“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”
~~ Cassandra Clare
“Come on, don’t you ever stop and smell the coffee?”
~~ Justina Chen
I used to hate coffee. A lot. I thought it was bitter and nasty and the only way I could drink it was with tons of cream or milk and sugar. And anything can taste good when you add enough to cover up the taste, so why bother?
Then I started this job I’ve had forever—a job with 12-hour shifts that start at six in the morning which means I have to be up between 4:30—five at the latest. I started drinking it—with tons of cream or milk and sugar—so I could wake up and stay up. It was awful!
Then my long-time and wonderful Live Journal friend CocoaJava heard my problem and thankfully stepped in and lent a hand.
She explained that what Americans were used to drinking was not coffee. At least good coffee. She told me how most brands were made of a cheap but highly caffeinated and high yielding plant versus the type that was originally discovered in Ethiopia centuries before. Those beans have less of a yield and less caffeine. Americans want caffeine, they don’t care about taste.
Did you know that Starbucks sells more milk that actual coffee? It’s to cover up the taste.
I discovered that the beans we are used to drinking from have often sat in small mountains for months and months and months before they are even roasted, and then it can be a year before we drink it.
She encouraged me to check my local quality grocery store in the coffee section. She told me that often a larger city will have a local roaster. That way I could be drinking Arabica beans (the original) that have been roasted very recently. She also explained that the minute beans are ground they begin to lose their flavor. She recommended that I check out the store and she betted that I could ground them right here—and to start with small batches to see if I liked them.
What did I have to lose?
I checked. And yes, they had beans that had been roasted that very week. And they had beans. And a grinder. So I did it. I tried about three small batches and took them home and tried them and OMG!!! Vive la différence!
It was like the difference between fresh ground pepper and those little packets you get from a fast food restaurant. Or Budweiser and the beer that comes from a local small brewery. Like fresh caught fish that day and frozen from Van de Kamp.
I loved it!
I discovered the place that roasted the coffee was right across the street from where I worked and they did tours. I learned more about coffee.
Then I read an article in a little free newspaper that comes out once a week in Kansas City called The Pitch. It featured a store that had just opened less than a mile from where I worked. I checked it out. WOW!
They grind the coffee right as you order it. It’s coffee that was roasted they day before, two or three days at the most. It is roasted in very small batches. Then they do something extraordinary. They take this think that looks a lot like the funnel-thingie in the top of a coffee brewer. They put it on top of a small pitcher. They put a brown filter in, pour in the grounds, and then very very slowly pour the hot water in a spiral pattern over the grounds.
Then came the biggest surprise. They had no creams. No half and half. No sugar. No sweetner. They explained real coffee didn’t need such additives any more than a good steak needed a sauce to cover up the taste of the meat. I was pissed. I had already bought my coffee. They encouraged me to drink it. Their whole mission was to be an Anti-Starbucks and teach people how wonderful coffee really was.
But no sugar? I thought. But what about the bitterness? Even the brand I had learned to love had some bitterness.
I tried it.
And was stunned.
Not one teeny tiny bit of bitterness. Not one. Not a hint. It was almost sweet.
And those claims—similar to the ones that wine tasters make—that a batch might, say, start with a cherry candies flavor as it hits your tounge, and the progress to sweet yellow bell pepper, go to white grape juice and end with a lingering floral/hoppy finish? It was true!
And thus was born a lover of coffee. Real coffee.
The store was called “Oddly Correct” and it, and all that I had learned about coffee, were the inspiration for my novel Hound Dog & Bean and the shop I call The Shepherd’s Bean. I go there whenever I can (Oddly Correct, not The Shepherd’s Bean). It’s a wonderful place.
And they even have cream now. But only for their steamed drinks like something called a Gibraltar (which is heaven).
In fact, the owner—Greg—told me that coffee has been referred to as “God in a cup.”
And hey, since God is everything, why not coffee too?
Now when I travel and go to another city, if I get to explore, I try and find a roaster and bring back a bag of something roasted in that city. I often bring home wonderful treasures.
Today (and always) I am grateful for coffee!
After all, it’s God in a cup.
PS: Checkout Oddly Correct’s website right here: http://www.oddlycorrect.com/ You will be amazed!