Friday, January 25, 2008

Gourmet Coffee and the Common Man




You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe



But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated

You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys

Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.

And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.




I guess, as a "plain ole cup of joe" I shouldn't be linking to this. But I can't help myself.

On the one hand, I suppose if you have enough time and money to invest in a $20,000 process that will allow you to make coffee that is capable of being discussed as if it were a fine wine, why not? If there are customers for your ultra-uber-gourmet coffee market, and you can make a living selling coffee made by a precise and artistic Japanese method, hand stirred with hand-carved bamboo paddles during the brewing process, then where's the harm in that?

On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if coffee, that brew par excellence of the quick jolt, the fast track to morning alertness, the remedy for Mom's sleepless nights and sluggish days, is really worthy of such artistry. One does, indeed, suppose that there are people in the world who view coffee as a beverage properly appreciated in tiny sips of exotic and ever-changing flavor; but one has never actually encountered such people oneself. Or, to be completely honest, most everybody I know who drinks coffee tends to take the "slam the first cup down quickly and hope it takes effect before the second cup has cooled enough to be drinkable" approach to coffee drinking. And some of us cheat by slipping an ice cube into the first cup to maximize its hasty drinkability.

As someone who for years viewed coffee as a drug first, and a beverage second, I've been working on breaking myself free from the grip of its potent chemistry. Frankly, I don't much like the taste of coffee, and I imagine an expensive siphon-brewed cup would be wasted on me, what with all the cream and sugar I put in each cup to overcome the actual taste of the coffee. These days I mostly start my morning with a cup of black tea, instead; it doesn't have the same caffeine rush effect, for some reason, but I actually like tea, and need only a tiny bit of sugar to enhance the flavor of anything from chai spice to Earl Grey.

Still, for those people out there who really enjoy and appreciate a good cup of coffee, drinking it black or possibly lightly sweetened, is the day of the gourmet brewed cup going to supplant the era of the espresso drink?

Perhaps in New York and San Francisco, it will; but putting gourmet-brewed coffee into a paper cup and handing it through a drive-thru window would seem to defeat the purpose of such elaborate machinery, such artistic drive. Only in the slow atmosphere of a true coffee shop could such coffee thrive, which make it hard to see the results of the pinnacle of coffee brewing ever becoming widely available to the masses, who are grabbing their caffeine on the go, hoping it will keep them awake through a dull meeting or a dull shopping errand or a dull afternoon of chores or a dull gray winter's day.

However, there is always the chance that the renewed interest in gourmet coffee brewing will echo throughout the industry, making more coffee sellers strive to create better coffee without going the hand-stirred route. They might replace old equipment sooner, clean the brewing station better, select the beans with more care, and grind them closer to the actual act of coffee-making than they do now. The gourmet-breweries might inspire a renaissance of sorts that will indeed reach all the way down to the drive-thru window.

Call it a trickle-down effect.

2 comments:

Marilena said...

i got: your a plain ole cup of joe. here is the result:
But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated
You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys

Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.
And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Red!

Fun Quiz! Here's my results:
You Are a Cappuccino

You're fun, outgoing, and you love to try anything new.
However, you tend to have strong opinions on what you like.
You are a total girly girly at heart - and prefer your coffee with good conversation.
You're the type that seems complex to outsiders, but in reality, you are easy to please

Thanks for the link!

~DLS