One of the reason I wanted to attend Coffee Common here in New York was for the learning aspect. I’m not a coffee freak. I don’t roast, grind or treat my coffee making process like it’s a science experiment and it’s not that I thought less of people that do but I was merely oblivious to all the other brewing methods that existed, so it was easy to characterize anything unfamiliar as weird.
To give you a quick overview of what the 3-day event was about, “Coffee Common brought together world-class baristas and roasters with shared values, to create unique experiences that introduced people to the nuanced joys of exceptional coffee”.
I spent the first 45 minutes walking around tasting and being schooled and I dedicated the second half of my stay to photographing.
Aside from the $5 entry fee, all you needed to participate was to grab an empty tasting cup at the entrance and the ability to forget everything you knew about coffee and ask questions as if you knew nothing.
Funny enough, prior to visiting, the last couple of days had been pretty intense as I voluntarily filled my head with constant knowledge that quickly began obliterating the off the mark perception I’ve had about how this warm beverage should be enjoyed.
It’s all really a matter of preference. There’s no right or wrong way on how to enjoy coffee but there’s an awareness that develops once you’ve been clued into the various processes, purposes, results and everything in between about how coffee actually taste like once you eliminate everything we’ve been taught to put into it.
Growing up, all I ever knew about coffee was that it bared an unpleasant taste up until the point where you saturate it with milk and sugar. Almost everyone describes themselves a coffee lover but after today, I can’t help wonder if they really know what it takes to be called a “real coffee lover”.
I’m the typical person that would drink a cup of joe without having the slightest capability to distinguish between good coffee and a watery drink and I believe that’s mainly because taste has always been secondary.
Coffee for me has always served 2 purposes: To plunge my favorite gingerbread cookies in and to keep myself warm when I’ve been out in the cold too long. That’s it. It’s mostly through Shawn that I’ve learned about specialty coffee and thought less about commodity coffee such as the one we all buy at Dunkin Donuts or at the corner store.
Because of the lack of knowledge, I’m probably the last person to ask advice about making a good cup of coffee but I’ve learned that once you find yourself in a room with people that at least have an interest to want to know more about this beverage, it’s almost impossible not to feel that tasting unfamiliar coffee requires a little intellectual engagement about how great it is in comparison to the crap we’ve been drinking all along.
I tasted Colombian, Guatemalan and Bolivian coffee and following some light conversation with the baristas that had prepared them, I realized that a true coffee lover is that person who’s fully aware of the genuine taste of coffee beans and can effectively describe it’s bitterness, it’s acidity and any other foreign characteristic it may have. I learned today that I shouldn’t be afraid of adding cream to my coffee because doing so will not alter the original taste of the coffee bean.
Regardless of where I may have purchased it, it’s no wonder every single cup of coffee I’ve had has always tasted the same to me. It’s because I haven’t been tasting the coffee per say. It’s been the sugary milk that’s kept me coming back all this time.
If it’s not decent photographs that I walked away with from visiting Coffee Common today, I can at least say that it’s a new found of appreciation for coffee that left me satisfied.