Ok, first let me say something in praise of coffee culture in America (seems I am always starting with disclaimers). I am always supportive of "better". I LIKE that people care about quality. I LIKE that people want to make things better. Of course it's a good thing when something taste better than the other thing we used to get. Even Starbucks, which I now mostly think isn't that great (but still patronize) made coffee better in America. Doesn't matter how much you hate how big they have gotten, you can't deny that they have been good for our coffee consumption overall. Kind of like Food Network MOSTLY sucks these days, but it's still a net positive because it gets people cooking. And that's common goal in all of this bullshit - Get people to care more about what they eat or drink.
With that said...the current state of coffee culture really pisses me off.
How did something so simple and enjoyable become so damn pretentious? In my mind, coffee comes last in regards to culinary prestige. How can I clarify...OK. So a chef for instance...like a really bad ass chef...they are at the TOP. The training and the years of experience and the wide range of skills they possess is quite impressive. And it doesn't stop at just cooking. Advanced palates and knowledge of ingredients usually mean they make pretty mean cocktails as well. I've always heard bartenders say that "Chefs would make the best bartenders" because of that reason. But why would you ever devote your life to just making drinks when you are capable of cooking at a high level? Most bartenders and front of house types I've known are pretty lousy cooks, and have very little understanding of what it takes to compose a successful plate of food. Not saying there aren't exceptions...just the norm based on my experience.
What's interesting about really good cooks and chefs is that the types of places they really like to eat are usually some hole in the wall, doing a few dishes really well type joints. Tacos, various types of asian noodle shops, BBQ etc. Simple things, lacking pretension.
So where the fuck do baristas and coffee shops get off being so high brow? Maybe I'm judging harshly, but too many of these joints are in my opinion intentionally putting off this vibe. These designer aprons, reclaimed wood with thomas edison/turn of the century (19th that is) lighting, stare at you blankly when you get to register without a greeting assholes need a reality check. The most egregious offender in my city is a place called Barista Parlour. Forget about grabbing one on your way to work in the morning unless you have decided it's worth leaving your house 30 minutes early so that you can pay what is almost equal to an hours wage of a fast food worker for a damn cup of coffee.
I hate to sounds like a "get off my lawn" type of guy. Because like I said, I appreciate quality. And I can't deny that they coffee at Barista Parlour for instance, is damn good. But pouring hot water from exactly 7.4 inches above perfectly ground coffee beans ain't curing cancer. Hell, it's not even COOKING AN OMELETTE.
I was a decent restaurant cook. I don't know if I ever could have made it as a chef (if anything because I don't have the drive) but I was perfectly serviceable and worked hard when I cooked in Louisiana. Now I would consider myself an advanced level home cook. Because of my restaurant experience I can knock out some pretty cool shit that maybe a lot of home cooks can't, and I have a healthy amount of tricks up my sleeve to put together a dinner with a "wow" factor to the average diner at a casual dinner party.
I have ZERO experience as a barista. But I betcha, I could go start working at a "good" coffee shop today, and pretty much be a serviceable employee putting out quality product within a week or two, if not less. I do not believe the opposite to be true. I think you throw a barista into "good" restaurant and they will get their world seriously fucked up. If you threw ME, with several years of professional cooking experience, into a "good" restaurant right now, I would be royally screwed and probably have a mental breakdown by the end of the first shift on the line.
So here is my challenge to the barista world - I will come make a cup of coffee using your fancy pour over equipment and wear one of your $200 aprons. I'll even grow one of those curly mustaches and cut my hair high and tight and use pomade. YOU come make a proper omelette. Just a simple, no frills omelette. I'll even let you use a non stick pan.
I'm willing to bet my attempt at a cup of coffee will be more successful than your attempt at cooking an omelette. Maybe I'm being cocky and will have to eat my words one day, but I'm willing to risk embarrassment to prove my point - Baristas and coffee culture in America need a slice - nay - an entire humble pie.
Speaking of, pie is pretty good with coffee huh? I'm gonna make a pie to go with my next cup of coffee. #skillzzzz