An Inside Look at American Coffee Culture

An Inside Look at American Coffee Culture

Coffee has long been popular all over the world, and that’s especially true in the US. Today, the US interest in coffee is even greater, but now the modern world of coffee has become much more complicated.

Today questions abound as to where the coffee comes from, whether the beans should be roasted light or dark, and the types of equipment needed to produce the perfect cup of coffee. But many of us don’t need perfection, and it can be frustrating when sometimes you just want a simple cup of coffee in the morning or when you’re at your desk.

So how are you to navigate this confusing landscape of pour-overs, French presses, and Ethiopian coffee? Here are some tips that should help you out:

Accept that the World of Coffee Is Now Similar to the Wine Industry

You have to realize that nowadays, you can’t just ask for a generic cup of coffee. Not if you want good coffee. It’s like picking a wine, as it’s no longer sufficient for modern wine drinkers to simply choose between red wine and white wine. There are lots more options to choose from.

So don’t feel discouraged about the seemingly overwhelming amount of information regarding coffee. Embrace it, study it, and know more about coffee. Try different coffee beans from different parts of the world. Try dark roasts and light roasts. See if you can appreciate drinking coffee without cream and sugar. Check out different ways of making coffee.

This doesn’t have to be a chore at all. Hang out more with friends with a genuine interest in coffee, and chances are they’ll be very willing to share their knowledge of coffee with you. Go online and read an article on coffee each day like in the morning when you’re actually enjoying your coffee. Talk to baristas and check out public tastings in local cafes. The more you know, the more your appreciation of good coffee can grow.

Don’t Be Overly Worried About Coffee Sustainability

Yes, it’s true that climate change is a problem for coffee growers, and those who work hardest are often underpaid. But many local coffee shops are doing their part to make things better. Some cafes are dealing directly with coffee growers, a number of manufacturers are choosing to use eco-friendly coffee production practices, and many are opting to pay fairer prices.

You too can contribute by patronizing like-minded shops, and by buying ethically sourced coffee. You don’t have to be fanatical about it though, but you can follow the news and check out what people in the industry are doing to help out.

Middlemen Are Being Skipped Over and That’s Good News

One way that some coffee shops are helping with fairer wealth distribution is by skipping the middlemen and just dealing directly with farmers and cooperatives abroad. This isn’t just done for ethical reasons, as coffee buyers can help make sure that the coffee farmers get paid what they actually deserve. But it also makes for excellent business, because these buyers can then have exclusive access to the most interesting coffee beans in the world.

Not that all middlemen aren’t good either. Some importers have made quite an impressive reputation for themselves by paying fair prices and by making an extra effort to import hard-to-access coffee.

Roasters Do Not Automatically Superb Coffee

Did your local coffee shop just announce that they’ll be roasting their own coffee? That’s nice, but that doesn’t mean you get to enjoy great coffee right away. The rule of thumb is that new roasters need a couple of years to master the process. So you can be encouraging, but you need patience.

What you need to understand is that coffee is so delicate that it’s easy to make a mistake and make a mess of things. Sometimes you can’t even pinpoint just what went wrong, and why the coffee tasted charred or like battery acid. It’s more of an art, and artists aren’t always consistent in producing quality work.

Try the Lighter Roasts

There’s a new trend in coffee these days about opting for light roasts instead of dark. Some scientific studies indicate that light roasts offer more antioxidants than their darker counterparts. These antioxidants include chlorogenic acid, which helps protect you from cell damage and inflammation.

It’s also true that light roasts generally retain more of their original flavors and unique characteristics. You’re better able to tell the difference between Sumatran, Kenyan, and Colombian coffee. In general, light roasts can have this floral and citrusy quality. The darker you roast the coffee beans, the more they’ll taste the same as other different types of coffee beans.

Coffee Roast

The Darker Roasts Aren’t Bad Either

It’s true that newbie roasters can end up giving you a cup of coffee with a burnt, acrid, or charred flavor. But who’s to say that’s a bad thing all the time? There are actually some coffee drinkers who want their coffee that way!

Even if you’re not one of them, dark roasts can be done right so you get a rich and bold flavor, with a chocolatey undertone. Lots of people actually like this type of coffee, and Sumatran coffee is often considered better when done in dark roast.

Coffee Shops Can Sometimes Screw Up

Even the coffee shop isn’t roasting their coffee beans, mistakes sometimes happen. It’s a fact of life you have to accept. Michael Jordan didn’t make all his shots, and even the best coffee shops can serve bad coffee every now and then.

You can, of course, stick to making your own coffee, and you can always buy your own coffee equipment so you can prepare coffee to your liking at a more reasonable price per cup. You can always try to make a perfect cup—but don’t be surprised if you too screw up now and then!

Making Coffee in Batches Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

Not too long ago, there was a trend in coffee shops about making single-serve cups of coffee, preferably with a pour-over. But after a while, many of these coffee shops realized that it’s becoming a costly process in terms of labor and time. It’s not just taking too long, but it’s also easy to screw things up.

So now more coffee shops have gone back to making batches of coffee for groups instead. That’s not a bad thing, as you can get your coffee more quickly. The prices will drop too. The quality of the coffee shouldn’t suffer either, as many of these coffee shops have invested in the proper coffee equipment to make sure that the cup of coffee you get is still great.

Just make sure that it hasn’t been sitting in the pot for more than half an hour and you’re okay.

Ultimate Freshness Isn’t Always Necessary

Coffee is always better when it’s fresh. But does it mean for coffee to be fresh in the first place?

Let’s start with the coffee you’ve made yourself. Once you’ve brewed the coffee, it’s best if you drink it right away. But what if you brewed more coffee than you can drink? How long is it good for? The answer is that it will only be good for the next 30 minutes. You also don’t want to over-extract, which is why the grind size shouldn’t be too small and the brewing time shouldn’t be too long.

Fresh coffee also means trying to get whole coffee beans and then grinding them only when you’re ready to drink the coffee. Ground coffee that sits too long even in an airtight container tends to lose its freshness. That’s why when you buy ground coffee, the label instructions tend to instruct you to finish off the bag in 2 weeks or less.

However, making a cup of coffee straight out of the roaster isn’t absolutely necessary to get great coffee. The roasted coffee beans can be stored properly in a freezer and you can still enjoy fresh coffee from those roasted beans days, weeks, or even several months afterward. In fact, some coffee experts contend that the taste of the coffee gets better when you wait for a few days after roasting the coffee.

You’re Still the Boss on How You Enjoy Your Coffee

It’s true that in general, the best way to appreciate the taste of coffee from all over the world is to taste them as is—no cream, milk, or sugar. The general belief is that if you’re going to add all these things, then you won’t really get the difference between coffee types from different regions. They’ll just all taste the same.

After all, is said and done, however, you still have the final say on how you enjoy your coffee. If you insist on putting cream and sugar, go right ahead. Many coffee shops have realized this fact, and they’ve started to offer a more varied menu that includes the favorite coffee preparations of their customers. It’s all about enjoying the entire coffee experience. So if your local coffee shop server berates for you how you add cream and sugar for your coffee, you don’t have to change how you enjoy your coffee. You may want to change coffee shops instead!

Also, check out this – The Ultimate Guide to LA Coffee Shops with Free Wi-Fi is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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