What do a Cappuccino with two sugars, roasting a Colombian Single Origin in to rolling second crack and Matt Perger's 2013 WBC routine all have in common? These were all inspirational "Aha!" coffee moments in my life, where my coffee journey took another dramatic turn for the better. I have spoken about these moments every so often on YouTube, but after the commentary on last week's 'Why I love Nespresso' blog, I thought it would be a good subject to talk about once again.
You see, I like to think that every person who drinks coffee is on a journey - whether they know it or not. For me my journey took it's first fork in the road with an old style, frothy cappuccino. If I were to taste the same coffee today, I'd probably be bitterly disappointed, but at the time it seemed silky, and velvety smooth. I remember looking out over the ocean as I slowly reincorporated the froth in to my drink with a spoon, made by the barista I was crushing on at the time.
I have had other moments like these, but the next big one was dropping my first coffee roast - which was a few years ago now. I remember at the time, I used to think I knew a lot about coffee, and standing by the roaster I suddenly felt like I knew nothing again. Although a little daunting, it was also very exciting. I remember being shown a few minute details changing in the bean as it went through first crack and development, and not being able to see at all the changes that were taking place. The other day I was back at my old work, where they still have the old Probat we used at the time on display. Again, I've since learnt a lot about coffee and it's not necessarily the same way I roast coffee now, but it was a huge moment and turning point at the time!
The last moment I want to talk about is Matt Perger's 2013 WBC routine. If you haven't seen it, I give you permission to navigate away from this page to go and watch it right now. Actually, don't do that, I'll post the video here so you don't have to leave. I remember sitting and watching in awe as the things I knew about coffee were turned upside down. It was probably a few months after I had started roasting, so again, I was just starting to think I knew what I was talking about again when I was introduced to the high end of specialty coffee. The whole WBC experience was such an eye opener, but Matt's routine inspired me again to push myself to keep learning. Actually, if you take the time to watch the video, you might be able to spot me in the crowd!
So why am I bringing up these moments? There are a couple of reasons actually. Firstly, I have noticed that as I continue along my coffee journey, these moments are less frequent and probably less impactful. It's obviously a little disappointing, but I think it's something that we should all be wary of, and remember to acknowledge and appreciate that we are so lucky to drink amazing coffee every day. I am excited for the day I get the opportunity to travel to origin, as I feel this is probably where I'll get my next significant 'Aha!' moment. Maybe though I'll be pleasantly surprised right here in my own back yard.
Secondly, I think it's important to recognise as career coffee professionals, what we should be trying to do is create these moments for our customers. This could be as simple as trying to make the best cappuccino with two sugars you can, or as complex as explaining differences between processing methods, and how these differences affect what the customer will taste in the cup. Every coffee drinker is on their own journey, and if we want the specialty coffee industry to expand to greater heights, we need customers to choose to spend their money with us, and for us to then use that money to try and better ourselves, and take things to the next level again!
Lastly, and this one navigates back to last week's blog, it is important to understand where people are at on their journey, try hard to guide them on the right path, but more importantly be sure to never ostracise anyone who may not happen to be as experienced as you. If you had sat Cappuccino-with-two-sugars me down in front of a tea-like Geisha variety syphon coffee, I would have simply told you that I don't drink tea, or at the least asked why I couldn't have it with milk and sugars. Fast forward, and coffee is a majority of my life, but back then, who would know what a pretentious scoff would have done? Perhaps I would have shrugged it off, or perhaps it would have bumped me on a path towards a venti caramel macchiato.
Matt Perger's 2013 WBC Routine - as posted by World Coffee Events.