Our experience in a smart independent coffee shop in Falmouth this weekend gave us a glimpse into how many people must feel when they enter a craft beer bar.
We like coffee, but (as with whisky, wine, cheese) we don’t know very much, having not chosen to expend any mental energy reading on the subject, or forcing ourselves to concentrate as we consume. We’ve picked up a few nuggets of folk knowledge here and there, and think we can spot a bad cup of coffee in the wild, but that’s about it.
Walking through the door of Espressini Dulce on Arwenack Street, we were confronted by… well, not much. There was a blackboard with descriptions of four varieties of coffee and, once it had been pointed out to us, a minimalist list of methods of preparation –espresso, cortado, and so on.
We didn’t know what to do – what was the difference between the varieties of coffee? Would we be laughed out of the place for drinking anything other than espresso? So we just stood there, as if our operating systems had crashed.
Noticing our confusion, the chap behind the counter offered assistance, and we confessed our ignorance. He explained how the top two blends were available for espresso; and described their respective flavours with references to chocolate and red berries.
After all that, we went for one of each, cortado-style: here, we realised, was a chance for our first ever comparative coffee tasting experience!
And they both tasted… really nice. We could tell they were different, but didn’t detect chocolate, berries or smoke. Just coffee. Coffee with hints of coffee, and underlying coffee notes.
Yes, for a brief moment, we were those people beer geeks roll their eyes at: “It all tastes like beer to me – what do people normally have?”