Your 2022 New Year’s Resolution: Become a true coffee nerd
So, you know you’ve got an affection and fascination for coffee that goes beyond the casual drinker, and you’re looking to take your relationship with it to the next level in the new year.
You imagine yourself being such a connoisseur that you can identify a blend simply by smelling it, and identify the various subtle flavours in a cup?
Well, we asked our in-house experts to put together a list of things you can do to get started on your journey to becoming a certified coffee nerd (Please note: this guide will not earn you any kind of certification, however, it will earn you plenty of street cred’ amongst the coffee nerd community)
1. Feed your coffee curiosity with as much info as you can find
The production process behind a cup of coffee is made up of many steps, and these many steps can impact the flavours of the coffee.
From where it’s grown (including at what altitude) to how it’s dried, and so on. There are many factors along the bean’s journey that explains why a coffee tastes and smells the way it does. If you’re truly dedicated to understanding coffee like a sommelier understands wine, you need to educate yourself on the story behind the coffee you're drinking.
You can start your crash course by learning about all the things you should know about a coffee bean.
Then you can follow this up by treating every coffee you drink in a cafe like a book worth reading. When ordering, ask the barista for info about the bean, blend and roaster; maybe even ask them to show you the packaging. Take some notes on these details and then go home and dive into an internet rabbit hole researching how that particular bag of beans came to be.
Here’s a list of lessons you’ll need to host with yourself and the internet (as you’ll find all the knowledge you need floating around online, including on our blog and this learning resource on our website ;-) to get you started:
- What’s the difference between a light and dark roast?
- How is coffee grown in different areas of the world and how does this impact the coffee?
- What are the different kinds of coffee beans?
2. Give up sugar and milk in your coffee
If you’re a person that already drinks your coffee pure without any additional ingredients, then you can skip this point and pat yourself on the back.
Meanwhile, if you drink your coffee typically with sugar or milk (plant-based or otherwise) then we can imagine that there’s a grimace on your face while reading this.
We know it’s not going to be easy, but if you really want to appreciate all of coffee’s delicate flavours, you’ll have to acquire a taste for pure black coffee. If you add anything to your brew, it only muddles up the taste.
3. Attend some coffee cupping sessions
The founder of Julius Meinl would begin every day with a blind cupping session. During this tasting, he would identify all of his products, along with his competitors, blindly. It’s this dedication and passion that you want in your life if you want to become a true coffee nerd.
We’re not suggesting you begin your coffee cupping sessions with a blindfold on, but we do suggest you check out one of these events.
The coffee connoisseurs that attend cupping sessions no doubt enthusiastically welcome newcomers, and they’ll even more enthusiastically answer any questions you may have. There’s only one thing us coffee nerds love more than sipping at a brew, and that’s talking about coffee in between sipping at a brew.
Simply look up what cupping sessions are happening in your local area.
4. Taste every different kind of coffee drink that exists
OK, so you probably have a few go-to favourite types of coffee when it comes to ordering from your local barista – everybody has a coffee soulmate.
Nevertheless, you’ll need to experience every type of coffee and blend there is out there if you’re going to train your taste buds to become little coffee tasting samurais that can taste all of the different flavours in coffee, from nutty to chocolatey to fruity and floral.
Start at the top of your barista’s board (which probably begins with Espresso) and work your way down, and if they don’t offer all the types of coffee drinks out there, move on to another cafe that does.
5. Start dabbling in the dark arts of coffee brewing at home
It can be quite overwhelming when you glance over the shelves at all of the paraphernalia in any specialty coffee shop these days. However, one thing that should be on the top of your new year’s resolution list is to dive into the world that all this equipment opens up.
While the beans influence the flavour of your coffee, equally so does the brewing method.
5th generation Meinl family member, former president of the Specialty Coffee Association and avid coffee aficionado, Christina Meinl, was once quoted as saying – ‘you don’t choose the brewing method for the beans, the bean chooses its brewing method.’
What she means by this is that part of the process of trying and matching the right brewing method with the right beans is half the fun of being a coffee nerd, and is the only way to bring out the absolute best in the coffee.
We don’t recommend you go out and buy all of the coffee brewing equipment on the market straight away, yet instead, begin with buying one or two bits of equipment and expand your horizons from there.
Take your time thoroughly learning how to carry out each brewing method in the various ways it can be done, and then move on to the next.
We would recommend beginning with the most gloriously simple of them all, the Pour Over brewing method.
We’d also suggest getting yourself a French press, as this is another simple and great way to brewing consistently superior coffee.
6. Buy a quality grinder and some coffee scales
A grinder is probably one of the most crucial tools in your coffee nerd journey. It’s essential that you grind the beans only moments before brewing to preserve the taste they were born with.
It’s equally as important that the grinder spits them out at exactly the right consistency required for the type of brewing method your undertaking.
The second bit of equipment you’ll need is a set of coffee scales. There’s a lot of precision in the mastery of coffee, and therefore, there’s a lot of moments when you’ll need to weigh the amount of coffee you’re brewing to the gram.
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