I love coffee. So much.
I would always see my parents enjoying their coffee every morning and afternoon since I was just a little girl. My mom was the one who inspired me to drink coffee; to know the real taste of everything, to stop adding too much sugar or salt on my food. You couldn’t even mention ‘MSG’ to my mom hahahaha..She hated MSG so bad.
No, I’m not talking about healthy, clean eating etc. I lost my mom to cancer, and God knows how she got it in the first place. But long story short, she passed away. And yes, she was a big coffee fan. She was the one who taught me to enjoy every sip of that black, murky water without sugar.
She was the one who told me that it’s fine to drink a cup of coffee every day. I never blame coffee for her death and yes I still religiously drink coffee every day. Coffee isn’t just a drink for me. My mom could’ve belonged in the first wave of coffee lover generation when the modern industry started producing and marketing products that were both time saving and convenient. Say hello to instant coffee! She never bought fresh roasted beans nor grounding it herself, even though she was a public relation officer in the Ministry of Agriculture. The irony.
She used to travel all over Indonesia and abroad a lot, and that’s why my brother and I are used to eat all kinds of carb and we’re totally fine if we don’t eat rice every day (if you’re an Asian, particularly Indonesian, you know what I’m talking about). She often told us stories about chocolate, cocoa beans, tea, the plantations, soils, farmers, trees, and of course, coffee.
At that time, she used to buy ground coffee straight from the farmers. It was definitely still quick and easy to make and it didn’t require any brewing equipment. It was absolutely perfect for her busy days. *grins
When I was a teen and started drinking coffee, my mom and I used to sit down together every afternoon with our cups of coffee in hand. Those were my precious curhat moments with her, with the coffee between us. Hahaha…Ever since then, I have always enjoyed coffee pretty much every day.
The habit is passed down to my brother and me. We, especially me, drink black. Just like her, I don’t like milk hahaha.. Sometimes I drink cold cappuccino but it’s not my favorite. Hot black coffee is definitely mine.
I also used to brew ground coffee every day, but it all happened a long, long time ago, back before life introduced itself and drew me in to the third–‐wave coffee generation. Hmm.. I love coffee and a pastry to accompany it. I learnt to bake when my son had his first GTM (gerakan tutup mulut–‐–‐–‐the shut up movement). It all started with sugar free cookies, and I just couldn’t stop baking ever since. So, our afternoon coffee break at that time included Abib as our newest member.
We ate cookies, drank coffee (my mama and I only, Abib was too young to drink coffee) and shared laughter together. That was also the first time I got interested in the food and beverage business and I made a habit to read a lot about patisserie and coffee regularly.
I began my own journey by going to every café and coffee shop nearby, and also whenever and wherever I travel to. I learn a lot from the servers, baristas, owners, tour guides and bakers. That was the beginning that started my big, black hole of curiosity getting deeper.
I began to follow the twitter and Instagram accounts of every coffee shop, coffee trainer, and every one that would answer all the questions in this demanding brain of mine.
Those are the reasons why last week I sat in ABCD Classes. Pfffft.
ABCD is a school of coffee. They put this up on their website: “ABCD School of Coffee aims to be the humble Shaolin for coffee enthusiasts. Here, you can learn to simply brush up your coffee knowledge, to brew great coffee at home, or even to start a professional career as a barista.”
I don’t want to be a barista. I don’t know if I will ever own a coffee shop either. I just love coffee, and yes, I want to brew great coffee at home. ABCD definitely could answer my questions, even the stupidest ones, THANK GOD!
A stands for the Appreciation class. Ok, the first time I heard about coffee appreciation was from my favorite coffee shop in Jakarta; kopikina. They always said “apresiasi kopi adalah revolusi” (coffee appreciation Is a revolution) That’s such a strong statement! But I never understood what it actually meant until koh Willy, the Appreciation class coach at ABCD, told us stories about coffee.
For the love of my mother, every word he said reminded me of mama. *sobs
Koh Willy explained to us (there were 4 more students on batch 117 including me) the history of coffee. You can find this story everywhere on Google, of the Legend that started with a man named Kaldi. Lived in Ethiopia, Kaldi spent his days in the field watching over his herd of goats. One day he noticed how the Billy goat and his cronies became increasingly excited after eating the fruit from a nearby tree. Intrigued by their carousing behavior, he decided to sample the fruit and he experienced the same invigorating effect. The perky wonder was discovered!
And after the looooong history of coffee, he answered our questions about coffee quality, plantation the cherry’s kingdom, family, genus, species, varietal, the difference between Arabica and robusta, the mountains, the seed to fruit, the blossom to ripen the cherry, the difference between our way of treating our coffee plantation Vs. the world, etc. It was awesome. Seriously. His explanation made me fall in love even more with coffee.
The last classes (before cupping) was on the coffee science, the politics, and its market. The market session talked about the statistics of coffee consumption and the production. The politics session gave us an overview of current social issues of coffee including fair trade coffee, organic coffee, and bird safe coffee.
And what I loved the most was the coffee science!! My left brain and I were ecstatic! Coffee science is a multidisciplinary field. It begins with agronomy, biology, and genetics at the field level. Then it encompasses chemistry, physics, and food science throughout the stages of processing, shipping, roasting, and packaging. Coffee scientists may focus on one particular field, but a holistic understanding of coffee and coffee chemistry is essential. A broader understanding of coffee by explaining aspects ranging from agronomy to the science of brewing coffee.
Wow!! That was all I could say. This is getting more and more interesting. Then in the C (cupping) class, Koh Willy taught us about the SCAA standards for cupping activities. And it was hard. Hehehe.. now I do real appreciate all of the Q graders. I don’t think I could ever be one. Even though I could calibrate well with the others in the class as well as with Koh Willy, but it’s still not an easy thing to do.
The next day was the B (brewing) class. On the website, ABCD wrote, “This is where you will learn the meticulous art of manual brewing. How to pick the right beans, how to grind it well, and how to know the basic tools and equipment. You will also learn to brew using different methods (pour over, immersion, dripper, and such!) You’ll go out of this class as a coffee geek. Don’t be surprised if you’ll end up building your own coffee lab at home.”
It’s true. I’m now on my way to build my own coffee lab at home. And my husband can only stroke his chest over and over again for every package get. Huhhahahhaha.. I’m sorry, dear. As you might already know, I’m not high maintenance and I don’t require make up products or going to a hairdresser every week. But I’m willing to spend a lot on something I’m really into.
Yep, I’m definitely trapped in my own black hole of curiosity and there’s no way out. And I’m fine with this. Anyway, during the B class Koh Willy taught us about taste profile, roast profile, roast date, beans and the most important elements on every brewing method, such as water, temperature, time, turbulence and fineness. This is absolutely science, man. And what I loved most? It’s the fact that brewing great coffee is about precision and consistency. Just like baking.
The last day of the class, was on D–‐e1 (definitive espresso). We have learnt to make espresso in the B class. But the third day was more about milk for cappuccino, latte etc. I don’t like milk. But our coach, Izman, shared with us that day the secret of milk. That was definitely an ooh–‐aah moment. hahaha.. He shared with us all about milk, starting from the cows to processing to distributing to steaming. I wanted to write it all here but I don’t want this to turn into a VERY long post.
I have never been surer to avoid milk even more after that class. Just like what Dr. Tan said, “It’s dangerous”. Well, yeah.
After all the steamy milk talk, Izman taught us how to make a good latte and all those famous latte art bits that you see on instagram. I totally failed here. I could make good steamed milk and a good latte too (even though I know nothing about its taste). But for the love of me I couldn’t even make a single “heart” or “swan” shape on my cups that day. Someday I’ll learn, I’ll make, and I’ll conquer – it’s the new vini vidi vici, failed latte art version.
And that was a wrap. We finished all the ABCD classes. I went home with a big smile. Now I know a little more that coffee was more than just a bitter, caffeine packed, adrenaline–‐pumping— drink that smells wonderful. It’s not only about it being the first thing in the morning that reminds you of every single thing you appreciate in life (and I drink warm lemon water in the morning, not coffee). It’s also not only about the art, the ritual, and the moments shared across a table.
Before this journey, no one ever taught me how to make coffee properly or how to appreciate it. Now I’m ashamed to waste these moments on bad coffee. Coffee should be good or don’t drink it at all! The hell. It should be more than just ‘good’. It should be perfect.
After ABCD, I followed @klinikkopi on Instagram, I read all their posts, and I buy their coffee. I’m trying to make my own journey. Yes, I absolutely agree that coffee appreciation is a revolution. Klinik Kopi travels around Indonesia to find coffee farmers and to educate them so they can sell their work of art for reasonable prices. Klinik Kopi is doing something. I always learn something new, every time. It’s beautiful.
I now appreciate coffee more in my daily life. For all my talks about chemistry, particles, molecules, and extraction percentages to everyone, I’ve learnt that brewing a great coffee is not so much about science, but it’s more of an art. Once you learn the principles that underlay the brewing process, you can develop a routine that perfectly suits you. And that’s the beauty of coffee. I now found myself climbing up the coffee learning ladder. I’ve learnt that brewing a great coffee doesn’t have to take forever. It’s a hobby that I can do on a Saturday morning and feel good about.
I know there will be both good and bad times, and stretches where it felt as if I couldn’t do anything right –that’s a song btw. I know I will waste a ton of time and a lot of coffee. But I’m sure each mistake also means a progress in making. For me, this will be an endurance lesson that teaches me that learning is continuous, that there’s always room for improvement, exploration and innovation. And while much of the knowledge has already existed, and although the modern exploration of coffee has been going on for at least a hundred years now, but through this journey, it’s now my turn to participate.
Despite all that, I know that this journey began with my mom’s habit and my husband’s kindness. So yeah, coffee is about science, it’s about art, and it’s also about the heart…
So now, every time I sip my first coffee in the afternoon, you will always see a smile appears on my face, because every first sip always reminds me of my mom; it reminds me of her smile and her laughter every time we sat together huddling over our coffee cups. She used to say, “Our life is too sweet, so coffee, at least, should be bitter to remind us of other people’s sadness or tears. It’s about being grateful, my dear.”
Yes, coffee isn’t just a drink for me. It’s a blessing.
(Thank u very much fatihah rahmi, for the extra help u gave me. U’re so helpful, man. hahahaha.. *smooch*)