Coffee as Community

The heart desires neither coffee or a coffeehouse. The heart desires a companion, coffee is but the excuse. —Turkish proverb

There are those who drink coffee and those who are coffee geeks. I am in the latter camp. As a true aficionado, I’ve enjoyed connecting with others in the coffee community both locally and in my travels. The simple pleasure of a good cup of coffee is enhanced by being part of something bigger. Consider:

  • Coffee has a global culture that encompasses place, people, knowledge and even its own language.
  • The craft of coffee is truly farm-to-table. Every step from growing beans to harvesting to roasting to brewing requires mastery that contributes to that final, perfect cup.
  • One coffee tree produces about a pound of coffee per year. It’s important to me to recognize and appreciate this offering from nature.

I’m frequently asked questions about my passion for coffee. Here are my answers to the most common.

What is my favorite method of brewing?

Hands down, pour over. This got me going on my most recent cycle of coffee loving. A visit to Kickapoo Coffee Roasters (Viroqua, Wisconsin) was the starting point. But even more importantly, it was connecting with Kyle Johnson, the co-founder of Johnson Public House (Madison, Wisconsin). He reinforced the education and convinced me of the importance of water quality and precision (to my wife’s incredulity, I actually brought home water from JPH several times). It’s a chemistry thing after all—using water to extract flavor from the coffee beans. The formula is simple: quality ingredients (coffee and water) + a precise method (by weight, with careful timing) = a high quality output. Of course, to get started, you need the right equipment.

What is my favorite coffee?

I used to favor darker roasts. My current preference has shifted to lighter roasts. Done right, the nuances of the coffee is almost like wine. The fruity-type flavors come out. Ethiopia Yirgachefffe is one region typically of this style. However, just ask the barista for “bright, acidic or fruity.” To be honest, I don’t ask anymore, the great folks at Johnson Public House just tell me what I should get! There are so many new options becoming available with the burgeoning “third wave” of coffee.

Drawing and photo by Mark Baker

Drawing and photo by Mark Baker

What are some of my favorite coffee houses?

There are different coffee houses for different reasons. Just for quality coffee or espresso, or for great ambiance—a combination of environment, people watching/listening or a third place to meet people or focus on work. Ideally, it’s a combination of both.


Weekly Download 14.5

download-158006_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

Ritzier Coffee Brews Contract Conflicts.  Increased demand and reduced supply is driving up prices on premium coffee.

Chicago coffee shops aim to brew perfect cup. As a pour-over aficionado, I can attest to the noticeably better taste generated by this handcrafted method.