by Jim Pelegrini
#10. STOP DRINKING COFFEE AS A WATER SUBSTITUTE
Much as we want to sell coffee, it's not the right beverage for every occasion. If you're thirsty, drink water. If you're at a pub in London, hoist a pint. If you're having dinner at a fine restaurant, have a glass of wine. Every beverage has its time and place to be savored. When you want to relax with a warm beverage, or a little pick-me-up, drink coffee. Savor it. Enjoy it. Look forward to it next time, in between water, wine, beer or other beverages.
#9. LOSE THE CONDIMENTS
We spend a lot of time watching people prepare their coffee. Most people (90%+ by our observation) don't even sip their coffee without adulterating it with cream and sugar. To drink better coffee, you must be able to taste it. Commit to drinking your coffee black for a month as a first step on your journey to great coffee.
#8. BE AN ACTIVE, NOT A PASSIVE TASTER
Most of us eat every day. Some things we like. Some things we don't. When asked why they prefer one thing to another, many people are challenged to describe exactly how something tastes. Taste, don't chug, and THINK about what you're tasting. Chocolate? Fruit? Flowers? Wood (not so silly - think about chewing on a toothpick)? Cardboard? Seriously. THINK about it while you taste.
#7. CHOOSE YOUR CUP
Different beverages are served in different containers because they make sense. Wine glasses are shaped to allow your nose to capture the bouquet and have a stem to prevent warming the beverage with your hands. Shot glasses make sense for whiskey because a larger portion is just too much. Coffee, on the other hand, is served in all kinds of containers. Paper. Foam. Stainless steel. Thermal. Ceramic. The list goes on... Find your favored serving container and stick with it. For regular coffees, it's hard to beat a pre-warmed ceramic cup about 5 or 6 ounces in size, preferably one that tapers down slightly at the top. The shape allows you to capture the nose of the coffee. It is a good size to allow you to savor the beverage through various stages of cooling. It feels good on the hands. If you must go disposable, opt for paper - foam imparts off flavors to the beverage.
#6. JUST SAY NO TO SWILL
When you taste obviously bad coffee, stop drinking it. Period. Yes, toss it (after cooling) on one of the office plants. Complain to the server, in the long run you're doing them a favor.
#5. BUY A GRINDER
The single best investment you can make in equipment is a decent grinder. Buy yourself a good burr mill and toss the old $20 blade grinder. You can buy a decent burr mill from us for $100. I don't even want to hear that you think that's expensive. For the pleasure and longevity it will deliver, it's a bargain.
#4. BUY A FRENCH PRESS OR POUR OVER BRU BAR
The second best investment you can make in equipment is a method to prepare it. A nice press pot is simple, inexpensive, easy to use and infinitely controllable. Bodum makes the best workaday press on the market; stick with the classic Chambord model. The simple pour over Bru Bar by the cup is a great way to enjoy high end and wonderful coffee.
#3. FIND A GREAT ROASTER LIKE KLATCH
When you go to a great restaurant, you place your trust in a professional sommelier, right (even if it's just to have gather the selection in the cellar)? A great (omit local) roaster will be knowledgeable about seasons, origins, processing, roasting and more. They will enable you to experience the world of coffee in ways you never knew possible. Find a good roaster and develop a relationship - it's symbiotic, and fun.
#2. BE ADVENTUROUS
Don't stay in your same old rut. Try new origins. New prep methods. Taste things you think you'll hate, and taste them roasted and prepared several different ways. Never stop exploring.
#1. BUY THE BEST BEANS
Think about the difference between a fish taco from a street vendor in Mexico, and Coq Au Vin from a French bistro in Paris. They are completely different, yet both may be the best example of that particular thing that exists. Best doesn't necessarily mean most expensive. It means beans with a known pedigree, selected with purpose, that are freshly roasted (within 2 weeks). We hope you'll consider buying from us.