My two favorite beverages are both brown liquids: coffee and whiskey. Recently I learned how my enjoyment of these two beverages differs. For one, I’m a lover. For the other, I’m an aficionado.
I went to an industry event a few weeks ago. Afterward they offered us beer and wine, and I ended up sitting at a table with a bunch of others in my industry I’d never met. Someone wished the bar had offered something more interesting than Stella Artois, which brought the conversation around to favorite spirits. When I said whiskey, several others nodded in agreement.
Then we learned that one of the fellows at the table owns a coffee roastery. “Does everyone here like coffee?” he asked the table. I was first to exclaim, “oh, yes!” I love coffee!
“What flavor profile do you like?” he asked.
“Uh, right now I enjoy a breakfast blend I get at the grocery store. It’s from an Indianapolis roaster called Papa Nicholas.”
“Grocery store? Do you have any idea how long that stuff sits in a warehouse before you get it? It can’t have any flavor left!”
Then everybody else at the table talked about the single-origin roasts they liked best and their interesting flavor notes, and I found myself with nothing to say.
If we had stuck to talking about whiskey, I would have had plenty to say. I like trying whiskeys with all sorts of different mash bills, at various ages and proofs, and comparing and contrasting the flavors. I look for obscure distilleries and limited editions. I even finish a pour that I don’t like, because I’m evaluating it and want to understand its flavor profile.
When it comes to coffee, however, I’m a lot simpler: I take it black. I prefer a full but classic coffee flavor with a lightly sweet finish. I’m just as happy with the coffee at Denny’s as I am the medium-roast drip at the hip downtown coffee shop where the baristas are covered in piercings. I generally avoid the specialty roasts, e.g, “single-origin, grown in Nigeria by itinerant monks” or whatever because too many of them just haven’t appealed to my palate.
I’m a coffee lover and a whiskey aficionado.