We all have our coffee first loves, but with coffee, you don’t have to make a lifelong commitment to a roaster and there’s really no stigma against cheating. You may get upset from time to time with the dirty dishes left in the sink, but your coffee is dependable. And, when it is time to move on, you won’t be left feeling like your coffee has ripped out your heart and stomped on it until you died.
So what is the right coffee-relationship analogy? It’s certainly not a traditional relationship yet I don’t think it resembles the philandering, lascivious guy in a bar, taking home the next new hot young thing merely for the thrill. I tend to think that it might resemble the on-again/off-again relationship of Jean Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir. I, for example, regularly find myself returning to my coffee first true love, Blue Bottle. Sometimes I find my love boiling over and we plunge headfirst into a newly rekindled relationship. At other times our true emotions remain bottled up. Perhaps the timing is just off or we push each others buttons rather than pulling one another close.
A little while back I thought I was headed for a rekindled affair as I drank a cup of Peru Del Norte at the Temescal Farmer’s Market. This bliss in a cup was sharp, edgy and bracing. Several people around me commented that the coffee was bitter as they added considerable quantities of milk and sugar, but as many at the farmer’s market do, they really misinterpreted it. It tasted like ever so slightly sweetened cocoa and was not meant to be a sugary, sweet milk chocolate.
Sadly, when I returned a few weeks later, eager to purchase some, I found that Blue Bottle’s supply had run dry. The del Norte was no more. This seemed to be my torch song. Earlier that same week, I missed my chance to get some of Intelligentsia’s, now legendary, El Salvador Finca Matalapa.
What Blue Bottle was able to offer was the Peru Apram. While they didn’t secretly replace my Peru Del Norte with Folger’s crystals, my experience was something akin to the confusion that occurred when producers switched Darrins in Betwitched. It wasn’t bad, but this was not my beautiful coffee. The Peru Apram was pungent and sharp with hints of white wine and fresh cut pine. It was richer and more earthy than I remember the del Norte being, a more medium to full bodied cup with a slightly grittier mouthfeel.
I also picked up a bag of the Misty Valley Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The Misty Valley has a bright nose of intense fruit: blueberries, most prominently, but also green apple and pineapple. I also got notes of sherry and cocoa. The coffee was crisp and clean but had a slightly harsh, tanniny quality cutting through its otherwise luscious fruit that just didn’t settle right with me. I modified my brewed technique and water temperature just to see if I could dissipate it, but didn’t have any luck. Please let me know if you’ve faired any better.
Don’t get me wrong, both coffees were complex and interesting and certainly better than the norm. They were simply disappointing and somewhat sub-par for what I’ve come to expect from from Blue Bottle. But don’t worry my dear, I will be back.
[As an added bonus, check out these fantastically horrible Folgers commercials, including the 50's verbally abusive husbands (1,2,3) who can't make their own coffee, the 70's Cathy-esque variety commercials where men still can't make their own coffee and this 80's cheesefest, starring Scott Bakula, where men apparently can finally make their own coffee, but only decaf and only while performing in a musical.]