To many people, coffee is a bitter (or acidic) drink that tastes horrible unless it’s mixed with plenty of sugar and milk. It tastes horrible otherwise, but it’s essential to have some every day to keep yourself awake.
However, for people that are in the know, coffee is a deep and complex drink that takes a lot of preparation, love and care to really extract those delicate flavours. Because of its reputation, coffee drinking, tasting and preparing can all be very challenging to pick up. So to help you out, we’ve put together a useful guide that will show you exactly how you can get into coffee, enjoy it for what it is, but also avoid some of the more pretentious coffee activities out there.
Before we start, this is going to be a very practical guide that you can follow today. It’s not going to go in detail because we’re encouraging you to explore coffee and discover its wonderful flavours one cup at a time.
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- Start drinking it
This is perhaps the most obvious step, but it’s a good idea to start actually drinking it. The crucial thing here is to try it on your own without any outside intervention. Don’t go to a coffee shop with a friend that knows everything and don’t go with someone that only chugs coffee for the caffeine content.
The idea is to give yourself a blank slate to start with. You don’t need expensive coffee either. In fact, instant coffee is a perfect base to start with, even if a lot of coffee aficionados hate it. The goal here is to have something to start with and compare to your future cups of coffee. If you don’t want to buy a jar of instant coffee or make your own filter coffee, just go to a local coffee shop and order a regular black filter coffee or ask the staff for a recommendation.
- Identify what you just drank and start researching
Your mysterious cup probably has some kind of origin. If you got filter or instant coffee at home, look at the packaging to see what you actually drank. Was it regular instant coffee? Was it a blonde roast? Did it say it had a mild flavour? Is it extra dark? The idea here is to start looking at what defines a coffee and research those terms so that you get a better understanding of what you just drank and what you can compare it to in the future.
As you research, you’ll start to learn a lot of the jargon and concepts that are involved in drinking and tasting coffee. For instance, you could learn about the many different types of coffee and look at how people rate them compared to what you drank.
- Try a different coffee, preferably at home
As with going to any restaurant, you’re probably not going to know exactly what goes into your food when it’s served. This is why a lot of people prefer to make coffee at home if they have time. They can control all of the different variables and they can make it to their exact tastes. Even if you visit the same coffee shop every day, the coffee could taste completely different depending on who’s behind the counter or what beans they use.
Learning to make your own coffee at home is a big step. It’s going to involve buying equipment, bags of beans, and also a lot of trial and error. We suggest you follow a guide on brewing coffee and try to stick with the same equipment so you can get used to it. Don’t get sucked into buying dozens of different machines. Instead, try to replicate a coffee that you enjoyed from a local coffee shop, or use trial and error to test out different beans and brewing methods to see what you prefer.
- Enjoy your coffee and don’t let anyone say otherwise
Coffee tastes are subjective. Some people love the deep flavours of a coffee bean grown at a higher altitude, whereas some people are perfectly content with the taste of inexpensive and accessible beans in their French press. Everyone’s got their own preferences and it’s not always about flavour either. In many cases, people have preferences because they find one form of coffee more convenient than another.
So just enjoy your coffee, play around with the brewing experience and make it your own. Don’t listen to other people if they make fun of your choice of coffee or brewing method, and take your time exploring the many different flavours in the coffee world.