Posts worth Reading

Twitter is a lot of fun, and a great way to share a lot of information. But that is also a downside. As the flow of information keeps rolling uninterrupted, it’s easy for worthwhile reading to slip through the cracks.

So I wanted to post a couple of links here to recent blog posts that I think are really worth reading.

First, here’s Ireland’s Colin Harmon writing about water and coffee, with suggestions about cupping with different waters to notice how they affect taste:

Water is undoubtedly important in terms of extraction but the impact it has on flavour is a completely different issue that is often lumped into the same category. They are separate issues that should be addressed independently and one should always bear in mind that you can have many different waters with the same TDS that impart very different flavours on the water.

The water itself can have many different chemicals, minerals and additives and can also be affected by how its heated and dispensed. Aeration of water through a dispersion screen will have a big effect on the flavour in the cup, especially where the water has remained stagnant after boiling.

And here’s Nick Cho’s popular post “Are we all just 1%-ers too?” where he writes about the challenges facing specialty coffee, specifically on improving specialty coffee and whether our resources are best spent helping the already fantastic become spectacular or whether they should be spent raising the overall quality of coffee, including low-scoring coffees.

The most celebrated coffee “farmers” and farms in specialty coffee are also among the most successful, with many if not most of those people being the sons (and in a very few cases daughters) of prosperous families. Upward-mobility is but a flying unicorn in these countries. A wonderful idea, but not reality.

I don’t mean to disparage or insult any of those successful coffee producers. Their coffees are indeed worthy of acclaim, and the heredity of those people shouldn’t take away from that. But if our affinity for those producers and those coffees defines our scope to only the tip-top best-of-the-best of what coffee has to offer, we are building a temple for worshipping the rich in a self-perpetuating cycle of aggrandizement and affluence.

What’s more deserving of celebration: Producers of 88-point coffees improving to 92’s, or those with 81’s improving to 85 scores?

And the third post I wanted to make sure you had a chance to see is from Sam Lewontin from Everyman Espresso called “The Incomplete Unimportance of Brew Methods.”

The notion that all brew methods are created equal– or, to soften the rhetoric a bit, that most are of equivalent merit– has been cropping up a lot in recent discussions among specialty coffee folk. Let’s make no bones about it: this is an oversimplification gross enough to make it untrue. It does, however, point to an interesting and worthwhile consideration regarding service.

Let’s start with the nature of the oversimplification. All brewing methods are, indeed, tools for accomplishing the same task: extraction. The theory is: as long as the variables governing said extraction are manipulated properly, one should be able to use any method to near-optimally express the flavors present in any coffee. Hence, the argument goes, equivalence.

When you get a chance to a look at all of these thoughtful posts if you happened to miss them as they scrolled by on Twitter. They are all well worth your time.

 

 

 

About the Author

Ken

Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!