Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Art of Coffee

I try to keep this blog about art, and today I'm doing a post about the art of coffee! I've been hearing about a coffee shop on Twitter named Beach Bum Cafe in Downtown Honolulu. I love coffee and everything about coffee so I really wanted to check it out. I rarely venture into downtown, but since my wife wanted to go to nearby Chinatown, I had her drop me off and I went looking for Beach Bum Cafe,

I found Beach Bum Cafe. Here's the window in front, nothing fancy.

I walked in and was greeted by owner Dennis McQuoid.

Very nice clean open space.

There were two customers seated enjoying their coffee. I overheard that one of them drove over all the way from Kailua, Oahu just for the coffee there. That may not be far in miles especially for non Hawaii people reading this, but it is pretty far by Hawaii standards. Not just the distance but having to drive up and through the Ko`oloau Mountains to get to Honolulu

I asked Dennis to select my coffee, kind of like asking a sommelier to choose your wine. By the way I don't drink!

He suggested Red Caturra.

I also let him choose how my coffee was to be brewed and he suggested brewing with a vaccum pot. I've heard of this but have never actually experienced it. Pretty cool stuff!

I had to savor the finished brew in a paper cup because I still needed to walk over and meet my family in Chinatown. My first impression was that it was very smooth. But after I left and finished my cup, I realized that it tasted like any other cup of good coffee. I confirmed what I already knew that I am not a coffee expert, connoisseur, aficionado, etc. I don't experience fancy stuff like finish, fruity, etc like those wine experts.

It was good coffee, but I did not get the "thunder and lightning with angelic choir singing" experience I thought I would.

I then realized that because I love coffee so much, I almost always drink good coffee. No Folgers instant coffee or Sanka from a bottle. I always buy good quality coffee, and prepare it in the best of my abilities. Out and about I try to choose good brewed coffee preferably from independent "coffee houses" rather than the big box places. But heck even McDonalds here serves a Hawaiian blend coffee. So experiencing a good quality microbrewed coffee was not too much beyond my ordinary cup of coffee.

It was then that I had the revelation I needed. This what is meant in the proverbial "Focus on the journey not the destination". Oh the end product, a good cup of coffee, is important and I would say is the goal or destination. But I realize now that I also enjoy the journey of preparing or choosing the best brewed retail cup of coffee as much if not more than I enjoy drinking it. I love the term "from the bean to the cup".

I won't roast my own beans, but I'll purchase the best roasted beans I can find, and there are a lot of good roasters of Hawaiian Coffee here.

I may look into organic coffee.

I will look into better storage for my beans so they stay as fresh as possible.

I will grind only the amount of beans I need at a time. After talking to Dennis I will now look into a burr grinder and get rid of my blade grinder.

I will also weigh my beans instead of using that little scoop.

I currently use a French Press but I will look into a pour over brewer for a change of pace. Yes I love coffee toys!

I even have coffee music to listen to as I savor my cup of coffee.

I plan to go back to Beach Bum Cafe and try some good Espresso from this impressive Italian Espresso machine.

These coffee tampers remind me of the wax seals I use to seal my letters.

Shamefully I have reverted to the use of a Keurig K-Cup brewer for convenience, it does brew pretty good coffee! But from now on when I do have the time to prepare a really good cup of coffee, I will enjoy the prepping of my coffee just as much as drinking the coffee itself. From choosing the roasted beans to storing them properly to measuring and grinding to brewing...

I will enjoy the journey!


  1. Nice to read about your experience there! Glad you got to try them out. Did you start drinking the coffee in ceramic then transfer it to paper? I'm just wondering because I have personally noticed that paper cups have been altering the taste of coffees and I've even found certain chain coffee shops paper cups to leave a strange tingly feeling in my mouth and throat after drinking. I find this with tea also.

  2. Welcome back to the blogosphere. I have missed you.

  3. Hi Captain.

    Thank you, I appreciate those comments. Hopefully another post coming up soon. I'm writing the text now then just have to take the pictures.

  4. Hi Rick

    Dennis poured the brew into another container to lower the temperature before pouring it into the disposable cup.

    So now do we "aficianados" have to carry a ceramic mug around with us just like the wine lovers carry a Reidel?