The Honey Process

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”
― Dave Barry

My Aeropress at a campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas

I did not set out to be a coffee snob – I really didn’t. But now, looking back, it was inevitable.

Like everyone else my age, my early years were marked by my parents boiling cheap ground stale Robusta coffee in a percolator, recirculating the grounds, through a layer of toilet paper (always out of filters) until it was so bitter it was undrinkable – then drinking it anyway. I remember being fascinated at watching the water bubbling against the little glass knob on the top – the sound of exuberant roiling water and the smell of burned beans. When I got to college my parents bought me a percolator which I modified with some rubber tubing into a crude still – nothing worse than a nascent chemist in a dorm room with something to heat liquids.

Then there was the Mr. Coffee – which made a little bit better brew – but still the coffee itself was terrible. Right after school I spent some time addicted to daily morning coffee from the machine at work along with a stale sugared bread-thing from the next. I gave that up and went through miserable withdrawal when I learned of the screaming high-pitched caffeine headache that stuff would cause. Then came Starbucks, which actually makes terrible coffee (I always think of Starbucks as an office rental place, rather than a coffee shop) but it at least put coffee culture on the map. And it became a decades-long rabbit hole for me, and many, many others.

After years of experimentation I finally settled on a French Press and was happy with it except for the difficulty cleaning it out.

And then along came the AeroPress which I realized was the perfect way to make coffee. I now have two – one and home and a portable model at work.

For a while, I would grind a week’s worth of beans on the weekend. But then, as I fell farther, I realized that it really does make a better cup if you grind the beans fresh… and bought a simple hand grinder for my desk at work.

So now I’m exploring the (literally)world of coffee beans. I learned quickly that I like light roast (the taste of the coffee varietal and location comes through better – plus a bit more caffeine).

My favorite place for buying coffee beans is Central Market. Yes, there are some very good custom roasters in my area, and I will visit them, but each one is somewhat limited and it can be tough to find exactly what I want. Beside, most of the best Dallas roasters have product in Central Market anyway. They have a vast selection of bulk bins full of a wide variety of whole bean coffee and there is something about putting the brown bag under the chute, lifting the handle, and listening to the coffee slide down.

The only downside is there isn’t a Central Market within easy bicycling distance from my house. The other day though I was driving back from some work I did at another location of my company and the route took me by the Central Market at Lover’s Lane and Greenville. I stopped as quickly as I could and found a coffee that looked really good – In-House Roasted Coffee Nicaragua Jinotega Honey Process.

Ok, let’s back up almost fifty years. I was in high school and living in Managua. A good friend had an uncle that ran a coffee plantation in the mountains above Jinotega and three of us hitch-hiked up there over Semana Santa (Easter Break) and had a great time. We spent one night in Matagalpa (an amazing city) and one in the coffee warehouse in Jinotega (the odor was amazing) before making it all the way to the plantation. There we rode horses and explored the area. There was even a miles-long wooden aqueduct that provided water for washing the coffee beans and hydroelectric power for a few lights around the main house. Amazing memories.

So, I have a built-in preference for Nicaraguan… and especially Jinotegan coffee.

I wondered about the “Honey Process” and looked it up. It has nothing to do with honey – it refers to processing the coffee with a layer of the fruit still attached to the inner bean. Supposedly it makes for a sweeter cup.

And the coffee is fantastic. It’s exactly what I was looking for. As I begin to run low I need to get back to Central Market and buy some more. I’m a little worried that I’ll miss out on other good things if I keep buying this – but I can’t imagine anything I’d like better.

I did not set out to be a coffee snob – I really didn’t.