Merry Coffee Cherry


Mike making delicious Kenyan Coffee

I didn’t quite know what this day was about to spark in me, but it was one year ago that I started a journey into a world that has brought me so much joy. I was at the Allegro cupping lab and we were cupping coffees from the different coffee growing regions of the world. I remember it vividly, there where mostly Latin American coffees on the table. A Peruvian coffee that really stood out, one from Papua New Guinea and one from Sumatra. It was my first day of training and it was my exposure to craft coffee. I remember tasting each cup, taking hesitant slurps from what seemed to me like spoons from the Thai joint nearby. I could barely notice the difference in coffees and only thanks to my former life as a chef was able to pick up on some of the different aromas the coffees offered. The concepts of acidity, sweetness, body and finish, although perceived, were above my head. I remember thinking the tasting experience was “much like tea tasting.” I grew up with a father completely immersed in the world of tea and something about this appeared similar. Everything I was learning was exciting, new, and made sense, it just hadn’t really clicked.

At one point in the day, when everyone was taking a break recovering form the massive caffeine intake, I remember strolling into the cupping lab and staring at a Cona vacuum pot. “What is that?” Having been a chemistry major, the subject still being of great appeal to me, I noted that a contraption like that could only have a chemical use or background. Matt and Mike looked at the pot, looked at me, and knew they had to make some coffee. Matt ground some mystery coffee while Mike prepared the Cona for action.  What I felt as I saw the water boil, rise, brew, and filter was, simply put, magic. That was it. I didn’t need to taste the coffee. It had clicked. I could see myself spending copious amounts of time tinkering with toys like this.

And then I tasted the coffee: an in-season Kenya AA. All of the sudden the concept of acidity came rushing in. I grew up in Mexico where, despite being a coffee producing country, coffee is either boiled with piloncillo and cinnamon, extracted as espresso from dark roasted stale beans, or made from soluble particles.  What I had just tasted was not coffee, at least not what I remember “coffee” being. This was an ultimate concoction of sweetness, brightness, and the most complex aromas I had ever experienced. But regardless of what I tasted, it was, for the very first time in my experience, coffee in its purest form. It was in fact coffee with a lot of love.

The year that has followed that experience has been the most rewarding time of my life. I have met and learned from people so in love with their craft that they seem to be oozing knowledge and are so willing to share. This coffee, coffee as I now knew it, was only separated from what I knew before by the amount of love, care, and attention everyone in the cycle poured into it.

Every fact that I have learned or experienced I have had with specialty coffee ever since has led me to today, and today I have one seemingly simple but ultimately fulfilling goal. Not too long ago I would have said that this goal was to share that experience. Well, I think that goal is easily fulfilled with this post. My aspiration today is to have people who haven’t yet, experience coffee like I did that day.

I have always said that something, anything, can be as simple or complex as you decide to learn (or not) about it. And although “specialty coffee” is people who are enamorued with their craft making it far more complex than it could be, our job is not to transmit that complexity, but rather to allow you to reap its benefits. I think I can speak for most of us when I say that my goal is to make it as easy as possible for anyone to enjoy a damn good cup of coffee.

So, thats it. This post serves to thank all of those who have shared their time, knowledge, and passion. You have truly inspired me and my gratitude is not enough to repay you for that. It also serves to set my intention for this coming year, and that is to make good coffee available and accessible to anyone interested.

I wish you a Very Merry Coffee Cherry and a happy holiday season.

Until soon,

Lalo.

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