Yirgacheffe Beans and Cascade Hops1
Craft coffee and craft beer, once fringe enterprises, can today be called mainstream. For a consumer, this is both a blessing and a curse. While it is now possible to find a great mug of coffee or beer in most cities, this abundance makes it hard for a particular roaster, brewery, bar or coffee shop to stand out.
If, however, if somebody came up to me and said:
“Sam, I am forcing you to pick a favorite coffee and a favorite beer,”
I would respond
“Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.”
This answer is based on a mixture of objective facts and subjective opinions. Lets get the subjective part out of the way first so I can end my argument on solid facts.
Before I discovered Ethiopian Yirgacheffe I was under the assumption that coffee was a bitter beverage. But after hearing about The Refinery, a fancy coffee shop a few blocks from my high school, I paid a visit to this establishment and my opinion on coffee was forever changed. I asked the barista (who’s name I would later learn was Jimmy) to make me his favorite drink. What I was served was a mug of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, brewed via pourover with a Hario V60.2
Drink it black,” Jimmy told me.
It was anything but bitter. With a fruity aroma, this cup of coffee could almost be described as warm juice3 , as the dominant flavors were blueberry and strawberry rather than bitter and more bitter4. This cup of coffee made me realize that — for lack of a better/less-cliche phrase— a cup of coffee could be more than just a cup of coffee. With each bean possessing a unique flavor profile that varies depending on brewing method, I suddenly had been sucked into the world of craft coffee.
Sierra Nevada: there are many things that make this beer great, but for the sake of keeping both the readers attention and this post under 500 words5, I’ll keep it short. Sierra Nevada is great because it perfectly balanced. The body is crisp like a pilsner yet substantive like a stout. The Cascade Hops give it a citrus bite and contrasted with a maltiness that is present, the final result is perfectly sweet. It will pair perfectly with most any food or any occasion that calls for beer, from a summer afternoon to a winter evening.
Like Yirgacheffe, part of my affliation towards Sierra Nevada is in part personal. Growing up it was always the beer my dad drank with dinner if we were having burgers, tacos or pizza. And after going to college and drinking shitty beer like Keystone and Rolling Rock at parties, it was one of the first six packs I bought for myself, and it made me realize that beer, like coffee, did not have to taste bad. They could both be quite enjoyable.
1. Or, as my girlfriend suggested upon hearing my elevator pitch of this post, “Jerking off to Elitism”. ↩
2. From the words at the folks over at Stumptown coffee: “Nuanced and versatile, the Hario is an elegant brewer for those who want to perfect the pour. It’s great for folks who are looking for complete control over brewing extraction. The key here is to pour slow. The entire brew process for a 10oz mug takes about three minutes.” Click here for a great video if you would like an excuse to dive into the world of craft coffee. ↩
3. I will refrain from actually claiming it tasted like warm juice because it was not a cup of warm juice, it was a cup of warm coffee. ↩
4. For my reaction to this cup of coffee at the time of the experience, refer to the following blog post: https://samsfoodblog.com/2012/03/25/the-world-is-a-different-place-with-a-5-50-cup-of/↩
5. Not including footnotes. ↩