This post was contributed by Buck Cooper.
At last count, I had nine (9) different ways to brew a cup of coffee. Each one has something to commend it. I love the sheer beauty of the all glass, but wood trimmed Chemex and the smoothness of the brew, which usually brings out the sweetness of something from Counter Culture Coffee, like maybe their Apollo blend. I’m grateful for the efficiency to quality ratio of my Aeropress, which makes a lovely single cup, and when coupled with my Porlex hand grinder, is close to gourmet quality. I’ve brought the Aeropress/Porlex combo to school in the last week and have begun to make my third and fourth cups here with them. They’re also great when camping, where everything depends on your ability to boil some water and rehydrate what tastes good and isn’t gorp. There are the odd days where I make a cup with my office Nespresso, which I love because it’s the lowest floor to good coffee entry–load the pod, lock it in, hit the button and wait 45 seconds. Presto, I’m drinking George Clooney’s preferred tres Euro coffee product. And of course, I wouldn’t be an American coffee drinker without a drip brewer at home. I don’t set the auto brew timer in the morning because I like to know that the first cup is freshmade and hasn’t been sitting in the thermal carafe for the last hour while I played snooze roulette with my alarm clock. Somewhere under the kitchen sink, I’ve got a french press, a Turkish pot, a moka pot and a cold brew rig for the warm weather months. The cold brew rig is a reminder that it’s vacation or it’s about to be vacation because I have the time, energy and patience to grind an entire bag of coffee, load the rig, fill it with water and the filters and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days, then wait patiently for the 30 minutes it takes to drain and strain the cold brew concentrate.
Look, y’all. I’m not just out here bragging about all the ways I can make you a coffee if you come by M3 to talk shop, although I am absolutely glad to do so. I’m here telling you that if you love something deeply like coffee or children, then learning to love it in many different ways is worth your while. Working with children has an ebb and flow and a sometimes discernable internal logic to it. Within that, you owe it to yourself professionally and personally to find the teaching and learning equivalents of 9 different ways to brew coffee as you work with the children you teach. Now, I’m not entirely sure what that looks like, but I think it involves switching it up in your classes from time to time so that you’re giving yourself a chance to see your kiddos (in all their complexity and nuance) in new ways, just like your Hario pourover lets something shine that might otherwise be boring in a drip brew. I think it also looks like acknowledging that the weeks right before a big break aren’t necessarily the best for trying to do the things you might have done at the beginning of the year with the same level of focus and intensity, just as you should have the good sense to know that you don’t want that strong cup of Turkish coffee after the steak dinner when you plan to head home and try to get a good night’s sleep. Finally, I think it involves knowing when to give yourself some grace, especially when you drop the ball, teach a dud of a lesson or can’t figure out how to get through to a child on a day when you’re just plain woe out. While I don’t suggest attempting to pour children down the sink and starting over, I do think there’s always the chance to teach another lesson on another day and more beans to grind and brew differently next time.