In the fantastic Pixar movie, Ratatouille, there is a line that gets used quite a bit: “Anyone can cook.” The line was the motto of one of the film’s supporting character, Chef Auguste Gusteau, and it served as the title of his popular cookbook. Food critic, Anton Ego, who was never a fan of Chef Gusteau nor his motto, has an epiphany near the end of the movie, and tells the Parisian food-world in his newspaper review of Gusteau’s restaurant’s new chef:
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere.
This simple idea is also exemplified by great coffee. There is no reason why everyone can’t make great coffee with a few simple tools, right in their very own kitchens. Although many will find the process tedious and not worth their time, many others will find great satisfaction in it—perhaps even come to recognize it as the art that it truly is. A great coffee artist can come from anywhere.
I was reminded of this principle again when I read this article about Brewer’s Cup. This paragraph was especially noteworthy:
Consider the fact that, historically, many of the best and most popular brewing devices have come from outside the coffee industry. Innovators such as chemist Peter Schlumbohm (Chemex), housewife-to-entrepreneur Melitta Bentz (paper lined filter top), and the engineer-machinist team of de Ponti and Bialetti (moka pot), have introduced devices and methods that have shaped the quality and experience of coffee worldwide.
Great coffee doesn’t need to be defined by the “coffee industry.” There is no reason why you can’t create a great coffee maker, a coffee roaster, or even a coffee blend right in your own home. We tend to forget that innovation happens when people start to think beyond what is currently being done; when they begin to question the underlying assumptions of “how we do certain things.” Just because your notion of the “perfect cup” of coffee hasn’t yet been made, is no reason why you shouldn’t pursue creating it. All great coffee is made by mixing ground coffee with water—that’s the simple recipe. If you think it can be done better, faster, or cheaper, then by all means get to work making it happen. Your brothers and sisters in the worldwide coffee fellowship will be forever grateful.