I know this is a 3rd post about the UK coffee community. I will try and make it my last for a while, I’ll try and do something a bit different nexttime but for now I wanna get this monkey off my back.
So I avoided the elephant in the room regarding the UK Coffee community and that being the internet community. The UK online community is very strong and very friendly, and seemingly are mutually exclucive with the London scene people. Maybe it’s a difference of mindset between Londoners and non-Londoners, I don’t know.
At any rate, it is great for the home barista or ambitious chain barista…and it is a great forum for support and help, it’s also a great place to chat and learn through experiance of everyone within the forums. But the critique is what is missing from the UK Internet scene. And to be fair without video-taping and youtube-ing our technique (which will be less than useful anyway due to performance consciousness etc.) the idea of getting critique off the internet is virtually impossible, and even with the recorded results the sensory results, which at the end of the day are what count, aren’t translatable through the internet.
Please note, however, this is not a post to diminish the importance of the online community. The encouragement and friendliness of these groups coupled with the security of controllable annonymity makes the specialised coffee world less intimidating for people coming from the companies that I came from. The fear of persecution a Starbucks/Costa/Nero/Coffee Primo/etc. barista may face when they see posts slating their brand is palpable and understandable…here I risk moving onto another rant about coffee but I think I’ll save it for another day.
Without online communities I would never had learnt about so much within coffee, I would still be baffled what E61 meant, about the idea of pre-infusion, crema-skimming, brew ratios, PIDing or anything else. I also wouldn’t have had the oppertunity to try the difference that a singe coffee can exhibit through washed, Pulped Natural and Natural processing methods, I wouldn’t even have known what that meant. For so much of this knowledge came to me through these communities, and if you’re reading this blog then you most likely know me from either one of these communities or in person from the UKBC, UBF or Square Mile Coffee‘s events, or my experiance of flavours from both Square Mile’s and HasBean’s coffees.
[Sidenote]To anyone who wonders what the hell people are talking about when they speak about the flavours in coffee these guys subscription packs are both amazing oppertunities to try and taste things. Square Mile offers a monthly subscription and Hasbean offers a selection of subscriptions monthly and one weekly (In My Mug) where Steve will talk about the coffee and taste it with you. I don’t know exact numbers but I know they are both exceedingly good value, both in financial and educational value.
What I’m trying to get at (in my ramble-happy way) is that while online communities provide an amazing conversation platform for baristas around the world and help to organise meetups from all around the country/world, they will never be a replacment of the intrinsic value of a presence of another barista who can critique your day-to-day technique and have someone whom you can try out different ideas with and who has experiances from another shop, market, demographic, machine, cup or pretty much anything…