notes from maggie's farm
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. ~T.S. Eliot
|Clockwise from left: Sean Henry, owner, Houndstooth Coffee, Eli Castro of Grubbus, and Meredith Bethune of Biscuits of Today.|
Seeing as how I learned to drink coffee in South Louisiana, where they say you can stand a spoon straight up in the cup, and that babies are weaned with 'coffeemilk' in a baby bottle (which is not entirely untrue), I thought I might know a thing or two about coffee. I sure knew what I liked- piping hot, dark, and creamy, and absolutely knew what I don't like- coffee that looks suspiciously like tea.
|Tuning in, and turning on, our coffee palate.|
But boy was I wrong. Aside from preparing coffee properly (and we'll get to that), I actually found myself floundering. Because just as complicated is the 'nose and palate' of wine, is at least as much, if not more, are the nuances of coffee.
We began, after introductions, by tasting different varieties of apples, to both cleanse our palates, and to prime us for considering the unique qualities of each coffee we were about to encounter. Much as one apple had a citrus bite, so might one coffee. And apple that was dense, well, coffee can be dense, too. The entire group participated, and began to offer some pretty sophisticated observations. About the apples.
|The nose—some have it, some need practice. Lots of practice.|
|We took copious notes--we so wanted to be good students of the barista! That's how we roll. But notes or no notes, the nose was elusive.|
|Sean demonstrates the process: sniffing, breaking the crust, slurping|
And that's when it got good. We could smell the coffee. Not tobacco, not grass, not grapefruit. Just coffee; coffee being prepared. And that kept us encouraged as Sean demonstrated the process of 'cupping'.
|And then we all got down to business, sniffing, breaking a crust, slurping, and moving about to slurp some others.|
|And the holy grail---a great cup of Joe.|
When the slurping settled, we gathered back for final words, questions…..and COFFEE. Now, they're purists here you know, so no creamer. NO sugar. Just straight black. But after the those grinds nuzzled into the steamy water in the top of that coffee clever, what we were left with was one perfect, not to be messed with, hearty cup of coffee.
It tasted just like I want another cup.
- Just where does coffee come from? WHAT does coffee come from? Our cup was the end of a long chain. From Houndstooth.com:
Also see From a Cherry to a Cup-- The Life and Journey of Coffee BeansEnd of a long chain…Tree – Coffee varietals abound, 4-6 years to produce first cherriesPicker – Coffee picked as its ripest moment.Miller – Coffee cherry processed in a washed or unwashed method.Dryer – Coffee dried on flat ground or raised beds.Farmer – Coffee overseer and regulator throughout the process.Exporter – Coffee shipped.Importer – Coffee received.Roaster – Coffee roasted, shipped.Barista – Coffee brewed.Customer – Coffee enjoyed.
- What is the recommended process for at-home brewing? Well, seems like there are different schools of thought out there. Try these simple steps, these seven steps, nine steps, or even ten steps. Or simply How to Make a Better Cup of Coffee.
- Where can I find the best coffee shops in Austin? You're in luck, because Eli Castro of Grubbus has done all the footwork for you. Try a few of his suggestions when you're in the Austin area.
"Herbal tea tastes so much better when it's coffee."
Here's to one perfect cup of Joe.