As you like it (Jan 2, 2012)

James Kilbourn

This is an original blog post which I wrote towards the beginning of my coffee journey. I have left it unedited and republished it here for your reading pleasure.

Everyone has their preferences and this is not limited to how they may enjoy their coffee. Not only the taste but their ritual of how they prepare their morning pick-me-up but also how they like it served and ultimately how they like to enhance its flavour to suit their taste.

Some of these preferences may make a coffee connoisseur squirm and want to retaliate with a barrage of educational facts and expert advice on how it SHOULD be done. And with good reason. There is a science to coffee (believe it or not). Research papers have been written on the subject and published in scientific journals with careful analysis to grind size, water quality, brew temperature, degree of roast and a plethora of other parameters that influence the taste of coffee. There are research papers on the science of milk and how it affects the taste of filter coffee and espresso based drinks. Important stuff - to the coffee industry. There is a place for this advice and it does make a difference to the budding and expert connoisseur and those who wish to listen.

But it is important to remember (at least I have to remind myself) that everyone likes their coffee the way THEY like it.

My wife likes her coffee piping hot, so much so that I have to heat it further in the microwave oven after it has brewed. This is a big no-no in the coffee world - brewing temperature between 92 and 96°C and should not be reheated as this spoils the flavour. My Mother-in-law likes to make a pot of coffee which will sit on the hot-plate for hours before the final cup is consumed. Another no-no. Coffee should be served fresh and consumed within at most 20 minutes after brewing after which it starts to get bitter (if left to warm on a hotplate). My father adds many spoons of sugar to his coffee (far more than he should for a number of reasons), adds a block of ice to it and will let it stand and come back to finish it off later. People may dose less or more coffee than is recommended, prefer chicory based “coffee” or couldn’t care less if their cappuccino is one third espresso, one third steamed milk and one third micro-foam - as long as it tastes good. I should be the last one to criticize because I was one of them. But now I know better...

There I go, wanting to educate and change the way people enjoy their coffee. And so I should because I believe that changing certain habits is good and should leave the person to whom I have dispensed this wisdom with a better cup of coffee. But I must concede that sometimes I need to let it be. I can make the coffee my way when I make it but when you make it you should make it to your taste. After all, it’s your cup of coffee.

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