Friday night topic: Coffee


— 5:15 PM on June 20, 2014

I've kind of resisted doing a Friday night topic about coffee, because I know not everyone enjoys the stuff. As I was sitting here sipping a homemade breve, though, I just couldn't resist.

I guess the first order of business is this question: do you enjoy coffee? If not, why not? If so, then how?

Coffee is an entire cuisine, or multiple ones, a food with a culture around it. I know people who enjoy—nay prefer—things like instant coffee and Folger's over gourmet coffees. ("No, no, I'll have the black sludge, please. Thanks.") I know others who rather innocently can't tell the difference between high-quality coffee and anything else. And then there are the folks who are deep into coffee knowledge, otherwise known as coffee snobs.

I try to avoid snobbery in my coffee affection, but I do enjoy the good stuff.

I picked up the caffeine habit in college while studying in Oxford, where tea consumption was ritual. The following summer, I traveled to Uganda, near the slopes of some of the finest high-altitude coffee-growing real-estate in the world. Our native hosts ground the light-roasted coffee themselves, filtered it through a cloth (I think), and served it exceptionally strong, tempered with goat's milk and cane sugar. So began a life-long addiction/appreciation.

I still prefer a lighter roast, so one can taste the coffee and not charring carbon, and I still prefer African coffees, although beans from just about anywhere can be exceptional and interesting. Monsooned Malabars from India, of all places, are amazing. I've also come to enjoy Brazilian coffees, which can be mild yet full-bodied yet not bitter, somehow. They're a great base for espresso or any sort of blend. Although I've not taken the time yet to roast my own beans, I order them in small batches from craft roasters pretty much exclusively.

I also still prefer sweetened coffee, which causes me to break with some coffee snobs who insist that milk and/or sugar are abominations. Do what you like, I suppose, but let me do what I like. I have no time for such nonsense.

Like any addict, I've invested some time in exploring different brewing methods. My go-to is the simple pour-over, for convenience and quality. I also enjoy French press, drip brew, moka pot, espresso, and cold brew. Each has advantages to recommend it. I'm pondering what to try next: maybe Aeropress or a vacuum pot? I dunno. My Gaggia Carezza home espresso machine just died on me, so I may be exploring higher-quality home espresso machines next.

Anyhow, that's a start on the subject. What's your take? Discuss.

   
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