I’ve never been more proud to say that, “I’m a coffee lover”. And if you have ever sometimes wondered what people like me were thinking, here is my confession.
I never liked coffee…
I was born and raised in Vietnam, where coffee has become more than just a daily drink. It seems to be a symbol of culture, a side of tradition and maybe a lifetime habit. Before I started working in this amazing industry, coffee was known by its very dark look, bitter flavor and ability of waking people up. I don’t like that extreme bitterness and unfortunately had very bad experiences with unpleasant feelings after drinking coffee. So I found no reasons to have it, or simply like it.
…Until I met people who truly love it.
In October,2014, I started to work as a waitress in a specialty coffee shop. It was the pioneer and the only one at that time here in Saigon, Vietnam. I was guaranteed that no anxiety would come along after drinking their coffee and that was my first comfortable feeling about it. Every working day there was out of my expectation. I couldn’t count how many times a day my boss, also the owner, shared his passion about coffee to anyone who looked curious and brewed for them by himself. I admire his bravery to be the first one serving the product that only 5% of the market may accept. He has a definite belief in coffee and a great wisdom to know how to do it right. Seeing him concentrating on roasting and cupping to ensure fresh beans for customers every week, I know the team can trust in this man and his words.
Months later, I met my coffee teachers who have the greatest influence on my career. They were the first one guiding me to brew coffee, explaining to me how it works and inspiring me by their passion and dedication to coffee industry in Vietnam. They spent years working independently in our country, studying about how the industry was struggling here, supporting other coffee lovers (Farmers, roasters or coffee shop owners…) with their knowledge and skills. I learnt from them that, you’ll need to know many more aspects of life than just coffee to really understand it: geography, agriculture, biology, people, economy… Their works also helped our coffee community and challenges we were facing here are precisely introduced to the world. You can have a look at their article here: http://www.scaa.org/chronicle/2015/08/04/emergence-of-a-coffee-origin-dalat-vietnam/
Until now, the longer I work with coffee, the more coffee lovers I meet. Of course, I’ll write about them in next articles.
I don’t just love coffee…
…I respect it.
Once I learnt how hard work and how many people were involved to make a good cup of coffee, I feel more than just thirsty for a drink. I look for it and respect it. I respect farmers and coffee laborers who devote their hearts and souls to growing, harvesting and grading the ripest coffee cherries for us. I respect roasters who never stop learning different beans from different origins to build the best roast profile for each one. I respect brewers and baristi who always work hard to make sure all the best characteristics of the beans will be revealed in the cup and delight customers.
I respect coffee and appreciate understanding it. I changed my drinking behavior to pure coffee only instead of coffee with condensed milk or ice blended ones. I’m hungrier for information about the beans from all over the world. I pay more attention to what’s in my cup. What does my tongue feel? How does it last? What blows into my nose before and after drinking? And the most important question is: “Do I like it?” I read more books about how differences in geography and climate influence on beans. I care about more than just coffee, but for it. That’s how I respect what I love.
And I hope you too.