Last week, I met with a potential new client last for breakfast, and as we got to know each other over drip-brewed Stumptown, man'oushe (Lebanese flatbreads), labneh, and yogurt at Suraya, our conversation slid into a comfortable shared topic: Coffee.
As I sipped black drip coffee and she finished off a foamy cortado, Justine mentioned that she generally enjoyed coffee but was having trouble finding a groove with it, or a brew she really liked. I found myself peppering her with questions: Do you brew at home or buy it on the go? Do you like milk and sugar in your coffee? Hot or cold? Would you rather have chocolate gelato or a fruit sorbet?
She looked surprised at the last question (you might be too), but she answered it: chocolate gelato. Her answer made what she said next make perfect sense: "Actually, I did have a great coffee the other day, Rival Brothers has a Colombian that was very good."
It made perfect sense because Colombian coffees are known for being balanced, smooth, and full, especially at a medium-dark roast. Think chocolate, or caramel, with the smooth mouthfeel of gelato (yes, I said "mouthfeel").
I've generally found that people, the client included, prefer a certain set of flavors -- if we'd had time to talk about beer, I wouldn't be surprised if she prefers an amber ale or a bock lager on the milder side. Her flavor preferences seem round and balanced, without tending too dark.
Me, on the other hand, I like bright and sour flavors, which is somewhat uncommon. In studies of human flavor preferences by the National Coffee Association, the chocolatey, bittersweet, and low-acid flavors of darker roasts were favored by 52% of participants.
While I enjoy chocolate (especially dark chocolate) as much as the next person, I'm a pretty good example of the flavor preferences rule. I like light-roasted, citrusy coffees that many people describe as being too bitter, or too acidy, or too sour. I also like sour beers, raspberry ciders, and pickleback shots. As a child, I ate lemons by the slice, like oranges.
After that conversation, I realized how much I love talking about coffee and connecting it to other areas of life. I love hearing what other people think about coffee, how it fits into their worlds, and what they want from it. It's a beverage that has been a part of human history for hundreds of years, and we all have our own unique relationship to it. Wherever they fall on the coffee spectrum, whether they love it or hate it, almost everyone has at least some thoughts on coffee, or knows what it is, or knows people that drink it. As something so beloved, reviled, and widely consumed, coffee is a helpful common ground on which to share about ourselves, what we like or don't like, how we want to live, and what our bodies need.
So let's talk about coffee! I'll be using this blog to recap some of my coffee conversations, or share interesting stories or coffee tips. Sometimes I'll include audio snippets and photos. I was going to do a podcast, but truly don't have the bandwidth to learn the craft, so I'm going to keep it simple and straightforward.
Thoughts on coffee? Leave a comment below, or slide in my Instagram DMs: @heykatekelly