Coffee’s 7 Deadly Sins
Buying coffee from a grocery store
Sadly we’re all creatures of comfort and it just makes sense to get your fruit, veg, bread, milk and coffee at the same place. Fight the urge. Don’t trust the mission statement on the door stating their aim is to provide you with the best and freshest produce sourced from all over the world. Their aim is to keep the stockholders happy at the cost of the farmers.
I know that price is a factor and you can only afford what you can afford but if you live in any major city in South Africa there is a coffee roaster close to you that will have something in your price range and more important, they’ll be able to give you a fresh product.
Fresh is best and grocery stores can’t deliver you a fresh product on a consistent basis. The added bonus will be the friends you make, you’ll feel more connected and you’ll become part of a community. (the guys roasting your beans are passionate people and chances are that they will become better at what they do over time, which means your mornings will get better over time.)
Don’t Grind your beans at your local roaster
I know what you’re thinking, previous paragraph your local roaster was about to walk on water and now they’re heading to the cross. Great/friendly/attractive/fun/cool as they are, they’re not perfect. Before you grind your beans, ask the barista or whoever is helping you: “when last or how often do you clean this grinder?” Let their answer confirm or deny my scepticism.
If you really don’t know anything and you suspect the guy/girl roasting your beans isn’t that far ahead of you take a tablespoon of ground coffee and sprinkle on top of a glass of ice water. If the coffee stays on top you can stay with the roaster, if the water colour changes, change your supplier.
Not using a Burr Grinder
Blade was a cool movie but Wesley Snipes ended up in jail and so should everyone else who use a blade to grind/cut/destroy their beans. I’ve had customers buying Espresso Machines costing well in the thousands only to discover they make use of a little attachment with blades they connect to their blender. If you have enough money for an espresso machine but not enough to add a grinder, buy an Aeropress and grinder combo and thank me later.
Not tasting the Water
I’m almost hesitant to say something about water because this is one area where nerds shift into geek overdrive and have their five points that they’ll die for resembling weirdo Jehovah’s Witness behavior. This is my everyday, general rule of thumb do’s and don’ts for a consistent good cup and not the “Aqua Bible” written by the captain of 1974 debate club.
Start with your tap; It’s not impossible to have good tasting water at home however the following are bad signs and will have an affect on your coffee: misty / white coloured water / bleach / chlorine / metal / salty and sweet tasting water won’t produce great cups of coffee.
If you get any of those you should invest in some sort of filtering system or start buying water. Coffee has two main ingredients, beans and water. (If you drink milk steer clear of long-life milk.) The quality of both are important and by tweaking the quality of both you’ll be making huge strides.
If you can’t measure you can’t manage.
Don’t guess/ estimate or go with the “feeling” you are not Jamie Oliver and your mother wants her kitchen back
There are no more excuses. We have the tools to measure size, weight, temperature, time etc. Find a recipe that works for you and replicate it and you will get good consistent results/ reviews / likes / recommendations / dates / followers.
Don’t press the button twice
The last two sins are aimed more towards people working within the industry but is common under mere mortals as well. If it has a button, don’t press it twice. If a machine is properly setup trust it. Often I see the guy having a gym session when he tamps, the result being only a few droplets trickling out and then naturally the button is pressed again and again until the “level” looks ok. If that happens, start over. If the grinder is clogged and you pressed the button who knows how many times to put who knows how much coffee in the portafilter, start over. Be better than that, we are watching you.
Everyone hates a know- it-all
Don’t be a kook, the Ethiopians blessed their visitors by roasting, grinding and brewing coffee in their presence. This is a sacred tradition where you honour another’s presence. The aroma, taste & after taste all contributed to building strong relationships that were the backbone of their communities.
No one cares or has time to listen to an arrogant kook-face snot nose who think he/she is God’s gift to mankind. Coffee is served and if you don’t have a servant heart kindly reconsider if this is for you.