18 reasons, and the coffee-tasting
18 Reasons is a non-profit organization located in the heart of the gourmet gulch in the Mission. It’s an organization that we here at MUS•e•YUM have grown to love. The group is dedicated to bringing the people of the community together, using food and food production as the thread that binds. In the tradition of family, friends & neighbors gathering around the table to share a meal and each other’s company, 18 Reasons hosts events that teach, enlighten, enliven and delight. I’ve met a lot of quality folk here, it’s just that kind of place. Here’s the Mission Statement:
18 Reasons brings people together to deepen our relationship to food and each other. Through an innovative community center and thought-provoking, fun programming, we inspire action and foster collaboration toward creating a just and sustainable food system.
18 Reasons has several events per month, of dizzying variety. Want to learn how to make cheese at home? How about a multi-course meal, each dish prepared with, and paired with, Chinese teas? Maybe you’ve had the desire to try urban farming (and you can) and didn’t know where to begin? 18 Reasons and their community of eaters and producers will help you. I love coffee but realized, I didn’t know that much about it. So when I saw a coffee tasting come up on the schedule, I jumped. (The cost is usually discounted for members, so much I decided to purchase a membership; I suggest you do, too!)
We blind-tasted 9 coffees. It was fun to conjure up adjectives to describe the nuances of the flavor profiles, which varied wildly from cup to cup. Of course, the event reminded me of a wine tasting but with a twist: interesting adjectives emerged that I’d never used when speaking about wine. Of a flavor profile, the best descriptive phrase of the evening was “hot, humid jungle”!
The tasting also differed from a typical wine tasting in another way. Because of the changes coffee undergoes during preparation, we wrote notes for each of 9 samples at four different stages of brewing. First, we described the fragrance of the grounds themselves and second, the aroma released after the pour (this was timed with precision). Third, we broke the surface of the coffee to release still more aroma, and described that. Last, we documented the taste. This involved a particular technique of aspirating the coffee, essentially a very quick suck from the spoon with a loud sssssssssssuppppppppp!
With 9 coffees side by side, it’s just so easy to appreciate the broad array of flavors that the varied beans deliver. There’s a surprising diversity out there. It’s amazing, too, to see how one’s experience of a particular coffee, one’s impression of it, changes from the moment you sniff the grounds, as compared to the first taste. And not only that, for each coffee the taste and aroma change over time, from bean to brew. Very cool stuff.
For fun events like this and so much more, check out the calendar of events at 18 Reasons and, go try one out!