Popping my coffee Cherry

Ahhh, coffee… that black gold that wakes us up first thing in the morning and keeps our cerebral engines firing on all cylinders throughout the day. We’ve come to take it for granted, but there is much to learn about that cup of Joe in your mug.

For instance: did you know that coffee beans are actually cherries? We know them as beans, but in reality, they’re red or purple fruits called cherries. This is one of the first things I learned after a great visit with James Calder, marketing director for Kelowna’s own Cherry Hill Coffee.

Every few months, Cherry Hill runs a Brew School at their Hunter Court Roastery. The next one is coming up on Thursday, December 22nd at 3 pm, where coffee nerds and neophytes alike can learn some tips and tricks for home brewing on the Chemex, Hario, Aeropress and Siphon. These events normally sell out very quickly, and this month’s class is no exception. Check their blog for news on upcoming events.

I spent time with Calder as he walked me through a tasting of four of their original blend coffees, using both the  Chemex and Hario brewing methods. I learned that a coffee tasting is not unlike that of a wine tasting: first you smell, and then you slurp – thrusting the liquid into a tiny dance in your mouth.

While I don’t consider myself a coffee snob by any means, before my meeting with Calder I thought I was fairly knowledgeable. I think what stuck with me most is how amazing coffee can taste when it’s done analog style, as shown below.

I was under the false assumption that the coffee as we brew it at home was as close to perfection as you could get. We have a Keurig K-Cup system, and although I love the convenience of the K-cups, I normally buy my own beans and grind them, scooping them into the My K-Cup filter. It’s a great single-serve cup of coffee – don’t get me wrong – but it doesn’t quite live up to the flavor we achieved with the Chemex brewer (using their Anniversary Blend beans).

The day before my Cherry Hill visit, I ground up some fresh Anniversary Blend beans and used my Keurig. I don’t know what it is about the freshness about the Chemex method, but the smoothness was unbelievable. Anyone who complains about bitterness in drinking coffee straight up black hasn’t tried coffee done this way. No need for a double/double here; less calories, much more coffee flavor!

If brewing the Chemex or Hario process is too cumbersome for you, it may be worth your while to check out the Aeropress. On a second visit to the roastery, Steve Bryde took the time to walk me through this new interpretation on the French press. Although I found the resulting cup to have a slightly less clean taste than the Chemex, the Aeropress is a step above the French press. 

Cherry Hill’s coffee is available in many local establishments, but take my word for it: brewing their coffee old school (or unplugged) is like having a special key card that allows you to ride the flavor elevator all the way to the penthouse level.

It’s that good. Pop in to Cherry Hill for a visit and get yourself some beans, and while you’re there be sure to ask about their selection of excellent unplugged brewing equipment.

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