Might the Coffee Nerds Be Right?
It must be said right up front: coffee is a utilitarian beverage that exists mainly to wake you up. Therefore, treating coffee as some delicate wine-like treat that can only be appreciated by a select group of gourmands is absurd. Or is it?
It is. It really is. Imagine, if you will, a 25 year-old professional barista sidling up to, say, a middle-aged construction worker on his way to work at 6 a.m.—a construction worker who has been drinking coffee for longer than said barista has been alive, and who actually needs the coffee for a physical purpose. And imagine that barista looking that construction worker dead in the face and telling him, "You don't understand coffee. You don't appreciate coffee."
I submit to you that any whippersnapper who could truly feel comfortable saying such a thing is a profound asshole.
I also submit to you that the difference between the world's most expensive cup of coffee and a cup of Folger's that I make in the morning in my shitty drip coffee machine is really not that much, when you get right down to it. They both taste like coffee. Maybe the good coffee is 20% better tasting than the average coffee. Fine. That's not a respectable margin upon which to base an entire lifestyle.
I believe these things to be true. And I drink enough coffee that I will enthusiastically argue these points with anyone, until I run out of coffee. Still... you hang around a god damn place like New York City long enough, with all its prosperous coffee bars and roasting operations and tastings and cuppings and staggeringly credulous news stories, and you wonder, hey, with all this ruckus, might these off-putting and obsessed coffee snobs be onto something?
“When the morning shift comes in at 5:30 a.m., they’ll cup the coffees,” said Mr. Morrissey, who won the prestigious World Barista Championship when he was working for Square Mile Coffee Roasters. “Then they’ll pick how to make it. It’s not that one brewer is better than another brewer. It’s that they might decide, ‘I’m loving the toffee notes in this, I bet it’ll be awesome in a Cafe Solo,’ ” he said, referring to a kind of brewer...
“Sometimes you want a heftier cup,” Mr. Morrissey said. “Other times you may want to celebrate other characteristics of the coffee, the more floral notes, the delicate acidity.”
Mmm... no. If I sat around all morning meditating upon the feel of one pair of socks on my feet versus the feel of another pair of socks on my feet, I'd have some flowery things to say about socks, too. But from a more reasonable perspective, I'd still be wasting my life, meditating upon a single mundane and rather superfluous item. "Yeah, he's a sock guy. He's really into socks. Knows tons of sock trivia," people would say, politely. "We're really trying to find him a date. Do you know anyone? No?"
I'm sure the coffee is good and all though.
I guess that person would say the same about wine lovers?
The guy has a point. Comfortable socks are hard to find. I only buy socks made with specialty cotton that have been hand woven. Worth it every time. I really need to spend more time thinking about socks. There's a whole world of foot sheathing out there.
The guys points can applied to everything, and therefore mean nothing.
Whats with all these pomp men in Saville Row going on about their suits and fabric. I've been wearing clothes for decades and mine work fine.
Whats with all these pomp Italians and their over engineered super cars. I've been driving for decades and my car works fine.
Not to mention he writes for a website, that continually writes about useless gadgets, that do everything the same just slightly "better".
Essentially the guys an idiot, there are afficiandos for almost EVERYTHING in life. You don't have to "get" them, but don't ridicule them.
One thing I admire about the Japanese culture is their attention to detail and the care with which the traditional lifestyle adherents approached things we blunder through and accept 2nd best as good enough. I come from a different culture and so couldn't live their lifestyle, but that doesn't stop me from attempting to adopt the same 'Quality' focus some of them have to even mundane things in life.
There is a rather poor film called Last Samurai with Tom Cruise - for all the schlock, it is worth watching just for the view of the village where the warriors live. There is another I can't recall the name of which looks at a warrior who holds true to his choices even to death and another called (I think) 13 Assassins which also provides a view of the honour with which they live.
I could sit like most people and scoff at those life choices, put down the culture that produced the horrors of war we saw in the first half of the 20th century and dismiss all that could come from such a world, but I choose instead to see the care, the honour and the quality of their lives.
The coffee culture is at least as refined as wine cultures; it is easy to find cause to slag off at such people, and a lot harder to NOT be one of them and still find something to admire in people who care about the quality they choose to allow in at least one facet of their lives. Some people will happily eat Maccas and cast unwarranted aspersion on those who choose a better quality of food to eat; just because one is willing to ignore choices for quality does not mean those who make such choices are wasting their time.
I could have just written, "What a dickhead" but choosing to express and explain myself fully is one such choice I make.
I like to think there is a chance that maybe just one person, seeing how I write, MIGHT make a choice to avoid the txtspk so prevalent these days and actually use the English language at some approximation of its beauty and power and if so, I have justification for my choice.
Ignore the slings and arrows of those unfortunate enough to never have made choices for quality in their lives and let your choices be examples of how to honour Quality in a life seeing far too many compromises.
I submit to you that any whippersnapper who could truly feel comfortable saying such a thing (about afficionados, aka coffee snobs) is a profound asshole.
he describes himself with his own words.
People who chase the last 1% of anything are looked upon as snobs with an unnecessary obsession by people who aren't interested, usually. Coffee, audio, cars, wine, food.
By my measure, the extent to which you're an asshole is directly proportional to the extent to which you feel/act like you're better than other people because of it, nothing more.
Saying that having a physical need for stimulant drugs isn't usually treated as "experience" so I'm not convinced by that argument either. It's also like saying that someone who's been driving for 40 years with no thought to technique given beyond that required to pass the test must be a better than someone who seeks to improve their skill and expertise over the first ten years behind the wheel.
"The rest of the world" might not understand someone's love for great coffee, but if they act like you're an asshole it's probably just because you're being an asshole about it. Not that I can say I make truly great coffee, but if someone's over at my place I'll make them one with as many sugars/cream/milk/fluff as they want as long as it's what they want. Just like I don't go around trying to drill into my basshead friends that they might appreciate a lot of details they're missing if they turned their f'ing sub down so they could actually hear the music...
Just because it is not perfect doesn't mean it is not good.
How worked up and agitated you are going to get trying to get perfection is a personal thing.
Does it make you happy?
I only strive for perfection in serious things like coffee, photography and FISHING.