So, I like coffee, a lot. I’m sure you like your morning cup of joe, too. Most of us do. But coffee is a bit of an obsession with me. I’ve been buying whole beans and grinding them myself for more than 15 years now. Sometimes I’ll take a dollop of heavy cream. Or I’ll have a dry cappuccino (just foam and espresso) if the coffee shop I’m in can make a decent one. But mostly it’s black coffee, either in a French press or a pour over.
I’ve been a coffee drinker since my late teens, but my obsession really began when I moved to Austin, TX. There was a coffee shop and bar there that I frequented, initially for the live music and performance poetry, called Ruta Maya. Ruta Maya was more than a coffee shop and performance space though. It’s also a coffee roaster. It’s the place that first introduced me to freshly roasted coffee beans, and my life hasn’t been the same since.
See, there’s this things about freshly roasted coffee – it tastes better. Coffee flavors continue to develop in the first 24 to 48 hours after roasting green beans. After that it loses the flavor compounds produced by roasting a little more each day. Let coffee beans sit around for a month, and they are going to lose a lot of flavor. Grind them and let them sit, they lose that flavor even faster. Grind them and let them sit on the shelf for a year or more, as many commercially roasted coffees are, and all those subtleties of flavor are gone. Poof. Out the window.
It’s why I will endlessly promote the locally roasted Goose Bridle Coffee. Will Stevens not only sources good beans, he does a good job of roasting them. You won’t find fresher coffee in Carter County. That is, unless you come to my house. My latest obsession has been home roasting my own green coffee beans. It has allowed me to have some of the varietals I love, like the fruity and floral African sourced beans of Ethiopia and Tanzania, without the disappointment that comes with finding out they’ve lost all that wonderful flavor by the time roasted beans reach me in the mail.
Of course, not everyone in the house shares my love of coffee. My stepson asks, with wrinkled nose, every time I roast beans, “What is that smell?” Nicole, who takes her coffee with a heaping helping of cocoa mix, was not a fan of the – to me – amazing Tanzanian Peaberry beans I procured and roasted recently. The bright, acidic flavor is a far cry from the deep, smooth flavors of Central American varietals that most Americans are used to. And it does not, apparently, pair so well with hot cocoa mix. More’s the pity, because I now have some beans that I want to roast to drink myself, but also have to keep other beans on hand for her, and she only has one cup a day while I drink it from morning through night. Because they’re green, I could always roast in very small batches, and just have a cup or two of my African perfection in a French press, and finish off the rest of the pour over pot she makes each morning, and that’s probably what I’ll end up doing. But it would be so much easier if she could just learn to be as snooty as me about her beans.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org