Monday, April 20, 2009

Complexities

I just returned from a heavily-caffeinated weekend at the World Barista Competition and Coffee Conference in Atlanta. An interesting mix of people showed up, most falling somewhere in between the lazily cool baristas with big glasses and conglomo-coffee guys with those silly blue tooth things in their ears. Oh yeah, and lots of internationals came out. I got to charlar with some Hondureños and Guatemaltecos about their coffee.

The most interesting part for me was the education. Counter Culture was constantly setting up cupping sessions and giving lectures on the farmers they work with. I'm starting to understand that coffee is incredibly complex. There is so much involved in turning a coffee cherry into a drink: soil and national borders and climate and processing methods and cooperatives and international economics and genetic varieties and birds and countless human hands and cultures... the world starts to open up a bit. (a thought: it seems like the world gets poorer and poorer as you get closer the equator. An over-generalization? But I think that agriculturally-based people are always getting the short end, which is why the transition to fairly traded coffee is so important.)

Other set-ups included huge roasters, espresso machines like 50's convertibles, coffee samples from dozens of countries and roast profiles, and so on. I'll spare the minutiae, except for this new way to pull espresso: the paddle group. Instead of pressing a button, which puts full pressure on the coffee from start to finish, the paddle lets the barista gradually increase the pressure of the water. The end product is way different, too. The espresso comes out thick and syrupy, and the flavor keeps swelling in your mouth.


The coloration above is called tiger-striping, and it shows a certain dynamic between the water and coffee, like they are humming in unison. It makes me think of fireworks.
I'm not sure why, but coffee continues to pull me along.

2 comments:

Counter Culture Coffee said...

Thank you very much for your appreciation of Counter Culture Coffee's SCAA booth! If you're ever in Atlanta; Charlotte; Asheville; Durham, NC; Washington, DC; near Philly; or New York on a Friday at 10.a.m., please join us for a cupping.

Best,
Nathan
Counter Culture Coffee
www.counterculturecoffee.com

laura said...

gradual swelling of flavor...i like it :) it's like...subconscious awareness and then it's there. and you keep getting stronger sensations. but it's not an explosion...it's gradual. maybe like life? you look back on things and realize how far you've come. realize how much more you understand. how you've grown. but, it takes time- almost hardly moving at all, but definitely moving. mmm