Monday, August 28, 2006

Hobby or obsession?

When you develop an interest in something and you sustain that interest it seems to others to be a hobby or an obsession. My blog profile indicates that I am interested in everything and this is pretty close to the truth.

My wife will tell anyone that I am a little bit weird and I can live with that because I see it to be true. One manifestation of this is how I become interested in something and how that interest develops. As an example I will use coffee. I enjoy coffee, but I enjoy good coffee and I won’t bother drinking it unless I know or suspect that it is good coffee.

I won’t drink instant – I don’t see the point and I’ll drink water or tea in preference. As my interest develops I like to find out more about the origins and history of the thing I am interested in.

For coffee this meant reading about the history of the use of the coffee plant, where it grows and a bit about the varieties that are grown around the world.

My exploration was then directed towards – Where can I by a good coffee, and where was that coffee from? It took me two years to find satisfactory answers to this question and in the process I discovered much more about coffee.

The importance of freshness for one, the influence of different beans in a blend and the source of the beans – even down to individual growers.

It was inevitable that at some stage I would become interested enough to take on coffee roasting myself, and by chance I saw some green coffee beans one day and bought about 250 grams. This led to research about roasting green beans and to my first experiment with a cast iron frypan. The result was good enough to surprise me, and partly I think because of the freshness of the coffee.

I’ve been roasting for about 18 months now, just small batches but also been learning as I go. I’ve now taken it to the next level by purchasing equipment just for roasting coffee and I am reaching beyond my narrow base of green bean supplies to find other, more interesting coffee beans to try.

In the process I have discovered a whole network of people at various stages of dedication to coffee. Some like me are fairly low tech, making do with what they have already without investing too much in additional hardware. Others though have truly magnificent facilities – of which I am envious, that allow them to really engage in their hobby/obsession.

So back to the beginning, when does a hobby become an obsession? Does it ever or is it just a hobby that you are seriously interested in? I’m interested enough to start saving money towards further equipment, but my time commitment is limited to about 2 hours a week, plus a little time to read and write about it. It helps that I like coffee – I don’t think I can achieve quite the same level of interest in tea – and my interest in wine is stalled by the cost of maintaining a decent sampling cellar.

So is coffee my hobby? I’ll keep at it and let you know in a decade or so.


Blogger Gareth Williams said...

I'm not a coffee drinker myself. Green tea is my poison. But from those I know who are coffee drinkers there seems to be a jump from drinker to obsession, skipping the hobby part.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:32:00 am  
Blogger "Grendel" said...

I think you may be on to something there - mind you I know a few tea drinkers who are fanatical about their gunpowders, oolongs and Lapsang Souchons as well.

Green tea is my drink of choice on my 'off' days when I want to stay away from to much caffeine.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 1:33:00 pm  
Blogger bek ingram said...

I used to work in a few coffee shops and i loved finding out everything i could about coffee. we even had to take an examination about the origination from coffees, different types, how to roast, what countries have what, etc. im happy to say i was the best in my cafe! but i understand your passion. once you start you cant stop!

Monday, September 25, 2006 2:58:00 pm  
Blogger "Grendel" said...

Yeah - I know what you mean! I started to find out a lot more when I was in Drug & Alcohol work, legal drugs were as much a focus for us as illegal and coffee was one beloved by our ofice.

Monday, September 25, 2006 5:18:00 pm  

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