A number of years ago, I embarked on the journey of sole proprietorship. I spent a good amount of time and a notable amount of money building a small, independent coffee business to operate in a small indoor mall in a quaint little town in California. My inspiration was to bring an old world vibe to an industry that is often dominated by what is hip or modern. You want glass top tables, I want antique wood and the smell of varnish. My concept was simple and my customer base was appreciative; I had many regulars and received compliment upon compliment on the quality of my cuppa joe. Sadly, the cards were dealt and I couldn't stay. I regret shuttering Gotham Harbor Coffee Co., but I made some great friends on those warm sunny days.
What was the trick to my drip? Patience, plain and simple. A good cup of coffee takes time.
Grind the beans fresh medium-fine, get your water bubbling hot in a clean kettle and never scald the beans. 180° should suffice. Use a proper paper filter, no mesh. Pour a little water, rest the beans for a moment. Pour some more, swirl the spout and soak the beans. Fill to the brim of the cone and let it drip, then allow it to cool for a minute or two. The journey is as important as the destination!
The key to finding a good coffee experience, Is simply isolating what it is that you enjoy about a particular coffee. Perhaps, it's the experience surrounding that coffee which has you so enamored. Go out, get your favorite cuppa joe. Buy your favorite latte or brew your preferred drip.
Take that cup and walk outside. Experience the things you love in a different environment, and it may show you more than you would expect. Often, new sights or sounds or even company can distract you from the routine and help your senses take over. The taste buds in your nose are more important than the taste buds on your tongue... Coffee is much like tobacco, in that it is a pure aromatic. Isolating the attributes of a given blend can be accomplished by finding a perfect partner for it, perhaps a scone or a dark chocolate bar. The point is, to better understand the things you enjoy? You need to see them in a different light.
In the history of the world, countless cultures and civilizations have taken advantage of the magical little fruit-borne beans we now rely on Folgers to box-up for us. We stick pods in steam machines that look like something from Star Trek, and we let quality fall by the wayside in the name of convenience. I recommend you stand up, turn the machine off, and promise yourself to no longer sacrifice quality for expedience.
I would tell you to go out and buy a variety of different beans. Buy a quality grinder, and a good kettle. Spend a morning making a few cups. Take notes on what you liked, and equally document what you didn't enjoy. Do a little research and talk to your local coffee roasters, the trick to good coffee is fresh coffee. To be honest, sure there is a bag of Starbucks beans in my kitchen but it sits next to a bag of fair trade organic.
I recently took a trip (with my amazing little lady) to Seattle, and sampled coffees from probably a dozen different roasters. It's no surprise, but much in the way I appreciate cake from just about any good baker? Every roaster has beans you may like! So, support your local business and tell your friends what you find, it's a hell of an icebreaker at the least.
Remember, there is no such thing as coffee that is too strong; simply add hot water. Conversely, coffee that is too weak belongs in one place only... down the drain!
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