"I'm a coffee lover," she said to me.
"Really," I replied. I looked at her deep into the eyes and smiled politely. I tapped the ash off my cigarette into the black ashtray and took a sip from a cup of steaming hot black coffee. And then I was back with my cigarette, with my eyes still staring at hers.
"How long have you been with coffee?" I asked her.
"Three," she said. "Or four, I am not sure. But it sure is a long time."
"So I figure," I said, "that you must know your coffee well."
"Really." I tapped my cigarette ash again before proceeding to take more puffs from it and exhaled the whitish smoke freely into the thin air, admiring the shape it made before it slowly dispersed and disappeared, leaving not at all any evidence but the smell of it. And then I took a look at her again.
"So tell me," I said. "Tell me what is the most notable difference between arabica and robusta."
She made a confused face, and said, "what?"
"Hm," I silently sighed. Just like the way I predicted.
* * *
Coffee is an art; it is considered to be one of the most perfected art since a very long time and still is perfected for over and over again as time passes by. Earlier consumed by Sufis (coffee first appeared as Muslim beverage) in monasteries all over the Arab world, coffee have made its way to almost every inch of inhabited lands on earth, now being one popular beverage that is consumed everyday, non-stop as the earth rotates on its axis.
And as the number of coffee drinkers grow large, many have dedicated their lives to do anything that has got to do with coffee drinking. These are the people from which we occasionally refer to as avid coffee drinkers, coffee-addicts and coffee lovers. Though there are many who claim themselves as coffee lovers, not many of them really are.
By being a coffee lover, you must first know your coffee. And that, I believe, is quite already an obvious fact. How do you love something, without knowing particularly what it is? You surely have to know your subject before you start to love it, hence the necessity for a coffee lover to know about his/her supreme beverage in detail, for knowing just the surface information of coffee does not make you a coffee lover but someone who only like to drink coffee.
I started drinking coffee when I was only 5. It all started when I happened to have so much curiosities in me when I was a child. Mom happened to be quite a coffee drinker even until today - the reason why I was never short of coffee supply that time. Coffee got me hooked up so much with it that I started to learn all about it right away.
The most essential knowledge that you have to know about coffee is about the bean itself. You must know about its species; the two main species that are grown for today's coffee consumption are Arabica and Robusta - the first having a better flavor, aroma and body than the latter. Having to distinguish this, you have to drink hell a lot of coffee to know and tell the differences from one to another.
Next will be the processing. You have to know how coffee berries are picked and dried, how the beans are extracted, and then roasted; undergoing a specific caramelization process where the beans are physically and chemically altered to more brownish color, depending on the temperature and time of roasting - dark roast that is sugary and smoother, to light roast that is generally stronger. There is also a method of roasting where margarine is introduced to the beans during roasting process - a method that produces kopi Melayu and white coffee, a much darker and aromatic coffee beverage when prepared.
Next you will need to know the preparation of coffee. You have to know what kind of grind is needed for each type of coffee-maker; espresso machine, drip machine, vacuum brewer and coffee press, and also the brewing methods. Then you proceed to learn about the beverage itself - cafe americano, caffe Latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, long black, and flat white, among other things.
Knowing is one thing, trying them is another. But it doesn't mean that you need to drink all types of coffee beverage that then only you can be a coffee lover. No, it is more than that.
Now these are only the basics, for there are a lot more to learn about coffee as a whole. Only by at least knowing all these then you can call yourself a coffee lover. It is not easy to reach this level, for even coffee masters have to go through certain tests to achieve their title - it takes a lot of courage, patience and time.
So don't call yourself a coffee lover if you only drink Nescafe 3-in-1 all time and the only thing you order off the counter is a tall ice-blended coffee.