postscript: coffee

These numbers are way too real: We served over 3,000 people in two days. This means I brewed over 1,500 coffee samples per day…huzzah! I’ll give myself a pat on the back considering I’m an educator / writer and not, by any means, a barista. Oh, and adding that there were way more people who we just “talked coffee” with. Yeah, pat on the back just became a peanut butter cookie.

It was refreshing to remember how like education service is: there’s an objective, a couple different routes to meet that objectives, and a lot of room for discussion. Of course, improvisation too.

To make Verve taste great (which isn’t hard since the roasters already did the work), we went with a V60 pour over set up. The Hario-wares were beautiful–totally stunning. We caught people’s eye and they barely noticed how sweaty and red we were…thank Hario.

When placed on top of our three home scales, the set up was more perfect for me. I like consistency. I like knowing everyone is getting the same amount of grounds to water: no jealous coffee drinkers and no gossip right. Like Cee Lo, I like to live with “no problem“. That being said, factors change. Especially when you’re outside and there’s wind, sun, and loads of movement. Jesse and I probably tasted every hour or so and changed things as needed. Just like being back in the classroom, but with a co-teacher (oh man, co-teaching with Jeff Allen and Kate Brady are days to miss).

So the set up was perfect and our placement was pretty sweet: next to Rustic Bakery and Saint Benoît Creamery. Close enough to Swanton’s strawberries that I couldn’t stop thinking about going home to make coffee and strawberry truffles or a strawberry coffee cake. Carol and Josh from Rustic Bakery were warm and generous…it matters, at events, that we all see how “in it together” we are. Carol and Josh really identify with other businesses: they serve Ritual coffee, they value Napa Valley cheese makers and wine makers, and they see how all of our communities can support one another. Oh, and they are really authentic: Josh shared memories of Monterey Bay when there were scooter parks and Carol shared some beef on weck admiration (she’s also from Western New York–small world).

Most important: we had awesome coffee.

Day One: La Roxanita from El Salvador. This means we got to talk about Don Nacho, whose farm won the 2011 El Salvador Cup of Excellence competition. The crowd, foodies at heart, were totally stoked to hear he was drying on raised African Beds and using natural processes: the coffee cherries are not depulped, but allowed to dry while still in the cherry. The drying cherries look a little like raisins. People can hold onto that image: a raisin. I can’t help but wonder if you can taste that image too. It’s a sweet coffee and hardly anyone missed sugar and milk. In fact, most people came back and mentioned not wanting any of that in this sweetie of a coffee. Oh yeah, we ran out of coffee that day. And cups. Even when we weren’t serving, people really wanted to hear about Verve, about farm level practices, and the real sense of community Verve is cultivating. EXCITING!

Day Two: El Aguacatal, Honduras. Jorge Alberto Vallecillos’ farm has high elevation. There are “slower” flavors (my term and totally not official coffee-talk, like I care about “official”). I think blackberry and “darker” flavors are slow–again, this might be my synesthesia and “tasting an image” thing. This is a Sunday coffee (dudes, I’m a lay person here): it’s exotic and slow-sip friendly. Sunday shifted a bit to people wanting tea, people with families, and people who had more questions about coffee and health. This coffee really let us showcase complexity (we won over some tea drinkers). Of course, I’d also just read all the new studies about coffee and longevity and (perfect for the Monterey crew) Martha’s latest issue which features coffee’s link to reducing nonmelanoma skin cancer by 5% (another great reason to save the grounds and use it as a scrub).

The weekend was long. The coffee was awesome.

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