I never used to like coffee; it was too bitter. I could only drink it diluted (with milk) and sweetened (with sugar). But two years ago a couple of colleagues at Patagonia turned me into an aficionado. Betsy introduced me to the simple pleasures of the beverage. “Coffee should never be consumed with sugar,” she told me, insisting that it had a wonderful taste, alone. Steve introduced me to the vast array of “specialty coffees”— premium coffees—which, like fine wines, naturally have hints of chocolate, fruit, nuts, and other botanical flavors. One of his favorites was a blend from Intelligentsia, roasted in Los Angeles. My interest in coffee was quickly percolating. Before long, I enrolled in a home barista class at Intelligentsia and made space next to my rice cooker for an espresso machine. I loved the challenge of pulling the perfect shot. I was an espresso devotee. The more I practiced making it, the closer I got to perfecting the extraction of it, which, I learned is a kind of art. Good espresso has a delicate sweetness and flavor worth savoring unadulterated.
Editor's note: Patagonia's online advertising maestro, and Clif Bar cycling team member, Mark Shimahara shares some background on a beverage many of us rely on to kick-start dawn patrols and alpine starts. Our thanks go out to Intelligentsia for offering a discount code to Cleanest Line readers. Read on to get the code and get brewing yourself.
My interest in coffee and photography lead to shooting opportunities with Intelligentsia’s California locations. The assignments gave me an insider’s perspective of what it takes—from seed to shot—to serve up a cup of coffee worth writing home about.
[Unroasted “green beans” arrive from origin and are roasted to match an exacting flavor profile. Some batches of beans are roasted longer than others. Generally speaking the darker they are roasted, the bitterer and less acidic the espresso. Photo: Mark Shimahara]