Nowadays we talk a lot about craft. Unfortunately it's become a buzzword that has littered our supermarket shelves that big brands have attached to their labels. I believe that the words we use are important and that our actions should reflect those words. I take the word craft seriously. According to Merriam-Webster craft is "an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill".
I've been involved in specialty coffee for over 15 years. During that time I have dedicated myself to the discipline of learning the craft of coffee. Everything from green sourcing, to roasting, to brewing, to preparing espresso and espresso drinks and most importantly, hospitality. For me coffee isn't just a job or even a profession. For me coffee isn't another product that sits on a shelf or a milky sweet beverage in fancy cup. Coffee has consumed me. I have found my creative voice through coffee. I care deeply for the people and communities where coffee comes from. It matters to me how coffee develops during the roasting process. I care about the chemistry behind brewing and how to achieve the optimal balance of flavor. It matters to me if an espresso shot pulls in 30 seconds vs 15 seconds and how many grams of coffee went into that shot. I care about the ingredients I use on my espresso bar and do my best to pull in seasonal flavors to celebrate the diversity of produce in our region.
There is nothing new or special about what I'm doing. I'm part of a craft movement. I am part of a community of artists that have collectively decided that craft matters and that authenticity is important. Over these past 15 years, I have worked alongside artists, makers, small business owners and farmers at various markets and events. I have seen their struggles to make ends meet and the difficulties to keep that dream alive.
I believe that this human to human connection is vitally important and at the core this is what all of us as consumers want from the products we consume. We don't want something off an assembly line. We don't want a watered down version of the real thing. We don't want to eat things that are unhealthy and bad for the environment. We want our products to be made with real hands, from real people who care about the things they make and how they make them. Anything from bread, to wine, to cheese, to beer, to soda, to coffee, to whatever. From time to time we need to remind ourselves about the things that are important in life and readjust ourselves to get back on track. In our overly commercialized society, it's far too easy to lose sight of these things.
If you find me serving coffee at an event, you'll see "Craft Coffee" printed boldly on the front of my cart. These words mean something to me. As an artist, as a small business owner, as a human being, I am committed to serving in an authentic way that honors the people that produce the coffee, that respects the world around me, that is mindful of my community and is approachable to each person at my bar. It's one thing to use the word craft to make a sale but it's something completely different to live it.