Discover &Harvest &Roast &Grind &Brew &Sip &Wonder.
As part of Coffee Common’s slogan and mantra, it also is a simplified description of the steps of coffee from seed to cup. Our incredible week at Coffee Common has now ended. It was truly a great week of inspiration and learning and I hope that we can bring all these things back and inject some new ideas and excitement into the cafés.
There are so many coffee-producing countries, each containing a multitude of small farms and producers, that new coffee treasures are being discovered every year. Around the world new roasters are popping up, discovering and roasting new lots of coffee; at Coffee Common I was fortunate to discover both. We served and tasted coffees from Latin America all the way to East Africa, represented by roasters from Australia to eastern Canada. Rarely do we get a chance to taste this wide variety of coffee, and it really excites me that the availability of high quality, properly roasted coffee is increasing around the world. The more people drink better coffee, the higher people’s expectations and demand will be for coffee, resulting in better green coffee being sourced, ultimately rewarding excellent producers.
We always think of harvest in the agricultural sense with coffee, but at Coffee Common, there was a great harvest of information and learning. We focused on creating a new coffee experience through very personal interactions with TED attendees, telling the stories of our coffees. Through these interactions not only were the attendees able to learn something new about coffee, but we were also able to learn about their work, passions and ideas. Many times there were connections to coffee that were realized through conversation, whether it be journalism, experiences with coffee producing countries, finance etc. It’s through these conversations that we can harvest ideas, inspiration or story from one another. I challenge everyone to try talking to their baristas. Start a conversation around the coffee, roasting, or brew method. You never know what you're going to learn, and hopefully will raise your expectations of coffee.
Roast & Grind & Brew &
Coffee Common is comprised of baristas from around the world that are invited to come together to create unique, educational experiences revolving around coffee. It was exciting to be surrounded by world-class, talented baristas, each with their own philosophies and brewing methods for coffee. I’ve learned so much not only talking to each person, but in observing their bar flow, interaction skills and customer hospitality. Each are the leaders in their field, and it was amazing to see the hard work, synergy and passion of all these professionals working together; this kind of energy, cohesiveness and professionalism is something we are constantly reaching for everyday in the cafes. I loved how the Coffee Common leadership showed respect for the collective skills of the baristas by purposely placing an emphasis on understanding the coffee stories and interaction rather than enforcing exact, cohesive methods of brewing. These were all baristas that could look you in the eye and talk about the story and science of coffee while pulling incredible espresso. No tunnel-vision baristas here.
Of course, all this could not have happened without rock-solid support and sponsorship by some of the best equipment manufacturers in the world. We had the privilege of using La Marzocco espresso machines, Mazzer grinders, Marco water towers and Hario glassware and brewers. We use equipment from all these manufacturers in the cafe, and it was a pleasure to see some of the world’s best baristas artfully use the machines to realize the potential of the coffees.
I would like to extend a huge thank-you to the roasters who were selected to be part of Coffee Common’s service at TED. Once chosen, roasters donate coffee to be served, which speaks volumes of their commitment and passion in sharing the flavour and stories of the coffees that they work so hard to source and roast. I was able to try coffees from roasters that I had never before sampled, and from coffee producers that I had never tasted. What sets all these roasters apart is their resolve to buy coffee as transparently and traceable as possible, developing long-term relationships with their producers and learning their background, priorities and needs. Support this kind of roaster and go out of your way to try all the different coffees available!
The coffees tasted great. Unique. Different. The theme of TED this year was Full Spectrum and this was the motivation behind the curation of our menu. We had coffees that were chocolatey and rich all the way to delicate and fruity and everything in between. All bars at TED served the same coffee at the same time, however we switched the coffees 4 times a day. Because TED occurred over several days, people would be coming back several times a throughout the weeklong conference. It was cool to be able to tell people how the coffee they tasted now differed from the coffee they tasted in the morning or even two days ago. By the end, we had attendees developing preferences, requesting different coffees, or even asking if this “was this coffee produced by _____?” These are coffees representing different varieties, grown in different climates, and as such have their own distinct characteristics and attitude, and it was great to see attendees taste the difference and develop favourites. I encourage everyone to try coffees from a variety of origins, as high quality coffee has many unique characteristics to them—it’d be a shame not to experience the full spectrum of flavours that a cafe’s menu has to offer.
Working in the industry, it is easy to become consumed by identifying flaws, miniscule details, roast and brewing mistakes or green defects in our continuing effort to improve the quality of the coffee we serve. It was so refreshing and invigorating to spend a week highlighting great coffee, celebrating the producer’s stories and being able to do so surrounded by world-class baristas. The atmosphere at TED was charged with curiosity and this afforded some incredible interactions. I’m passionate about seeing people experience coffee in a new way: whether through someone recognizing certain flavours in coffee for the first time, or learning about how coffee is produced. This is the sense of wonder, excitement and newness in the enormously complex, ever-evolving and amazing world of coffee that we hope to create. We can all remember our first life-changing coffee experience—I would love for more people to experience that wonder.