Local food critic/writer China Millman has a feature story on the Abid Clever Coffee Dripper in today's Post-Gazette. It's a well-researched article and we really appreciate China's continuing attention on coffee in the paper's food section.
The article references Scott Rao of Cafe Myriade in Montreal, Chinatown Coffee in DC and the legendary Sweet Maria's. Scott is the person who convinced us to try the Abid. We had a series of conversations last February (Scott is such a cool guy, he returned calls while vacationing in New Zealand) about the pluses and minuses of different brew methods and various experiments he was working on. He strongly recommended we look into the Abid, which we did, and by June we began offering Abid-brewed coffee.
Our baristas and customers enjoy the coffee brewed via Abid so much we bought eight cases of them, half of which we sold before Christmas.
Just to clarify our method, since China only published Chinatown Coffee's recipe for the article:
1. Prepare: have ready a #4 filter, 23 grams of whole bean coffee and a clean Abid brewer. A timer is helpful, (but you can also count in your head if you're a good multitasker.)
2. Insert the filter into the Abid, then wet the filter with very hot water (to remove paper taste)
3. Grind your 23g of coffee to a grind that's finer than for a press pot but coarser than a drip filter (a little bit finer than say, pretzel salt)
4. Using approx 11.5 ounces (accurately: 325 grams) of 202F water, pour a couple of ounces carefully over the ground coffee, ensuring you completely wet this bed of grounds. It will "bloom" - rising for about 30-35 seconds.
5. Once the bloom stops, start pouring the rest of your water while simultaneously starting your timer (or counting in your head). Your pour should be controlled and circular, avoiding pouring water directly onto the grounds adhering to the filter paper.
6. Once you're done pouring, put a saucer over the top of the Abid to help retain heat.
7. Count to 180 seconds. Use this time to warm up your cup.
8. Place your warm cup on the counter, put the Abid on top and you'll see it start to drain. Draining (drawdown) should take about a minute. Using this method, you should end up with a filter with a consistent coating of grounds 1/16"-1/8" thick all the way from the high-water mark to the bottom (this differs significantly from Scott Rao's "mound" - it certainly works for us and customers love it).
9. Enjoy a hot cup of clean, crisp, delicious coffee.
10. Repeat as desired.
While it's great to see the Abid getting some press, we can't help but feel like the high end of our industry seems to enjoy eating its own - letting "perfect" become the enemy of good great extraordinary.
No brewer - neither manual brewers like the Abid, the Hario V60, the press pot, Cafe Solo or siphons, nor mechanical brewers like electric urns and drip brewers (including Technivorms) or even the much-lauded $10,000 Clover - are perfect. There's always going to an improvement in methodology the more each brewing device is studied and used. But any of them will get you 90-99% of the way to what most anyone in the specialty coffee industry today will agree is the ideally brewed cup of coffee.
Isn't that good enough for now? Can't we be happy and enjoy our coffee for a moment?
Instead of nitpicking about a few degrees of heat loss, we should be celebrating that somebody invented a coffee brewing device that sells for $16 and can achieve virtually the same level of cup clarity and depth as the $10,000 Clover - while allowing for virtually the same level of user control for adjusting variables to one's individual taste.
So instead of us within the industry picking on a brew device or method that isn't 100% perfect (in one's opinion), why can't our opinion leaders focus on the FACT that these manual brewing devices, used properly with good coffee, brew a cup that's light years ahead of mom's percolator, dad's Mr. Coffee/Cuisinart/Braun and pretty much all office/diner/donut place/restaurant coffee anywhere
Because to not point that out is a) a disservice to the specialty coffee industry, and b) will have people waiting for that "perfect" brewer, missing out on what they could be drinking right now. And that's a shame. Brewers like the Abid and V60 should be welcomed and embraced - they're the liberators, saving you from wasting money and kitchen counter space on more expensive gadgetry that won't produce nearly as delicious brew.
Besides, that "perfect" brewer simply isn't going to be perfect. Someone will always improve on it.