Stepping Into Specialty Coffee

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I can remember the day I got captivated by specialty coffee like it was yesterday. It wasn’t yesterday though, it was about 8 years worth of yesterdays ago. I was spending a weekend away in the mountains with some friends, and I had brought some coffee with me along for the trip. The coffee I brought was some beans I bought in Cuba a few weeks prior. Nothing too special about it, but a little more special than Folgers I guess. One of my friends from out west had this little blue bag of coffee with him and he asked, “You want to trade?” Sure! The bag I traded for was an Ethiopian origin roasted by 49th Parallel Roasters of Victoria, British Columbia.

It was light and delicate, but also full and fruity. Not reminiscent at all of familiar flavours like smoke, ash, and dirt. What was this coffee? I didn’t know, but I needed to find out.

You don’t know what you don’t know

I didn’t know anything from anything when I started brewing specialty coffee. How could I? It’s like starting anything new - the learning curve is steep and you just don’t know what you don’t know. What I did know is, what I tasted in that Ethiopian coffee was unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and I wasn’t going to be content with anything less.

That first step towards brewing better coffee can be intimidating. There’s unfamiliar language, an overwhelming amount of information, and of course - the cost. That first step towards speciality coffee can be so intimidating that I see people shy away from it everyday. 

I didn’t know then what I know now, but looking back I can see that it didn’t matter. What mattered was that first step - tasting that coffee and choosing to brew better. One step at a time I’ve learned how to taste, brew, and buy better coffee. Sure, at first it was primarily for my enjoyment but that’s peripheral now. My main motivation for drinking and talking about coffee now is the concern for the state of the industry. Drinking specialty coffee has opened my eyes to a natural resource in peril, and a commercialized commodity that needs our attention.

If anything could inspire you to take your first step towards drinking better coffee, I hope it’s that.

In the coming weeks I’ll be writing about the basics. Everything from essential brewing equipment to making that first brew, and all the bits in between.

What do you want to learn about on the blog! Let me know!

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