I AM NOT, BY ANY MEANS, A COFFEE SNOB. I can be happy with a basic 3-in-1 cup and go about my daily business. With the influence of my colleagues, however, I decided to buy my very first French press.
Save Your Money; Brew Your Own Cup
One of the reasons I decided to start brewing my own coffee is because I needed something stronger than instant coffee. I also wanted to stop buying coffee from Starbucks. Two months ago, I found out that I was spending more for Starbucks than any other thing. One hot grande caramel macchiato, which is my standard order, costs P150. One pack of coffee beans costs P450-P600, and it’ll last you more than two weeks (how much you drink is negligible, the freshness of the beans, once ground, only lasts that long). If you do the math, this cuts my coffee expenses in half.
Tasting the Difference
I’ve written articles on UCC Coffee and Ka Tunying’s Cafe before, but it’s only now that I’ve started to really appreciate the complex and diverse world of coffee. There’s single-origin coffee, which is a type of coffee that’s grown within a single geographical region. There are also coffee blends, which are combinations of different types of coffee to come up with a more complex and balanced flavor.
According to DailyFinance.com, if you’re into acidic coffee, buy beans from Asia. If you like coffee with a rich, deep flavor, go for Central American beans. For coffee with an earthy taste, go for African beans.
Chasing the Story
Another reason I decided to start brewing coffee is because I’ve always been fascinated by coffee beans and the stories behind them. It’s easy to see that tracing the origins of coffee is a complicated political matter. For example, SeriousEats.com shares that the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange has made it difficult for coffee wholesalers to purchase coffee from a more specific level rather than the regional. This means it’s difficult to purchase coffee beans from a single farm or estate.
I hope that by buying whole coffee beans and by reading and researching more on the origins of each cup, I become more aware of the political implications my drink brings. Before I take a sip of my daily cup of Joe, I want to ask myself: was this coffee grown sustainably? Were the farmers who painstakingly planted, nurtured, and harvested these coffee beans fairly compensated? Are these fairtrade products?
Supporting Local Farmers
In recent years, we Filipinos have been blessed with more dining options than ever. Some of these new dining options highlight the farm-to-table concept, which means that these restaurants source their ingredients directly from farmers. This allows the restaurants to pay the farmers more money for their commodities, rather than letting a middleman profit from the hard work of these farmers.
While we’ve become more conscious of how and where we source our food in recent years, I want us to be more conscious of how and where we source our drinks as well. Locally, we have plenty of mountainous regions where local farmers produce Robusta, Liberica, Excelsa, and Arabica coffee beans. It’s important to note that coffee-growing enables people from conflict-afflicted areas to have a small livelihood. This is why it’s important that we buy local beans, which can really compete with beans from other coffee-growing regions from around the world, in terms of quality.
Taking the First Step in Being a Serious Coffee Drinker
Buying my first French press is my first step to becoming a more serious coffee drinker. As I’ve illustrated, I don’t want to be just more discerning when it comes to the quality of coffee; I also want to be more aware of the stories behind each cup. I hope that every person adapts this broader view regarding food and drinks.
Food is one of our most basic needs. I hope that this simple fact prompts us to become more serious about choosing what we eat, where eat, and how we eat. What you choose to buy, whether from a restaurant or a grocery store, has an impact. Do your research, buy the right products, support the right companies, stay healthy, and help others while helping yourself.