When I was younger, my dad used to make me “white coffees.” From the adult’s coffee pot, he’d pour a splash of the brew in my mug, then flood it with hot milk, and stir in a spoon or two of sugar. I’d drink the liquid caramel with pride and savory French toast doused in crème fraîche on the side.
My parent’s coffee ritual has always been strong, and their a.m. game sacred. In my mind’s eye, I can see them sitting on the balcony or in the garden, or in their living room, around a pinewood table piece with a glass top. The X from where my memories of home originate, and not unlike Madrid’s Kilometre Zero from which the distances of Spain’s national roads are measured, this coffee table seems to mark the start of my paths.
“Hajte na kafu,” Come for coffee, my mom will text me, followed by a photo of dad’s morning face, half blurry, half framed. “Evo mi pijemo kafu,” We’re having coffee, appears like a mantra throughout our chat history. My favorite is: “Tale ispeko kafu,” Dad made coffee–because I know it’s her favorite.
My parents might as well have invented slow coffee, but it would take the third wave for me to get interested. I used to order the odd espresso following a feast, but it wasn’t until last summer that I started drinking coffee daily.
Even though I didn’t drink coffee, I still loved inviting G for a cup and bringing him to the best cafes when traveling. The pour-over swirls and the hipsterdom of the places swayed me. Something clicked. But the jitters were in the way, and so I hung around as the company.
Then last year, when I switched to a high-fat diet, and I started making bulletproof coffees, I noticed that my body was handling the caffeine. Now, everything came together, and some. My interest in the brewing process intensified. I happened to get invited to a workshop on manual brewing. And there was that bag of coffee beans that I was gifted.
Like that, I started not only drinking coffee but also brewing it. What I like about making coffee is that I can make the process as big or small as I want. I can geek out and experiment with pouring techniques or water temperatures and brew up a few tastings in a row, or I can just make a good cup of coffee. Depending on my mood, it can be a skill that I practice, a hobby that I get lost in, or a pleasant ritual that I share with the people I love.
Coffee earned an essential place in my daily routine. It’s my cue to start writing (2nd cup), to start coding (3rd cup), and it’s also become part of G’s and my slow weekend days, and morning walks (1st cup). Sharing a coffee has become our ritual, one that envelops and connects our days with ordinary-big-magic moments of stillness, and the one that ultimately leads me back to that table.
These days coffee beans are the souvenir that I bring back from my travels. It’s also the gift that I look forward to receiving when G comes back from his. The list below includes some of the most memorable coffee beans I tried and my current favorites.
Aricha · The Alchemist, Singapore
Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia - natural - heirloom -floral grapes, tropical fruits
Bela Epoca · The Alchemist, Singapore
Alta Mogiana, Brazil - natural - yellow Catucaí -daisy floral, winey, cacao finish
Gesha Village 2019 Lot86 · Cupping Room, Hong Kong
Oma, Gesha, Ethiopia - natural - Gesha 1931 (G31) - jasmine, pineapple, peach, bergamot
Sítio Córrego Salazar · The Roastery by Nozy Coffee, Tokyo, Japan
Araponga, Minas Gerais, Matas de Minas, Brazil - pulped natural - Catuaí - honey, red apple, Japanese pear, creamy
Shebera · SlowMov, Barcelona, Spain
Guji, Ethiopia - natural - 74140 & 74112 -honey, papaya
📓 Books and Guides
The New Rules of Coffee – Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen
Rules I loved: Rule 28 – Coffee can be a love language, Rule 41 – Drink an espresso at the bar with the barista, and Rule 42 – Bussing your table is polite.
A latte (way of drinking) I might try: The deconstructed latte–espresso, sparkling water, and nut milk.
Give us a hazelnut and date milk paired with a nice zippy espresso blend. Sip the’ spro, then sip the nut milk …that’s good! The sweetness and textural complexity of each beverage bounce off each other in a rather pleasing way. Enjoy the bubbles last to refresh and repeat until happy. Rule 47 – Alternative milks are delicious
Advice I tried and tested: When G and I were in Melbourne, we asked the barista at Traveller for restaurant recommendations. We knew we had found our man when the first place that he mentioned was also one of our favorites (no. 6 in 10 Things to Do in Melbourne.) – Rule 38 – Baristas know all the coolest stuff in their neighborhood
Sidenote (a brewing tip)
I’ve turned heaps of coffee beans into awful brews. But, for a few weeks now, I’m hitting the all-treasured consistent cup, no matter the roast that I pick up.
In my experience, out of all the variables that can be tweaked, like coffee weight, grind size, water weight, and water temperature, getting the grind settings right is what transformed my brews from tasting like tea to coffee.
Instead of comparing pictures of different grounds with mine, which doesn’t help me at all, I’ll ask baristas to grind me a 30-gram sample from a bag of beans that I buy. Then, at home, I’ll try several grind settings until my grounded beans resemble the sample.
I buy my tools in specialty coffee shops or online via Kurasu.
Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder
I gifted this grinder, along with a coffee workshop, to G for his birthday. But as Caffeina would have it, I was invited to join the workshop and became the shared owner of this burr the same day.
Bodum Chambord French Press
The French press is the first brewing method I tried. Then came the Kalita.
Dale Harris x Loveramics Coffee Cups
I like using my tableware for mixed purposes. I might serve tea in a breakfast bowl, soup in a ceramic mug, and coffee in a water glass. These cups are an exception, which I’ve so far only used for coffee. But, come to think of it, I’m sure they’d hold some soft-boiled eggs pretty nicely too.
Hario V60 Drip Scale
Also known as Harry to family and friends.
Cafelix (both the Jaffa and Florentine/Levinsky locations), Tel Aviv, Israel
Five Oars Coffee Roasters (2nd location at Asia Square Tower 1), Singapore
The Roastery by Nozy Coffee, Tokyo, Japan
SlowMov, Barcelona, Spain
Traveller by Seven Seeds, Melbourne, Australia
Special mention: The Alchemist, Barcelona, Spain
I did a customized brewing workshop with Yan, one of the owners of the cafe. Yan taught me to recognize the coffees I like most, dispelled my confusion around brewing techniques, and gave me the confidence to keep on experimenting.
🖤 The Transcript That Made Me Teary-Eyed
KASUYA: Uh, my boss roast my coffee and the coffee is from him, Joseph, the owner of Ninety Plus Coffee. Nice guy.
ANNOUNCER: Nice guy.
From the Q&A with Tetsu Kasuya, champion of the 2016 World Brewers Cup–and I’m pretty sure, a nice guy himself.