One of the countless things I love about my job is that I often get to witness or otherwise the cause of an individual’s “a-ha” moment. You know, that moment when you discover something that had been hidden from you for such a long time that when it finally reveals itself the whole world turns upside-down for a moment? Eyes go wide, maybe a gasp or sigh escapes your lips, and a wave of confusion and realization sweeps over your brain matter.
I’m lucky enough to see this a lot in coffee because it’s a product that is so widely understood on one level, which is mostly mediocre, that when really good coffee is introduced it can be alarming that such a definitive and comforting thing could turn out to be so drastically different from what you expected it to be.
“There’s no way this is just espresso and milk,” my buddy Tom said as he shook his head in the car. I had just shown him the wonders of a cortado from a local joint, Little Amps, near where we went to school.
“No way dude, it’s like, sweet. There’s so much flavor, I don’t believe you that there’s nothing else in there,” he continued in an increasingly caffeinated rant as he took sip after sip from his paper cup, jerking the wheel of his car onto the highway as we rumbled back to campus.
I had converted him.
Tom wasn’t the first “a-ha” moment I was a part of and he definitely wasn’t my last, but it was one of the most violent, in a sense. He promptly purchased a few hundred dollars’ worth of coffee equipment in the coming weeks, now and forever in search of the perfect cup.
My own ‘a-ha’ was found in a night class my freshman year at school. I was sipping on Kenyan coffee I had brewed on a moka pot as I lazily swiveled in my chair, vaguely listening to my professor ramble on about business management principles. I had been attempting for a few weeks to make good coffee in the fidgety stovetop brewer, and I finally splurged on a bag of “fancy” coffee beans I found online and tried it out before class.
It tasted like lemons.
That was crazy to me, and quickly became much more interesting to me than my textbook. As I sipped my lemon Kenyan and swayed back and forth in my chair, I forgot everything else around me and melted into my cup, sleepy and happy that I had finally figured out the crazy secrets coffee can hide.
Nowadays I get to show his same idea to customers as I offer them Ethiopian coffee that tastes like blueberry pie or cold brew that drinks like a Guinness, and every time when I see those eyes widen I get a stupid grin on my face as I think of my lemon coffee or Tom’s cortado. The idea that myself and all the others at Boxwood can help show how much fun and intrigue can come about chasing that black rabbit down the hole is exhilarating. We love showing all of you things you’ve never seen or tasted before, and we love it when you come back for more.
I often wonder how many of you I’ve ushered into the rabbit hole myself, and I often wonder what new and exciting things the journey will show to us in time.
Hayden Kaye is our Master Roaster and head of the Say Interesting Stuff department.