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The Third Wave Coffee Club

March 17, 2012

Greetings!

I'm a new blogger on this site.  And this is my introductory post!

 

I thought a lot about what kind of subject I should address in my first post.  I wanted to be entertaining and informative, but also set the stage for my coffee journey.

Thing is, I'm no expert.  So I hope to avoid giving out misinformation or wrong conclusions as I stumble along.  I'm also pretty sure I don't fit the mold of the average coffee blogger--at least, that seems to be my perception.

For example, I don't particularly care for coffee without cream and sugar.

 

So, controversy #1: does that disqualify me from the elitist ranks of the Third Wave Coffee Club? And what are the credentials of this club?  How does one get to be a card-carrying member (whether one wants to be or not)?

Well, we're off to a great start.  Thank goodness I didn't start by making my introduction all about me.  That would be a big mistake.

On to the important matter at hand, and what this first post is really all about. That's right, laying down 300 or more words in print to qualify for those precious eBeans the Roaste owners have guaranteed me as long as my post is exclusive and, like I said, at least 300 words long.  So count with me, won't you?

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Ah! Ah! Ah! One hundred and twenty-five mindless egocentric words!





The Third Wave Coffee Club

Why should one care if one is a member of the Third Wave Coffee Club?  Well, it's simple. For the purpose of debate, it's all about context.  And I've found that the biggest divider between the Third Wavers and everyone else is that they don't agree on what constitutes a good cuppa coffee. [See what I did there?  I refrained from saying cuppa j*e.  I'll tell you why in post #1,982.]

Here are some examples:

Scenario #1: Me vs. My Friend Who Shall Remain Nameless But Let's Call Him Ted

I invite Ted over for a truly fine cup of coffee made by yours truly.  I tell him, "It's fantastic, and it's in its prime--5 days since roast.  You can taste the cherry and then this milk chocolate richness.  It's from Brazil.  You'll love it!"

I offer him sugar and half-n-half, but he prefers it black.

He takes a sip.  I take my time and sip from my own cup, savoring the awesome complexity and rich smoothness that is the trademark of this Brazillian SO.  I wait while he takes his time sipping and don't want to bust in on his reverie too soon.  My friend can get annoyed if he's expecting you to blurt the inevitable query, "How was it?" before he's ready.

So I wait a good 2.385 seconds.

"How was it?"  Could you taste the cherry?  Smooth, hah?  Best you've had? So whatchu think?"

"It tastes like a good cup of coffee, Mike."

By the way, that's my name.  I prefer Michael.  You can call me barkingburro.

"Huh?"

Not you,  Ted.

"Oh.  Anyway, it's definitely right up there with the best cup I've had."

"Could you taste the cherry?"

"Well, it basically tastes like a very good cup of coffee."

"It's smooth, huh?  No bitterness, right?"

"No, it's just real strong.  You might call that bitterness, but it doesn't have what I would call a burnt flavor."

"Well, trust me, I can't stand bitterness, which mostly comes from over-extraction, and the burnt flavor you're talking about is associated with St*r$$$ type of over-roasted coffees.  And I know you'd probably like it  a little less strong, 'cause I brew it that way specifically to cut through the sugar and half-n-half.  I can say it's definitely the smoothest coffee I've ever..."

All right, this is getting painful.  Moral of the story:  You know you're a card-carrying member of the Third Wave Coffee Club when you start lecturing your friend on why your coffee tastes better than they think it does.  Christ, this is embarrassing... let's move on.

Scenario #2: Coffee Come On vs. The World (or Me vs. Coffee Come On)

This one's pretty straightforward.  Supposedly, there are third wave coffee shops out there who deny their patrons cream or sugar.  You've all read the reasons why and I won't belabor the point that I am not only opposed to this practice, but disagree completely with the mindless naysayers who dictate what and why I can or can't taste. I'll take up this issue (maybe) in some future post.

You know you're a Third Waver if you deny your patrons sugar and/or dairy product.

Scenario #3: Acidity and Clarity vs. Fullness and Body

According to most media I've glanced at, the Third Wave coffee movement got its rep by exposing neophytes to the wonders of clarity and acidity.  The acidity to infuse the brew with all kinds of complex fruitiness, and the clarity to prevent bad flavor elements from covering up the acidity or simply adding undesirable negativity to an otherwise pristine cup of nectar.

Which left the rest of us (me and my army of like-minded troglodytes) in the gutter when it came to the standard aspects of coffee we had always appreciated: richness, full body, nuttiness, but most importantly chocolate, chocolate, CHOCOLATE!

Now don't get me wrong, some of my favorite local roasters are in the clarity camp. And it wasn't until I tried his fresh-roasted coffee rested 4-7 days that I began to reach the highest heights yet with my current technique (using the Eva Solo CafeSolo).  And I even understood that without sifting out the fine powder from my grinder (a first-rate Baratza Virtuoso Preciso), I wasn't truly eliminating a layer of badness that would bring my brew to compare with his best efforts using pour-over.  But eventually, I figured it out and refined my technique.  Again, this is a subject for a later post, but on to...

The moral of the story: if you eschew a little mud in your cup or full body in favor of clarity and bright flavors, you're a card-carrying member of the Third Wave Coffee Club.

So where does that leave me? 

Well, let's just say I call myself a member.  I can taste the flavor profile my local roaster describes before I read the label.  And only the best coffees will satisfy me.  Ergo, I'm a member.

But I think you know where I'm going with this.  I see a lot of emphasis out there on criteria that shouldn't matter.  It doesn't come from poseurs, either, as the people putting out the membership criteria really believe they're onto the good word and they want to spread it.

Like a religion.

See where I'm going with this? 

Next post (assuming I'm not already banned from this site): Waiting for Trifecta






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