It’s kind of my job to make people excited about coffee. It’s my responsibility to make sure that, when people get to their office in the morning, their minds are blown by the amazing coffee that’s in their office kitchen. Over the past few months of working at Joyride, I’ve reflected a lot on the number of coffee cups I’m improving every day.
I really like coffee. This passion usually manifests itself in eye rolls from friends, family, and coworkers. For years I’ve been getting made fun for traveling around the world with a hand grinder, scale, and Aeropress and being pickier about my brewing water than my drinking water. I’ve learned to not care, though. I go to bed excited like a child on Christmas Eve to wake up and drink coffee the next morning. What’s hard is trying to relay this excitement and passion to the people around me.
In the early days of my coffee enthusiasm, I would force cups of coffee on friends and family and expect them to share the same passion and excitement as I did. This rarely happened, though. I’d make a cup of bright Kenyan coffee for my dad and brother, and they’d complain that it was sour. Other times I’d show up at a relatives house for Thanksgiving with my whole coffee setup and people would make half hearted compliments–obviously just to make me feel good.
I’ve learned that, more than any other beverage than I can think of, coffee is something that people have strong opinions about–even if they really have no background to have them. Everyone has an idea of what coffee is, and generally people don’t agree. Beer has a wide range of flavors that, in general, people agree upon, but this is not the case for coffee. For much of the world coffee is a dark, bitter beverage that tastes better with cream and sugar. It shouldn’t be acidic, have notes of passionfruit, or be drunk when the temperature dips below scalding hot. This makes teaching people and expanding their coffee horizons really difficult.
Lately I’ve been realizing that to teach effectively teach people about coffee you really just need to slowly chip away at their preconceived notions. Throwing varietals, farmers’ names, growing elevations, and complex names in languages that we don’t speak doesn’t help people get excited about coffee. Making amazing coffee, and doing it with humility, makes people excited about coffee. Just saying “try this” and having an honest, non-condescending conversation about what they’re tasting and what they think it is how you get people to think about coffee. Telling people they're wrong about what their coffee preferences are doesn't help.
This has worked with a lot of roommates of mine. I’ll make a Chemex and offer some to my roommates and they’ll slowly notice that the coffee I make for them every morning tastes a lot different than the stuff they’re buying at the bakery on the corner. Eventually they’ll ask my why. I love this question. It’s my in. Eventually they’ll get to a point of commenting that the coffee doesn’t taste as good when I’m not on my game. It’s moments like these that are super exciting. Having someone who previously couldn’t care less about what form their morning caffeine came in make comments on if this particular cup be good or bad is awesome.
More so than the next amazing cup of coffee I’m going to have, having these breakthrough moments with closed minded coffee drinkers is what keeps me interested in coffee. Opening people’s minds to the amazing range of flavors is exciting. Maybe one day I’ll convert these people fully, and they’ll go to sleep the same way I do–giddy with anticipation of their first cup the next morning.
This post was written by Joyride Technician, Michael Pappas.