You are that segment of the population always first to embrace even the most innocuous piece of technology if it means one-upping the neighbors. Even though you own the best coffee maker in the suburbs, you are constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest piece of coffee-making innovation. The fact that your latest appliance cost more than some people’s cars cannot hide the fact that you are overlooking an important lesson of life − that the best coffee maker is only as good as its weakest link, the bean.
One Man’s Bean is Another Man’s Burden
You know what you like: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe for breakfast and, for special occasions, Jamaican Blue Mountain to impress the neighbors and friends. Technology, particularly as marketed with regards to coffee makers, has been tweaked to the point that we believe the coffee maker is the make-or-break link in the coffee chain. Surely, the best coffee maker makes the best coffee. An inescapable truth, however, has crept into the conscious of today’s modern coffee-making connoisseur − the idea that the weak link in the coffee making chain is, actually, the extremely low-tech coffee bean.
No amount of digitally controlled water temperature or gold-plated filter basket is going to be able to compensate for beans that have no business passing themselves off as coffee. Thousands of dollars and all the research in the world will do nothing to improve the coffee from the best coffee maker money can buy if the beans fail to deliver on their promise.
Technology is, at its core, a promise of consistency. Under the same circumstances, with the same ingredients the best coffee maker will produce a quality product time and again through the application and manipulation of carefully controlled inputs. Simply put, your coffee maker should, under similar circumstances, produce a good cup of coffee every time.
Purists might argue that the water is the most important ingredient in a good cup of coffee. To be sure, water quality is vitally important to the finished product. It is not, however, the most important component (that falls to the humble bean). Locked within this roasted seed are flavor complexities that, at their peak, give the finest wines a run for their money.
At their worst, however, coffee beans are little more than pale copies of their former selves. Dried-out beans bring a bitterness to coffee that might be better suited to the late- night offerings at highway gas stations. Here, even the best coffee maker will fail to improve the coffee in the slightest. In coffee, just as in life, success is always defined by the weakest link.
Now, when you search the web and read all the reviews about the high-tech features of that new coffee maker that some company is touting as “the best coffee maker in the world,” spare a few moments and consider the humble bean. If you really want to have the best coffee maker, you only need to find the best beans.