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Entertain your kids by making coffee

I’ve realized the past couple of weekends that ever since I became a coffee geek and began taking time to make better coffee, my kids have become much more interested in helping with the process.

Let me give you an idea of my coffee making process.  I start by measuring coffee beans on a digital gram scale.  Then I dump the beans into a Zassenhaus manual grinder and start cranking by hand.  The ground coffee drops into the bottom of the grinder, and I pull out the drawer and dump the ground coffee into whatever I’m using to brew the coffee.

From this point, depending on my brew method, the process is completely different.  Here’s the basic process of each brewing method I utilize:

  • If I’m using my manual drip Chemex brewer, I heat up water in an electric kettle, fold the filter and put it in the Chemex, pre-wet the filter, dump the coffee grounds in, and then, when the water is heated, pour it over the grounds for about four minutes, eventually pouring the final coffee into a thermal mug and putting the filter into my compost can.
  • With the French press, I heat the water, dump in the grounds, fill the French press with water, stir and wait about four minutes before I plunge the filter down through the coffee.  Again, I end up pouring the final coffee into a thermal mug before drinking.
  • If I’m using the Aeropress, I put the plunger together, turn it upside down, put the coffee grounds in, fill it with water, install the filter and compress the plunger to extract the coffee, following by the addition of more hot water to my cup to dilute the coffee concentrate created by the Aeropress.
  • In the case of the Technivorm automatic brewer, I add cold water to the reservoir, put the filter into its container, pre-wet the filter and add the coffee grounds.  AfterI heat up the carafe with hot water and put the lid on the Technivorm, I set the Technivorm to the “no flow” setting, turn it on, and set a timer for 1 minute.  Water starts gurgling, bubbling and moving, and when the timer goes off, I lift the lid above the filter, stir the coffee grounds gently to get them all wet, replace the lid and the switch the Technivorm to the “half flow” setting.

As you can tell, there’s lot of steps here.  But what I’ve discovered is that no matter which brewing method I use, all of the steps can use help from the little hands of your children.  On top of that, what I’ve discovered is that these multistep and often manual processes of brewing coffee utilize all the senses, and it’s a fun experience for my kids of hang out with Dad while experiencing the odd contraptions used to make coffee.

Each of my kids has gone through phases where they want to be the one who hand grinds the coffee in the Zassenhaus grinder.  It’s fun to dump the beans in and crank with all your might, watching through the lid as the beans are ground.  In fact, if you leave the lid open so you can watch, sometimes bean fragments jump out like they’re trying to escape, which makes it more fun.  It takes a good amount of strength for a 3-year-old to turn that crank to grind the beans, but right now, it’s one of my 3-year-0ld’s favorite things to do on weekends.

The Technivorm, even though it’s automatic, attracts attention as well.  When I flip that power switch, it gurgles and groans as the water heats up, and then bubbles burst upward through the tube running up the middle of the water reservoir on its water to wet the grounds.  The clear reservoir is very fun because kids like to water the water move around, but the sounds of the Technivorm really turn each kids ears as it starts up.

I find that kids are really intrigued by the Chemex process.  They enjoy dumping the grounds into the open Chemex top, and then when the hot water is poured over the grounds, they enjoy watching the grounds bloom up, following by the trickle of coffee coming out below into the glass Chemex charafe.  The smell of the coffee and watching the magic of grounds turning into coffee really amazes them.

Making coffee the manual way — from grinding by hand to pouring water water over grounds in different brewing forms — is a sensation that involves intriguing sights, new sounds, attractive smells, and the ability use your hands to actually make the coffee.  And when it’s all done, you, as the parent, get to the enjoy the taste of the exceptional coffee you’ve just made, as well as a fun memory made with your child.