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September 12, 2007

Mmm, good coffee

As a fan of Intelligentsia coffee roasters in Chicago, I enjoyed this article in the NYT about the new (and some would say pretentious) direct-trade coffee houses.

Back when I worked in Alaska I liked to taste beer while blindfolded and try to identify which kind of beer it was -- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Alaskan Amber?  I got pretty good at it.  It's surprising how much our sensitivity to tastes can be improved by the application of focused attention.  This kind of attention is what "cupping" is all about, whether you're a coffee poseur trying to impress your urbane girlfriend, or whether you're one of these boutique buyers trying to decide which coffees you think you can sell to these poseurs. 

Ok, "poseur" isn't always the right word.  In my case, I prefer "connoisseur."  Sure, it may look pretentious.  But anyone who thinks that just doesn't appreciate good coffee, and they should go right on drinking that swill they serve at 7-11.