2013-12-07

Bored of Espresso?

Boss posted this in FB's Barista Club of Malaysia. My response, sans communal bickering/Q&A.
1. Question: [redacted]

2. Assertion: we don't know if the baristas were technically proficient and analytically sensitised to "third-wave" coffee, or not.

On the specific "coffee vs. tea example" in the original post: I'm going to go out on a limb and say... that I'd like to know if the cafe being written about was anything like the cafe where I work, where there's a "third-wave" aspiration to coffee, and a "second-wave equivalent" aspiration to tea. For example, we just considered [redacted] tea, which is like a [redacted] version of [redacted], e.g.. sold by product line, not by details of processing and terroir, at best broken tea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_leaf_grading#Broken_leaf_grades), pushed in a sales format that includes plastic tea pots.

If that cafe being written about is like this, then the behaviour of a random hire to the coffees and teas is as believable as the behaviour of most people I know who drink alcohol, who go to bars and discuss the difference in flavour between BRANDS of beer or single-malts, instead of the difference between particular bottles of wine. Consider the language quoted by the author:
"Wow, can you taste that rich butter?" "That honeysuckle?" "Do you notice that flavor that reminds you of the way earth smells after the first rain?"
- nuff said. This is non-artisanal analysis, i.e. pseudo/noob-foodie talk at its best. :)

3. IMHO: Most of the thread is apeshit bickering. For analytical talk, please skip straight to this one:

http://www.home-barista.com/cafes/how-many-cafes-are-getting-bored-with-espresso-t28105-30.html#p325542

Then skip to this one, and follow the responses:

http://www.home-barista.com/cafes/how-many-cafes-are-getting-bored-with-espresso-t28105-50.html#p326229

4. Bigger picture assertion: A lot of artistic fields get masked by people who "talk the talk" and make a business out of it. This is common in any field, and "third-wave coffee" is of course not immune to it. (As usual, I will remind folks that "third-wave" refers to a phase of coffee evolution in the USA, even if that has influence beyond US borders.)

Consider this essay on how math is often completely misunderstood despite everyone being taught "math" in school - the author uses stories to illustrate what it would be like if music and painting were taught the way "math" is typically taught: http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

5. Whimsy: if I stay in this industry long enough, I'm probably going to wade into those forums at some point. LOL. But not yet. Meanwhile, feel free to quote me if you're up for posting there.

6. [redacted]
Have you tried dosing coffee grinds over a bit of spice (seed of cumin, or a clove bud) in the basket, and pulling the shot? Loads to discover.

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