What is Craft Coffee?

What is “Craft Coffee” and what makes it different from regular coffee?

Craft Coffee has been intentionally curated and artfully processed to produce a natural product that is intensely flavorful, highly aromatic and complex.

I’ve heard people say I can’t really tell a difference between good coffee or bad coffee. The problem that I find is so many coffees are labeled “premium” or “gourmet”, but just taste a little stronger than regular coffee or even worse, like fake candy-canes.

The best comparison I can think of is like beer. The subtleties between light beer brands are tough to pick out, but when you compare a lager to a Double-IPA, it’s like a whole new world.

Once you begin to dabble in the world of Craft Coffee, you will notice flavors, richness, and complexity that you never realized could occur naturally in coffee. Some of favorites are peach, strawberry, blueberry, blue raspberry…

Craft Coffee has a few characteristics that make it unique.

  1. Coffee is a Fresh, Ripe Fruit. 
    • Did you know coffee is a fruit?  It grows on a tree, and is called a cherry. Think about it, a ripe peach is sweet, juicy and reminds you of summertime. An un-ripe peach reminds you of a potato.
    • Bulk coffee often comes from mass-production farms, where the name of the game is quantity. Coffee that is selected may be over or under ripe, is not rigorously filtered from defects and conditions are prepared for mass-production. (think about sweet corn vs field corn)
    • Craft coffee comes from small-lot farms, where the producers take great care to ensure optimal conditions, and to pick the produce that is perfectly ripe. The process the coffee with care, in ways that bring out amazing complexity. Everything from altitude to soil composition impacts the flavor of coffee. Specialty farmers know this, and are extremely intentional about ensuring conditions are optimal.
  2. Artfully Processed. 
    • Coffee processing is a true art. how the coffee is dried, aged and processed imparts different flavors into the bean. For example, leaving the husk on, and drying coffee in the sun imparts more natural flavors from the cherry back into the bean, resulting in some crazy flavors like pineapple and strawberry. Washing the husk off and fermenting the beans in tanks can result in cleaner, sweet flavors like caramel and peach. So many factors impact flavor in so many ways, but Craft Coffee processors are very intentional, and know how to artfully produce truly incredible coffee.
  3. Masterfully Roasted
    • Roast quality and level has an enormous impact on the flavor of coffee. The longer coffee is roasted, the more the flavor of the roast over-powers natural flavors of coffee, sacrificing natural sweetness and beauty of coffee. Most bulk coffee is medium or dark roast, because (in general) it is easier to get a cup of something that resembles what most are familiar with. Light roasts take art to roast perfectly, then brew properly, but when done right, they are result in coffee that is sweet, delicious and complex.
  4. Craft Brewed
    • Ah now this is where you come in. Coffee must be extracted properly and evenly to get pull out those craft flavors.  There are compounds in coffee that are either sweet, bitter, or sour and must be combined evenly. Citric Acid is bright, crisp and even sour. Caffeine is bitter, and there are sugars and lipids that are sweet and smooth.  Think of it like a cookie recipe.  Sugar, Salt, Eggs, Flour, cocoa, vanilla individually aren’t all that awesome, but when you combine it into grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, it becomes stuff of legends.
    • Auto-Drip Makers struggle to account for variables necessary for proper extraction, like heat, agitation, and even extraction. Typically, these work fine for bulk, medium roast coffee, because there isn’t much complexity to be extracted, and the intention is to get the consistency that is familiar. If you are looking for a truly unique experience, especially with light roasts, the art of the craft becomes critical.

Some folks prefer just to stick with light beer, something that isn’t great, but it is cheap, familiar and easy.  Far be it from me to tell you what you should like.  However, if you are curious to experience the fascinating side of coffee, which is truly unique, like tasting delicious flavors in coffee, like blueberry, strawberry, peach (and I’m not talking about artificial flavors.)  Then shake up your morning, and dive into the world that is Craft Coffee.

I have been working with my favorite brands and roasters to provide the best equipment and incredible coffee at the best price available to help you get started. Check out some of my favorite items below. These are some of the best products I have found to artfully extract Craft Coffee. Most of these I use every morning as I experiment and brew my coffee.

You will not find automatic, mindless, or no skill required. Craft Coffee requires intention, skill and practice, but this is exactly why I love it. I believe the most interesting destinations are not found along the easiest paths.

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