“Breaking Bread” is a series of personal anecdotes brought to you by the OrderEZ Team dedicated to sharing the transcendental food and beverage experiences that make up our “Why”. The road to falling in love with F&B is paved with great culinary experiences, and it is our privilege and pleasure to share ours.
It was my first week at a new job launching what would soon be one of the most unique coffee shops ever to spring into existence — a bold claim, but hear me out.
The New Black was a multi-roaster concept, so we didn’t roast any of our own coffee, instead, we curated a selection of roasters from around the world. We had single-origin espressos and filter roasts from roasters of the year, former world champion baristas, as well as some local heroes.
When I arrived I knew coffee, or at least I thought I did. I frequented local roasters, freshly ground my own coffee, had a pour-over kit at home, and developed what I thought was a discerning palate. So naturally, as an enthusiastic 30 something I expected to impress my peers, wowing them with my sophisticated knowledge of flavor profiles and how quickly I had learned the ins and outs of all things coffee.
At The New Black, we had over a dozen different coffees on hand in our training and testing lab - and I was in the enviable position where I was surrounded by a team of world-class coffee professionals. A veritable kid in a candy store, with the opportunity to taste test coffees of the world, roasted by some of the best in the business, and served by a team of baristas so well trained their brigade was more akin to a special forces unit.
I’ll never forget sitting down for my first cup of Ethiopian coffee, apron on, sleeves rolled up, ready to take on the world one cup at a time. I smiled as I pulled the mug to my lips, the layered aromas steaming up a flavorful promise of the sip to come. With the first sip, my expression changed, I was expecting a “good” coffee, not a revelation.
The intensity of the fruit bomb that hit my lips was the last thing I would have ever expected. Ripe cherries, a juicy mouthfeel, but still, undeniably coffee. I had been working my way through the different origins and roasting styles when I had my perception of coffee shaken to the core. Notes of dark chocolate, nuttiness, ranges of acidity, brightness or richness, and some hints of fruit were the notes that I knew to look for, but this single sip opened my eyes to depths and complexities of flavor I didn’t know existed.
It’s rare that you can identify the defining moments in your life as they happen, and for me, this definitely was a game-changer; coffee became something more that day. It’s as if I’d been trying to appreciate a sunrise from indoors - suddenly the curtain was pulled back. Instead of appreciating only the most basic of notes (roast, origin, preparation) that helped me “know” coffee, now I could see that was only the surface and I wanted to dig deeper. I started learning about individual coffee bean varietals, processing methods, and the level of complexity skyrocketed from there.
Every time I have a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee I’m brought back to that day in the office; I’m reminded of the breadth and depth that food has to offer beyond just simple nourishment. Like a daredevil chasing the next thrill, I continue to chase after those unique culinary experiences in the hope that my next meal will open the door to even more new worlds of flavor.