Saturday, December 6, 2008

Coffee As Beverage, Gift, And Art

Sometimes I feel like coffee is the forgotten partner in this blog, given that I don't write about it as often as spirits and the Civil War. This paucity of narrative doesn't mean I don't love, drink, and roast it, and now I've got a few anecdotes to share.
I've had a few mishaps recently; the first was when working with a decaf bean that I badly over-roasted. First time that happened, and hopefully won't happen again. Blah, tasted like something from Starbucks: flabby, burnt, just nasty.
The next blunder was an experimentation with Qishr tea. This is a Yemeni invention, basically takes the coffee cherry husks, dries them, then you brew them in a French Press like a tea. How best to describe this brew?
When The Jess and I first tasted it she stated, quite deadpan, that it tasted "vegetably". I replied with "Bleegh" and, as my wife reminds me now, I let the beverage fall from my mouth into the sink.
This stuff sucked. Just because it grows in nature doesn't mean you have to drink it! I'm still irritated.
I cheered up when I roasted and tasted two of the beans that came in the same package as the Qishr debacle. I'm becoming a huge fan of peaberries, and the Guatemala Antigua Los Pastores Peaberry at a Full City roast was genius! Bright and sweet, almost refreshing. Very solid. The El Salvador Cup of Excellence Finca Malacara; however, stole the show by living up to its name and just blowing me away. At a City Plus roast, this was a full-bodied, rich and caramelly brew. One of the very best I've had.
I'm rolling along with this hobby, and have found many companions along the way. A fantastic coffee journey recently surfaced in the NY Times and features some brilliant coffee art; coffee impressions in napkins accented by some very clever narrative.

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