Semiserious confession of a coffee enthusiast: if you don't like specialty, you haven't found the right one

Mar 3 2024, 15:02
We are accustomed to a very different taste when it comes to coffee, but taste buds grow and evolve along with our awareness: the important thing is not to give up after the first sip

When the V60 arrives at the table, with small ceramic cups and elegant spoons, everyone's gaze suddenly lights up. It's their first experience with filter coffee, with an extraction method alternative to espresso, which for us Italians has always been the only coffee. Those in the trade know well: recommending a place is not as simple as one might think. When you deal with food, the responsibility is twofold; everyone expects the "advice of a lifetime," and even more so when it comes to a still relatively unknown world like that of high-level coffees, expectations are extremely high.

Are specialty coffees "too acidic"?

As I begin to mumble something about the chosen roasting while sipping the drink in a Rome bar, enjoying a V60 prepared with beans from a micro-roastery in Verona, but we could have been in Florence, Milan—doesn't matter: the beverage that arrives is excellent, the aromatic profile convinces everyone, the taste even more so: "Now, this is a discovery!"

I relax, when all of a sudden, a low blow comes: "But it's too acidic," adds a friend. It's a cold shower: I had chosen one with a rather soft taste precisely to avoid such reactions... it's too acidic. The phrase continues to resonate in my mind as I come to a not-so-easy realization: I've thought that too, many, many times.

My first time

I was aware of drinking something precious, with careful work behind it, but I couldn't always fully enjoy the experience. My first encounter with specialty coffee was in 2015, and I liked it. But later, there were also less exciting tastings, partly due to my inexperience but perhaps also because they weren't the right drinks for me. However, there is a good coffee for each of us; just don't stop at the first attempt.

Firstly, because our palate takes a bit to get used to it: think about high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which is bitter and pungent (more or less intense characteristics, but always present). If we have used mediocre oil all our lives, the first taste might be challenging. However, this should not stop us or make us feel "wrong": self-judgment leads to nothing but remaining in ignorance.

"There" is no specialty

The second, perhaps most crucial reason: there is no coffee. There is no right taste or a uniform aromatic profile for all the coffees on the planet (we're talking about a gigantic world; it would be unthinkable to believe that the only possible taste of a filter is the one experienced in a café in London or at the home of the passionate friend). The first time I tasted, or rather slurped, an oil (you know that not-so-elegant noise made during extra virgin olive oil tasting?), it disgusted me. It was May 2015, and by December, I had completed the course to become a taster. The feeling of discomfort had been replaced by great pleasure. In the meantime, I had discovered the world of specialty coffees, which still never ceases to amaze me and has – I can guarantee – given me not one but many, many right coffees.

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