A couple of weeks ago, Oliver Strand’s column “Ristretto” (last post) ended and coffee lovers all around the world shed caffeinated tears. Since I want to write more often, need more blogs to read, and I work way better with others keeping me in line, #blogchallengewk1 happened. One coffee blog post a week with D. Nettleton (read), Maxwell Mooney (read), and Randy Levine (read). Anyone can join in- no prior writing experience needed. 

For the past few years, I’ve been establishing one NY resolution a year (instead of the 15 that I used to write & give up on within six weeks). In 2012, my general new years resolution was to make new friends [outside of work]. I went through the pains of setting up an OKCupid account (I don’t suggest doing this to find new friends), attempted to join Meetup groups, and said yes to many events where I didn’t know anyone… needless to say, random group meetings, random one-on-one meetings, random parties… they just don’t pan out into real friendships. The new friendships I’ve made this year have all come out of the coffee industry and I’m grateful for all of them.

I’ve yet to decide on my general 2013 resolution, but I do have many coffee goals that I want to achieve in 2013.

1) Try a new roaster every month. This shouldn’t be too difficult, because I’ve tried an unbelievable amount of new roasters this year. I like keeping my taste buds fresh. I’m not sure if this happens in other cities, but I find that a lot of Chicago roasters have similar roast profiles. So while I do support local businesses, I find it refreshing to try a different city’s roaster.

2) Write down my notes. I have too many “journal” methods. Random scraps of paper, tweets, Instagram photos, two kinds of Moleskine notebooks, Evernote, Coffee Journal app… I just need to decide on one and stick with it.  I want to see that evolution of coffee exploration recorded somewhere.

3) Come up with more relatable tasting terms. I really enjoy talking to the average person about coffee, because I’m forced to use language that they can understand. One of my favorite tasting notes this year is “pith.” It’s such a funny word and a great descriptor. But usually, you can’t throw that into conversation like, “this coffee ends on a pithy note” without receiving strange looks. Go further and say, “it’s that white part of the grapefruit right under the skin. Kind of bitter, but still has that grapefruit brightness.” A-ha! I don’t care how you eat your grapefruit, you must have accidentally eaten some pith at one point or another.

4) Taste [almost] everything. In line with #3, I want to taste nearly everything and get in the habit of doing so. At the same time, I also want to do [#2] write my reactions down. Going further into the “pith” example, it turns out that I first heard this descriptor at a public cupping. In my mind, I was thinking, “Oh, great descriptor! But I only vaguely remember what it tastes like!” So my next trip to the grocery store included one grapefruit. I purposely ate some pith. Just to remind myself what pith tasted like. Coincidentally, I’m eating grapefruit right now and might have just eaten some pith.

grapefruit pith

5) Keep tabs on the coffee industry in an organized fashion. Whether it’s through RSS blog feeds or having an updated Twitter list, I need to get organized fast.

6) Network. Twitter, in-person conversations… I need to utilize my resources and establish connections and friendships.

7) Get geeky. My next coffee equipment purchases will be a gooseneck kettle, larger scale, and temperature probe. I need to really start training my taste buds to understand what various variables have on a coffee’s end flavors.

8) Constantly remind myself why I chose this industry. The last time I left this industry, I felt disillusioned and uncaring about coffee. It became “work.” I resented it. I don’t want to have those emotions again, which means I should probably pick up some other hobbies.

9) Experiment more. I don’t mean change water filters or changing water temperatures. I mean, screw what everyone else is doing in the industry. I can mimic others’ experiments or just start creating my own. Yes, if intriguing enough, I’m sure I’ll want to try others’ experiments out. But I also want to be that person who tries to combine lavender syrup, brewed coffee, ice, and  other random ingredients. I tried coffee with a supposed 40x the amount of normal coffee’s caffeine content. Super-concentrate. It was disgusting (sorry), but I’m glad I tried it.

10) Visit a coffee city. NYC is at the top of my list. I’ve been there twice, but haven’t actually been to try their coffee and I hear they’ve got some great things going on there.

And that’s it! My first coffee blog post for the coffee blog challenge and my 2013 coffee goals.

P.S. This was some painful writing. It took me an hour and half with intermittent Facebooking and random internet searches. But I made it! Week 2 begins tomorrow.