Yes, but is it tasty?

June 28th, 2007

Tasty. I love that word. Its like delicious but slightly less camp. It implies, to me, more than simply tasting good – it implies moreishness and comfort, perhaps even satisfaction.

Those of you I encountered on my roadtrip, and Stephen especially, will be sick of this particular rant/”philosophy”.  I will start with food, because food is wonderful and I suppose that it is the best metaphor (is it possible to write about coffee without endless metaphors?).

I think most of the time we eat because we are hungry but we aspire to eat something tasty.  Be it tacos (look, I am obsessed – leave it), a great steak or a beautifully cooked lasagna, this is undeniably great food but entirely different from a plate of food Wylie Dufresne may serve you, or something Adria may conjure.  They, of course, are not even vaguely alone in plating up dishes of food that are to be eaten and enjoyed by the head more than the heart.  Food where the pairings of ingredients are spot on, clever and interesting and it undoubtedly a pleasure to eat but isn’t food you crave.

Most customers approach coffee from a very functional point of view.  It is needed, for chemical comfort or just as part of routine and of course (you hope) for pleasure.  However, a lot of the time it feels like we are looking for the cups that are intensely unusual, complex and of course interesting.  Coffees from Idido, for example, are incredible – full of intense fruit flavours and treading the fine line of wild beautifully.  They are coffees that taste nothing like coffee.  I love them for what they offer as well as what they suggest coffee is capable of.  However, first thing in the morning as I stumble down the stairs, or when I duck into a cafe out from the cold I want coffee to do something else for me – I just want it to be tasty.  It is cups of coffee like this that will become benchmarks of our nostalgia.

I love cupping, I love the ritual and I love pushing myself in an area I see a huge room for improvement.  However I am often in fear that certain coffees are glossed over because they aren’t blockbusters.  Yet at home I am yearning more and more for tasty.  Which is odd, as I had been (not so long ago) hell bent on a path of discovery and a search for the blockbuster type coffees.  This morning I brewed a Chemex of coffee (better than any chemex as I had been grinding too fine – thank you to Kyle G for fixing that) and it was so very tasty.  I don’t think it was as good as the coffee could be – I know the co-op well and the coffee is capable of extra-ordinary fruit – this cup was just balanced and rounded and perhaps lacking in complexity but still immensely enjoyable to sip at as I wrote a few e-mails and caught up on the feeds.  I didn’t want to have to think about it, I just wanted good coffee.  I do worry that coffees like this will get left behind in our exploration of coffee’s boundaries.

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