So this year for different reasons I’ve decided that I would quite like to learn a bit more about coffee. At the end of each month I might do a little reflection to gather my thoughts as there is more going on than just coffee drinking.
1 Being in the position of being able to try different coffee, to boil a kettle whenever I feel like it probably puts me in the bracket of being a member of the most wealthy, privileged generation to have ever lived on planet earth.
Forget that I am wearing clothes with holes or not able to afford things like an iphone or ipad. Boiling a kettle from water that is tapped directly into my kitchen at the flick of a switch with reliable electricity means that I am in the global elite of history. Typing this up on a computer means that I am wealthy despite often feeling poor compared to those around who fly away on vacations or drive sexy cars. That is something which applies to other stuff I take for granted in the cupboards.
2 Following on from that there are global consequences to my drinking a mug of coffee. The energy to heat my kettle has to generated, the coffee beans have to be shipped, they are grown on land by people who I often know nothing about. Having a mug of coffee has global consequences. So I’d like to know a little about where the coffee has come from and what some of those consequences might be. I’d like to know that for most things as well without driving myself crazy. (Perhaps the only way to do that is to stop making things so complicated)
3 I find there is a degree of snobbery with some of the new coffee roasters. Stuff like ‘you really should be grinding your own beans’ or being a bit sniffy about those people who enjoy supermarket coffee or heaven forbid, instant coffee! The Philistines, off with their heads!
I find the tasting notes can be a bit pretentious as they can be with wine. Is taste not something that we can’t determine for other people? Just because we like a the taste of a certain coffee why should we expect someone else to like it as well?
4 Having said that those who know about coffee seem to be suggesting that I’ve been making my coffee much too weak for most of my life. Generally I have been sticking to the one black scoop per cup/person, but taking a cup to equal to a mug.
I’ve been rooting around and different guides seem to suggest that about 3 scoops of coarsely ground coffee is what I should be using for each of my brown mugs above. For years I’ve been using 1 scoop per brown mug.
Yet that means they are recommending that each 250g bag of coffee beans should make about 11 mugs. Which seems really expensive, especially when you might have been squeezing about 30 mugs from one bag of supermarket coffee.
5 Money is a funny thing. One of the ideas about getting into coffee a bit more was that I wanted to drink less coffee (because of things like water footprints) but to drink better coffee when I did.
Sticking to rules above a a bag of Co Op coffee would probably give about 10 mugs which works out at about 23p per mug but the more expensive ‘better quality’ coffee at say £5 per bag works out at least twice that price at say 50p per mug.
That is a big difference and seems like a luxury item and a waste of money. Perhaps it is, I’m wrestling with that. Same with organic, free range chickens which work out twice the price of intensively raised chickens. Is it something that middle classed people only worry about or as a Christian should I be considering that the way a chicken is raised is important?
The thing is that if I’m about Belfast I wouldn’t think twice about buying a packet of Tayto for 60p, or grabbing a coffee in a coffee shop for at least 3 times the price of the expensive better quality coffee at home.
For the price of one mug of Starbucks filter coffee at £1.50 (brimming over the edge because they’ve filled it up too much yet again) I could have three mugs of home made coffee. So yes the coffee I’ve just ordered works out at 25p per mug more expensive than the home made supermarket coffee but it’s still working out at about £1 per mug cheaper than a coffee at Starbucks.
In January the coffee has been fueling thoughts about money and my relationship to it.
Is it a badge of honour that we’re able to get something as cheaply as possible, that we’re being wise with our money or might it be a sign that we’re stingy and acting selfishly?