Step aside, craft beer. There’s another craft beer in town, and it revitalizes an age-old drink.
‘Craft coffee’, a rather new term in the industry, refers to the pursuit of making a high-quality cup of coffee, while engaging consumers in the history of coffee – from the origins of beans the way it’s brewed in your local cafe.
Like the rise of microbreweries, artisanal cafes are flourishing in the United States. These stores roast the coffee beans on the spot, experimenting with bringing out different nodes of flavor to give a more nuanced taste to a cup of black coffee.
One of these stores is Cafe of peace, in Minneapolis, which distributes its coffee primarily throughout the Midwest. CEO Lee Wallace says the growing trend means customers are paying more attention to what’s in their cup. “People think of coffee less as a bowl of energy,” she says. “People are more intentional about their coffee, rather than just drinking what comes out of the gas station pot.”
Baby boomers are leading the way
It’s no surprise that Baby Boomers (and Gen X) are the biggest consumers of coffee – 69% of those 40 to 59 drink coffee every day, as do 76% of those 60 and over, according to a survey by the National Coffee Association. Only 41% of 18-24 year olds drink coffee every day.
It should also come as no surprise that baby boomers are at the forefront of artisanal coffee. “We’ve been doing this since the 90s,” Wallace explains. “We have a very solid base of people who have taken an interest in what we do and have been founding supporters, and these are people in this. [boomer] demographic age. They helped us take off.
If you haven’t gotten into the craft coffee craze yet, here are four things you need to know:
1. Approach it as a dining experience. Have you ever thought that black coffee tastes boring? Think again. that of New York Café at the culture counter 2013 US Brewers Cup champion Erin McCarthy says coffee, if made right, can taste a lot of different things. “I did a coffee tasting where we tasted plums, chocolate, pineapple, lemongrass and caramel,” he says.
This revolution in making the perfect cup of coffee has been dubbed the “third wave” of coffee. McCarthy describes the first wave as the proliferation of coffee in the United States and the second as the introduction of specialty drinks from chains like Starbucks and Caribou.
The third wave, Wallace explains, is finding that “sweet spot” during roasting, which requires precision to fully develop the sweetness of the coffee without burning the natural sugars in the beans, making it a true culinary art.
2. Learn the story. Gone are the days when coffee was only used as a source of energy. It’s now commonly seen as an experience, where people learn what’s in their cup.
Craft coffee is all about relationships, Wallace says, with coffee growers, importers, roasters, baristas, co-ops and consumers. The third wave of coffee makes these relationships transparent, as well as the roasting and brewing philosophy behind each batch.
Artisanal coffees, like Stumptown Coffee Roasters based in Portland, Oregon, make it easy for consumers to understand their coffee. Every coffee they roast has a story – where it came from, the relationship between Stumptown and the coffee farm, etc. It even includes images of the production process.
3. Use the barista as a tour guide. While coffee names may be unfamiliar and even exotic, like Finca El Puente and Idido, don’t be afraid to be adventurous and try something new. Trust the barista to help you choose the right mug for you.
“I think the best thing a coffee drinker can do is think about the types of flavors they like, instead of asking their barista, ‘What’s good? [You] might say, “I tend to like coffees that taste like chocolate and nuts.” Do you have something like that? ‘ McCarthy suggests.
4. Coffee is good for you, so drink it up. Recent studies conclude that your daily cup of java does more than wake you up in the morning.
Studies have shown that coffee, in moderation, can protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, depression, and memory impairment.
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently discovered that coffee, which is the main source of antioxidant polyphenols for Americans, is linked to overall longevity. Contrary to previous findings, the NIH concluded that coffee is associated with a neutral to reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, such as atrial and ventricular arrhythmias.
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