Saturday. Berkeley. The Western Regional Barista Competition.
My taste buds will never be the same. Have you ever tasted a latte and thought to yourself, "meh." Not acceptable. Some coffee shops consistently offer better quality coffee and service than others. I have officially become a "coffee snob". If I can't order a Cappuccino and thoroughly enjoy it without thinking "well that's a little bitter" or "the milk's not very creamy (I'll give a little grace w/ soy, which doesn't froth nearly as well as milk)" on a pretty regular basis, chances are I won't be ordering coffee there anymore.
Part two of this train of thought...
I spend a ridiculous amount of money on coffee in any given month. I have recently been challenged with many social justice issues. We live in a very broken world that needs help, and I choose to spend my money on not-so-great to downright crappy coffee. What the heck!
One thing I really appreciated about the WRBC was the emphasis on the origin of the beans. In many developing countries, coffee is a main source of revenue. Many job opportunities exist in this industry; farmers grow the coffee cherries and hire people to pick them, then extract/dry/prepare the beans to be exported to other areas. One really cool program that was featured is called Bikes to Rwanda. Their goal is to "improve quality of life in these communities through a bike workshop and maintenance program that provides transportation resources for basic needs and enhances production of quality coffee."
Seeing things like this prompts me to really look at what I support simply by living life the way I do. Being patient and seeking out quality is important. I can feel good about going to a coffee shop that supports farmers in these countries and is willing to pay them a fair price for their beans. I appreciate the Baristas' willingness do their best to produce a great cup of coffee that will make customers want to support their business and prove that it is worth it to provide quality product and service.
I am challenged to think twice about what I choose to purchase - is it really worth it?
Shameless plug - check out the Verve Coffee Roasting Company in Capitola. They're great!