I didn’t have my first cup of coffee until I was in my mid twenties. I managed to make it through university never having had a cup. I didn’t start drinking coffee regularly until I was 29 and that was only for a desperate attempt to stay awake in a 4 day trip to Vegas. It was the ‘healthier’ of the options!
Indulging due to just pure exhaustion meant having it from the hotel buffet area. Vegas being a 24-hour city, you couldn’t be sure if it was brewed at 9am that day or the day before. Or maybe it was at 9pm?
In any case, that wasn’t real coffee. Not like I’ve come to taste since then.
I’m happy to be a late bloomer in the caffeine dependency department.
I found that the stages in the coffee ladder, you know, the one that takes you up to an actual coffee appreciator, were shorter. It meant that I moved from buffet stale coffees to attending the Art of Roasting classes in just a few years.
When I worked in the corporate world (a.k.a. my entire working life up until 6 months ago) I would frequent Starbucks. I remember having zero clue what to order my first time, so I simply copied the person I was with. And soon ‘Tall Blonde with a shot of Vanilla’ became my thing. It meant not having to think while taking a much needed 9am break away from the desk. It meant having something to sip on in between emails. It also meant having to walk the least amount between the office and a cup. How Boring.
Since 2010 I have been volunteering in various ways in the Fair Trade world. I began to learn more and more about where coffee comes from and the people impacted by the industry. I started to seek out Fair Trade coffee as I wanted to be a more conscious consumer. Back then Fair Trade coffee wasn’t as easily found in your convenient Starbucks type shops so it meant putting a little bit more effort (on the weekend of course, as the amount of time I was able to spend away from a desk shrunk). Now I was in a whole new world of coffee shops. Those kind that actually take the time to brew on the spot, or describe the specific tastes of what they sold. Up until then all coffee tasted the same to me, some were just more bitter than others.
It wasn’t until this year though that I began actually educating myself on coffee. My boyfriend gifted an Art of Roasting class at a local coffee shop – and this changed everything.
I had no idea the majority of us are drinking stale coffee.
A two hour class on roasting beans. We learnt everything about the process, including safely roasting at home. We learnt about how long coffee stays fresh for when roasted, and then when brewed. We tasted coffee without any added sugars and milk and it blew our minds!
When we got home we sold our 12-cup coffee maker and opened the French press I inherited from my Mom before she moved to Africa. We purchased a hand grinder, went to the market and bought a freshly roasted pound of coffee and now refuse to drink anything less than the best. Or at least we try to seek it out.
Now we are on a mission to try all the best coffee shops in our city, and any city we end up in. With the hopes of one day combining everything we love about coffee and neat ways in which cafes are designed, in to our very own Caffeine Paradise.