveling. It’s so easy to pack it and a hand grinder for a hotel stay and only need to source hot water to have a consistently great cup when not in the comforts of home.
In 2021, I purchased a Wacaco Picopresso. While it is accurately advertised as a great portable/travel espresso maker, I use it primarily at home as I don’t have a full-size espresso machine. I really enjoy espresso done well, but the sacrifice of counter space isn’t a trade off I’m ready to make for something larger, even at the “prosumer” machine scale. I’ve been experimenting with different recipes using the Picopresso this past year, and I’ve dialed it in and can consistently make a double shot and something akin to a cortado or cortadito that I enjoy a lot. The key to making great espresso with the Picopresso is the grind size. I’ve found that the no-name conical burr grinder I’ve had for years just doesn’t get fine enough for proper espresso. Rather than invest in something like a Fellow Ode for this gap, I’ve taken the simple approach of having the darker roast beans I buy from a local roaster specifically for espresso at their “espresso fine” setting. The trade-off here is obviously that I’ve ground the entire bag and sacrifice some fresh ground flavor profile and freshness, but it’s the best solution for me right now.
I suspended my YES PLZ beans subscription in 2021, solely due to cost. I found that there was a local Orlando roaster (Foxtail) with a satellite location on my way to and from gymnastics with the twins. I’m able to get equal freshness of roast, but way more beans for the money with Foxtail. I like several of their single origin varieties, but have to admit that I miss the amazing sourcing and blend that Tonx and Sumi come up with over at YES PLZ. The other advantage is that they have two great dark roast options that I can have ground for espresso as mentioned above. I’ll stick with Foxtail for cost reasons, but do want to have more variety here and there in 2023. I’ll likely buy a few ad hoc bags from YES PLZ to satisfy that itch.
The Last Cup of 2022
As part of this yearly retrospective, I’ll share what my last cup of the year was. I enjoyed a cortadito made with Winter Solstice beans (a dark roast with cinnamon flavor notes that’s a seasonal offering at Foxtail). I don’t have a milk steamer/frother, so I heat up the half-and-half and sugar separately to high temp, stir to a sweet and smooth mixture and then add it to the double shot immediately after pulling with the Picopresso. It was spectacular.