I was conducting a master class dedicated to home brewing this week. And my bosses wanted me to start with what is specialty, and why is specialty.
It is an important part, introduction, explanation – after all, there should be some strong reasons why to drink coffee that costs 12 euros per bag, when you can get one that costs 2. I mean… really strong reasons.
I didn’t get too deep into processing, varieties, terroir, and all these hot topics that we love so much – cause it was an introduction, and I don’t want to scare people with talking about reverse osmosis, and bourbon mutations.
It is fun to do that kind of workshops – fun and motivating at the same time. You cannot speak about any geekiness, for example particle size, brewing temperature, measuring extraction, strength – and you have to come up with recipies, and give them. Knowing, at the same time, and anybody who brews knows it – that there are no strict rules. So your goal is to motivate people to brew at home – and not to scare them with the abscence of strict rules.
I’ll explain my point. I cannot say about V60 “brew with 95C water, always do the pre-infusion for 30 seconds, and then add water evenly every 30 seconds , and grind right before brewing. Use the coffee within the 2 weeks after roast date”.
Why I cannot?
Because… Because of Charles Babinski, for example, who won the US championship with the coffee that was pre-ground.
Or because of the cup of coffee that I brewed for myself today. April Coffee, Copenhagen, roasted in April 2017, and then frozen. And we are now in the end of July, and coffee tastes like fresh. Where is 2 weeks after the roast date? Passed long time ago.
I cannot give strict rules about the water temperature. Cause I know that I can go as low as 85, for example, or brew right after boiling, like I did today – depends on what I want, the recipe I am using, device of my choice, and the coffee. Too many variables.
Pre-infusion works for you? Do it. Doesn’t work? Don’t. You like a long continuous pour or small short pours? Either of them looks good for me. You put all the water at once? You wait till it starts dripping to make the next pour? Anything. Anything works. That’s the best part, and at the same time a complicated part – because how to communicate it to those guys who don’t want experiment. “Take any recipe you like, and brew it”.
But I got distracted, or too excited who knows XD
My discovery is that the only reason that continuously attracts new people to specialty, (and keeps them there, which is even more important) is the same that attracts us to good wines, cheeses, cooking, enjoying a good whiskey – is the joy of tasting, the hedonism. Tasting because of the tasting. Because life is good, because I have time to enjoy it, because I am curious, because I love it, because I can make a pause, and have a cup, or a cigarrete, or a drink – and close my eyes, and appreciate it.
The main reason of drinking specialty is not fashion, is not drinking coffee as a medicine – it is the ability to enjoy your time, small things, that for some people expands to the ability to enjoy your cup of coffee.
I am talking about home brewing now. The reasons why we go to the coffee shops, or even some even start to work in coffee are multiple and endless.
But my point was, at that master class, and I wanted to leave it here as well – only recently we started to do something new – to drink coffee for the taste, and it only works with high quality beans. And if we want to ptomote specialty – this is the way to go. Those are the people to approach. Who already know how to make a pause and enjoy, and who are ready to try.