A Coffee Love Story
If you haven’t seen Hook in a while, I more than highly recommend watching it. And by “a while”, I mean anything longer than a week. The movie is that good. It has nothing to do with the substance of this post. And I’m barely going to reference less than half of a scene. Just…watch it.
No matter how many minutes ago you just watched this tremendous piece of art, there’s no way you can’t remember the 10 seconds of baby David Allen Grier rubbing his grimy hands all over the man-child Pan’s face. Massaging it into grimaces and raising eyebrows to peaks of curiosity. Pressing and pulling until he finds a cocky smile on his subject, his own smile radiating from within while he proclaims, “There you are, Peter!” And while it took some coercion, he found exactly what he was looking for.
I had one of those “There you are!” moments recently.
It was with a 6 week off-roast bag of Kenya Tegu roasted by Ecco Caffe. I want it to be known that I love Ecco Caffe’s work and I am proud to be serving their coffees at my job, and that’s what made this coffee all the more frustrating. Anyone of my coworkers will agree that this peaberry was an asshole. When we received the first production batches of coffee, no matter what method, brew ratio, grind size, temperature we used to brew, we were completely unable to find a good or even above average cup. Every so often we would find a delicious sip, only for the temp to drop a degree or two and the flavors just fell apart again. Maybe it was the lack of anything satisfying that made the coffee taste better when it did, but I swear when it tasted delicious for that brief sip or two, it was heaven raining sugared apricots with raspberries on my palette. I grew to hate those moments. I knew they would disappear just as quickly as they came and when I retried the ratio and technique, I got nothing. Every time. Tegu Peaberry: Asshole coffee.
Alas, we find serviceable parameters and sell a solid product, but we never landed on that cup that we always knew this well-grown, well-roasted coffee was capable of being massaged into.
It wasn’t until a recent weekend that I returned to this coffee. Not so much out of desire to enjoy but out of sheer necessity. It was a bitter cold morning and going out to get a cup or a fresh bag was out of the question. I was looking for function when I threw the coffee from the back of the drawer (stored in a drawer away from herbs and herb of course) on the scale, into the grinder and then into the Aeropress. I caught a quick whiff of the bouquet from the open bag on the table as I started timing my brew. My god. That aroma was still unbelievable. It mellowed a bit and with no detriment to the fruit-forward nose, it had developed something a bit herbaceous, making the whole thing smell like a rustic dessert. Heaven! But I couldn’t have gotten my hopes up. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. Not again. Not for that asshole.
As I flipped the Aeropress and began a slow, steady push, the kitchen filled with the fruity herby goodness that had graced my olfactory glands 30 seconds before. Could it be? Had this coffee from a typically sturdily-stored region lived six weeks beyond roast and become more stable? And better? Full of fruit and herbs, this coffee was perfect at every temperature. As I tasted the coffee I couldn’t say anything but “There you are, peaberry!” I felt like a kid drinking that cup.
There’s a wonder to the drink that I make for others and know so little about. It’s fickle and can be utterly frustrating, but when those moments of greatness in a cup appear, it’s worth it. It’s a strange thing that I’m so enamored with…
IT SMELLS SO GOOD!