The Ritual Grind

Wednesday, 6 March, 2013
  All words by John Roff

It's 5.30 am, the kids are still sleeping, and I step slowly in soft socks through the house to my little coffee corner near the kitchen. There, in an airtight tub, are my favourite beans at the moment, a home-blend of light-roasted Ethiopian (fragrance) and some special medium-dark Zimbabwean (flavour) beans. I keep a big bag of silica gel in the bottom of the tub to keep the beans dry, which I think keeps them fresher for longer. Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it.

Next to the tub I keep a little treasure, a Porlex Tall hand-grinder. In go a dose of beans, I wait for that satisfying clink of the last ones dropping in, on goes the handle and grind.

Some exercise, some tactile experience, about a minute of vigourous action, a great opportunity to stick my nose into the little container holding the freshly ground product and ENGAGE with the coffee, (YES I am alive now) and then into the French press it goes.

Timer on, 3 minutes and 30 seconds, kettle has boiled and been cooling for a few minutes, a tablespoon or so of water in the French press with the coffee, pour in the water from the kettle, start the timer. One of the kids usually arrives at this point and asks if they can push down the plunger. After a minute, a short stir to get the grinds moving freely in the water.

Timer beeps, child depresses plunger, another child arrives and complains that they wanted to depress the plunger, I pour the coffee amidst the rising noise levels, slip outside and enjoy the unfolding morning.

It's the grinding thing that does it for me. To start with, freshly ground is so far ahead of anything else that we don't even need to go there. Once you've tried, you never look back. Why a hand-grinder? Well, I like being part of the process, I like using less electricity, and I just like the crunchy grinding noise that is soooooo satisfying. I don't wake everyone in the house with loud whining electrical noises. And the kids dig using it.

It took a while to find a hand grinder - I haven't tried many, just a camping one made by GSI, and the Porlex. The Porlex works pretty well for me, though there are many others out there. It would great to hear of some other people's experiences with these things.

So, which grinder do you use?

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