I have tried endlessly to blog about my favorite place in the world. Usually I start rambling, deleting, drafting, trashing and starting over.
I’ve decided to save my story and bottle it up until there is need for my memoir. Then you can read in detail about my experiences and I will have the ample space to spin my stories.
In the meanwhile, here’s the teaser. The real deal, the Erin Memoir Spectacular, is probably another decade in the making, so enjoy these lovely photographs and savor them in small doses.
I will give you some brief headliners.
For instance. When I was 19, I started working at a coffee shop in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A recent culinary grad, I was hired to bake all in-house treats, from biscotti to scones.
(My goal was to avoid at all costs those massive chocolate chip cookies found in cheap cafes. Making everything from scratch with unusual ingredients was my jam. Strawberry rosemary shortbread? Basil cheddar scones? Yes, please.)
I may have also extended my grocery privileges to cover very expensive grass-fed organic Irish butter, which is why the scones tasted so good.
Side Note: I still use that scone recipe for everything, including my last post. Sub Kerrygold butter for regular butter and prepare to melt. (Pun intended.)
As much as I enjoyed baking, it turns out I fell in love with coffee instead. I bugged the baristas for a few months until they let me behind the bar. I was able to play with the buttons of our La Marzoco Linea and crank the steam wands to full throttle.
Of course, once I was bit with the coffee bug I started doing all kinds of off-the-clock research. I spent hours perched at the coffee bar, watching, asking questions, getting assignments.
“Read this,” our lead barista told me, pushing The World Coffee Atlas across the bar. He also sent me home with some good old fashioned Scott Rao books and proceeded to quiz me on their contents.
Coincidentally the more time I spent at the bar studying coffee, the more I noticed someone else sitting at the bar with increasing frequency. Only he wasn’t really there for the coffee. That was this guy, and he won my heart around the same time I fell in love with coffee culture. The two go hand in hand, and within the span of our relationship we have consumed so much coffee that we could probably sail from Portland to Colorado and back in a coffee mug. But I digress.
Suddenly I was actively listening and participating in heated conversations over pourover tasting notes. Was it grassy? Swampy? Earthy and vegetal?
Coffee had taken over my thoughts. I struggled to pour rosettas and hearts. I discovered a love of Ethiopian coffees, which continue to be my favorite. I drank a global assortment of wonderful brews, surrounded by people who wanted to represent it well.
Coffee culture. Precise, creative, beautiful, global, addictive.
When I moved away from Colorado to live in Portland, there was a mourning period. I was away from the mad coffee lab that birthed crazy coffee science. Despite the fact Portland is hands down one of the most coffee-saturated third-wave cities to live in, I had left my crazy coffee crew behind.
I found a job in the coffee industry, but longed for someone to lean over my shoulder, shake their head and tell me to do better.
Recently, I took a trip back to Steamboat for a visit. I walked into the old shop and everything came rushing back as though I had never left, espresso starting to course through my veins.
I don’t know why Sprudge hasn’t done a piece on this lovely shop, cranking out the highest quality coffee in the Rockies. Heaven knows I’ve sent them enough emails.
(I’m telling you, Sprudge, if you need someone to write a piece on The Ristretto Coffee Lounge, I’m your girl.)
Are these my best friends? Yes. Is this like a second home? Yes.
Is it still insane coffee, all bias aside? Absolutely.
I wouldn’t be here without the lessons I learned and the people I met in Steamboat.
I will now proceed to brag about them with photographs.
Of course, this story is far from over. And trust me, that’s the briefest run-through I can manage. But there are stories within stories, more tales than can be told over just one latte.
I intend to share them. But we’re going to need a few more coffees.
To be continued.