I put a little milk in my coffee several times this weekend...and I enjoyed it. It wasn't much milk but it was just enough to change the mouthfeel of the coffee and give it a little more of a creamier texture.
I don't look down on people who add cream or milk to their coffee. Unless it is 2% milk or fat free milk. That just makes no sense to me. Oh and sugar. I can't get behind that either.
I haven’t been on the site much lately. It’s not because I haven’t had time. It is because I have been redirecting the time I used to spend on the site writing to a new hobby. Handful woodworking. I have really gotten into it. Anyway, I am not abandoning the site but I must won’t update as often as I used to. I think it is better this way. I didn’t like the few times I posted something because I felt like I needed to do so. Who knows, maybe I will post a little bit about my newest hobby here in the future. Either way, stay subscribed. I'm not getting rid of the site. When I do post, it will be of higher quality. I’m just not into that quantity game right now.
Let me leave you with this thought. Lately, I haven’t been brewing in a lot of different ways. I have been mainly grabbing the AeroPress and that’s it. I haven’t had the desire to experiment. I haven’t wanted to tinker with my “recipe”. I’ve just been sticking to what I feel is most consistent. The downside is consistency can be boring and boring doesn’t really give me much to write about.
I have written a couple of posts about how my coffee preference seems to change with the seasons. It seems my palate and taste preference has also changed over the past few years.
Around 2012 or so I stopped drinking beers. I started living a very strict paleo/primal lifestyle. I gave up all grains. I didn’t even eat grains on cheat days. The bread and pasta was no big deal. I had, however, grown in love with the rapidly growing craft beer industry. It was a tough break up. One of the reasons I really got into coffee more was because I needed something to replace the love I had for the craft beer industry and the craft coffee industry took it’s place. Earlier this Summer I began experimenting with adding beer back into my diet on Saturdays. I am back on the craft beer train. I only drink my gluten.
It didn’t take long before I realized my taste in beer styles shifted. I wasn’t a big fan of hoppy beers before. I liked them ok but I didn’t love them. To my surprise I not only love hoppy IPAs but I can now easily distinguish between some of the different types of hops and can pick out a West-coast style vs an East-coast style with ease. I think a couple of things played a big role in the expansion of my palate and change in tastes. Coffee and wine.
Even before starting on a paleo/primal diet1 I very rarely had beer during the week. But, I have coffee ever single day. Over the past 2.5 years I have had hundreds of different types of coffees from all over the world and from too many roasters to count. I savored most of these cups. I read the tasting notes and tried to develop a better idea of what specifically I liked about certain types. I was ultimately drawn to the more complex flavors I believe are found especially in Ethiopian coffee. One of the most fascinating things was the change in flavors an individual cup can have as it cools to room temperature.
During this same time period I increased my consumption of wine quite a bit. In fact, I have a small 5 ounce glass most days. Again, not surprisingly, I was drawn to reds. With the help of my wife and visits to a lot of vineyards and wineries2 and was able to pick out specific tasting notes and develop a taste profile I liked. Since I mostly drink red wine, I do so mostly at room temperature or just below room temperature.
Tasting coffee and wine almost daily aided in my palate development but so did the temperatures at which I enjoyed them. Enter my emergence back into craft beer consumption. I now like my beers to “warm up” a bit. This is the true way to get the full taste profile. In the same way Starbucks likes to over roast their beans and serve their coffee scalding hot to hide the lack of true flavor, large beer producers want you to drink their beers “ice cold”. It helps hide the total lack of flavor.
Training your palate to experience and enjoy new tastes is important if you expect to roast good coffee. Had I not exposed my palate to so many different types of flavors I would probably still be conditioned to think Starbucks coffee is “good”.
Kevin Sinnott is as much a “coffee expert” as anyone and his book, The Art and Craft of Coffee is a must read in my opinion. He recently weighed in on the continuously growing K-Cup industry and his opinions are very much in line with my own.
I am certainly not urging anyone to discard their Chemex, Hario or French press makers for K-Cups, nor for that matter their Technivorm, Bonavita or Behmor traditional automatic drip machines. What I am suggesting is to consider what this offers in terms of consumer choices and the possibility of getting a good-to-near-great cup of coffee fully automatically and conveniently. Even I must have an option for those times in my life where the process is not the goal, but a necessity of my real goal: getting a savory cup of coffee. Such times are quick morning starts, mornings when I am heading to an airport for an early flight. Sometimes a friend drops by and we want to share the coffee, but not the time it takes to make it the manual multiple step way.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
One of my more popular, and shorter, posts was me sharing the fact I bought a coffee plant. I am happy to report it thrived this Summer.
I keep the plant inside and water it once a week or so, whenever the soil is dry about an inch or so down. When I water it I give it a pretty good soak. I probably pour 1 to 1.5 cups of water into the soil. It sits on a table near our kitchen where it gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Basically, this mimics the shade that most coffee plants historically preferred. In the wild coffee usually grows under the canopy of much larger trees.
Unfortunately, I didn't measure the height of the plant when I started but it appears to have added almost two inches of height and a dozen new leaves grew. The gloss of the leaves is what really makes coffee plants look great.
It took me over a year of roasting to fill up one Field Notes full of my observations and scribbles for each roast I did. I recently looked back through the notebook and here are some interesting takeaways from my first roasting log.
My earlier roasts including a lot of notes about what I was smelling. Grass, hay, popcorn, chocolate, burnt popcorn and kettle corn are a few examples.
I tinkered more early on with the speed of the fan on the SR500. My later roasts were a little more “dialed in” so there was less tinkering.
My roasts got longer and so did my quality. I think this speaks to getting better at smelling and hearing the triggers. Early on I was panicking and pulling some of my earlier roasts way to soon.
Even though the SR500 roast chamber is clear, the beans look darker in the roaster than when they are taken out.
With many of my earlier roasts I would let the roaster “cool off” between batches. Now I start the next batch as soon as the previous one is done.
When I started roasting in the garage with the doors open to let in natural light I could see the beans much better in the roast chamber.
Cura Coffee recognizes one of the big downsides to the coffee industry. Poverty. Most coffee growing regions are extremely poor. This is despite the fact that coffee is only second behind oil in terms of global consumption. Some of the reasons the farmers are poor include politics and poor infrastructure. The specialty coffee industry has really tried to raise awareness and help the situation but, like most political issues, it is a tough fight.
According to Cura Coffee…
10% of sale proceeds go to our primary mission of developing sustainable dental care for the remote farming communities who produce our coffee. Since 2008, we’ve seen nearly 4,500 patients and performed more than 7,700 procedures through Foundation for Worldwide Health.
Cura Coffee was founded by a dentist and their goal is clear. Help bring fair pricing on coffee and dental care to the local farmers and their families. The 10% is used to help provide dental care to individuals who would most likely never see a dentist during their lifetime. One of the very interesting ideas Cura is trying out is allowing others to sell their coffee as a fundraiser. You can sell Cura Coffee for your cause or organization and have 20% of the sales go toward helping any cause you choose. Cura still contributes 10% of these sales to their sustainable dental care program.
I don’t typically love Nicaraguan coffees and I have certainly had some better ones and definitely some that were worse. But, at $15 per bag and knowing that a portion of that is going to a great cause somehow makes the cup even better. It is still a very solid cup of coffee on it’s own and I think the idea behind Cura is a great one.
A number of years back I got into craft beers. I dove dip into the community for a little while. I never tried my hand at brewing but I tried a lot of different beers. I went away for a couple of years and gave up beer completely. I gave up grains/wheat/gluten completely. Well, I returned a couple months ago. While I am still Paleo and never eat wheat, I do have a few craft beers every weekend.
The return has been great but what I found amazing was how much growth the craft beer industry went through over those couple of years. Smaller breweries are barely small now. The distribution seems to have increased dramatically.
What does this have to do with coffee?
I see the coffee community at about the same place I feel like the craft beer community was a few years back. It should be interesting to see where coffee is a few years from now. I'm looking forward to it.