I feel like I should be paying Alex for the amount I’ve learned about coffee this year– It’s like I’m enrolled in one of those $100 dollar barista courses, except I don’t have to pay anything (not to mention, I get to chill with some pretty awesome people in the process).
Neo, Alex and I convened in Espwesso (our student-run cafe, which I really don’t know why I haven’t written a post on yet) to brew the peaberry beans I bought at O Cafe. Little did I know that Alex, who had spent the weekend in New York, had brought a load of what he called “new toys,” including a Chemex.
The Chemex was actually my first introduction to pourover coffee, and to be honest, I was never a huge fan. To be fair, this was when I drank almost exclusively espresso and couldn’t appreciate coffee as a tea-like beverage with occasional fruity notes. I also couldn’t appreciate coffee that wasn’t scorching hot, and Chemex coffee takes a while.
(I did, however, make Indonesian Kopi Luwak on a Chemex.)
My “home base” cafe, Istria, recently made the transition from Chemex to Hario V60. When I asked Alex about this, he explained that Chemex is better for home brewing, since it makes enough to serve about two people.
I do, however, like the Chemex’s “rustic” appearance. To me, it looks like the sort of thing you would carry around in the desert while riding camel-back.
We tried out two coffees: the peaberry from O Cafe and a Joe Sumatra. Alex tweaked the grind a couple times for each coffee: I had no idea how he knew what to change; I was happy enough when I agreed that the first cup was overextracted. I don’t question, I just listen and watch the masters at work.
When it comes to tasting, I’m also just learning about flavor profiling. It’s so hard to articulate the underlying flavors within a cup of coffee even when you know they’re there. But then when acknowledges the presence of “red pepper notes” or even “fig,” you want to slap your forehead and wonder why you hadn’t thought of that.
This is all relative, of course– I do think that a lot of the time coffee labels are pretentious games of word association. “Sweet” becomes “caramel,” and the next thing you know, your coffee tastes like “a warm slice of apple pie on an autumn day, the crisp leaves blowing in the wind.” Exaggeration, I know.
The sumatra was great, don’t get me wrong, but the red pepper flavor Alex pointed out did catch me a little off-guard. I’m realizing that you never know what to expect from Indonesian coffees: every single cup I’ve had is different.
O Cafe’s peaberry still holds a dear place in my heart: the beans (which are tiny) are sweet and chocolatey, full-bodied but not too darkly roasted.
A trip to New York may be happening this weekend… who knows what coffee adventures lie in store?