It slipped through cracks of our SuperOffice Rumpus Club back in February, but the legendary Tal Mor of Four Barrel (to some, “Tal Mor Barrel”) was interviewed in a piece that ran months ago on the website Yr Doing A Great Job. Snip:
The specialty coffee industry is a small one, and is growing. When I first started working in coffee in New York City five years ago, there were only a few places serving coffee that was any good. Today, I know that the coffee in that town has been elevated not only at the cafe level, but also in restaurants and bakeries. It still has a long way to go, but I would guess that the overall exposure to well-sourced, well-roasted coffee has multiplied many times over in the last few years. But there are also many folks who don’t have an interest, who are perfectly happy with their “version” of coffee, be it a Starbucks frappacino or instant coffee. There is totally nothing wrong with that. I think that people who have a developing notion of the boundaries of food and drink, or who are interested in what they consume, or who just end up stumbling into a high quality coffee shop, will change their standards. These standards will change for not only what’s in the cup, but hopefully the quality of the experience — the barista, the space, the service, and the detail and transparency of the product.
Sounds about right. But wait, there’s more:
Do you have different roasts, or characterize them in a certain way?
Actually, the goal is not to characterize the roast at all. It is to showcase the coffee. Roast has been a categorizing and discerning factor in the marketing and selling of coffee since, I would imagine, it’s commercial inception. We never refer to roast with customers, and it is actually something we are constantly steering people away from. We are interested in what characterizes each coffee in it’s raw form — the varietals grown, the weather, the soil, the details of processing, the drying, the sorting. Coffee in appearance and taste can indicate to you one or all of those things. When roasting coffees that have so much character, the roast should really just integrate and develop those clear acidities, nuances, and sugars into a balanced and clean cup with significant mouth-feel and body.
Read the whole thing here, as you dare yourself to gaze upon Tal’s distended anamorphic visage.