Archive for the ‘ coffee ’ Category

I Put Sugar in my Coffee Today

I know…I know, but before you start to cast stones hear me out.

This past weekend I had the cool opportunity to do coffee samples for a friend of mine at an independent grocery store. It was a lot of fun. I made pour overs, gave out free coffee, used a Chemex and basically got to talk coffee with a bunch of people. My favorite part was letting people try great coffee. That always makes me happy.

However…there was something that I noticed. Even though we had sugar and cream on the table where we were giving out samples, there were quite a few people who refused the free sample by saying, “no thanks, I don’t like black coffee.”

There seemed to be this automatic assumption that if they weren’t a black coffee drinker then they weren’t welcome.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I usually drink my coffee black, but that’s because I drink good coffee. I spend the time and the extra couple of bucks to make sure my coffee is fresh and tastes great, but not everyone does that. I think the more really good, fresh coffee you start to drink the less you’ll use cream and sugar, but there shouldn’t be this stigma against drinking coffee with cream and sugar.

While I may be a purist and enjoy coffee black that doesn’t mean everyone else should have to.

Like I told the people who I was giving samples to, life’s too short to drink what you don’t enjoy.

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So, yes…I put sugar in my coffee today (mostly because I tried to blend some old beans I had laying around and it didn’t turn out great so the sugar helped mask the taste), but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re a coffee drinker who has to put cream or sugar in your coffee to enjoy it don’t be ashamed.

I would suggest trying better coffee and maybe giving good, freshly roasted coffee a sip before you add what you have to, but life’s too short to drink what you don’t enjoy.

Cheers.

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It’s the little things.

Yesterday I had the cool opportunity to do some coffee roasting with a friend of mine. It’s a really cool process to see coffee go from the green bean to the delicious light to dark brown color. Hearing the bean crack like popcorn is a really cool sound and is a great reminder of how through heat and fire are brought beautiful things.

I’ve had some great coffee in my day, but I’ve also had some really bad coffee and while there are a lot of different factors that go into making a cup of coffee enjoyable I’m always amazed at how little, subtle changes go into making such a big difference.

A few months ago I had a cup of coffee that tasted like burnt marshmallows. And while I love smores, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the flavor that the roaster was going for. Come to find out that the coffee was indeed over roasted and almost burnt. I figured that while the coffee was roasting he had walked away or started working on something else and let it roast for far too long on accident. I asked this roaster how long he let the beans roast over the ideal time and he responded with “15 seconds.”

15 seconds! Can you imagine only having 15 seconds to get something right? There are times where I just stare off into nothingness for more than 15 seconds!

While my friend and I were roasting yesterday we had some time to kill. After all, part of roasting coffee is just waiting for the roaster to be done. So, we figured, why not pull some espresso shots? So it began. The first shot turned out ok. The water went too quick through the grounds so it was a little watery. So we tried adjusting the grind. We made it a little finer so it would hold the water better. Apparently, we went too fine because it took about 20 seconds before the water even started to drip through. On our third try we made the grind a little coarser to cut the difference, but it still didn’t turn out right. After a couple more tries and checking to see if there was enough water in the espresso machine (there was) and some really shaky hands we stopped pulling shots and got back to roasting.

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I did notice something during our experiments though. Even though we were using the same coffee, the same water and the same methods, each shot had a different, distinct flavor. The very little changes we made to the grind size of each shot pulled out different flavors and characteristics of the coffee.

The same goes with the 15 second over roasted coffee I drank. I don’t know about you, but I would call letting something cook for 15 seconds too long is a very little thing.

The same goes for life, doesn’t it? It’s the little things that make a difference.

Sometimes we think that we have to make these huge adjustments to our lives or these really big life changes in order for us to achieve what we want or be where we want to be. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the time if we will make better little decisions the overall trajectory of our lives will be altered in the direction in which we want to go.

Focusing on the little, day to day decisions in life is also good training for when we have the opportunity to make a big change and big decisions. Think about it. If you continually make small decisions that go against the goals you have or go against the direction you want to be headed, what kind of decision do you think you’ll make when you’re presented with a much larger opportunity. You’re going to choose in the same manner in which you’ve already been choosing.

I’m reminded of a great quote from the movie For Love of the Game: “A lot of little bottles make a big bottle.”

Your seemingly small and insignificant decisions carry with them more weight than you probably know. Give them more attention. Because when it comes time to make the big decisions you’ll already know what to do because you’ve been working towards the direction you want go each and every day.

Bad Coffee Makes Me Sad

It’s no secret that I love coffee. Over the past couple of years my relationship with coffee has gone to a whole new level. We used to be just friends who would meet every once in a while and only when I was really tired. Also, I never really let coffee be itself around me. I always forced it to take on different appearances and flavors. I never allowed it to be who it really was. It was a very selfish relationship.

Things have changed now. I’ve repented of my ways and really feel like coffee and I have gotten to a level of our relationship that we can both be proud of.

Coffee represents something much stronger to me than flavor.

Even now as I write this I’m staring a 5lb bag of coffee that the coffee club I helped start (Raleigh Coffee Club) purchased for an organization that works with the homeless and at-risk population here in Raleigh (Love Wins). That’s the sort of thing coffee represents for me. Something much greater than a hot cup of black liquid.

It represents community. It represents hard work. It represents friendships. It represents love.

Every time I brew coffee at home, which takes me longer than most people, I’m not just trying to get caffeine in me…I’m participating in an act that not only supports people I care about, but supports employees and farmers I’ve never met, but because they are human I care about them.

It represents to local roasters that I’ve created such good friendships with. It represents the passion they have for their product.

That’s why bad coffee makes me sad.

Because I know how good it can be. And I don’t mean bad just on the basis of flavor and taste, which I’ve had my fair share of, but also bad in the sense of where it comes from and how the workers are treated where it’s roasted and farmed. When you drink “bad” coffee you are supporting that.

And I say without shame, what you buy, eat, drink and do shows what you support.

You can’t say you care about people and serve bad coffee. And again, I don’t just mean by flavor, because that is incredibly subjective…but having coffee that tastes good isn’t a bad idea either.

Don’t take this as a guilt trip, because I, by no means, buy every single thing that supports the right things…but I am making an effort.

Drink good coffee. Good tasting. Good supporting. Good.

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