How Coffee and Beer Geeks Are More Alike Than You'd Think

Categories: Coffee Talk
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We're still a ways from touting baristas and roasters as beer nerds celebrate Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. Yet we're on the way, with baristas joining the festival circuit to make a name for themselves in the coffee world.

Here in South Florida, our standout is Camila Ramos of Panther Coffee in Miami. In February, she placed in the Southeast Barista Competition and Brewers Cup to represent the state in the U.S. Barista Championships this past weekend.

As the case had been with craft beer more than a decade ago, the culture of coffee lingers in semi-obscurity. "Beer used to be just beer in the U.S.," with variations limited to the Bud/Miller/Coors variety, said Holy Mackerel brewer Bobby Gordash when I spoke with him yesterday. It took some time, but finally, "People have finally become more educated," he said.

Now is the time when coffee nerds are galvanizing, creating a community that celebrates people who have harnessed flavors and techniques to transform an ordinary cup of coffee to a transcendent brew.

For both drinks, where ingredients are sourced is key. When it comes to beer, where a yeast comes from produces infinite variations, whether it's from Nottingham or a variety from Trappist Monks. Hops also matter, whether they're grown in the U.S., Britain, or New Zealand, for starters.

For coffee, whether beans are a blend, single origin, or single lot from Peru, Sumatra, or Ethiopia -- flavors will vary. And then there's the roast: whether it's light or dark, who's doing it, and for how long. All this before we've even started to brew.

Coffee culture needs its superstars to educate the masses the way beer nerds venerate brewmasters and chefs glorify farmers. And that's where we're at.

Are the Garrett Olivers of coffee culture the adventurers who traverse the world to buy beans? Or are they baristas and brewers like this guy from Maryland? Last weekend, Andy Sprenger from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis won the event for the second year in a row, and that will take him to the World Brewers Cup in Vienna in June.

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5 comments
Eric English
Eric English

I have a keg of B-Java Brown on tap at my house and I LOVE it!!!!!!  I've always been a fan of jave brew, but I must say this special brew is one of the best I've EVER had.  My hats off to the both of you!  THANK YOU!

freakerdude
freakerdude

I've become quite the coffee snob in the last 2 years buying beans from over 20 different origins and grinding them daily for my morning pot....at work! Now I have graduated to making my own espresso. Next up will be roasting my own beans I guess.

Melissamccart
Melissamccart

You going the coffee maker route or might you ask the folks at Oceana to roast them for you?

MelissaMcCart
MelissaMcCart

Sorry I meant popcorn maker, not coffee maker. Have you seen those how-to videos?

freakerdude
freakerdude

 Oh, I would definitely spend the $300 on the drum roaster. Green beans cost 1/2 the price of roasted beans so I would recover costs in about a year and a half. Haven't seen any how to using a popcorn maker but i know that is has to be an even roast, so a tumbler is required.

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