The Life of an Unintentional Coffee Snob

In 2013 I got a job as a barista. When I was 16, I started work at a coffee shop, but not as a barista. I hated coffee, so I stuck to vanilla steamers for the entirety of that employment. Coming back into the coffee scene was exciting and I couldn’t wait to get going on making drinks. Heavily flavored lattes where my thing when I first got the job, as coffee was still fairly new to me. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

The cafe I worked at sold Intelligentsia coffee. Intelli is a very high quality coffee and my training was taken extremely seriously (I had to take a bar test before I could serve a customer anything but drip coffee). As a new member of the coffee-drinking community, this set me up for a very sensitive pallet. It’s sort of like being introduced to alcohol with only top shelf wine and liquor.

So I unknowingly created the coffee-critic monster that I am today. This was annoying to myself more than anyone else. I bought a $6 latte from the coffee shop on campus and literally threw it away after a few sips because it tasted like an ashtray (no, I have not tasted an ashtray, but THAT’S AS CLOSE AS I’VE COME). This would not do, so I got a cheap, plastic home-brewing device and made my own crappy coffee with my make-shift set up and usually old coffee beans. If I am going to drink crappy coffee, I am NOT going to spend $6 for a cup of it.

Once I embraced my snobbery, I learned that there is a whole community of us jerks! I mean I knew there was in my hometown where I learned to make and appreciate coffee, but I realized that this community is global. I learned this through social media, mainly. There were millions of amazing coffee instagrams from all over the world to follow (I’ll make a post listing my faves for the coffee nerds like me). My instagram feed consists of 40% coffee, 50% pug+shihtzu accounts, 10% people I actually know.

One of the parts of the gig (being too good for Starbucks – loljk) is introducing my friends to good coffee. I looove it. Except, I hate being that person that’s like, “Um no we are NOT going to *insert any generic corporate owned coffee shop that doesn’t pay their growers jack and roasts their beans beyond repare*.” I always get an eye roll or two, buuut they thank me later..usually.

Typically places that sell high quality coffee have a fantastically cozy atmosphere. I think this is what drives people to change their ways from the easy-top-pick-up-on-the-way-to-work drive-through places. Not to mention that cafes serving good coffee 9/10 times have baristas who are amazing at latte art. EVERYONE loves latte art.

I’m going to rein this in a little because I don’t want this to get all political about generic coffee shops. I really don’t have a problem with them and I am totally guilty of becoming a semi-frequent customer at a few near my work. Unfortunately, no specialty coffee shops near my building in downtown MPLS. Yet. C’mon Spyhouse.

Another fantastic part of being in this coffee community is how easy it is to meet others. I’m not sure what it is about me, but people often peg me as a “basic” coffee drinker when I come into a shop. I get a lot of sass from baristas, which I do not appreciate, but I love proving their stereotyping wrong. I’ll start asking about where they source their coffee. I ask for single origin espresso. And my personal favorite, bringing up the fact that I worked for an Intelli wholesale shop. Like, yeah. I know my sh*t. So talk to me and be my coffee friend for god’s sake.

No, people really aren’t that bad. Most baristas I have had the pleasure to sit and chat with while sipping my cap are very pleasant and knowledgable about their products. I have had really great luck meeting amazing people through coffee while I lived in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and Oslo, but for some reason the culture is a little different here in Minneapolis.

I am trying to figure it out, but I just haven’t met any fellow coffee lovers yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually work at a cafe anymore or that I just haven’t had time or money to hang out at shops the way I used to. At any rate, I am determined to meet other coffee lovers. If you are from Minneapolis and know some, please set me up on a friend date with them!

This Christmas, I received a gift that just keeps on giving. A real v60, a decanter, and a beautiful Bonavita kettle. I have made it a duty to go buy reaaally good wholebean coffee each time I run out. No grocery store stuff. What a difference it has made, being able to make amazing coffee right from home.

For about three years I have rocking my ratchet plastic bonmac and WATER BOTTLE duo with pretty non-reputable beans. That’s right, I used a water bottle to pour microwaved water over the grounds. You can imagine why I spent so much money going out to coffee shops all the time in college. This system was solely a vessel to get caffeine into my blood at 7am so I could stay awake during 8ams.

At any rate, I want to clarify that I do not in any way think I am better than those who love their Starbucks or other coffee. They know what they like, and I respect them for that. I hate baristas or educated coffee drinkers that look down on those who know less and more so, who don’t want to know more. That is perfectly fine with me. It’s not for everyone. Customers would come in and be so embarrassed to ask me questions like the difference between a cappuccino or a latte. I’m like, “Sir that is my FAVORITE question. I had absolutely no idea before I started here. I appreciate you.”

Like I said, I did not know what I was getting into being introduced to the coffee world with some of the most well crafted coffee beans. In fact, it was more of an inconvenience for me. I wanted to like my latte from my college campus. I wanted to not care what it tasted like. Sometimes I envy those who can drink any kind of coffee. It’d be so much easier!!!!

It’s the worst when my friends think I will judge them based on how they drink coffee. Sometimes I make coffee for people when they come over and they ask me if they can put cream in it. I’m like, “It’s your coffee, dude. Do what you like with it.” Or if we go out to a shop, it’s nice when they ask for my recommendation, but I feel like such a jerk when they buy something just because it’s what I got.

I am NOT the coffee guru. I do not know what’s best for each person. I like what I like, but you can like what you like and I, like most other coffee snobs who have a soul, will not think twice about it. Never be ashamed of what makes you say, “mmm” after the first sip. Whether it’s a Kenyan pour over on a chemex or a caramel vanilla mocha (anyone who shames people for liking sweet lattes is WRONG. It’s milk, espresso, and a mess of sweetness. I am judging YOU if you think that could taste gross).

Drink what you like. I’ll drink what I like. And we can gossip for an hour while we both enjoying a drink that is giving us energy. Sounds good to me.


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