Coffee thoughts on New Year’s Eve
Seattle has no hidden gems for espresso, but it has 10 places that are amazing over and over again: Analog, Delia, Empire, Milstead, Stumptown, Tougo, Victrola, Vita, Vivace.
Some people keep saying how yummy burned coffee is while others complain they can only find bright acidity offerings and no balance anymore.
Taste is not a measurement of quality because it is subjective. Quality food is the one which has the most nutrients from seed to plate. Rich soil and appropriate climate, no harmful fertilizers, quick transport from origin, no harmful additions during processing, no destructive preparation. Same with coffee from seed to cup. Assuming all the rest was done and properly, TDS, extraction yield, brew ratio might be a measurement of quality on the preparation end because they ensure that all flavors that could be extracted really have been. On the other side, numbers are no guarantee of how good anything will taste.
Water is 95% of the coffee, so you better get your water right.
Baristas become bartenders as soon as their craft cocktail careers take off, what I’m sure is much more rewarding.
Minimum wage is OK for baristas who work part-time to pay their college, but those who want to have a career for the rest of their lives should be able earn much more than that. Coffee shop owners should pay more the more certifications a barista has and the SCAA/BGA should offer continued learning opportunities to those who have all certifications.
Of course coffee shop owners can and should only pay proportionally to the revenue an employee brings in. Some stars do attract a lot of fashion victims and barista groupies with their hipster talk, but is that all?
The idea of a differentiated experience is taking form. There are $1 burgers for when your broke and hungry and $25 burgers for once in a lifetime special occasions. Customers who think that it’s only coffee should be able to pay less and customers who think it’s more than that should be willing to pay more. It doesn’t need to be a circus performance with liquid nitrogen by appointment only, so I’m looking forward to what the creative minds will come up with in 2013.
In the end, there are only two things that matter: knowledge and love. If you know what you’re doing and do it with enthusiasm and care, there will be happy customers.
Favorite coffee personalities of the year: Llewellyn Sinclair, James Hoffmann, Tim Wendelboe, Colin Harmon, Steve Leighton, Nick Cho, Mark Prince.
New Year’s Update on Taste and Quality
Human perception is relative and fundamentally flawed because someone might disagree with us, so the only way to taste coffee in the way it was meant to be tasted is to taste it with a machine. Machines are perfect, and by using proprietary algorithms we can finally unlock the mystery that has plagued humanity since that Ethiopian goat-herder kid first slacked-off on the job: is my coffee good?