Recipe vs. 5-D Technique
There’s been a strong trend in specialty coffee over the past few years: recipe obsession.
It does make sense. Before around 2008 when the manual brewing revolution gained significant speed, espresso and filter coffee-making was mostly only about recipe. Grams of coffee grounds, a certain grind setting on a certain grinder, seconds of extraction, throw weights, full-batch or half-batch, etc. You prepped the coffee and equipment for brewing, inserted the portafilter or brew basket, pressed a button, and stood back while observing the output (sometimes).
But “manual” means manual, and what used to be lock-and-load is now managed from beginning to end. Going from automated to manual really means one thing: now you have to worry about technique.
However, the vast majority of the information being exchanged is not about technique, but about recipe.
It makes even more sense. Recipe information is easy to articulate, almost by definition. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to convey anything meaningful about technique in a 140-character tweet. We shouldn’t fall prey to the fallacy that what’s discussed out there online among coffee professionals and enthusiasts is what’s actually important in and to coffee. Or to anything that matters in life, I suppose.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before here and there, but maybe it’s worth repeating: manual coffee brewing techniques require the brewer to essentially have to think in five distinct dimensions. The 3-dimensions of physical space, the fourth dimension of time, and the fifth dimension of kinetic energy. Yeah, really. Those are the five dimensions you have to work in, applied to best extract the best flavor from the coffee while mitigating negative flavors.
Oh yeah, plus the recipe.