WOW. just wow.
that was the only coherent thought i can hear from the thousand others jumbled in my head.
i just got back from my first ever movie première, and lo and behold, it was a documentary on none other than COFFEE. my holy grail drink (aside from red wine). now ain’t that surprising.
the documentary was instigated by a coffee and cafe blogger “Cafe French Toast” in collaboration with the Avocado & Coconut Production; it tells us more on the philosophy of coffee, where it originally came from and the labour behind those beans that later on became such a huge and accessible commodity to us.
the most profound thing that i learned was this: coffee is made three times from the day it was produced.
the first was in the plantation where coffee is (in rare cases now) handpicked and cleaned. just manual labour involving earth, water and a lot of hands. but that is the first step to the production of what is really REALLY good coffee.
the second is in the roaster where the beans turn from green to brown. whether it is a light roast or a dark roast, this is where all of that is decided. (i have always been opting for a dark roast because that is very similar to what Indonesian coffee tastes like, but apparently coffee quality is much more transparent in light roasted coffee beans, so i might try that)
and the third most tangible process, is of course in brewing the coffee. once the coffee beans were grounded, they are either straight up brewed to make drip/filtered coffee slash cappuccino if you add on frothed milk, or espresso if pressed. this is the biggest misconception that most people (including myself before watching this documentary) have- that good coffee is made through this process, except that it’s not. well, it does to a certain extent, but that would only be because you have a good barista making you coffee; that comes down to skill instead of quality.
basically the whole idea is to not rid the coffee of its original flavour from when it was just freshly picked. the film told us that the quality of coffee is there the instant the cherry was picked. it cannot be developed to be of a higher quality, instead we can only avoid in stripping those coffee beans off its goodness during the whole process.
(coffee tasting prior to film screening)
of course, there’s a lot of controversy behind the philosophy of coffee and coffee labour, or at least, i think there are a lot of contradictions in the process of producing coffee, and especially in the process of marketing coffee. because by making coffee a commodity we are making these beans to be reproduce-able, copiable and consumable at any time of any day. a lot of the times coffee labourer are paid very much below the cost of production, barely hanging on in making a living. also in that way, coffee is more of a good than it is an art. i remember being a child, trying to grasp the handle of the spice cupboard that smells a little like coffee tang. it slowly became a kitchen staple, something that you reach for every morning before you go to work. (or at least what my father reaches for every morning before he goes to work); but not making it a commercial good will also impact negatively on coffee farmers, especially those who have depended on coffee and the market that it provides for subsistence.
now that i’m living in Montreal (where there are hundreds of millions of cafes, trust me) coffee has basically been a lifestyle. something that i gravitate towards every single day even though i do not necessarily need that daily dose of caffeine fix. furthermore, the likes of being a student who stayed up all night trying to catch a deadline that seemingly zoomed by with the speed of light makes coffee soar up to a whole new other level than just being a part of lifestyle. it became a need.
i have been enjoying coffee as a commodity, and so far it was good ! but probably it is time for me to enjoy coffee in a less-economical way, and try (during those times where i feel a little bit more relaxed) to treat it less as a drinkable substance, but as an art.