Sunday, March 24, 2013

Philip's Cup #1 : North Market Coffee Roast 2013

Saturday morning my sister and I went to The North Market for the 2013 Coffee Roast. 

A wonderful morning filled with coffee educational experiences, an electric atmosphere and of course lots of incredible coffee the 2014 Coffee Roast is something you will want to put on your calender for next year.

The Coffee was grown and harvested from countries all over the world; from Burundi (UpperCup) to Equador (One Line) which was my favorite of the Day (and my lil sis Julie's) brewed in an incredible 12 hour process! Searching all over the world many local roasters from right here in Columbus (with several other local Ohio towns) showcased the most incredible line up of flavors I have ever experienced in such a short amount of time. It was a perfect opportunity to test your palate and discover the rich diversity of coffee which was labeled today by a Cafe Brioso barista as

"the most flavorful drink in the world" (I agree). 
I learned a lot about coffee this weekend and some things that have nothing to do with coffee. My senses went into overload so I really want to take a minute and reflect on the roast, coffee and culture in general before I go on with life and forget this great experience I had..

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So what's in my cup you ask?

Coffee is the obvious answer to that question 95% of the time. 

I love Coffee.

Anybody who knows me knows this simple fact about me. 

Coffee runs through my veins. 

I never cared for the stuff until sophomore year of college. I had a roommate who had lived in Columbia and he introduced me to real coffee. Particularly good espresso. We played soccer together and would take a triple before many home matches. From this point in my life I was never satisfied with a simple black cup of McDonald's and Maxwell House just made me nauseous. 

I am not a coffee snob. Honestly I believe there are very few, if any, coffee snobs. By definition 

"A snob believes that some people are inherently inferior to him or her for any one of a variety of reasons..." [Wikipedia]

Therefore, when people label others as a coffee snob all they are saying is that this person believes themselves to be better than others because they drink a particular grade of coffee. People do not think like that! They just don't. They do not believe becuase they pay $4 for a cup of coffee and you pay $1 that they are somehow better. OK, maybe some sad soul might actually think that but... 

"Coffee Snob's" are just misunderstood. They do not think they are better than others because they enjoy a different cup of coffee; they simply believe they have found a better cup of coffee. This places no "inherent inferiority" on you the bad coffee drinker. People can simply place a higher value on a particular grade of coffee. You may be skeptical so I can prove it by this simple fact.

Most "coffee snobs" would gladly invite you into this magical world of specialty coffee. 

Snob's would use their position to distance themselves from those who are not like them. Those that have been labeled coffee snobs, however, welcome others to join in the discovery of magnificent flavors. Coffee is not something made to divide people; coffee is meant to bring people together and everybody is welcome in this community. Those that dare to venture out into this beautiful world of wonderful aromas and complex flavors will in the end agree that their really is a Cadillac level of coffee that they have been missing out on.

My sister and I saw this on Saturday at the North Market Coffee Roast. Barista's and "coffee snob's" united in one incredible event leveling the playing field for all of those future explorers of the specialty coffee world. They opened up an opportunity so that people felt comfortable to explore, learn, test and ask questions. Not one barista at the event made me feel stupid, isolated or excluded from this community. It was a safe and exciting opportunity that I hope you can experience one day. 

Normally on my blog I write about the bible, God and Christianity and the above statements are very relevant to the church. I am not going to get into it but if you are a Christian I hope you read back through that and ask yourself is that statement true for those exploring the church, God and Christianity around you as .

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Check out the A+ students in the front row! That's me taking notes... :)

Picture was used with permission from Breakfast with Nick
Check out Nick's post with lots of pictures from the 2013 North Market Coffee Roast!

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Where did Coffee Snobs come from? To understand why you may feel like there are coffee snobs you must understand the history of coffee in America. One of the barista's from Boston Stoker (Dayton) gave a presentation on Espresso 101. In this short presentation he quickly pointed out something I had never heard before called "Third Wave Coffee".

In a nutshell, there have been three waves of coffee in the United States which are basically three "generations" of coffee as my little sis later stated. 

Wave #1 : This generation is marked by the coffee can. For many years people in the united states have been satisfied with Folgers, Maxwell house, etc. This is the coffee you probably saw your grandma pull out of her freezer in a gallon size can. This generation got the job done but tasted horrible. The job being it caffenaited America. This coffee, although it tasted like burnt rubber, did wake us up in the morning. We were able to stay awake in that 8 a.m. college humanities course or make it to work, clock in a few hours before heading over to the white Mr. Coffee pot to get refueled at the first coffee break. It was bitter but it got the job done.

Wave #2 : The second wave begins when large coffee chains introduce customers to a higher level of coffee. This coffee still was not very good but for $2 you could stop at Starbucks every morning on your way to work and enjoy a cup of joe that was like nothing you could ever brew at home. It was far better than the first wave and available on every corner.  The barista on Saturday explained that he was thankful for starbucks; this absolutely shocked me.  He said that if it was not for Starbucks people would never have been introduced to a higher level of coffee. However, the quote of the day came when he said.
"Starbucks really treats people right. Both their customers and the benefits that they offer their employees. If you want to support them for being good to people, do that...but the coffee is still bad" 

Starbucks was an improvemnt but we still had not arrived. They paved the way for the third wave.

Wave #3 : This wave is actually beginning all over the United states right now. People are beginning to see that coffee can be much more enjoyable and satisfying than they had once believed. The best must be pursued in every industry and the coffee industry now has the support from the consumers to explore all possible opportunities with this product. Last year the coffee industry sold 130,000,000 bags of coffee. Of that amount, 37% were considered specialty grade. People are buying into the understanding that coffee can be an incredible experience and are now willing to pay for it.

Another lecture I sat through went through the entire process from growing a bean all the way to the cup I am holding in my hand. There are hundreds of steps in the process and several ways to ruin the bean in every step. It is absolutely amazing to me that something that needs so much care over months and months only costs $3-6 in the end. After you sit through a lecture like this and hear all of the variables and all of the ways that this little bean could be ruined you really learn to appreciate what it is in your cup.

We see the care that farmers have taken to plant, harvest, wash, dry and process a quality bean, the care it takes to transport it thousands of miles, the care it takes a coffee shop owner to select the best quality beans, the care a roaster takes to roast a perfect batch, the care a barista takes to select, grind and brew you the perfect cup of coffee. Quality coffee must be cared for. To buy into a product that that you know has been cared for like this does not mean you are pretentious or a snob; you simply have come to appreciate the quality of something over the quantity. Coffee snobs are therefore people who have just experienced this higher level of coffee, appreciated it and are now riding this third wave.

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One problem that we as Americans struggle with is that we are excessive consumers.   

We go into a thrift store and for $100 you can buy a months worth of outfits. In a store like this you have to purchase a lot of material in order to get to the point where you feel satisfaction. 
$100=25-40 Pieces of clothing =satisfaction
We go to Old Navy and for $100 you can buy a weeks worth of outfits. The same things occurs. We must buy a lot in order to feel satisfied with our purchase.
$100=10 Pieces of clothing =satisfaction
Another person can walk into a high end clothing store and for $100 can purchase a pair of designer jeans. Not really, but for the sake of the illustration we'll pretend this is possible.
$100=1 Piece of clothing =satisfaction
This does have to do with coffee, hang with me.
Which person is most satisfied with their purchase?
They are all "satisfied" but one consumer needed less to get them there.

Some consumers find satisfaction in deals and steals from stores. They often spend just as much but their satisfaction comes from more. They have to get more for their dollar or else they feel like they have been ripped off. 

What I found interesting on Saturday was that in the Espresso 101 presentation this concept was incredibly visible.

If you start with an incredible high end product and perfect it in a cup the consumer can be satisfied with one single shot of espresso. I got to taste during the presentation and I must say I could have went home happy with that one little taste.

However, becuase people are excessive consumers and coffee shops have not been trained to make a good quality product a terrible predicament has occurred. Good espresso is not available so people must add to it to obtain satisfaction. They  add milk to make a Latte or cappuccino to find that sense of completion. 

The presenter said it is much like Alcohol. A person will start with a fruity drink with little to no alcohol, graduate to martini and then eventually on to whiskey. When we can graduate from more down to the base substance and still find a sense of satisfaction we have achieve a high quality product.

I am happy to say that Columbus is on its way to becoming one of the countries most established areas for high grade specialty coffee. New coffee shops are popping up all over the city as well as a demand for many more local roasters. 

I urge you to get out on a Saturday morning and take pride in our city. There are many coffee shops to explore so don't let the coffee snob scare you away. He is not real. You will pay a higher price than your $1.75 for a large a Tim Horton's but I can promise you this. When you explore and dive into a cup from one of these local shops you will leave satisfied.

Your Columbus Coffee Checklist:

Cafe Brioso
One Line Coffee
Luck Bros’ Coffee House   
Upper Cup CoffeeBackroom Coffee Roasters
Stauf’s Coffee Roasters
Hemisphere Coffee Roasters
Crimson Cup 
Silver Bridge Coffee
Cafe Brioso
Thunderkiss Coffee Roaster  
The Bexley Coffee Shop
Impero Coffee

LTown Coffee (London)
Boston Stoker (Dayton)

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This is  the first post in an ongoing series of that I would like to  write about my love of Coffee. I will write about interesting facts, brew methods, local coffee shops, educational experiences, as well as review my favorite coffee and many other coffee related items. This is a developing idea and as you can see from my first post there is much to learn about coffee and from coffee and I hope this just creates a platform for me to log my journey. Come back with a cup of coffee and check in on what we have discovered!


  1. Jason CunninghamApril 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Fascinating stuff. Can't wait to read more. Also, interesting stuff you wrote about graduating down the line. i've noticed that i put less sugar and creamer in my coffee now than i did a few years ago. I'm slowly graduating down the line (still don't enjoy it black though). Too bad I don't live In Columbus, I would be your coffee addict side kick.

  2. Try a cup of Ethiopian. They tend to have a ton of natural sweetness that you will surely enjoy with out adding anything! I wished you lived closer too!!