A Crash Course on Coffee Beans from 'How to Make Everything'

By Mike Pomranz |

Americans maintain a bit of an odd disconnect when it comes to coffee. Despite that fact that 83 percent of US adults drink the beverage, with the average person consuming a full three cups of it a day (at least as of 2013), most people don’t know very much about coffee outside of the fact that it makes work more bearable.

But, as generations have passed, tastes have improved from the likes of Folgers to Starbucks to whatever your favorite third-wave coffee brand may be now. (My grandfather loved his Sanka whereas I can’t live without my Intelligentsia.) But those improved tastes haven’t necessarily led to improved knowledge. Fundamentally, what makes better coffee better? My guess is that a large part of that 83 percent of coffee drinkers doesn’t really know (and I consider the success of k-cup machines to be empirical evidence).

Andy George of the YouTube channel How to Make Everything has built up an impressive resume for making down-to-earth videos that really get into some of the finer nuts and bolts about how things are made. We’ve covered him tackling chicken sandwiches, root beer floats, chocolate and tequila. Now the bespectacled host has turned his curiosity to coffee, embarking on a three-part, journey looking into the bean, the roast and the brew.

George’s first stop is a coffee importer who quickly walks him though the differences in beans and how they are evaluated, discussing types of beans, country of origin and tasting notes. Admittedly, if you already know coffee, this video won’t be much of an eye-opener. However, if, like Andy, you “know basically nothing about coffee” and “most times have no idea what [you’re] ordering,” there are worse places to start than here.

After his learning experience is through, George will then embark on his signature move of making a cup of coffee entirely from scratch: harvesting the beans, roasting them and brewing them into a cup that’s all his own. Even if you’re a coffee whiz, that’s the kind of experience most of us will never have. Should be an interesting trip.

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