There are rare times in our lives that one stumbles upon a new passion. In 1988 I was hired as the general manager for a cafe’. It was my first experience in the coffee world. I was introduced to the world of espresso. The large brass espresso machine caught everyone’s attention. The brass eagle that sat atop and the brass steam wands that seemed to flow out the sides. There were no buttons that automated the process. It was all about timing, skill and patience with each beverage. In 1988 espresso and lattes were still pure; espresso and steamed milk with an occasional shot of vanilla.
Far above the thrill of operating that magnificent piece of equipment was the passion I found when I was exposed to the craft of roasting coffee. I immediately fell in love with the large burlap bags that lined my store, the royal blue Probat roaster that sat in the corner and the brass coffee canisters that lined the walls. Coffee roasting was part of my everyday routine. On days that we roasted a bit too long, the Charlotte Fire Department also became part of our daily routine.
I was taught the basics of the three main growing regions in the world. The differences each region creates in the body, acidity and flavors of the coffee bean; the obvious differences in size from the large Kenya bean to the uniqueness of the peaberry. Coffee tastings was a huge part of my job description and I grew in my knowledge. I was able to blind taste most coffees and know from what region they were grown.
Since 1988 I have had the privilege to work for a verity of coffee companies. The world of espresso has changed. The original espresso and latte have turned into 600 calorie beverages that can be served hot, iced or frozen. What remains the same…the coffee bean. Today it was decided that I have developed an allergic reaction to the oils and/or molds that exist on roasted coffee beans. I now have to be passionate about this little bean from a distance.
This little bean that 20 plus years ago took my breath away…literally takes my breath away.