#67 – Things that make no sense: “universal grind”, “free education”, “extraction %”…

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I wrote previous article about how much satisfaction in Specialty Coffee depends on how people make coffee at home, on their knowledge and skills – and almost immediately after that got a customer who ordered half a kilo of coffee ground for espresso, and then tried to make it in French Press, and ended up blaming me for not sending her the “universal grind” she actually ordered.


What can I say. I wish “universal grind” existed.


But it does not.


The more you live, the more you learn. After all, it was clear since the beginning that working with specialty coffee in Portugal gonna be a constant pain in the ass.


Right now the majority here thinks that Specialty Coffee is a touristic trap, and they will never pay 1.20 euros for an espresso. We’ll see in a year or two. Because something tells me it’s gonna be the way it happened with the craft beers here. First mocking the breweries who appeared here doing something different. Then saying that they will never pay 4 euros for a beer. And now everybody is trying to look smart discussing what is a double IPA, Imperial Porter and Barley Wine.


But it is a touristic trap, of course, no doubt. Anything that is new is dangerous.


The truth is, my work lays in explaining what is Specialty Coffee to those who have never tried it the way they can get out satisfied, and without using any geeky vocabulary. Bring it on!


Talking about geeky vocabulary.


Coffee is relative. One batch is different from the other one, it is constantly changing, aging, both in green and roasted… Does not matter what is the % of the extraction today, especially if we are talking about pour overs. It. Does. Not. Matter. It will be different tomorrow, and it was different yesterday. And when I change the coffee it will change again, because the game will start again. It is just enough to pour the water a bit faster, agitate in a different manner, and the list continues…


Asking about the time of the brew, or about the % of the extraction, not having in front of you all the data about this particular coffee – roasting curves of that particular batch, water recipe, particle distribution, brewing process data – asking just about brewing time, or extraction percetage makes no sense. Absolutely no sense. It can only be done with the goal to show off. But it is boring.



And ending up my short April intervention with the comment about education in coffee.


I hear lots of debates about education in coffee being “free”, and that people should share with one another, and this is how everybody will grow, etc.


I don’t think I can agree with that. Yeah, sharing, people will learn. Will learn from somebody who knows the most at the moment. But where did that person get that knowledge? Most probably paid for it, or worked for it, getting experince. What will that person get from sharing? Satisfaction?


I don’t think it makes sense. Good education, in any area, has always been either hard to get (limited places in the Universities), or expensive, or sometimes both. And specialty coffee is no exception. You can learn small trick from your peers, have a good time, socialize, get together with the guys who work in the same industry as you – it is extremely important. But education, learning, growing, productive and effective – is costly, and is paid with money, to somebody who shares his experince with you, and with your time spent training the skill.


For me it has always been that way. I have always paid for learning the skills, paid to people I chose as my mentors, for many reasons. Why? Because, if you think about it, by paying for the education you pay time and effort another person invested into getting that knowledge. You are showing your respect, and you think twice before paying, you ivestigate. And, by the way, you respect more and more coffee itself, when you seen how many people work hard to be where they are now. And after seeing that, you’ll be wanting to pay off.

And you choose your teachers wisely. I chose mine, and I have always be grateful for investing your time in me. Thank you. 

Published by liza maksimova

Q Grader. Roast Master. SCAE certified.

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