For those seeking top-of-the-line performance in cycling, it’s about chasing innovation. In a pursuit to shave grams and seconds, we seek out the most aero, the lightest, and the most cutting edge products available. Electronic, aerodynamic, carbon fiber, hydraulic—these are the current bicycle industry buzzwords. The cycling arms race has resulted in wicked-fast machinery that, compared to the technology of even ten years ago, looks more or less like a bicycle, but at times can seem nearly unrecognizable.
Words & images: Clive Pursehouse
The rush to innovation, however, does not extend indefinitely, and when it comes to many of the finer things in life, patience is still a virtue. While gadgetry and gizmos are produced in abundance, things like fine wine and coffee simply cannot be rushed, and in some cases speed kills. Rather than chasing innovation, it’s an embrace of tradition and simplicity that marks the proper gear of wine aficionados and coffee snobs.
The Proper Pour-Over
Attributed to home brewing and drip coffee guru Melitta Bentz, the “pour-over” cone has been around in its current form, more or less, since about 1937. Its resurgence can be attributed to the emphasis on technique and “ceremony” popular in Tokyo’s coffee shops, and that emphasis is traveling to the West. The technique involves a “swan neck” kettle and it’s ability to deliver a precise amount of water (ideally at 202°F) to the carefully ground beans in the filter. When done well, the pour-over results in a “bloom” as CO2 is released from the coffee. The bloom “cracks” and then the rest of the water is added. The coffee in the cup is about as tasty a cup of coffee you can find.
For Cameron McKee of Oakland California’s Bicycle Coffee Co., it’s the simplicity of the pour-over that makes it a go-to. “You can spend a bunch of money, but a properly prepared pour-over will almost always taste better. All you need is a cone, some fresh roast coffee, a hand mill and a gooseneck kettle.” While there is some technique to master, Cameron thinks the learning curve isn’t very steep and you can pour yourself a tasty pour-over in no time.
The Bicycle Coffee Co. drip cone is a ceramic, designed and handmade in Oakland. This is the drip cone that Bicycle Coffee uses when they pour their brews at local farmers markets and cafés. The cone is fashioned with a 27t ceramic cog on the bottom and comes with an instructional “traditional” Japanese tenugui. $35; bicyclecoffeeco.com
The Hario Buono coffee drip kettle gives the traditional hand-pour coffee making methodology a sleek, brushed stainless steel look and a load of functionality. The swan neck spout makes you feel like an expert as you deliver hot water with precision for that perfect coffee bloom. $54
The Hario Skeleton (Skerton) hand mill continues the pour-over emphasis on coffee made by hand, one cup at a time. The skeleton allows for adjustable grind options from espresso to coarser grinds more appropriate for a pour-over. The ceramic conical burrs allow for all the bean’s oils to be preserved so that the flavors and aromas come through in the cup. The grinder holds up to 60 grams of coffee at a time. $40; seattlecoffeegear.com
Pop & Pour
Rather than a pursuit of speed, wine is a preservation of a moment, or series of moments, that make up any given growing year or vintage. It takes an entire growing season to ripen the grapes, and then they begin a slow journey to becoming finished wine. White wines are typically released the year following the vintage they were harvested while red wines may be released anywhere from one to five years later, after undergoing aging in barrel and often in-bottle. Wine takes its time.
There is no shortage of “new and improved” wine opening devices, and while gizmos abound the go-to wine opener remains the sommelier knife, also known as the waiter’s friend or wine key. Designed in the 19th century and a bit reminiscent of a Swiss Army knife, the design is not so much aimed at creating ease for beginners but rather at pocket portability and, in truth, a bit of showmanship. “It’s classic for a reason,” says Cole Sisson, sommelier at Seattle’s RN74. “It’s pocket-sized, doesn’t need to come with instructions and it opens the bottle of wine every time.”
Oak Barrel Sommelier Knife from Laguiole
The Laguiole sommelier knife is about as serious as it gets. Hand crafted in Aubrac in Southern France, each knife made by a single artisan and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. It is a finely crafted tool, meant to be handled with deference to tradition and expertise. The Laguiole originated from a folding knife used by the region’s cattle farmers, and so its original handles were made from cow horn. This particular Laguiole is crafted from used oak barrels as a further homage to the French wine tradition. $139; truefabrications.com
Timber Wooden Double-Hinged Corkscrew
Form follows function, and the functionality of the Timber is hard to argue with. Frankly, to the untrained eye, it looks a fair bit like a Laguiole. At $11.99, though, the Timber gets the job done on a budget. With the same features as the Laguiole and a similar look, the Timber is a bit easier to use, with a doubled-hinged pull-tap that allows for a bit more assistance removing the cork and a bottle opener that lets your beer-drinking friends feel included. $11.99; truefabrications.com
From Issue 24. Buy it here.