Camano Island Coffee Roasters Boss Jeff Ericson Champions Path To Coffee Excellence
Wine tastings are central to the work of the Food, Wine, and Travel Writer. But often, this Travel Writer seeks out great tasting coffee. But the quest to find top-notch quality coffee is elusive for most coffee lovers. Why is that?
We coffee lovers crave excellence, that pure, easy on the palate mixture of subtle influences from the soil that suggest the complexity of the 1,000 organic compounds that makeup a strain of this magnificent equatorial bean that has smitten millions over the millennia. Yet we don’t know how to find great tasting coffee.
Who among us has the time to research all there is to know about coffee, and then, embark on multi-year trips to the equatorial regions of the world just to find the perfect crop of beans?
Some of us think we know what great coffee tastes like. We frequent the popular brand storefronts. We believe their advertising when they tell us their beans rank among the top three, four or five percent of all beans from the harvests around the world. We buy their coffee. And then, disappointment sets in.
On any given day, a cup of coffee over-the-counter just about anywhere around the world can prompt us to say it just doesn’t taste right. Few of us ever experience that perfect cup of coffee. We complain about bitterness, hyperacidity, getting the jitters and, we blame the coffee.
Most of us continue to stumble through life from one cup of coffee to another hoping each cup will sharpen our senses and subject us to that instant when we first savor the nuances of that perfect cup of coffee nirvana just once before we die.
So, how do we do to experience coffee nirvana every day?
It Takes A Coffee Snoot
As luck and a bit a planning would have it, our colleagues at the Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism bureau in the State of Washington, took us on the coffee nirvana path to visit with Jeff Ericson at his Camano Islands Coffee Roasters in May of 2018.
Jeff is a coffee snoot. He makes no bones about it. And if you love coffee and ask his opinion, he’ll say you have good cause to be one too.
What’s a coffee snoot? It’s a person who drinks coffee black, buys only what he or she can consume within 30 days, and consumes only the top one half of one percent of quality coffee in the world. If your immediate reaction is “ugh, black?”, hang on.
The truth of Jeff’s contention invokes repressed memories in me from long ago. Somehow, I recall the taste of several great cups of Jamaican Blue Mountain back in the 1980’s. Yes, I drank it black. And I’ll never forget the delightful, complex taste. And the memories of that experience are akin to, well, you fill in the mnemonic blanks on what works for you here.
At our meet and greet, Jeff welcomed us and offered us a cup of coffee. Then, he said the magic words: “… I suggest a medium roast of our Papua New Guinea. It’s the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee bean transplanted on the South Pacific island of New Guinea …”.
Yes, I thought, instantly! It was black for me!
After the first sip, I knew Jeff was serving us the good stuff. As the endorphins told my brain I had finally been reunited with a great tasting coffee, openings in my neural pathways let Jeff’s commentary seep into new areas of synaptic growth.
Up next: I’ll take you through everything you could want to know but may not have learned about what makes a great coffee in Part II of this series. Stay tuned.
Until next time …