All About Learning Coffee

1 minute read

Over the holidays I took some time to read books about coffee. From enthusiasts to artisans to roasters to historians, they all have a lot to say about coffee.

Here is what I read:

Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids

Home Coffee Roasting: Romance and Revival – 2003 by Kenneth Davids

The Art and Craft of Coffee

The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Selecting, Roasting, and Brewing Exquisite Coffee – 2010 by Kevin Sinnott

The Coffeeist Manifesto

The Coffeeist Manifesto: No More Bad Coffee! Paperback – 2012 by Steven D. Ward

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes – 2012 by James Freeman

Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World – 2010 by Mark Pendergrast

My experience with coffee has been limited compared to what I now know is possible. There are stories that I drank coffee as a young child at my mother’s friend’s kitchen table when she visited. But, I don’t remember that. I do remember adding powdered creamer and sugar to coffee in Styrofoam cups at my dad’s office in the backyard around ten years old. In college, coffee fueled many late nights at Waffle House studying for physics exams. At one of my favorite jobs, our software team would use afternoon trips to Starbucks to discuss progress and technical challenges. The first coffee I remember tasting “good” was in Las Vegas at the blackjack tables of the Hard Rock. The next coffee was on vacation in Jamaica before I had even heard of or learned about Blue Mountain coffee’s reputation.

The helpful hints I came away from all the books can be summarized as:

  1. Usual glass-carafe-sitting-on-hot-plate coffee makers don’t make good coffee.
  2. Buy whole bean coffee in small amounts for better flavor
  3. The quality of your grinder impacts coffee the most
  4. Insulated coffee pots are better for the coffee

After reading about the four main methods to prepare coffee - Drip, Pour Over, Vacuum Siphon, and Espresso, I decided to start with improving our drip coffee and pour over. Vacuum and Espresso seem like more advanced techniques for serious coffee people.

Besides putting together a shopping list of gear, I received a coffee subscription that will deliver whole bean coffees every month.