to be a coffee snob
My brother has alway been an early adopter of things that are cool. He had a silver flip phone with a light up antenna before anyone else. He had an Apple Computer before they got cool. In fact, his biggest regret in life is not buying stock in Apple before they went skyrocketing into the Stock Market's Outer Space. He also knew that coffee would be cool, at eight years old. The original Hipster.
It was quiet in the house and he pulled out a puce green Greek Urn. It was the size of a regular kettle. And for some reason we brought it into the living room. Because, this brother, made it an event to do anything, he still does. We were trying something new and coffee was meant to be consumed in a sitting room, so why not make a mess in the living room? It may have also been because my parents' bedroom extends over the kitchen a little bit so the sound wouldn't travel as easily into their room. Some of the details remain fuzzy but I think he made the ratio of coffee to water pretty much 1 to 1. He plugged it in and it made weird bubbling noises. I remember how giddy he was that this was all transpiring. I recall him doing a few donkey kicks off the small table as he waited in unconfined excitement.
I, on the other hand, was a total heat score. I was wringing my hands and worrying that with every bubble that my parents would come down and discover that we were making and eventually consuming an illegal substance. You would think I thought we were brewing hooch, that's how nervous I was. In actuality, I was probably just so sensitive to the caffeine that the sheer smell of it was sending my adrenals spiking.
The time came when the coffee was ready. We poured it into special cups and my brother took a sip while it was black. His eyes bulged and he smiled, "I like it". I tasted it. I kept licking the roof of my mouth to get the bitter taste out, akin to a dog that has peanut butter stuck to its palette. I added a little sugar and took another taste. Same experience. I added some more sugar. I eventually added enough sugar that it tasted like sugar with a hint of coffee in it. My brother easily drank his whole cup. The memory fades after this, most likely blotted out because my mom may have come down to find that her two youngest children had consumed copious amounts of caffeine and sugar and we were sent outside to burn it off. She could have put cleaning objects in our hand and we would have made the 2000 square foot home spotless in about 15 minutes.
That's pretty much how my relationship with coffee progressed. I would consume it to the point that my insides jiggled and my heart raced, then I would back off for a while. Or an unfortunate event like road rage (but in a classroom) forced me to switch to green tea for a stint. I went off of it for a number of years because it was making me rather snippy. This was due to prolonged overuse of the substance.
And then, just like that, I started to dabble in it again. It started with just weekends, and then I would make goat milk lattes in the morning. It was so delicious and comforting, and even though I am well into adulthood, coffee is so adult.
I bought some beans for the Hubster for Christmas, they were small batch and expertly roasted. They had actual tasting notes like plum, honey, and hibiscus flower, and when it was brewed you could taste plum, honey, and whatever hibiscus flowers are supposed to taste like. I bought him a third of a pound that cost close to $40 and it had tasting notes of hops, I didn't know that this is what coffee was actually supposed to taste like. I always thought is was bitter, volcanic, jet fuel that needed to be tamed with heavy cream and the odd squirt of vanilla or maple syrup (I eventually worked my way away from sugar somewhere in high school but still enjoyed a sweetened latte from time to time). I drank the hoppy coffee black. I tweeted about it, and the roaster replied, "Welcome to the dark side".
|Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com/@ronaldoav|
My sister was over the other day and asked what the contraption on our counter was. I explained the pour over method and her eyes went from interested to border-line disgusted that we would put so much time and effort into our morning brew. We had returned home from a road trip to a broken kettle, the switch wouldn't stay on (unbeknownst to me this trip was just a giant coffee exploration - we came home with no souvenirs but four bags of coffee from different roasters). When I told this sister that we needed a new kettle she thought nothing of it, but we couldn't go back, now was our chance to get the gooseneck with one degree temperature variations. She couldn't believe what we were willing to pay to have this tool. I explained that the Hubster wanted a scale and to become really precise, because real aficionados weigh their coffee and water to get the best cup. I told her that I drew the line and said that was a bit high maintenance even for this process (I have already begun pricing out scales for his upcoming birthday).
Inside her head she was laughing at us. Had I have made her a cup of coffee she would have understood.
The beauty in all of this is that I am not brewing a pot of jet fuel anymore. It is a small batch of deliciously flavoured flavonoids, antioxidants, and happiness in a cup. I can only make small batches so I cannot overdose. It's controlled substance abuse. I also have to enjoy it in that moment and savour it. It's a ritual and a pleasure to experience in the morning, rather than simply a means to an awakened-state end.
Although on the days that the Hubster doesn't brew in the morning, I make myself a bit extra and jitter happily, doing donkey kicks off the table throughout the day.