Be Careful What You Wish For

I started out using the simplest of coffeemakers – a mug filled with hot water and instant coffee. Experimenting with different amounts of sugar and creamer revealed the right balance, and thereafter I’d do it by eye and feel. You get to know the weight of the ingredients and the color of the coffee after adding creamer.

But eventually this approach seemed too crude. If you were off just a little, the coffee would be too strong or too weak, the sugar too sweet, the creamer too lean. It was usually good, but it could be better.

Since Debi and I are both coffee power drinkers, we went all out and got, not a coffee machine, but a coffee *system*. This machine would grind the beans, mix the grind with water, calibrate the blend to your liking and the resulting slurry spiraled into a handsome thermos.

Thing was, it had an elaborate puzzle of parts, all that needed frequent cleaning. The thermos didn’t do a great job of insulating the coffee, and there was no heater plate to keep it warm after brewing. For all the expense and complexity, it was a high-maintenance headache. When it broke down within warranty, we wasted no time trading down to a simpler model.

The simpler one lacked the grinder, but was designed to dispense into cups. No fussing with a carafe that dribbles. Just stick your mug under the dispenser, press the trigger and out pours coffee.

But the trigger always needed a lot of pressure to work, to the point where I worried about shattering a mug just pressing it to the trigger. Then the dispenser part quit working altogether and we had to pull out the whole tank just to pour a cup. That got old fast.

Last week I bought a basic used carafe-style coffee maker. The hot plate works, the coffee tastes fine and cleanup is easy.

All this to simply note that sometimes the fancy options aren’t always the best idea. I’m no Luddite, I see many areas where advancement has been genuine (the growth of smart phones, for example.)

But some things work most reliably when kept simple.