The First Crack

(The First Crack, is a term used in coffee roasting, to signal the definite start of the roasting transformation. It is the audible sound of the water evaporating inside the bean.)   What would you do if you’ve been in a relationship for more than 20 years and just realized that you never really knew your partner? This is someone I’ve woken up with every morning; someone I’ve relied on to get me through the most difficult days; and someone I’ve shared a lot of laughs and meaningful conversations in the presence of. The thing is… if you are like 62% of Canadians, you and I likely share this partner. And I bet you also don’t know it the way you should. It’s coffee. There’s no denying it’s a relationship. As a child I remember asking my mom when I’d be able to start drinking coffee. It always seemed like the ultimate rite of passage into adulthood. Had I known that she was drinking instant coffee, I probably wouldn’t have been in such a hurry. And knowing what I now know about adulthood, I DEFINATELY shouldn’t have been in such a hurry. I still remember when I fell in love with coffee. We’d been casually involved for a number of years but it wasn’t serious. In my early 20’s I moved from Toronto to Calgary and one of the only people I knew in the city invited me to meet her for coffee. We met at Planet Roasterie in Kensington and I ordered a drink called the Café Thursday. It was a hazelnut latte with whipped cream and was my first ever espresso drink. From that first frothy, sweet kiss I was hooked. Our relationship hasn’t been without its ups and downs since then. Sometimes I’ve even broken up with coffee. But never for very long. Drinking coffee is kind of like dating a ‘bad boy’. You know it’s not good for you but you can’t stay away. It has seductive powers ranging from that distinctive aroma to the rich flavor. Well, that… and the fact that I get a debilitating headache if I don’t have my first sip within three hours of waking. But last night, we took things to the next level. A friend of mine owns an artesian coffee roasting business (www.beato.ca) and has invited me to train under her to be a back-up roaster for when she goes on holiday. I showed up to my first training session with no expectations and no prior knowledge or experience. Well, except that I drink coffee. Every. Colby. It was in those two hours in that hot, little room that smelled like burnt toast that I realized the little I know about the beverage that has become such an important part of my life. My relationship with coffee has now lasted longer than any other relationship in my life (Other than that with my mother; and honestly, there are days when I get more from a good cup of java.) and yet I really knew nothing about it. So, I’ve decided it’s time to write a tell-all about this love that we share. As a coffee drinker, I’d like to get more intimate with coffee and coffee culture. With a lover’s desire to explore and the perspective that can only come from being a sarcastic mom in her 40’s, I plan to explore everything from how the fruit becomes the beverage, to why the line-ups at the drive-thru are so damn long. Will you join me? If nothing else, it might make for interesting conversation the next time you meet a friend for coffee.

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