As we here in the USA look forward to a Thanksgiving week of trips, flights and schlepps, there is one constant that unites us all: as a “coffee person”, it will undoubtedly fall upon you to make a nice cup or two (or 4 or 8 or 30) for the folks with whom you’re sharing the stuffing. We here at Sprudge.com certifiably love Thanksgiving – what’s not to love? It’s a holiday that delighted us as children, yet only seems to get better and better as we’ve grown into foodie-dork adults. It’s a joy to make delicious coffee for friends and family, and gratifying, too – with a few tools, a little know-how, and a MacGuyver-esque spirit of invention, even the most woefully prepared kitchen can turn into a quality barista station.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify – remember that. Unless you’re seriously pre-planning for this thing and making room in your carry-on, you won’t have your normal full bevy of tools at your disposal. And actually, in a lot of ways that’s okay – our mantra for the family Thanksgiving scenario is this: present everyone with delicious, exemplary coffee, without weirding anyone out. You don’t need to bring the full bar with you, just a few essentials:
1. Nice, fresh coffee.
Choose your favorite roaster, or bring a couple of things to try. Far more so than methodology, coffee itself is easily communicable to uninitiated (or only sort of interested) family members. It’s a physical thing – Uncle Hershel can sift through a bag with his hands, and smell it – plus a small smattering of bags from two or three roasters makes for a delightful addition to your Thanksgiving kitchen counter cornucopia. Note: many fine specialty coffee retailers offer a high-end decaf option. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for you to bring along some premium decaf for caffeine-free Uncle Jack, or for any member of your family to enjoy after dinner. They will appreciate this very much.
2. A grinder.
If you have one, bring your Porlex or your MiniMill or your (bonus points) Zassenhaus knee-mill. If you don’t, and say you’re stuck with an old blade grinder, pulse and shake and sift out the fines. By now you should be able to distinguish different ground coffee consistency: coarse French Press beach sand, V60 table salt, and Chemex playground sand.
3. A brew method
We recommend an Aeropress or a Clever. Despite our previous batch brew bashing, a solid 12 cup French Press works wonders for large parties. These brew methods don’t necessarily need a kettle with a tapered pouring spout or a scale to measure water, and lend themselves to easy-to-eyeball sight points and a wider margin of error.
Now you may be saying, “what about my scale? what about my Buono? what about my Extract Mojo To Go? what about my hundred pound Shot Brewer? what about my Kantan disposable napkins? what about my narcissistic sense of grandiosity?” We advise that you leave these things at home. Use our 1-2-3 system to, let’s say it again: present everyone with delicious, exemplary coffee, without weirding anyone out.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, travel safe, and serve up some delicious coffee to go along with Aunt Carla’s pumpkin pie. Share this wonderful gift with your family and friends, and may the simple act of making wonderful coffee bring you joy this Thursday.