You’re new to specialty coffee?
You just started digging deeper into all the flavors, the gear and the fun, but don’t know how to move on? How to grow your specialty coffee knowledge? What to read, what to buy, where to go?
This blog post is for you, then:
10 easy ways to grow your specialty coffee knowledge!
I know the feeling, you want to know everything, go everywhere, buy all the stuff you can possibly get!
Everything your mind is spinning around is specialty coffee. Your friends & family might even be already a little annoyed, because all you keep talking about is, specialty coffee!
You might also feel a bit overwhelmed by all the information out there…
I’m sure, though, after reading this blog post, you see things much clearer and know where to start with specialty coffee and growing your specialty coffee knowledge.
- Coffee Blogs
You come across a lot of them while surfing the internet nowadays: Blogs and online magazines focussed on your favorite beverage to be – specialty coffee.
They cover many topics, e.g. cafe reviews, coffee brewing at home, coffee gear and more.
Both of them have big Facebook and Instagram pages as well. Speaking of Facebook, I’d definitely suggest to start hopping into the tons of coffee groups there. Just type in coffee or specialty coffee in the search bar and explore.
- Coffee magazines
The first one is released bi-monthly and features many great stories about coffee growing & farming, cafe culture and such.
Drift is published only twice a year, but is rather a book, to be honest. It focuses on only one (coffee) city and its cafe/coffee culture in each issue.
Past issues covered New York City, Tokyo, Havana and Stockholm. Next one will be released shortly and will feature THE specialty coffee city in Australia – Melbourne.
- Coffee Podcasts
If you’re not that much of a reader of blogs or magazines and like to study/grow your knowledge on the go, start listening to coffee podcasts.
The episodes mostly are about 1 hour long and often host guests from the specialty coffee industry from around the globe.
- Ask your barista
One of the easiest ways to start growing your specialty coffee knowledge is by searching the internet for specialty coffee shops near you – Third Wave Wichteln map can help here!
Visit one of the shops that grabs your attention, order something you’ve never heard before and start a conversation with your barista.
Don’t be afraid, baristas of specialty coffee shops around the globe love to talk coffee, especially with customers and newbies like you!
- Attend cuppings & tastings
If you want to take the next step, ask your barista, if the coffee place hosts cuppings or tastings.
What does that mean?
Well, you might have found out already, that specialty coffee is all about the flavors and aromas, that can especially be tasted in coffee beans that come from a single origin, e.g. Ethiopia and are brewed as a filter coffee.
Cuppings or cuptastings do exactly that. When attending a cupping, you get to taste up to 10 different single origin coffees.
If you try that, follow the advice of the host, sip and spit, otherwise you go home over caffeinated that day – unless that’s what you’re aiming for. But, I’d rather not recommend doing that – it’s not fun…
- Classes, trainings & workshops
If you want to dig even deeper into those classes and grow your specialty coffee knowledge, like Barista skills, Filter coffee brewing, Latte Art or even more sensory training than in one of the cuppings.
Either ask your barista, if they do their own classes and or workshops – most of them do nowadays.
Or search the internet for them. Many specialty roasters and specialty coffee shops offer such classes.
There’s even such things like coffee schools out there. Check, if there’s one near you that offers home barista or brewing classes.
- Guided Coffee Tours
If you like to travel as much as I do, try adding some specialty coffee places on the itinerary of your next trip. Try not to do more than 3-4 coffee places per day. Why? See no. 5!
If you want to know more about the local cafe and coffee culture of the city you’re visiting and one of these cities is on your bucket list – Berlin, Portland, Tokyo and Melbourne – make sure to check out Thirdwave Coffee Tours, When in Berlin Tours, Tokyo Coffee and Melbourne Coffee Lovers Walk.
With many more specialty coffee places popping up in the bigger cities, guided coffee walking tours are a great way to explore the local coffee community. Give it a try!
In any case, if you’re heading to bigger cities, check, if the specialty coffee shops sell the ‘Specialty Coffee map’. I know of at least London, Berlin, Paris and New York City have one.
- Coffee Festivals
When checking for specialty coffee shops for your next trip, see if the city you’re traveling to hosts a coffee festival, as well.
This is a great way to get to know like minded specialty coffee fans and geeks, baristas, coffee roasters and many more. Often these festivals host trainings, seminars and workshops, as well.
- Coffee Volunteering
The advanced version of attending such an event is by volunteering at either a festival or even a coffee championship.
Check out, when and where coffee championships are held in your country and see, if you can be part of it by volunteering.
As a volunteer you support the team, the competitors and more. You can even be a photographer, only if you’re a photographer, of course.
You can get so much out of volunteering and not only get to know new coffee people, but also grow your specialty coffee know how.
- Buy coffee gear
The easiest – not the cheapest, though – way of increasing your specialty coffee knowledge is by buying coffee gear for your home.
Start with buying a good hand grinder – make sure it has a burr, not a blade –, because when making your way into specialty coffee you won’t purchase ground coffee anymore!
Next is getting whole beans of specialty coffee. Maybe that you just bought at the coffee shop you visited with the barista you’ve been talking to. He or she might have even suggested that coffee.
Depending if you like filter coffee or not, look into different filter brewing gear.
Don’t start purchasing every single gear at once. Start with one of the easiest to use, that can be Aeropress or a V60. Get comfortable and familiar with this one first, try different recipes and then move on to the next gear.
Just get started
No matter where you start growing your coffee knowledge, it’s going to be rewarding anyhow. So just get started with something that’s the most fun to you.
In any case, you get to know new people, you get to travel and you get to try new coffees.
If you’re open and not afraid of asking questions, then your way into specialty coffee and growing your specialty coffee knowledge and skills will be a success.