Wednesday, January 2, 2019

What will it be like to drink coffee in 2019? It could make us wealthier, healthier, and happier...

As we head into the first days of 2019, speeding along like a rush-hour Acela train, everyone I know is trying to frame the coming year, even as they are still processing 2018.  My main goal for the upcoming year is to become thriftier. I try hard, but I’ve certainly missed the mark more than I’d like to admit.  I found lots of inspiration on the internet. 

In fact, since the beginning of written history wise people have extolled thrift as a competitive advantage.

“Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?” ---Cicero

"Cultivate these, then, for they are wholly within your power: sincerity and dignity; industriousness, and sobriety. Avoid grumbling, be frugal, considerate, and frank; be temperate in manner and speech; carry yourself with authority." ---Marcus Aurelius

But even virtues have their limits. For example, although I love coffee unconditionally, I JUST got a new coffeemaker after 13 years. That’s a long time that I relied on my Gevalia drip coffeemaker (very reliable---and utilitarian--- machine).


Goodbye Gevalia, Hello Hamilton Beach

It’s been several years that I’ve been wanting a new coffeemaker, knowing that when it was time, I was going to opt for a mid-range brand---neither very cheap, nor very expensive---but definitely good quality and highly functional.  So this holiday season, I strenuously hinted that I would like a nice, new coffeemaker.

My wish came true, and I became the proud new owner of a Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffeemaker, which brews drip coffee on one side, K-cups on the other—and has a single-cup option independent of the other 2 functions. It’s programmable and widely recognized for the fact that the coffee stays hot in the carafe for a long time, without making the coffee bitter. It all comes down to science.



The science of brewing coffee (for non-scientists)

I prepared myself to say goodbye to my Gevalia---my go-to source of coffee for many dinner parties, and afternoon playdates; always ready to brew for girlfriend get-togethers; and the way I started my mornings for more than 4,290 days of my life. I understood that it was time, and that over time, the coffee I was brewing was not optimal---it was okay, but could certainly be better.  

I wanted to get more insight, so I spoke to a chemical & biomedical engineering PhD candidate at Cornell---a true coffee-lover. He explained that the materials that the coffee flows through during the brewing process (plastics, metals, etc.) have been engineered to be nonreactive, meaning the materials that the water flows through do not have a leaching effect; leaching is a common problem that degrades the quality and purity of the water and the final brew.

He told me that even coffeemakers that are well-constructed with advanced polymers can become reactive over time, though more expensive coffeemakers tend to last longer. And apparently water temperature, and the ability to optimize it, is really important. So although a really cheap coffeemaker will basically brew the coffee, within 5 minutes you will have to microwave every cup you pour. Good coffeemakers have all of these features built in---and I’m really happy about the FlexBrew’s temperature optimization capabilities. Sure this is not the most expensive coffee-brewing machine on the market, but it hits all of my targets.

Creating Wealth

The best part of having a coffee maker you love is being able to brew coffee at home that you like as much as coffee you buy at cafes. The goal is thrift---saving by not spending. Granted, I don’t have a cappuccino or latte function, but I live in the land of many cafes and coffee shops---so no problems there. Most important, however, is my determination to save more in 2019 than I did in 2018 (the crazy rollercoaster stock market notwithstanding).

Speaking of coffee, I had some amazing coffee during the holiday break in the Berkshires. Wild Oats Market in Williamstown, MA, serves Currency Coffee---and it's really good. Currency Coffee is based in Dalton, MA, a small mill town, which also happens to be where all of the paper used to make U.S. currency is manufactured. 



One of the most interesting things about Currency Coffee is its branding, which features imagery from American currency pre-dating 1900, specifically currency from the era of the Industrial Revolution. 


Watch my review of Currency Coffee here:

That being said, Currency Coffee is au courant in terms of its coffee offerings, all of which are Fair Trade-certified. This company’s distributors are mainly based in the Berkshires and the surrounding areas, with distributors in Pittsfield (Guido’s Fresh Marketplace); Williamsburg (Williamsburg Market); Amherst (Atkins Farms Country Market); and, of course, Wild Oaks Market.

Finally, as we move into the new year, it’s customary to not only think about our money, but our health, as well. Coffee improves overall health and increases longevity, according to the bulk of evidence culled from 19,000 studies.  Health and wealth---two excellent goals for 2019.  And let’s not forget happiness!

Raise a cup to 2019. Happy New Year!




2 comments:

Jess Breen said...

This is so funny because I'm on the hunt for a new coffeemaker myself! I've been on quite a rollercoaster this year with the best way to make coffee at home. I had a Keurig for a couple years because I liked the instant convenience, but let's be real, Keurig coffee doesn't taste great, and I found myself trekking to the local cafe for a good morning cup. Then I bought a super cheap little drip machine from the dollar store and the coffee was awful. Then I got a Chemex to make pour-overs and the complicated process and extra tools needed (scale, thermometer, etc) was too much for my morning-self. NOW, I have my eye on a machine that has a built-in grinder so the coffee always tastes super fresh. But it's like $200! And in the spirit of your resolution of thrift -- which I'm also trying to employ in 2019 -- I'd have to save up for it. In the meantime...I may be in the market for a mid-range model similar to yours...

Here's to a new year of health, wealth, and coffee!

Nicole Gray said...

Hi Jess, Happy New Year! Wow, what a journey you've been on. Thank goodness you live in the land of cafes and coffeeshops! I can't believe you had the courage to take on the Chemex. Just trying to read about it and watch others use it seemed too complicated for my morning needs. After using this new machine for several days, I highly recommend it! I even like the way the keurigs taste.

Would love to learn more about your journey as you move forward. Happy coffee-drinking in 2019!