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How I Learn About Speciality Coffee

Published on under the Coffee category.

It’s a lazy Sunday and I’m sitting at my window thinking about the world. I’ve spent some time over the last week gradually reading more about speciality coffee. I took a break from following speciality coffee while I was on vacation. I find that sometimes my hobbies can become overwhelming. A break was a good reminder of how fun coffee can be. I don’t need to think about coffee much. I just need to put the time in when I am brewing to make a good cup.

I sent an email to Steampunk Coffee about coffee communities. I’m looking for more places where I can learn about coffee. So far, my coffee learning experience has been somewhat solitary. I’ve been stuck at home for a large part of this year. I’ve spoken with baristas every now and again but my conversations are usually constrained by time. I don’t want to speak for too long because another customer might enter.

Drinking and Brewing Coffee

I spend so much time thinking about speciality coffee. I sometimes forget that the best way for me to learn is to drink and brew coffee. I’ve been puzzled by a cup of coffee that I am presently drinking. I’ve been unable to fully extract the flavors from the Liberacion coffee from Union Coffee. This is the first time that my Aeropress recipe has failed a coffee. It took me a long time to realize that my recipe may be the problem. Before that, I was concerned that I’d lost my brewing touch. I bought this coffee after I had been away on holiday. When I was on holiday, I was not as focused on each cup of coffee I brewed.

I learned more in the cupping session I attended a few weeks ago than I have from many of the articles I’ve read online. Being part of a cupping session let me learn about the cupping process. More than that, I was able to taste coffees comparatively. I’d never done this until the cupping. I enjoyed comparing coffees side-by-side to see what flavors I liked best and which flavors were not interesting to me. I liked all the coffees I tried but I liked each one for a different reason. I took notes on what the instructor said. I haven’t gone back to those notes but they did help me write a blog post about my cupping.

Reading Books

I’ve read two books about coffee. The first coffee book I picked up was The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman. I have learned about half of the book is more of a reference guide. I didn’t read the second half because I was not interested in reading about each coffee region. Some of the details in the region sections can get quite technical. The first section of the book was worth the money in itself. I learned about the different varietals of coffee. I learned about different brewing processes. I picked up a tip or two about how to brew with the Aeropress.

I also read The Philosophy of Coffee. This book is smaller than The World Atlas of Coffee. I finished it in a morning or two. I liked the book because it was well-researched and gave a detailed history of coffee. I learned that coffee’s association with Islam was a big reason that coffee became so popular. I learned how influential the television show Friends was in helping coffee shops become seen as a third place. It was a nice morning read.

Online Articles and Guides

Articles and guides have made up most of my research into the world of coffee. This is because there is so much information available online. I’d love to try an in-person brew class to learn about coffee but that is off the cards at the moment. I’ve relied on a number of YouTube videos, brew guides, and blog posts from coffee lovers and roasters to help me learn about coffee.

I started reading brew guides when I first got my Aeropress. My first recipe was a combination of tips from Starbucks and Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Both companies had video guides on their websites. Stumptown had a written guide to accompany their video which was useful as a reference. I do not read brew guides as often now because I’ve already refined my technique. I’ll probably revisit them if and when I choose to learn a new brewing method.

Coffee roaster blogs can be hit-or-miss. Some coffee roasters talk about origin trips. I do not find these posts as interesting. I haven’t read many of them. I prefer to read about individual coffees, coffee culture, and coffee brewing processes. I think this is because reading about coffees and processes gives me information that I can more readily apply to my brewing process. While coffee does have some interesting theory, I focus my attention on what lets me brew a more delicious cup of coffee.

An Ongoing Education

I’ve taken my journey into exploring coffee slowly. I did not want to be someone who bought all the fancy equipment and gave up after brewing a few cups. I still do not own a set of scales that I can use to measure how much coffee I put in each cup. I eyeball my measurements using the labels on my grinder. I don’t have a pouring kettle. I only use an Aeropress for brewing. I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

I have started to look into online forums for coffee. I found Coffee Forums UK recently. It’s been an interesting place. I read a few posts on cleaning a manual grinder and some tasting notes. I haven’t used forums in a long time. They seem a bit busy for me. I’ll maybe return to Coffee Forums UK and see what I can find. I know they do a monthly random tasting challenge which sounds interesting.

I love the taste of coffee. I like learning about coffee. I have fun learning new ways to brew coffee. I’d really like to brew with a SIphon one day. That’s one of my newly-found coffee dreams. They look so cool. I’ll probably wait until in-person classes can resume before I explore topics like latte art. There are some things which are really difficult to learn from home. But, I have been able to learn a lot by brewing and reading.

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