New persons in the coffee community usually ask for more new things to be excited about coffee. Unlike coffee nerds, which find excitement over coffee just by the fact that they can be made at home.
We provide you 3 reasons to be excited about coffee right now. Coffee noobs and nerds, be ready to get pumped out with this exciting news.
New Microroasters Are Popping Up Everywhere
Coffee is one of the most complex things we consume: The beans themselves contain thousands—thousands!—of volatile aromatic compounds. That is many more than red wine, in fact. And things like botanical variety, terroir, processing, harvesting, roasting, and brewing all play an instrumental role in how the end product tastes once it reaches you.
Roasting is a huge part of that, and makes for a dynamic field of options indeed: The same coffee imported and roasted by two different companies can be like night and day, or apples and oranges, or coffee and…coffee.
The more startup roasters there are to keep us in beans, then, the better able we are to explore what the science and art of roasting can do to a coffee. Regional and taste differences abound, thankfully and deliciously: San Francisco’s little guys continue to rock the area’s Scandinavian-style light-roast obsession; Portland, ME is getting into the game in a bootstrappy DIY way with Tandem Coffee Roasters; and our own intrepid Liz Clayton just keyed us in on a host of small-batch roasters who are bringing naturally processed coffees and a huge array of varieties to the Windy City.
A rising tide of great new roasters floats all our coffee-loving boats. The more the merrier, and don’t fear the e-commerce from some of the newbies. Buying freshly roasted coffee online is like getting yourself a present and taking a mini vacation in your kitchen.
Excited About Coffee – Competitions Are in Full Swing
Barista competitions are righteous and awesome, and now is the time to tune in to the regional rounds taking place all over the U.S.A., almost all of which are available to watch via live streaming.
The format is fun without being, you know, too over the top. Each barista has to prepare, serve, and explain three flights of drinks. Single espresso, single cappuccino, and a signature drink of his or her own design. To a panel of four sensory, two technical, and one head judge, who rate the beverages on taste, balance, appearance, and synergy.
The baristas themselves come under scrutiny as well: Does she describe where the coffee comes from? Does he give clear instructions on how to drink this fancy-looking coffee mocktail? Is that a smudge on that glass? Why didn’t the judges get water glasses or napkins from the competitor? And, they have to do it all in 15 minutes without losing points or being disqualified. It’s tougher than it might sound!
Besides the coffee drama, one of the very best things about barista competitions is that at any given moment, in your local café, you might have your espresso or latte prepared for you by a champ: Unlike the famous chefs splattered all over TV, these folks are actually on the line and on the regular. They may train like Rocky after-hours—tasting shot after shot, tweaking recipes, perfecting their presentations, buying and polishing dishware, doing run-through for anyone who will listen. But by daytime, they’re the same friendly face you see every morning across the espresso machine.
Regional barista champions worldwide then meet in a springtime global competition: The World Barista Championship.
South American Coffees Are Coming Back in Season
Every year ’round this time, we start to get palate fatigue from the big, bold, cirtus-bomb Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees. These coffees dominate everybody’s menus everywhere. While I might love a delicate, floral brew as much as the next guy, once the weather starts to get despair-worthy I like to return to the warm, cherry-cola sweetness and buttery, melted-chocolate body of a nice washed Colombian or Peruvian.
Check out brand-new South American offerings from Intelligentsia Coffee (try their certified organic Bolivian coffee, Anjilanaka), MadCap Coffee Roasters (a lovely lot produced by Colombian coffee farmer Didier Reinoso, or something fresh from my folks at Counter Culture Coffee.