After crude oil, coffee is the most valuable commodity in the world, and is the most widely consumed liquid after water and tea. Over the last few decades, American coffee culture has risen to widespread proportions due to the prominence of Starbucks, the largest coffee retailer in the planet; as a consequence, more people are showing interest in becoming coffee connoisseurs.
To increase your coffee knowledge, you have to do more than hang out at Starbucks. Here are four ways you can increase your knowledge of this fascinating crop and beverage:
Attend Barista School
If you live near a major metropolitan area, you will certainly find opportunities to learn the skills needed to become a barista. You would be surprised at the amount of knowledge that is required to earn the title of a master coffee professional whose specialty can be compared to that of a wine sommelier. Some of the best barista courses are affiliated with major coffee brands connected to Italy, the spiritual home of the barista craft.
Learn the Art of Cupping
Before the Starbucks phenomenon, American coffee drinkers were mostly limited to supermarket roasts grown in massive Brazilian and Colombian coffee farms. Once shade-grown coffee from El Salvador, Kenya and the Caribbean was introduced to the United States at the retail level, Americans were finally able to compare. Coffee cupping is all about comparison; if you have heard about how certain coffee beans harvested in secretive farms in Jamaica can fetch hundreds of dollars per pound, you will understand how these conclusions are reached by cupping experts.
Become a Coffee Investor
If you have some capital to invest, you should take the time to learn the basics of trading futures contracts on agricultural commodities and later focus on coffee. It takes a lot of research to become a skilled coffee futures trader, and it can be a lucrative career move. One word of caution: you should only invest what you could afford to lose, and you should not be tempted too much about investing in options unless you completely understand the risk of expired contracts.
Become a Coffee Tourist
Coffee travel is a very rich experience. Imagine going on a tour of select farms in the pristine Tarrazú Valley of Costa Rica, which often boasts the most expensive coffee in the world. These tours not only include coffee tastings but also an intimate look at the harvesting, roasting, and research facilities. Each farm also provides fresh and delicious snacks to accompany each cup.
In the end, the four recommendations listed here are sure to increase your coffee knowledge quotient to higher levels that you will thoroughly enjoy. Take some time to work with a retailer in your area like 11th Street Coffee or someone similar. Once you’ve learned everything you can you’ll be able to roast with the best of them.