Taking Things Too Far
Since everybody and their dog was "caught up" in talk of The Rapture yesterday, I've decided to chime in, completely unauthoritatively. But first, here's a handy link to Wikipedia's Rapture entry [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture ] and an instructive graphic for you to study (while avoiding real work or the outdoors).
Of course, only people who think Hazelnut is an origin that shares a border with, say, French Vanilla actually expected to be snatched up into the sky last night, but the amount of public attention the prediction got made me stop and think. About coffee. And the crazy things people say about it with a straight face. (It also reminded me of the word "chiliastic, which has a nice sound to it and which you may like reading about here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennialism).
I thought about how impressionable people are about things they can't quite actually see and how they can get "carried away" or "swept up" by momentary hype or "expert opinion." Who on earth can really claim to be an expert on God? Or coffee? The nature of God is, according to my friend Steve, at least in part that He or She is beyond comprehension. And coffee, it seems to me, is just about as elusive and impossible to pin down. Let's be honest, when it comes to taste, one man's slightly citrusy might be another's mildly nutty. Likewise, the poobahs who insist that espresso must be served no sooner than X and no later than Y days may be as full of baloney as you or me speaking on the subject (especially if recent blind taste tests are to be trusted). The conventional wisdom about flavors and taste (eg. "you taste sweetness on the tip of your tongue") or brewing methodology (isn't the newfangled Hario a lot like your old Melitta?) may be more convention than wisdom. We make things up when there's room to, when there's a commercial opportunity to exploit or mantle of expertise to assume.
Don't get me wrong, there is undoubtedly subtlety and expertise to be appreciated in the realm of coffee. Grind, extraction time, temperature, origin character all make noticeable differences. But ultimately tasting coffee is highly subjective. There's a point past which people's impressions are bound to vary. Lemony? Sure. A hint of elderberry? Gimme a break.
Coffee is popular partly because it has a place in our lives that is comfortable, unassuming, accessible. By taking a passion for it too far, a person can appear a little silly. Like an emperor with no clothes.
Why Wikipedia Rocks, yet again