Here's the final installment of our Guest Blog Series. We did this series in a sequential order from farm to cup and Kayla shares with us her perspective as a home brewer. It's so interesting to see how much respect is given by all involved this culture to all the hands along the way. So meet my friend, Kayla. She has been brewing at home for several years as well as at pop-up shops. I really enjoyed her perspective on the culture and her appreciation for the work that goes into producing great coffee.
Hi Kayla! Tell us what you do for a living and what your number is on the Enneagram Test.
I work at a local screen printing and embroidery shop, mostly in sales and the embroidery department. I’m an enneagram 4.
What's so special about Fours?
I’d hate to speak for all the fours out there, but I think fours feel special because they think there’s no one else in the world like them who could understand them. We’re all unique.
So tell us about what got you into specialty coffee. Was it a memorable cup?
I never liked coffee at all until I started drinking it in college, always as sweet as possible. My then-boyfriend Tyler and I started to travel to different cities together, visiting coffee shops while we were there, which helped me to develop a taste for specialty coffee. We wanted to be able to make the quality of coffee we got when we traveled at home, so we bought a Chemex and a gooseneck kettle and ordered a bag of Perc Misty Valley. Tasting that first pour over we brewed ourselves was really what I would count as my life-altering specialty coffee moment, if I had to narrow it down. I remember it tasting like blueberries and strawberries, and I was amazed that such naturally sweet flavors could come from just coffee. I could never settle for an average cup of coffee again after that experience.
What are some of your favorite descriptors of coffee? What are some of your favorite origins?
I really like coffees that have fruity or floral tasting notes, although lately I’m finding that I enjoy a cup with sweeter undertones like cocoa or brown sugar as well. Some of my favorite coffees have been African in origin, but I also love a good Huehuetenango from Guatemala. I typically dig coffees that have been grown at higher elevations.
Do you like different brew devices for different coffees or are you pretty set on one device?
I enjoy different brew methods, but for everyday brewing, I tend to use a stainless steel Kalita Wave 185. It makes for a nice, balanced cup.
What do you like about washed coffees? What do you like about naturals?
I like how clean washed coffees can taste, while naturals often pack a lot of rich fruitiness into a cup. I tend to drink mostly washed coffees, with the occasional natural.
In the last year, what has elevated your home brewing experience?
Getting married has done wonders for my home brewing experience in the last year! Having a husband who makes me coffee almost every morning is great!
In all seriousness though, Third Wave Water has made the most difference in our home coffee-making. If you aren’t paying attention to the water you use for coffee brewing, you should.
What has hands but cannot clap?
What do you love most about the culture surrounding specialty coffee?
My favorite part about the specialty coffee culture is the community it has fostered. I love how supportive everyone is of each other in specialty coffee, rather than the typical dog-eat-dog mindset and competitiveness that tends to occur in most other industries. A win for one person in specialty coffee is a win for everyone.
I understand that you're also super into chocolate. Can you tell us a few parallels between chocolate and coffee?
For starters, they both come from a tropical fruit. They’re both grown, picked, processed, and roasted in a similar fashion. Both coffee and chocolate have long been treated as a commodity, but in recent years a lot of work has been done to improve the quality and standards of both industries. Now they’re being recognized as the specialty products they are.
Could you ever see yourself starting a coffee shop? Why or why not?
Maybe one day! Right now, my husband and I do a coffee and chocolate pop-up shop, so it wouldn’t be too out there to imagine having a permanent set-up. One can dream!
In your opinion, what direction do you see specialty coffee going?
For the past few decades, the specialty coffee industry has worked hard to elevate coffee’s status and quality from the “average cup of joe.” In doing so, though they’ve succeeded in improving quality standards across the board, their efforts may have made specialty coffee seem somewhat esoteric. The future I see for specialty coffee includes an attempt to meet somewhere in the middle, without compromising on quality, but to make quality more accessible to the everyday coffee lover, with an increased emphasis on hospitality.
If you could be any kind of doughnut for a living, what would you be?
That’s easy! I would be a 100 layer doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery because there’s no other doughnut like it (just like a 4!).
Why do you choose to brew manually every day?
It doesn’t really seem like a choice at this point. I love coffee and making it a part of my everyday routine. Like I said before, I started brewing manually at home to ensure that I could have a great cup of coffee every day and I’ve never looked back. Brewing manually allows me to better control the variables that go into the cup and offers me options if I feel like switching things up day to day. It simplifies my coffee-brewing process without ever making it boring.