A while ago I had a conversation with one of our roasters about what coffees he preferred of the ones on our menu at the time. It was a very stimulating conversation and we both agreed and disagreed on certain aspects of the coffees, each arriving at very different conclusions. We went so far as to break it down into what time of day it was being served, by what brew method, whether it was being paired with food, and plenty of other factors. In the end, it came down to us preferring different coffees, or liking the same coffees but for different reasons.
One of the things I love about coffee is that no one can decide for you what you should or shouldn’t like. They can try of course, but ultimately what you experience is unique to you. There are people that have highly refined palates that can pick up on subtleties in coffee that even I never could, although I’m involved with the product day in and day out. There are certainly defective, over roasted, under roasted, poorly extracted, too fresh, or too old coffees that one may taste and hate, with good reason. Often it comes down to what is particularly attractive to each individual.
I often think of that conversation with my roaster buddy when I’m talking to my staff about our coffees. How do we share our experiences with customers without asserting our own personal preferences? We need to consistently introduce new ways to enjoy this amazing product while understanding that people enjoy things differently. Our job is to make their experience when they walk into one of our cafes, unique as it will be, the best it can be.