Posted May 22, 2002 10:00pm
I got an email today that said in part,
"I want to thank you for being my espresso sensei".
Very humbling stuff, that is. It's also a hefty responsibility that I certainly don't take lightly. And it made me think about my own "coffee and espresso" sensei over the years. I may have some high profile coffee related websites, but I'd be nothing in this zany coffee and espresso sub culture if it wasn't for certain individuals online and in the real world that helped me progress. Here's some of them.
Barry Jarrett (Riley's Coffee and Fudge, www.rileys-coffee.com)
I don't think I'd be anywhere today if it wasn't for Barry Jarrett. This guy has been in alt.coffee since its inception, and I can remember reading posts by him when I was a lurker back in 1995 and 1996. Back then, believe it or not, I was shy in the newsgroup, never posting, just reading off and on, and Barry's various posts where gem mint ten quality. When I started participating in the newsgroup around 1998, Barry patiently put up with my newbie-questions about espresso machines, quality of grind and much more. He's a wealth of coffee and espresso information, and he's generous with that wealth.
Tom Owen (Sweet Marias, www.sweetmarias.com)
While Tom might have been more of a passive sensei when compared to Barry, (most of what Tom taught me was stuff I read on his website and his postings), he was nonetheless another major influence in my coffee progression. Tom helped me learn one of the most valuable things I could have about quality coffee in the home - home roasting. Nothing, not even the grinder, boosted the quality as much. I recently heard that Tom was very happy to have met me at the SCAA this year, and I cannot tell you how great that makes me feel!
Don Schoenholt (Gillies Coffee, www.gilliescoffee.com)
Don is a long time participant in the newsgroup alt.coffee and is a veritable walking encyclopaedia of coffee knowledge. Anytime Don posts an article in the newsgroup, it's something worth reading, worth printing out and worth referring to, over and over again. Look the guy up on groups.google.com and see what I mean.
Ken Davids (Cupper, Author, www.coffeereview.com)
I had the distinct pleasure to have met Ken Davids at the SCAA this year, and finally tell him in person how much his books helped my progression in the world of coffee and espresso. As I advanced in my knowledge and opinions, I did find myself in dispute with some of the things Ken has written, but his books are a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about espresso, coffee, and roasting.
The Alt.Coffee Community (newsgroup participants)
I've singled out some alt.coffee participants above, but I'd like to also make it very clear that many of the participants have helped me advance my knowledge and appreciation for quality coffee and espresso, and I wouldn't be where I am today without those guys and gals. They can be a pain in the ass at times (I'm sure many feel the same way about me :)) but they all collectively are a sensei of mine. Alt.Coffee is a friendly place, but also a bit of a minefield - if you don't know what you're talking about, you'll be treated with kid gloves most of the time (the first times)... but if you persist, you'll be spanked down by some of the more knowledgeable coffee and espresso fanatics on the planet.
While I may be a sensei of sorts to some people today, I'll never forget the fact that I have a lot of people to thank for being so generous and giving with their own knowledge, wisdom and experience in the coffee and espresso worlds.