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Things I love about coffee and espresso
Home >> Other >> Love and Hate >> loving coffee

There are so many things to like about coffee (and espresso). I look at this list daily and realize how great it is to be involved in this thing.

  • The Passion: I've seen folks in the wine industry. I've seen folks in the home brewing industry. I've seen folks in the cigar industry. I've even seen folks in the motorcycle industry. None hold a candle to the massive amounts of passion and dedication I've seen in the coffee biz. None.

  • The Art of the Barista: We live in good times, right now, because the art and skill of the Barista is growing, both in the amount of people who practice it, and the level of appreciation there is within John and Jane Public. It's still periphery, but I've seen it increase tenfold over just a few years ago.

  • Espresso Specialists, Inc.: They get their own listing because they set the standard for how passionate and dedicated an espresso importer / distributor can be. Forget that - they are not setting the standard - they are at their own complete level - they are so far ahead of any other espresso machine importer / manufacturer, they set a new standard.

  • CoffeeKids: No, not this website - the CoffeeKids charitable organization. Heart and coffee, together. Donate now.

  • Zoka, Hines, Stumptown, JJ Bean, Many More: I'm leaving way too many out, but I love the craftsman micro roastery / café models set by these shops and so many others (JJ isn't necessarily micro). They are leading the wave for espresso and coffee mastery and passion on a global scale, whether or not the Italians wanna know about it or not :)

  • The Rancilio Silvia: We're so lucky that this machine went retail instead of just being a "sellers' bonus" as it was originally planned. This is one of those epiphany machines, the one that takes the consumer to an entirely new level of consistency and quality in their home espresso.

  • The Mazzer Mini: $400's a lot of dough, but if you look at other industries, where else can you get the absolute best for your hobby for so cheap a dollar amount. My Dad just bought a set of irons (for golfing) for $1,200. The driver he bought was $400, and he still thinks he can do better. The Mazzer Mini is the standard bearer for quality home grinding. It's a commercial grinder meant as a backup or decaf grinder, but in the home, nothing has a better package of size vs. performance.

  • Intelligentsia Coffee: In Chicago, there's only one place to go. Intelligentsia and it's owner, Doug Zell, get the nod from me on this list for several reasons, but one stands out - Doug hosted a prototype event that will soon be the model for many more espresso and coffee aficionado gatherings across the US and Canada - his "in tune" feelings with the consumer are the model that many other roasteries and cafes would do well to follow.

  • Seattle: For all the big chain mentalities and politics that go along with it, we're so fortunate that Seattle has stepped up to the plate to do what it has been doing for 20+ years in the realm of quality coffee. Seattle is the forefront of espresso today - the Italians are being left in the dust as new ways to build and present the world's best beverage are being investigated in the Pacific North West.

  • Starbucks: Yes, Starbucks. For all their corporate crap (see my bad things about coffee, below), Starbucks must be credited for many things - showing the general public there is better coffee out there. Having stellar after sales service for products that most vendors can't (or won't) touch. Actively promoting Fair Trade coffee - they may not sell a heckuva lot of it compared to all the coffee they sell, but the fact that they promote it like crazy is awesome - it educates the public about the Coffee Crisis.

  • Bronwen Serna: She's my favourite Baristi, and as such, gets a place on this list. We're talking a person who lives, breathes and thinks espresso 24/7. Well, she does have a social life, but do you know any other Barista who loves the "game" so much that she'll get up early to open one shop and work her tail off, then go to another shop and work until 11pm and close that shop, all the time loving every aspect of what she does? Fourth best in the US, first in our hearts.

  • Elektra: Elektra gets a bad rap sometimes about how their products may not be as good as others, or parts are hard to get, but you know what? No other company pushes the concept of beauty and refinement in their products like Elektra does. Dr. Federico Fregnan runs the company, and his passion levels run deep for the true artistry that espresso and the Barista can be.

  • Illy: Thank God for Illy. No other company does more pure scientific research, and no other company cares more about what makes espresso what it is than the Illy company. They share their knowledge with the world, and espresso technicians and espresso drinkers are the beneficiaries.

  • Illy Art Cups: I believe in the intrinsic ties between espresso, coffee, art and artistry. Illy art cups embody this to the hilt. They are expensive, limited, desired and sometimes scorned as accruetements, but I don't care. I use Illy cups, $400 ones, at least once a week to drink a near-perfect espresso, and life just seems complete.

  • SCAA: They also made my hit list (the other page), but we're fortunate to have the Specialty Coffee Association of America. They push the boundaries for quality coffee. They are closely involved in the Barista competitions. They push for public education in the coffee crisis and in ethical coffees. They promote good café practices, and if more cafes and coffee houses were serious SCAA members, we consumers would benefit greatly.

  • Sherri and Danny Johns: Sherri and Danny never gets the recognition they deserve. They are the primo movers in not only providing legitimacy to the US and Canadian Barista competitions, but helping to establish them as worthy, national media covered events that help promote the artistry and skill level that turns the PBTC (person behind the counter) into a Barista. Rock on, Sherri and Danny.

  • Web Vendors who Care: I won't name names here, because there are many, but I love the fact that in our chosen passion, we have many web vendors of high quality and high moral standards who want to make sure customers get the best product for their needs. I know of countless cases where specific web vendors have lost money by pointing a consumer to a product more suited for them (but lower in cost or margin). This isn't recognized enough.
Other Parts of the What I love and dont' love about Coffee Section.
Things I don't like about Coffee  
Just as there are many things to celebrate in coffee, there are some things that I dispise in the realm of the beverage. This isn't meant to be vindictive - it's meant to educate. [ more ]  

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