I created CoffeeCon to accomplish two things: 1) I wanted people to learn to brew, by seeing people who are experts brewing. More on that some other time. 2) I wanted people to be able to taste the best roasters’ coffees side by side, and decide for themselves which ones they like. I decided the that we should have a coffee tasting, just like a wine tasting, only for coffee. I know some roasters hold coffee tastings, but it’s always their coffee. Can you imagine a wine tasting with just one label represented? Me neither. When a roaster such as Intelligentsia says they do a coffee tasting, it may be good coffee, but it’s all about them.
This leads me to an important point. The first thing a roaster asks when I tell them about CoffeeCon is who else is exhibiting. Here’s why. Some, especially the bigger guys, really are wholesalers, who buy just enough better-than-average coffee. When these roasters decide not to participate in CoffeeCon’s tasting, they’re really admitting how insecure they are about having their coffee compared to their competitors. Also, when a roaster does dare to show up, know how confident they are that they’re doing something they’re proud of, and they’re willing to let you taste it right next to their competitors’ best, a few feet away.
One thing I hear repeatedly from consumers attending their first CoffeeCon is how surprised they are at how much taste difference there is between, say, two Guatemala Antigua coffees from two different roasters. This is true, and even if the coffees are from the same batch from the same farm, which is not that unusual. This is because of the roasting process.
While roaster A and roaster B may have purchased the same lot number of a given farm’s output, the similarities end there. From then, each one must decide how they are going to develop those flavors that attracted them to purchase the coffee in their roaster. There are many parameters to roasting. The machines vary, as do the settings on even two identical machines. And, there is the human taste. I am fully supportive of each roaster’s roastmaster’s right to decide how to roast their coffee, just like a winemaker decides how to make wine from their grapes. But, I just as strongly feel it is your right, and a privilege to taste those differences, under ideal conditions, ie – from brewed samples, and then decide which one you want to spend your hard-earned money on. And, that’s what CoffeeCon offers. And, that’s just what a roaster is not going to offer you at a private company-held tasting.
At the upcoming CoffeeCon NYC, we have the following roasters who will be serving samples of their best: Blue Bottle, Booskerdoo, Cafe Grumpy, Georgio’s, Irving Farm, La Colombe, Modcup, Native Coffee, Oren’s Daily Roast, Scotty D’s Jamaican Blue Mountain, Toby’s Estate and Unique Coffee,. These are CoffeeCon’s real heroes, because they are the ones who want you to have a chance to really taste their coffees. They are the ones who believe in coffee, not just slick packaging or advertising campaigns. I invite every roaster in town, so if they’re not here, either they’re so small that they couldn’t take the day off, or they’re so big they don’t want you comparing them. Don’t hold it against the little guys, but the big guys are, well, the big guys. They don’t really want consumers to know.
Unlike a wine tasting, which requires only a clean glass, each of these roasters are going to the trouble to bring their favorite brewing method, and grinder to ensure you taste their coffee in its best possible light. Wine can age after it’s made, but coffee lasts but a comparative moment. The power draw for this tasting is daunting, when you consider that each roaster needs their own precisely heated water.
Let me share my own secret: When you taste a coffee you consider awesome, pay close attention to the brewing method. Ask for their recipe – that is exactly how much ground coffee is used per cup, what grind they used, etc. Assuming you take some home, your chances of duplicating their taste the following morning with you brewing it, depends upon you noting these things. No matter how great the coffee, brewing it ideally is just as important.
I just wanted you to realize just how big a production CoffeeCon is and how generous the roasters who exhibit and sample are for participating. It’s your chance to to confirm those you already enjoy, and to discover those new favorites.