The Five Signs You’re A Coffee Snob
Photograph courtesy of Caravan
Just-released stats show coffee’s popularity is growing faster than any other sector of the hospitality industry. According to charity UK Coffee Week, three new coffee shops open every day in the UK, creating an industry valued at £8.9bn, which is a rise of 12 per cent since 2016. And here’s the kicker: at this rate, the number of coffee shops in Britain is set to exceed pubs in about a decade. This is great news for coffee lovers, but it has given rise to a new hyper-discernable breed of drinker. The coffee snob. Have you started meeting pals for pour-over rather than seeing the boys in the boozer? Do you have a favourite independent shop, know what beans you like, and how you want them ground? Do you know which coffee-making apparatus crafts your ideal cup, and what temperature you like to drink it? Maybe your coffee drinking has gone too far. To mark the start of London Coffee Festival later this week, we’ve rounded-up the five signs that suggest that you are straying into the realm of serious caffeine geekery (and annoying everyone around you as a result).
You have a pour-over station at your desk
Apparatus is essential when crafting your brew. To start with, you’ve got a proper kettle. Not a top-of-the-range number endorsed by a celebrity chef, rather a hot water kettle by a brand like Hario that sits on the hob with a long spout that draws water from its base so it keeps an even heat. Next to it sits your trusty drip filter. You’ve tried a Bialetti, cafetière, AeroPress and a pod-based electronic device, but none of them are as consistent as your hand, eye and trusty thermometer. And it doesn’t stop when you leave the house, of course. In the office you scoff at the guy with a cafetière next to his computer who claims he only drinks “good coffee”. The setup on your side of the desk is an Osaka Pour-Over station (with oxygen-bleached filters in the drawer).
You won't be seen dead in a chain
Even though there are a couple of shops you rate more highly than others, you patronise a good number of independents to support them all. They’ve probably got certain similarities in terms of the guys they employ: scruffy beards, maritime tattoos and shirts that need a good iron. They all know your name and order without having to ask.
You know a good shop when you see (or hear) one. There will be the constant hum of the grinder fighting against Britpop through the speakers, as any coffee shop worth its crema will grind beans to order. The milk jugs will be washed after each use and the liquid will be being dispensed into sparkling glassware (probably branded with the shop’s livery).
Your order takes a while
It takes no fewer than six words for you to accurately communicate what you want. None of these include a cutesy name for your drink. It all starts with the physical coffee: espresso. Espresso ristretto (restricted espresso) is a concentrated shot as ordered by the purist, while espresso lungo delivers a longer drink that might be suited to an afternoon cup. Then comes the milk. Considered by some as an aberration, you know it’s acceptable to add milk if you’re skipping breakfast, but under no circumstances is it OK to order a cappuccino after midday. As a coffee snob, you will know that in Italy you can be chased out of a shop for committing such a crime against caffeine.
You need a thesaurus to describe your coffee
Firstly, you have more than a dozen adjectives for a coffee’s taste, aroma and “mouthfeel”. In the last 48 hours you’ve described what you’ve drunk as “leguminous”, “earthy”, and “full of citrus”. You also know that “cuppings” aren’t something that rugby players get up to after matches. Your next cupping event (or tasting, for the uninitiated) is at a local grind bar, where you’re looking forward to trying their latest Kenyan single origin. It’ll also be a good opportunity to use your new cupping spoon, embossed with your name, obviously.
You know what "single estate" means
You haven’t bought pre-ground coffee beans in a decade. When you go to a new shop, the first thing you do is check out what they’re selling. You’re keenly aware that coffee’s flavour is in the oils that come out after roasting and these evaporate quickly in the aftermath. Commercial roasters won’t let you know the “roast date” on their packaging as it allows them to mix and match batches that were roasted at different times, from different sources. So only the roasters that tell you when the beans went to roast are worthy of your investment. You look for bags with specific geography, which dials down to the region where the entirety of its contents were produced. Yours is likely to be grown in the volcanic soils of Central America if you like arabica beans, or perhaps Ethiopia if you like the robustness of robusta. It’ll have “single estate” on it, too, telling you the beans came from the same farm in that particular location. And, like any true coffee snob, you will always know the name of the grower who harvests from your favourite estate.