If we have one hope for 2018, it’s to drink even better coffee than the year before. But since we all can’t drink Panamanian Geisha every day, it might be better to set some realistic goals. So here’s our nine coffee-related New Year’s resolutions we hope you’ll join us in making.
Try More Origins
Most of us have our go-to coffee origins: Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya, Guatemala. There’s a short list of countries that are favored by consumers and professionals alike. But that shouldn’t be the case. There are some incredible coffees coming from unexpected places. A short time ago places like Peru, Burundi, and even China were not known for high scoring coffees, but each year the quality keeps getting better and better. In 2018, we plan on seeking out more origins we either have never had, or don’t often try.
Don’t Waste Any Coffee
If you’re like us, you have a half-dozen almost-empty bags of stale coffee scattered around your kitchen. Most of it will stay there until it’s so old you don’t feel guilty throwing it out. But there’s really no excuse for such waste. Even slightly stale, if from a reputable roaster, that coffee is better than 90% of the coffee grown in the world. Instead of tossing it out, try creating your own blends. We recently committed to not wasting any coffee, and have been surprised by how delicious a random leftover blend can be!
No Take Away Cups
If the specialty coffee industry has a dirty secret, it’s how much waste is generated by billions of non-recyclable take away cups. As consumers, we’re going to try to make 2018 the year of no take away cups- even if that means setting our alarm an extra ten minutes early so we have time to drink that auto drip in ceramic. We’re also looking forward to less coffee stains on our shirts from leaky plastic lids.
Drink More Decaf
We’re not sure what 2018 holds, but we know you’re not getting any younger. Sure, a cup of coffee after dinner sounds delightful, but being wide awake at 3:00 AM doesn’t. Lucky for you, a growing number of roasters are taking the same care to source a delicious, well processed decaf as their caffeinated offerings. Programs like Cafe Imports’s Decaf Select are making better quality decaf more readily available. Still not convinced? Read our article, “Five Lies About Decaf You Probably Believe.”
Cut the Sugar
Yes, coffee tastes sweeter with sugar in it, but there’s a lot of reasons to skip the trip to the condiment stand. Besides the obvious health benefits, cutting added sugar is going to make the nuances of your coffee’s flavor come alive. In our experience, the simplest way to cut sugar is cold turkey. The first few cups may taste overly bitter, but it won’t be long before you’ll never dream of going back. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering a smaller size too, saving a few bucks with your calories.
Learn About a Few Coffee Farms
That name on your coffee bag isn’t just an exotic sounding name your roaster made up (well actually it sometimes is- you have to watch out for that). Most specialty roasters name their coffees after the farm or cooperative that produced it. Famous wineries, like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, are household names with wine enthusiasts. It’s high time coffee drinkers learn about the premier coffee estates. We can’t think of a better place to start than Panama, where specialty coffee farms like Elida Estate (pictured) and Hacienda La Esmeralda have excellent, informative websites.
Clean Your Coffee Gear More Often
Is your ceramic Hario V60 varying shades of mahogany? Is the hopper on your grinder greasy from coffee oils? Most of us could stand to clean our equipment more often. For most people, a monthly Cafiza soak is enough to keep your kit in tip top shape (N.B. just use a dry paper towel on that hopper!). Don’t be surprised if your coffee starts tasting cleaner too!
Learn How to Tamp Leveling
If there’s one error that’s still rampant in specialty coffee, it’s poor tamping. Whether you’re making one espresso a day or two hundred, it takes careful, intentional effort to have a nice level tamp. In our experience, many baristas are very focused on the amount of pressure they apply when tamping. But unless the coffee is evenly distributed and evenly tamped, the poundage is mostly irrelevant. Easiest way to check your tamp: leave the tamper in the portafilter after you tamp and check to see if it’s plumb.
Ever wonder why there’s so many videos lampooning specialty coffee culture? It’s because nobody likes a pretentious elitist bragging about how special their coffee is. In 2018 we think it’s time to shut up and let the coffee speak for itself. Beside, if someone doesn’t like your coffee, that might be a good thing. Specialty coffee production continues to drop at origin even as specialty coffee consumption grows around the globe. In other words, get ready for coffee to get even more expensive in the new year.