Want To Be A Coffee Aficionado? Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know
Written by: Garrett Oden
You’ve tasted what coffee can be. You’ve seen the light. Now you want to learn more, to dive in, to become a true coffee aficionado.
Welcome to the wonderful world of specialty coffee. To embark on this next stage of your coffee journey, there are a few things you need to know. You may already be somewhat aware of them, but to call yourself an aficionado, you need to be intimate with them.
You need to know them like the back of your hand.
These things will drive you knowledge of coffee up to a new level. These things will give you the tools to brew incredible coffee in numerous ways. These things will give you a global perspective that the world - especially the world’s coffee industry - needs right now.
Become a coffee aficionado. Embrace your destiny.
Let me show you what you need to know.
1. Manual Coffee Brewers Are Worth Exploring
The regular auto drip coffee pot is where most of us begin, but it’s not where we should end. To reach the next level, you’re going to have to move on from from the regular coffee pot.
Read: Why You Should Ditch Your Drip Coffee Pot For A French Press
There’s a richness to manual coffee brewers that cannot be matched by drip brewers. They get you close and personal with your coffee. They force you to embrace a moment of focus and calm while you carefully brew. They give you an avenue to appreciate the little things in life - even things as simple as brewing coffee.
Sure, it’s hard to beat the convenience of dropping grounds into a drip brewer, but convenience isn’t the end goal for coffee aficionados. An incredible coffee experience from beginning to end is the goal.
This aficionado-worthy experience begins with grinding the coffee and ends when the last sip is complete. It’s a period of time that draws you into the aromas, sights, and flavors. It’s an experience of mindful brewing and rich reward.
Read: The Golden Ratios in Coffee Brewing
French presses, pour over cones, the Aeropress - every manual coffee brewer works differently and introduces you to your coffee in a new way. Every manual brewing teaches you different things about coffee. Every coffee brewer produces a slightly different result.
French press coffee is heavy and robust. Pour over coffee is lighter and brighter. Aeropress coffee can be anything you want it to be.
Manual brewers are in the midst of a renaissance, and it’s not difficult to see why. They produce a coffee experience that is deeply satisfying in multiple ways.
Read: How Manual Coffee Brewing Can Change Your Life
2. Tasting Coffee Is A Skill You Should Learn
Coffees from Ethiopia and Indonesia taste widely different. Let’s get even closer.
Coffees from Guatemala and Honduras can taste very different. Even closer.
Coffees across the valley from each other in Panama can taste very different.
Coffee is an agricultural product. Its flavor is heavily dependent on the plant’s environment. The soil, climate, health and variety of the plant, the harvesting and processing methods - these all contribute to the diverse range of flavors that coffee can feature.
Ever tasted coffee that had rich aromas of blueberry or rose? Ever tasted coffee with a note of sweet pepper, honey, or cardamom? They’re out there, but you’ll miss them if your taste buds aren’t awake and ready.
I cannot recommend more passionately that you learn to taste coffee. It’s a skill that will take some developing, but it’ll produce lifelong rewards.
Learning to taste coffee well increases your appreciation for the coffee ands its farmers. This skill increases your gratitude for the little things in general. And, to be frank, it’ll boost your coffee aficionado status greatly.
Check out complete guide to learning to taste coffee like a pro.
3. Terrible Coffee Products Abound - Avoid Them
The dramatic popularity of coffee around the globe has inspired a variety of gimmicky products to launch in the last 100 years. They’re everywhere. Avoid them. See past the lies, deception, and cheap quality.
Steam espresso machines mimic the design of the original espresso machine created over 100 years ago. They’re sold at big box stores today, but the funny thing is that nobody even liked them when they were first created. The original espresso machine was a major flop, but you can easily find them for $50-100 today.
Weight loss coffee is rapidly gaining popularity, despite making zero sense. It’s all marketing. All coffee, as long as it’s caffeinated and not drank with sugar or cream, encourages slightly quickened calorie burning, especially right before a workout. There’s absolutely nothing unique or special about coffee labeled as “weight loss coffee”.
Drip brewers with “customizable settings” are coffee makers that are designed to give you a sense of control over your coffee. But most of the settings on those things, even more expensive models, are misleading. They don’t teach you anything about your coffee or give you even close to the kind of control you can have with manual brewers.
Single Serve Auto Machines such as Keurig, Nespresso, and Verissimo are everywhere. They’re convenient, but they lack any other respectable quality. The coffee is stale and bland compared to freshly roasted and ground coffee from a local roaster. In 2015, used k-cup waste would wrap the earth 7 times. Cups from these machines are just expensive gas station coffee.
4. Your Buying Habits Affect Coffee Farmers
The way you buy coffee can have a dramatic effect on coffee farmers around the world - and the current global coffee market is in some trouble.
Coffee farmers are leaving their livelihood to grow other, more profitable crops. In Bolivia, many are leaving to grow coca (a cocaine stimulant). In Ethiopia, they don’t have the resources to adapt to climate change. Across the globe farmers are barely making ends meet.
Read: What Makes Specialty Coffee Special?
Buying your coffee from roasters that prioritize economic and environmental sustainability is a small thing you can do to play a role in improving the lives of millions. Buying your coffee from opaque roasters who don’t give you information about the coffee’s origin and keep the farmers hidden is an easy way to stop great roasters from doing good work.
Find roasters that are transparent about their sourcing practices and have a track record for responsible local efforts towards sustainability. I encourage you to check out Onyx Coffee Lab, Intelligentsia, Equator, and Amavida.
5. Don’t Buy Anything Other Than Whole Bean Coffee
Say it with me: nothing beats whole bean coffee.
Coffee beans are at peak freshness for 2-3 weeks after being roasted. During this stage, they’re ripe with flavor, rich aromas are flowing from them, the acids are clean and crisp, and they brew coffee that’s deeply satisfying.
This is the kind of coffee that gives you life on difficult mornings. It’s the kind of coffee that sings to your taste buds.
And it’s so easy to get.
A home coffee grinder is the easiest and only way to have coffee this fresh. You can’t do it any other way. Pre-ground coffee leaves peak freshness after only 30 minutes of being ground. It’s stale before you even buy the bag. You don’t want that coffee.
Ask any coffee aficionado what their most important coffee gear is and they’ll all say the same thing: their coffee grinder. Really. It’s the most important part.
Only buy whole beans and grind them every time you brew if you want to experience coffee that’s blow-your-mind delicious. They’re a quick, rewarding step that will raise your coffee’s quality so dramatically that you’ll never look back.
Grab yourself a JavaPresse Burr Coffee Grinder. We created this home grinder to be light, small, and extremely powerful. It can produce coffee grounds for french press, espresso, and everything in between without breaking the bank.
Stellar coffee is out there waiting for you. Get yourself a grinder and let the fun begin.
Ah, thank you for this fun informational insight. I am new to the coffee industry and would love to be a coffee aficionado. I had experienced a cupping training, never thought getting flavors a single cup of coffee would be hard.
Bravo! I smiled through the whole post going YES! While I do own a Keurig I am a French Press gal all the way. Wonderful insight and education.