For billions of people around the world, the day doesn’t start until that first cup of coffee is poured. It has become an essential part of our morning routine – one so repetitive that we often overlook its true impact on our daily lives. We hurry through the steps in autopilot: dump the grinds into the filter, pour the coffee into a travelling mug, and rush out the door.
But like a glass of wine, a cup of coffee is full of complex aromas and nuances of flavour with every sip. It’s a daily pleasure best enjoyed mindfully. In fact, the simple act of slowing down to relish in your morning cup has the potential to transform your entire day.
The process begins with identifying where your coffee comes from. Mindful coffee consumers are much more attentive not only to the quality of the beans, but the origin and working conditions of the farmers who grew them. Alison Mumford, owner of The Roost Café in King City, follows the mindset of farm to table. “Obviously coffee doesn’t grow in Canada, so it’s hard to get locally,” she says. “The next best thing is to know your coffee farmers – know your origin, where it’s roasted. I want to know that it comes from an ethical source, that it’s fairly traded or organic; it’s not just ground coffee in a tin.”
The Roost Café purchases beans from a coffee roastery located in Toronto, which sources from farms across Central and South America. “They know their coffee farmers by name,” Mumford explains. “They know Nick is in his thirties, and he and his wife bought a coffee farm in Costa Rica; and we support his family because we buy his beans.”
Like most things in life, coffee is best served fresh. The Roost Café accepts deliveries of freshly roasted beans every week – sometimes twice a week if they’re busy. “You’re never going to find coffee here that’s over a week old,” says Mumford.
When you purchase your coffee directly from a roastery—or from a cafe that buys from one—you know the beans were freshly roasted that week, meaning you’re getting the most flavour with every sip. “There is no real expiry date on a coffee bag,” explains Meagan Dier, owner and roaster at MyIndieCoffee Roastery in Newmarket. “You can have it for a year. But the truest flavours are there within that first week. After that, it won’t go bad, but it’s not as intense or flavourful as it could be.”
MyIndieCoffee is a third wave coffee roaster, referring to the movement to produce the highest quality of artisanal coffee. Third wave roasters treat coffee as an exceptional culinary experience – they see it as a luxury, rather than a commodity. “We’re always trying to raise the bar to create a better cup,” Dier says.
Once you purchase your coffee from your local café or roastery, it’s best to grind it yourself at home. While pre-ground coffee is more convenient, it loses its aromatic subtleties more quickly. This is because the amount of surface area exposed to the air increases significantly when the beans are ground, increasing oxidation and the rate at which the beans’ aromatic compounds volatilize. In other words, it begins to taste stale. “Getting in the habit of grinding your own beans will dramatically change your experience every morning,” says Dier.
Of course, brewing methods will also vary, depending on personal preference. From Pour Over to French Press, the options really are endless. What many don’t realize is the ideal time to drink your coffee is actually not when the beverage is at its hottest. “Once you take that first sip of hot coffee, it has its flavour, but as it cools, the flavours become more prominent,” explains Dier. This is why roasters and baristas test and cup their coffee up to forty minutes after its brewed.
Of course, the way you take your coffee is entirely up to you. There’s nothing wrong with adding some cream and sugar to your cup, if that’s what you enjoy. However, a more mindful routine may unveil a new appreciation for all of the flavours you discover when drinking your coffee black.
“Just taking the time to slow down and actually enjoy your cup of coffee and being mindful of what you’re putting into your body [goes a long way],” says Mumford. “You don’t have to spend a ton of time focusing on it. But smell your coffee first, look at it, taste it. Really use your senses. Make sure you’re not just chugging it back, jumping in the car and running off to work.”
The Roost Café, King City
MyIndieCoffee Roastery, Newmarket
Written by Charlotte Ottaway