Make Better Coffee for $15

As an academic, I think my blood-caffeine content, most of the time, is well above what the FDA would consider being a good idea. But, all of my experience with coffee has led me to try to get to a cup of coffee that is good, cheap, gets me up in the morning, and doesn’t take too much time out of my day.

Here, I want to make the case for pour-over coffee as a method that will substantially improve your morning brew, add some flexibility to your coffee choices, and save you a good bit of money in the process.

First and foremost, drip coffee makers are kind of awful. A lot of them are messy, overcomplicated, and get gunked up over time, meaning you have to either toss it or, if it’s a cheaper one, find out whatever complicated process you need to to do clean it. All of that for a burnt cup of coffee is no good in my book.

Pod machines can often spit out a decent cup of coffee, but I have two big issues with them. First is the waste: I do not like the idea of adding more trash where I can avoid it. Also, one cup at a time is not conducive to me making a pot in the morning, enjoying a cup at home, another in the car, and a thermos throughout the day as I teach, read, write, and grade.

That’s where I come to pour-overs. Pour-over coffee is exactly what it sounds like: there’s something to hold the grounds and a carafe. That’s it. I boil the water separately using a kettle, then pour it over the coffee: this gives me a decent cup of coffee in about a minute, and I can pop the whole apparatus in the dishwasher before I leave for the morning.

Some models, such as the Chemex, use paper filters as standard. Some time ago in a local supply store, I found a setup for $15 that gets rid of the paper filters in exchange for a reusable metal one. So now, the only waste I have is the bags in which the coffee comes, and I’m okay with that.

If you, like me, are a fan of iced coffee, you can make it from scratch in your pour-over: fill the carafe with ice first, then double your usual amount of coffee grounds before pouring the boiling water. The result is a smoother iced coffee with the same caffeine as if you had iced coffee that had been made in a drip brewer.

I’ve been using the same $15 setup for years now and I plan on doing so until I drop the carafe or it breaks by some other means. Until that happens, I have been more than happy with the cheapest, simplest coffee setup I’ve been able to find. This is a good example that, sometimes, the easiest solution is also the best one: no moving parts, pods, or settings required. Hot water, coffee grounds, and a carafe. That’s about the level of thinking I want to engage with before I get my first hit of sweet caffeine for the day.
About author
Garrett is a writer and commentator based in the South. His areas of expertise lie in cooking, fashion, and the outdoors among others. He has been writing and educating professionally for years, and enjoys creating online discourses around positively masculine spaces.


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