Coffee Lover…Coffee Snob…Or Just Think You Are

Picking ripe coffee cherries in Olmedo, Loja, Ecuador. Ecuador’s southern coffee belt.

Living in a coffee producing country, buying fresh coffee beans, roasting my own coffee with a Behmor 1600 coffee roasting machine, grinding my own beans and using my Yama Siphon coffee brewer, to get a great cup of black coffee. Does that automatically qualify as a “Coffee Snob?”

Have I done “cuppings?” Is Latte Art appreciated? Has milk or cream been eliminated from my coffee? Did I go to Starbucks? Do I take my coffee gear to my sons house? Is a burr grinder, digital laser thermometer, Yama Coffee Siphon, present at brew time? Is Iced Coffee consistently declined? The answer top all these would be “Yes,” thereby smashing the “Coffee Snob” qualification.

After coffee cupping with Nicolas Velez of Cafe Velez in Quito, Ecuador.

In addition, coffee gets reheated, sometimes more than once. Artificial flavors are abjectly eschewed. Blends aren’t impressive. Single origin are the best. There is marginal or Excelso coffee, usually indicating a non-specialty quality bean. Then there is the specialty bean, usually referred to as Reserva, Supremo, or many other terms meaning excellent. These coffees are the ones worth tasting.

Robusta will have to make some amazing advances to ever be a stand alone coffee. The bitterness of this coffee has for eons, relegated it to be used strictly as a filler to cheapen a lower quality coffee, and for years as the agent to help create the “crema” in espresso drinks. Currently, master roasters have discovered there are Arabica coffees that can get the job done just fine.

Coffee center prior to move to Ecuador in 2013.

So what is a “Coffee Lover?” Coffeephile, coffee connoisseur, coffee addict, a connoisseur is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the fine arts, cuisines, or an expert judge in matters of taste. A Coffee Connoisseur then is a person who is an expert in matters of taste on coffee. That person could also fit the bill for Coffee Snob.

They could also fill the definition of coffee lover, as it is their commitment to coffee in all aspects that place them as international “cuppers,” and other titles extremely essential in the coffee industry.

Master coffee roasters are coffee artists in the art of extracting the very best roast from each bag of coffee represented in their warehouse from the various countries. As a rule most roasters will have at least 20+ varietals present in their inventory. The largest representation will be from Central and South America, which is where 70 percent of the worlds coffee is produced.

The coffee importers such as Royal Coffee New York, Blue Mountain Coffee, Cafe Imports to name a few, are in constant search for coffee sources. Their representatives must be experts in their ability to sample hundreds of coffee crops, looking for those that fit into the categories of normal quality or specialty quality. These experts might also fall into both examples of Coffee Snob or Coffee Lover.

So is a Coffee Lover just simply someone who loves coffee, and is always looking for the perfect cup? Maybe. Is this the person who will drink coffee off the grocers shelf? Possibly. Is it likely to be Maxwell House or Chase and Sandborn? That depends…on the individual of course.

Or is a Coffee Lover ignorant about coffee in general, happy to find a good cup that is not bitter on the back of the tongue, goes down smoothly, and leaves a great aftertaste? That could easily define a large percentage of all those who drink the brew. Does that mean any of them love coffee less? Not on your life.

Would a Coffee Snob ever admit to being addicted to coffee, as their reason for drinking it? Somehow that one’s hard to believe. That would take away the persona of superiority for someone placing themselves in that category. Such a though occurs, having known a few along life’s journey.

The idea that the two are separate applies most likely to the Coffee Snob. After all, the definition is “a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class.” The definition goes on to state, “a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.”

Learning how coffee beans were extracted from the “parchment husks” in times past.

That would fit those known personally. However the owners of some of the best coffee roasters whom could easily surpass all the supposed definitions of a snob, are as down to earth and passionate about coffee. With those it gets taken to the the extreme of actually going to some of the producers in their countries and on their plantations. They get a hands on experience, and have the opportunity to offer suggestions, gleaned from testing, sampling and roasting the producers coffee.

If a relationship is formed and the roaster agrees to begin importing the producers crop, this often goes beyond that of just a buyer/producer. It can extend to other producers in the cooperative in the area. Many times women will band together to start community businesses. If is not uncommon for roasters to aid in finding sources of micro-credits to aid those entrepreneurial efforts. In some cases those same roasters, or even group of roasters, will reinvest portions of their profits back into those communities.

So how would these be described? Coffee Snob hardly fits, but Coffee Lover seems a perfect application. They love all aspects of coffee, and not just those that would seem to separate them from those who likely would never think of getting their hands dirty in the first place.

Is that a dig at Coffee Snobs? A little, because in all the supposed exclusiveness they loose what really matters about coffee. The coffee itself. It’s more than just a status symbol. Coffee more than 20 minutes old is still good coffee, yet only to a Coffee Lover.

Alan enjoying a fresh cup of brew.

A coffee plantation is not likely to be on the coming attraction or tour for anyone but the lover of coffees. A tasting event is definitely more likely, as it will be in more a civilized environment. An opportunity to sample new, untested, untasted varietals are more suited to their interests, and that just great. Coffee Snobs are just as necessary as Coffee Lovers, and everything in between. Both, enjoy coffee with gusto!

Havin’ mine as I finish.

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Alan Written by:

Alan is retired and resides in Quito, Ecuador. Writing is a passion which has resulted in two eBooks thus far, with more in the works. Married 47 years with four sons and 13 grandchildren, provides potential grist for the mill! Alan is a charter "Boomer", a Viet Nam veteran, committed to roasting his own coffee and writes about whatever pops into his mind. He loves to build and ride recumbent bikes, play racquetball, writes almost daily, travels Ecuador, and talks to anything that does not move fast enough! The twinkle in his eye is a combination of the sun, and an active sense of humor. His desire to encourage others to write is being answered through his articles on the Internet.