The holidays are here! Oh snap! the holidays (moving so quickly, practically lap themselves before the actual calendar day(s) arrive) are here? Gulp! With their arrival, the age old questions of who and where to share your time in these effervescent windows of cheer and reflection. And for those special people in your life (sometimes referred to as naughty and nice), the eternal question of, what to gift (corporeal or non-corporeal)? Well since this is a coffee blog, spoilers, coffee suggestions ahead.
The quick and dirty. Buying coffee, as 2018 comes to a close, can actually be as complex (more so even) as buying the connoisseur in your life a bottle of scotch/bourbon/rye/whiskey or an old world wine. You’re saying, “wait, this isn’t helpful, more complex? I’m out, off to buy a mix of gift cards for all.” It's always especially complex when you’re buying for someone else’s tastes. I mean how many times has someone claimed to be an excellent hobbyist (baker, cook, knitter, builder), only to drag a finished work in after months (maybe years) of bleeding their passion out to you in story after story, for you to say ‘don’t quit your day job’ (internally monologue, of course). Here is my heuristic (and recommendation by coffee name, shameless, I know) for buying coffee for someone in your life. It is divided into three tranches or coffee drinking personality types.
The first group up, your parents’ friend. The point here is, this person, by being your parents’ friend, is generationally of a different make than yourself. They have a coffee ritual (far from your own maybe) and a coffee habit, a pot in the morning, something in the afternoon or throughout the day and maybe even an occasional cup after dinner/dessert. So very heavy coffee usage and daily, for a lifetime, and intentional. These people love coffee, they love what it does for them (wakes them up) they love the regular ritual, the warmth and weight of the cup, and the break in their day it provides in helping them refocus on multi-hours long tasks, and least not, they love the taste (maybe they say they love the bitters of it). My own grandfather was this type of coffee drinker. And I, in my younger incarnation, mistakenly thought, that since he was so into coffee, going to a speciality cafe would be like sending him on a round trip to Mars and back. Instead, it broke something simple and scared for him. I think he said it was too strong, but I really don’t remember (because I was in shock, it was like he wasn’t speaking English anymore). In addition, in the transaction there was a lot of what we face as a modern community/people, decision paralysis -to his thinking, he knew coffee very well, drank it a whole entire lifetime, and it was just coffee -the most foundational of Platonic forms.
I’ll call this coffee drinker, ‘Peepaw coffee’ after my own peepaw, but feel free to name it after your own elder influencer of your life. “Don’t complicate it, just coffee please.” For a person on your list like this, I’d recommend a coffee with a medium to thoughtfully darker roast profile and of new world origins, like Central America and South America. Don’t try and rapidly bring them into your own coffee world/style. Baby steps. From Sump, that would be the La Esperanza from Guatemala, Jesus from Honduras, or one of the microlot Colombia coffees we’ll be putting on the menu over the holidays, like the Granada from Narino. These are all roasted in our lighter style, but developed for a larger more diverse coffee drinking audience. I like to think of these coffees, as holiday morning coffees when you have the full multigenerational gathering. (And if you're just buying for your peepaw or peepaw equivalent, I recommend our secret menu coffees of True Level or Noir. More on these at a later post, dear reader.)
The next style drinker is someone who was introduced to coffee via Starbucks, still enjoys that relationship, but also is familiar with smaller independent speciality shops (who, the shops, are ardents of different narrower styles -like Sump). These drinkers are not coffee zealots, more coffee initiates. These are people who could fair better than decent on selecting a wine at dinner (but are not master somos), as well as, be comfortable and intentional about sourcing a bottle of Two-Buck (formerly) Chuck from Trader Joes. For this style drinker, I would still recommend the above coffees, but I would open the offering list a little further to suggest our washed coffees from East Africa, like the Ethiopia Roba and the Kenya Ngariama. And also, for those that allow themselves a cup after dinner or dessert (late into the evening) our alternative processed (or natural processed) coffees like the Costa Rica Alma Negra and the Ethiopia Boji. And in that waterfall fashion of recommendation too.
For the coffee expert, the person that has more coffee brewing equipment and tools than you can name. For the person, that travels to different cities to visit cafes. For the zealots, I recommend starting right out of the gate with something like our Yemen Harraz or the Colombia Gesha. Expensive and in short supply. Exquisite and thoughtful. To be brewed with intention only. And why so short on words, for this last type you ask? Well they’re experts -they can’t be told anything. All knowing, all tasting.
And if you’re not sure what type of drinker you’re dealing with, I recommend the Sump mug. Perfectly balanced and weighted for any style drinker, right or left handed, first or fifth wave. Happy (hunting) Holidays!