How To Be A Coffee Snob…Without Being A Pretentious Jerk

I love coffee.
My affair with this miracle drink began when I was about seven years old. My grandparents kept a pot of coffee brewed all day long and anytime I spent the weekend at their home, my brother and I would get to drink all the coffee we could handle.

More accurately, we would have a little coffee with our sugar and milk. I bet we poured equal portions of coffee and sugar in each cup. It was like drinking warm candy and I remember it fondly to this day.

I bet you remember your first introduction as well. We seem to develop an affection for coffee that is unlike any other caffeinated drink. Do you remember your first Coca-Cola? Probably not. How about your first glass of tea? Nope? Me either.

But eventually, we become so attached to our coffee that we start to become..well, a bit of a snob.

She's drinking coffee from a white cup...amateur.

She’s drinking coffee from a white cup…amateur.

More than ever before, our love of coffee is defining our personalities. Truckers turned coffee into a convenience store staple. Starbucks turned coffee into a status symbol for the yuppie suburban crowd. Hipsters turned coffee into its own culture, complete with a sneering disdain for anyone who can’t quote the source origin for their “obviously not fair trade” McCafe coffee beans.

I’m gonna stop right there. Do I really need to spend a thousand words confirming that coffee snobs really do exist? Of course not. You know what they look like. Do I need to devote half an article to explaining why it’s perfectly okay to hate them? That might be a lot of fun, but it really isn’t my point.

I’m here to tell you how to be a better type of coffee snob; the non-pretentious asshole kind.

Example- Pretentious asshole coffee snob.

Example- Pretentious asshole coffee snob.

I will start by telling you that I too consider myself a coffee snob, but I’m going to establish my “non coffee snob” credentials.

1. I don’t drink espresso.
2. When I go to a coffee shop, I order straight black. No “Grande, Quad, Nonfat, One-Pump, No-Whip, Mocha”. If you can translate that order, get the hell off my site. Seriously.
3. I don’t own a Keurig. I don’t use flavored creamers.
4. 90% of the time, I drink Folgers. From a travel mug. With a straw.

To be fair, it is a Starbucks mug..so there's that.

To be fair, it is a Starbucks mug..so there’s that.

Now that I’ve established that I am the least qualified coffee snob in history, let me tell you why we’re here. I’m going to show you how to become a first class coffee snob on a shoestring budget.

If you actually enjoy waiting in line for 15 minutes and spending $4 on a cup of coffee from Starbucks, I won’t stop you. But what if I told you that for less than .25 a cup and ten minutes of your time you could enjoy a fresh roasted, fresh brewed cup of premium Ethiopian Yirga cheffe coffee in your own home?

Let me introduce you to the world of home roasting.

Somehow, I can remember drinking coffee with my grandparents thirty years ago, but I can’t tell you what sparked my interest in home roasting. I must have read an article somewhere and thought “Wait, is that even a thing?!” If coffee shops spend thousands of dollars on equipment just to brew coffee, surely it takes at least that much to roast it, right?

Not so, my friends, not so.

Regardless of what sparked my interest, it was the cost factor that drove me to give home roasting a try. For all the high brow intellectual sophistication of coffee shops, coffee roasting basically comes down to high heat and movement. Both of which can be accomplished with nothing more complicated than a popcorn popper.

Observe.

Standard popcorn maker...

Standard popcorn maker…

Half a cup of green coffee beans....

Half a cup of green coffee beans….

Into the popcorn maker...

Into the popcorn maker…

and...voila! Fresh roasted coffee beans.

and…voila! Fresh roasted coffee beans.

Roasting your own gourmet coffee requires just a few simple items; a popcorn popper, a high temp thermometer, a jar with a lid and some green coffee beans. As you can see, I’m doing this outside. It does produce a small amount of smoke and chaff as the beans roast.

It’s that easy. In ten minutes you will be halfway to heaven.

Only halfway though. Now you have to be patient.

Your freshly roasted gourmet coffee will smell so good that you will be tempted to want to grind it immediately, but be strong! Once the beans are roasted, they will continue to break down, releasing the oils that create that wonderful coffee flavor. Let it set at least overnight and plan to enjoy your gourmet home roasted coffee in the morning.

You can find these popcorn makers anywhere. The Westbend Poppery 2 is a popular choice because it vents on the side which prevents chaff from falling onto the heat elements.

Green coffee beans can be purchased online or even at some local coffee shops.

sweetmarias.com has great tutorials in addition to selling supplies.

coffeegeek.com is a great online forum for all things coffee.

You can pick up a sample pack that includes several different beans from all over the globe. You will quickly discover your favorites. With the sheer variety of beans available and a wide range of roast temperatures to try, you’ll never get bored.

The world is full of coffee snobs who know how to drink a good cup of coffee. I encourage you to be the kind of coffee snob that can make a great cup of coffee.

Enjoy!

The Importance of Hobbies

We are firmly entrenched in winter here in the Midwest. That means lots of time indoors.

As much as I’ve enjoyed learning to hunt and as much as I enjoy learning more about being an outdoorsman, when the temperature drops below freezing I am done. I’ll walk to the garage to start the car in the morning, but beyond that I am staying in.

I’m sitting in my living room, looking at a desk and bookshelf over in the corner and I’m developing an itch. They have been sitting neglected for the better part of a year, but they are calling to me now. It’s been too long. We need to get re-acquainted.

Yep. This should keep me busy for the rest of winter.

Yep. This should keep me busy for the rest of winter.

Four years ago, I discovered the wonderful hobby of stamp collecting. There was a box in the back of a storage closet that had belonged to my wife’s grandfather. It had been described as “stamp stuff” and had sat untouched since she was in grade school.

One day, while watching Pawn Stars, I got a sudden urge to find out what was in that box. What I discovered blew me away.

Seven binders full of stamps from all over the world, meticulously cataloged and sorted by country. I had no idea what I was looking at. The collection came with a set of catalogs which helped me understand how the collection was put together. During the next two weeks, I spent every free minute with my nose in these books. I joined a online forum and very quickly realized there was more to learn than I could ever fit into my lifetime.

Okay, why the hell am I telling you this story?

One of the often overlooked aspects of being a kick ass awesome man is having a hobby.

Okay, before we go any further, no matter what Scarlett Johansson says, watching porn is not a hobby.

"Tell me that to my face. While you waste hours looking for pics of my tits"

“Tell me that to my face. While you waste hours looking for pics of my tits”

Let’s continue;
There are numerous benefits to engaging in a hobby;

First is the enjoyment factor. Life is stressful enough. Devoting time to something that brings you satisfaction provides a much needed distraction to the hustle and bustle of life.

Why does every sentence sound like I’m talking about porn?

Second is the process of learning. There is value in knowledge. It doesn’t always have to be useful, like learning how to build a campfire from steel wool, a flint rock, and a fart. There isn’t a single part of stamp collecting that translates over into the rest of my world and yet I find great joy in the process of learning even the most minute details of this hobby.

Third is the relational aspect. Granted, there aren’t many stamp collectors in my area, but the internet allows me to meet and converse with other collectors from all over the world. Developing my outdoor skills helps to build my friendship with my deer camp buddies.

If you are not a natural extrovert, getting involved in a hobby can be a great way to make friends and get yourself involved in an activity where you feel comfortable participating.

Fourth, it’s a great way to meet women.
Wait, I’m a stamp collector. Scratch that.

Fifth is the small possibility that your hobbies can be profitable. Depending on what sparks your interest, you can potentially develop your skills to the point that you become marketable. That probably shouldn’t be your primary motivation, but don’t overlook it.

I’ve enjoyed selling stamps as much as I enjoy collecting them. Learning the complicated details of what makes some valuable and others worthless is a fun and challenging process.

Sixth and most importantly, it gives you someplace to go when your wife starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s school teacher after you’ve been cooped up together all winter.

Just kidding baby. My wife knows the Charlie Brown teacher voice is my secret fetish.

Yum.

But seriously, finding time for yourself is a necessary part of your relationship. Both husbands and wives need to maintain some autonomy in your life or you risk becoming enmeshed.

The Art of Manliness has an excellent write up on 45 manly hobbies to consider.

The New York Times has a nice nerdy article about hobbies and heightened states of concentration and flow states or something. Basically, it says hobbies make you smarter and helps you perform better at work.

An important part of being Big Dick is being good at stuff. If not to impress your wife, then for your own satisfaction. Start you new year off right by finding a hobby. Or perhaps you want to jump back in to an old one. I wish you the best of luck.

By the way ladies, I am still taking applications for being my stalker. I mean, if you are looking for a hobby and just can’t think of anything. No pressure.