On Coffee

As a beverage, coffee smells incredible, keeps you awake and alert, and might even improve your working memory. But its chemical effects on the body are only a small part of why coffee means so much to me. For me, coffee is also a social beverage. Many of the most amazing conversations that I’ve had at work were over coffee. Brew a cup, grab a seat, and the ideas start flowing. If alcohol is a crowbar that pries open the doors of conversation, then coffee is a lock picking kit. With a bit of skill, it makes the doors spring open without any brute force.

But the most important aspect of coffee is the routine that it brought into my life over the last year. Nearly every morning, I grab a light breakfast from a nearby bakery, brew myself a pour-over from fresh, hand-ground beans before sitting down at my table to reflect on, write about and plan out the rest of my day. This routine played an essential part in keeping me sane during the last year and a half of on and off lockdowns and other restrictions caused by the global pandemic. To me, coffee represents a small island of peace—a few moments of calm thought before I head out into the chaos that is the world outside.

My taste in coffee has evolved over the years. Instant coffee was my go-to (blasphemy!) during the first year of my Ph.D. This changed after a friend brought back a sample of Vietnamese coffee and a Phin filter after his holiday in the country. Since then, I’ve experimented with several types of brewing apparatus, including many of the usual suspects like the Chemex, Moka Pot, and the Aeropress. Eventually, I found that the Hario V60 fit my life the best, and I built my morning routine around it.

My Morning Coffee Recipe

Materials

  1. Hario V60 and filter paper.
  2. Whole coffee beans.
  3. Weighing scale.
  4. Boiling water.

Technique

Ashwin Narayan
Ashwin Narayan
PhD Student | Guitarist | Coffee Enthusiast

I am a PhD student at the National University of Singapore working with the Biorobotics research group

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