25 February, 2010

Oh the beautiful little....seed?

It's really not a bean...it's a seed. Coffee is a fruit seed. Nevertheless, if these seeds are done right, they carry quite an intriguingly, obsessive following. I'm one of those obsessives.

The picture above is of my ceramic single cup drip and my Stumptown mug. All the oils blooming on top are a response to hot water, making it very clear that the coffee is fresh.

Coffee is quite the complex agriculture product. Coffee cherries are grown at high elevations, picked, de-pulped, dried, shipped, roasted, ground, and carefully brewed in a number of different ways. The complex journey of this seed into your cup rivals the complexity of flavor one can experience within the cup itself. With double the flavor compounds of red wine, coffee is one of the most complex drinks we consume as far as taste buds are concerned.

**Although, too often we drink coffee that simple tastes of carbonized oil infused by the actual roaster, not the flavor qualities naturally present within the bean. Burnt toast all tastes the same ;). **

There's a wonderful balance between science & art, technique & sense, so present with coffee. It's incredibly sensual and kinesthetic, all your senses engaged. A long day preparing espresso leaves my hands ingrained with pleasant oils that are exposed as these roasted seeds are crushed, oils from remote regions of Africa, Indonesia, and Central America.

It becomes a tangible as well as emotional pleasure and appreciation. We should think twice before we easily disregard the importance and complexity of that which we eat and drink daily, of those subtleties we risk missing in the food and drink that bless us from the ground; from God. I sometimes become frustrated with how insignificant we have made food and how significant we bless technology or material possessions. Is it at all ironic that we watch football on systems of entertainment costing thousands of dollars while eating hot dogs that cost us a dollar a pack?

As I've returned to Portland there's been a slight anxiousness within me to begin making great coffee for people again. I've been working a bit at a cafe that a friend owns and just today finished a second interview with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, here in SE Portland. I should hear whether I get a position with Stumptown within a few days. I'm hoping it works out - Stumptown is a great company, committed to people and great coffee.

-Jonathan William

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