Why I’m not a coffee geek

Alta Badia - David Gray - lores-42

I was recently immersed in the art of making coffee at home by the excellent Cornish coffee company: Origin (who brew and source their own beans). The course was called Home Brewing and I naively thought that this would sort out my home coffee making which ranges from dark and undrinkable, to weak and undrinkable.

Instead I was taught to make coffee in three different ways, using three different types of coffee maker that I had never heard of before: the syphon (a bunsen burner with extras) an aeropress (a massive syringe that creates a vacuum) and the V60 (a cup and saucer-shaped apparatus with a hole in it) for decanting or ‘dripping’ coffee.

All three make delicious coffee – from strong espresso to a light, almost tea-like, fruity version. The knowledge and skills imparted were consummate. My only complaint? It is massively unlikely that I will ever have the time or the will to make such a coffee at home.

Why? Firstly, I’m not a man and I don’t have a beard; 2) because it’s complicated, really complicated; 3) because Cornish cafés are making some bleddy excellent coffees these days on machines that are the price of a small car. And it would be foolish to try and compete.

So what on earth happened in the space between those carefree Nescafé days and the angst-ridden, pseudo-science of today’s coffee drinking? How did we move so quickly from doily-clad tables, plastic flowers and one type of filter coffee strong enough to blow your eyebrows off to hand-chalked menus and more artisanal coffees than France or Italy have ever needed? And yes, you will be shot if you ask for a decaf tea.

Now it’s all flat white or, for the super cool and beardy, a filtered coffee that is closer to a tea and DEFINITELY not drunk with milk. Terroir is all – where the bean comes from – and to complicate a menu that is already challenging to older members of the public (my dad now begs for ‘just a coffee’ when I take him to such places), there is often a hand-chalked list of countries from where the beans have been sourced.

I enjoy a good cup of coffee but my fantasy coffee? A shot of espresso in a large cup of hot milk into which I can happily dunk a croissant and after that, many other croissants. Because of the large quantity of milk, the quality of the actual coffee is negligible – it doesn’t matter to me that it has a good crema (the golden thin layer of foam on top of a good espresso) whether it’s from Robusta or Arabica beans or even if it has been pooped out of a monkey’s bottom.

I am in awe of a good barista because I have tried it and it is very very difficult to get right. But (shh) I don’t even like coffee that much! And what about tea? When are we about to get all geeky and scientific over a cuppa? I am still waiting for the tea revolution… .



The God coffee – religious experience or dodgy sect?

IMG_5382Since I mentioned the ‘God coffee’ in a previous blog, it has aroused a certain degree of curiosity from my readers. No one has heard of it. Not even Google. Search for the term and the gods of cyberspace give you Starbuck’s markets more ‘anti-God’ coffee cups (sounds more exciting than it is), a Welcome to God’s Coffee store, followed by images for God’s coffee (characters genuflecting in front of a giant coffee maker) and a blog posting entitled, The false god of coffee tracking one man’s attempt to stop drinking it. Tap in the word ‘God shot’ however and you get what I may be talking about (thank you @relishcornwall). Read More