A Year in Coffee

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Last year was the first that I dove deeply into the coffee world, turning what was previously an interest into a full-blown passion. While I had previously ground beans at home and brewed in a french press, I decided sometime in 2010 that I wanted to learn more. Going into 2011, I started brewing with an aeropress and chemex, upgraded my grinder to a Baratza Virtuoso, and furthered my coffee knowledge by reading God in a Cup and Uncommon Grounds. I began taking notes on my home brews and asking questions at coffee bars. And I bought lots of coffee. Lots and lots and lots of coffee.

Lots of coffee

Meaghin has more pictures and a full rundown of our 2011 coffee purchases, but I wanted to highlight a few bags in particular.

Coava and Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters is a new enterprise from Trish Rothgeb and Nick Cho; I was lucky enough to get one of the first bags they shipped this year. Their coffee presented a perfect example of what makes me love Ethiopian coffees, offering a pleasantly light body without being too acidic. I like to compare good east African coffees to pinot noir – almost all have a juiciness to them, but the best are balanced with strong bass notes. I loved Wrecking Ball’s fully biodegradable package. But beyond the coffee itself, I was happy to order from Wrecking Ball because of Nick Cho. Cho used to run the amazing Murky Coffee in Arlington, VA, which I visited very frequently when I lived in the DC area. Ironically, I didn’t drink much coffee at the time, having been exposed to some swill in college. But Murky is what enticed me to learn more: the intoxicating smell of freshly ground Counter Culture coffee, the precise movements of the baristas as they brewed espressos, the clear passion of everyone involved. Drinking the Wrecking Ball made me feel as if I were making up for the coffee I never enjoyed at Murky.

If Murky induced my coffee passion, Coava revealed the heights to which this passion could be taken. I drank Coava’s David Mancia from Honduras early in the year; later, I would visit Coava’s Portland shop in person. The David Mancia completely blew my mind. Even in my early days of home-brewing, I couldn’t screw this coffee up: chocalate, berries, an amazing finish, thick and juicy and succulent. I couldn’t wait to see how Coava’s shop measured up to the coffee they roasted, and found one of my favorite coffee shops in the country. I can’t wait to go back.

Coffee Collective

One of the highlights of 2011 was my trip to Copenhagen with Meaghin. Before the trip, I greatly anticipated experiencing Danish culture, perhaps most intrigued by their coffee culture. Almost everywhere we bought coffee in Copenhagen, we felt pleased with the product, but Coffee Collective is an entity unto itself. We visited their new location in Torvehallerne, a glorious outdoor food market, a few times, trying various coffee drinks on each visit; the Kieni from Nyeri, Kenya proved particularly delicious.

Two weeks into 2012 and as many bags brewed; I’m currently finishing up a great roast from Cafe Grumpy, from Finca La Coqueta in Columbia. I look forward to finding out what my favorites will be this year.