As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a big tea drinker. In the afternoon I’d enjoy a cup of hot tea on a cold day, perhaps with an apple or small sweet treat. After dinner, we’d all sit around the table, talking, laughing and drinking tea. Fruit teas, herbal teas, and other blends have been my life-long staple. Black teas and green teas were introduced as I got older. Breakfast tea or afternoon tea? Yes, please. Perhaps an Earl Grey on a rainy day. These are all in my regular rotation. We have an overflowing tea shelf to support this habit. My first appliance was even an electric tea kettle, purchased for my college dorm room and still going strong.
Coffee? Not so much. In fact, I used to turn my nose up at the drink. Dark and sludgy. I found it bitter and unappealing.
But I think this view has started to shift. You see, we just took a vacation. I don’t want to divulge all the details, but we did visit a coffee farm and seller on this trip. Guess which U.S. state we went to? (Hint: the only one that grows coffee.) They had different kinds of coffee to sample, including natural and washed beans, in both light and dark roasts. With these samples and the explanation of the two different processes, I’ve come to see coffee in a new way. And I kind of like it! At least, I liked the really fresh, delicious coffee straight from the growers. Now I’ll have to see if I like other kinds as well. What an exciting new adventure this will be – an entry into the world of coffee!
We learned about two ways to process coffee: the washed and natural methods. Most of the coffee you buy is washed. In the washed method, the beans (or coffee cherries, seen still growing in the photo) turn red when ripe and are separated after picking, removing any single-beans or duds. They are then allowed to ferment in water. In the natural method, the red-ripe cherries are left on the tree where they ferment in their shell and dry up like raisins. They are picked and sorted afterwards. It is a more labor-intensive process and creates a lower-acidity coffee.
Mike and I both liked the natural medium roast coffee the best. I was surprised to taste the difference between both the methods of processing and roasting. The climate and variety of beans also contributes to the flavor, creating a unique terroir to each final product and a seemingly infinite number of potential variations.
Thank you to the kind folks at The Old Sugar Mill Coffee Company for the tour, explanations and samples. Delicious and educational; so much that you’ve made a coffee drinker out of this naysayer!
PS. If you find yourself on the North Shore of Oahu, check them out – they also have really good chocolates and shave ice, but that’s a story for another day.
PPS. What’s your favorite kind of coffee? So much for me to taste and learn! Suggestions on where to start?