Heat the kettle. Grind the beans. Pour the water over the grounds. Wait for it to steep. It's a lot more work than dumping a few spoonfuls of Folgers into a Mr Coffee and pressing a button. Or hell, maybe you don't even have to press a button. Maybe you wake up and your coffee is already there, steaming in the pot, thanks to some clever internal computer.
My mother can't understand the effort. "It's just so much more work," she says when she's visiting and I'm busy preparing our morning cups.
"I know," I reply. "But it's worth it." And it's true — almost undeniably so — that coffee from a French press is just better. More flavorful. More aromatic. Velvety in a way that coffee from a traditional drip machine just isn't. But to achieve this "better," you have to do the work. You have to put in the time, follow the steps and afterwards, you even have to clean it up. But I'm willing to do it. No, I'm happy to do it every morning. Not only because I enjoy coffee but because I need that daily reminder: real quality is not convenient.
In 2019, most of the products or services we deem "valuable" are those which make our lives more convenient or more efficient. And while there is something truly valuable about being able to summon a car or deposit a check via cell phone app, convenience in excess has some serious consequences. Fast food. Fast fashion. More health problems. More environmental problem. Less money in our wallets because all our impulse buys now come with free 2-day shipping.
Sometimes, despite all society's advances, there really is no substitute for the hard way, the time-consuming way, the effortful way, at least not one that doesn't sacrifice the quality, the experience or that final sense of satisfaction. And when we come across those things, we shouldn't settle for the lesser outcome in the name of convenience or efficiency, but rather seek convenience and efficiency elsewhere in our lives, where they have the least amount of damage. We should view convenience and efficiency not as targets, but as tools to create the space, time and energy we need to do things that are worth the added space, time and energy.
I make my coffee with a French press every morning. It's not convenient or efficient, but it's the best way I've found to make a good cup of coffee in the comfort of my kitchen. I made a cup now, before sitting down to write this post, another task that is neither convenient or efficient, but nonetheless worth the effort.