Thursday, March 20, 2014

We do try not to be those people

So I have been making espresso (on and off) for...kind of a long time. If you want to know exactly how long, you'll have to come see me and ask me across the bar so that we can have a chat for a minute while I'm putting together your cappuccino. But suffice it to say that I've been doing it for long enough that I don't know what "wave" we're currently on, or even what "wave" I started on myself however many moons ago. Or what the whole "wave" thing really means, all in all.

Mostly what I know about coffee is that there are a couple of things I've become pretty curmudgeonly about. For one, the behemoth to whom every American espresso cafe owes its existence is now essentially a trans-national mega-conglomerate which has effectively removed any possible soul, craft, technique, or skill from the espresso experience at their cafes. Really, you're going to transition all of your stores to fully automatic espresso machines, huh? Awesome. Oh, and the freeze-dried latte thing? Really? Two thumbs on that one!

I also get pretty bummed that it's so hard to find a simple cup of decent drip varietal coffee. I actually get on this soapbox pretty frequently--certainly any time I'm training someone. But really, I grew up as a wee-lil espresso nugget abusing my kidneys with coffees from actual places like Ethiopia and Sumatra. Then we reached a point sometime between the second? third? (I really don't know) espresso wave where it all became about competition blends or whatever. Which is great! I'm all for an actual reflection of craft and technique in my food and drinks (see above). But do we really have to make it a competition? And moreover I'm kind of a big believer in terroir, and I really like nerding out about how Mexican beans tend to make for a fruity and acidic cup given the volcanic soil. That sort of stuff. (If anyone has a line on a good Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, lemme know, hey?)

So then there's this, which I actually found to be a pretty good (and funny) breakdown on the whole cooler-than-you coffee world we've somehow found ourselves in. I especially like the "hipster Ariel"--"the whole coffee thing was so much cooler before you showed up."

(Quick parenthetical for my favorite coffee joke--how did the hipster burn his tongue? Drank his coffee before it was cool.)

Listen, we make some pretty good espresso at your local Capogiro. We take it seriously...but man, there's a limit to that. I mean, we've all seen this one, right? (The only strong language is in the title, I swear):

I actually do encourage my crew from time to time to watch this video. Because alas, we do pretty regularly watch the latte we just made...die on the bar. And get sad.

So by all means don't drink swill-coffee. This town has a ton of great (ahem, independent) espresso cafes where you can get a drink made well by someone who's actually paying attention. But really man. Competition blends? When did it come to that? When did food have to get so...competitive? I don't get it, really.

Of course, I've been making coffee since before it was cool. You probably haven't heard of the place where I first learned how.

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