It's raining and about the time the sun would set, but for the storm clouds. I've opened a window at both ends of the house, so I'm listening to the disjointed pittering and pattering of two different rainfalls in stereo. Inside, my house is made of hardwoods and leathers and antiques and sticks I brought home from Colorado and I'm currently reclining on a dark chocolate Chesterfield sofa in front of the idle fireplace. And the whole situation begs for one thing.
I ruminate over my humidor and finally decide on a very nice cigar from Jaime Garcia (that's HY-may). Every bit of a 66 guage (1 1/32" diameter), this barrel of a cigar smokes cool and flavorful. But when it's time to perform my pre-smoke ritual of cutting, feeling how moist and tightly wrapped the tobacco is, and tasting the dry-draw, I was surprised to see the tip pre-clipped. I love my Xikar cutter, and I felt a bit sad it didn't make a showing at tonight's performance.
There's something to the rituals we perform when we partake in things we enjoy, and I can't help thinking these little ceremonies are part of the enjoyment. I can appreciate the professional cut on the conical cap of this Reserva Especial, giving me the draw Jaime intended when designing this cigar, and I can appreciate the simplicity and sealability of a screw cap on a bottle of Martin Ray Pinot Noir; but I love the part of wine drinking that is cutting the foil and pulling the cork. And leaving my corkscrew out of the game is poor form.
That's one thing I love about making coffee. It's not enough to scoop ground coffee into an auto-drip; there's an experience here that is missing. Like preparing to smoke a cigar or drink wine or have a cocktail (You don't use an auto-cocktail-maker, do you?), preparing to drink coffee has its own set of unique rituals. The most famous coffee ritual is in Ethiopia. The ceremony involves roasting, pulverizing, boiling a couple of times, and drinking together. My coffee ceremony usually involves a hot water dispenser, an electric grinder, a pourover cone, and my special cup. I enjoy making coffee by hand. It's simple, whether it be a pourover or presspot or aeropress, or any number of methods available today, and hand-brewing changes coffee from a drink into an experience. A ritual. A ceremony.
I grew up going to a church on Wednesday nights and twice on Sundays that sang old hymns and baptized in a pool before the congregation. We knelt to pray and sat quietly while the minister preached lessons from historical accounts of the Bible. Evangelists evoked images of fire and brimstone, and camp meeting every summer was held in an open-sided tabernacle where sweat accumulated and flies were attendant. As I got older, the church modernized and exchanged hymns for prayer choruses, history for funny stories, and kneeling for standing, suits for chambray. And the rules of the church, the rituals of the church, the ceremonies were exchanged for a book on How to Grow Your Church. The simple act of kneeling to pray exhibits a reverence that I felt was lost.
That's the reverence and ritual I want to bring to you with coffee. No kneeling or praying is required, but just taking that extra effort in your coffee-making will make the experience more rewarding. The coffee will taste better and you'll feel more connected to the process. Take the time to smell the beans when you open the bag. To boil some water and then grind the coffee and linger over its fragrances for a moment. Brewing is a craft. It's a romantic and simple craft and it will open the door to an enjoyment of coffee you've never experienced. Your coffee-drinking should be an experience.
The 2 Barrel Project: micro-lot experiences
We're focusing on that experience even more with a series of super-coffees starting next month. The DoubleShot Coffee experience for you at home is going to be magnificent with each of these unique micro-lot coffees. Each one will come to you with accompaniments and tasting notes and brewing instructions that will elevate already-amazing coffees, so you can get the most out of the whole ritual. Look out for this new series we're calling the 2 Barrel Project*, commencing in a big way with a Gesha from Volcan, Panama.
* Named for our Jabez Burns 2 barrel sample roaster, where we discover great coffees in 200 gram batches.