This Christmas, due in part to my desire not to visit the Roastery for a few days, I have broken one of my own rules when it comes to making coffee at home – I’ve set up an espresso machine in the kitchen. Aside from a brief dabble in my early days as a barista, I’ve never really been a fan of making espresso at home. The need to wait for the espresso machine to heat up, my determination to only drink a good espresso and the hassle of cleaning afterwards, has always put me off and therefore I will always reach for the humble coffee press (cafetiere) or Aeropress when I need a caffeine fix at home.
The trouble is I have been struggling for some time to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee. When I first meet people they will often comment on how I must drink numerous cups of coffee. The truth is I hardly drink a cup of coffee, and yet I drink a lot of coffee! At the Roastery, tasting coffee can easily take over from enjoying a cup of coffee. In the morning when I dial in the espresso machine for a training session I will always sip the odd espresso to make sure the parameters I have chosen are reflected in the cup; when choosing new coffees we will often sip our way through numerous bowls on the cupping table and when we are checking the quality of our roasting we will make judgements based on sips from a spoon. All this tasting kind of puts you off coffee a little bit.
There are occasions when I will make a coffee at the Roastery – as a break from the monotony of office work or when someone drops by to visit us. But can I truly say that I am relaxing with a coffee at these time? Probably not. The same is true when I go out for coffee, which to be honest doesn’t happen that often. It’s really hard not to notice how the coffee is being made and whether there is any attention to detail; and when the coffee arrives there is a nagging desire to analyse the beverage rather than simply sitting back and enjoying it for what it is. Even at home, when I do fancy a coffee and have dusted off the coffee press, I often find we have no coffee in the house, and so I’ll end up having a cup of tea. I now drink much more tea than I do coffee!
And so, this Christmas, with the Roastery closed for 12 days, I have been determined to relax with a cup of coffee. I have promised myself that I will cast aside my obsession with espresso extraction and will not become a slave to dialling in the espresso machine. Failing that I will reach for my trusty coffee press and, having stocked the cupboards with a good selection of beans, I will sit back, forget all about acidity, body, extraction, roast profiles, sweetness, balance, and just enjoy a good cup of coffee. Then again there is always tea.