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Article: A Story of the World's First Coffee Snob

Coffee Culture

A Story of the World's First Coffee Snob

The term coffee snob has been around for a while now. If you look up the word "snob" in the dictionary, one of the definitions is "a person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people." You probably know a coffee snob, or maybe you are the coffee snob in your family or social group.

I'm here to tell you there's nothing wrong with being a coffee snob. In case you've wondered, coffee snobs have been around a long time, long before the specialty coffee explosion in the 1990s that was ushered in by a certain famous chain. When you look at the current coffee landscape, it's the way it is because of all the coffee snobs of the world. There is a particular way to enjoy coffee for a coffee snob, and even if they think their way is the best, it will only go as far as what the next coffee snob believes. That's the beauty of being a coffee snob in today's coffee culture. If you have a particular preference, you can most likely find someone that roasts just how you like it. If you have a hard time finding the perfect roaster, you can roast the beans yourself.

When you think about it, coffee snobs have made the world better. If it weren't for them, we would all think the popular way of drinking coffee is the only way, and nothing could be further from the truth. A true coffee snob may be a little obsessive about how they drink coffee and how they think others should enjoy it as well. But at the core, they want everyone to appreciate how amazing coffee can be.

I discovered a name while researching the History of the Coffeehouse that fascinated me. I may have found the first documented coffee snob and home roaster, and he felt so strongly about it that he wrote a book. He was so well known that they labeled him "the London Coffee Man." His name was Humphrey Broadbent, and in his book "The Domestick Coffee-Man," published in 1722, he states, "I hold it best to roast coffee berries in an iron vessel full of little holes, made to turn on a spit over a charcoal fire, keeping them continually turning, and sometimes shaking them that they do not burn, and when they are taken out of the vessel, spread 'em on some tin or iron plate 'till the vehemency of the heat has vanished; I would recommend to every family to roast their own coffee, for then they will be almost secure from having any damaged berries, or any art to increase the weight, which is very injurious to the drinkers of coffee."

He clearly cared very much about the quality of beans and how to roast them. He had a specific way of roasting and highly recommended home roasting. Not much is known about his life other than that he was a merchant. I'd like to know how he discovered coffee and how he figured out how to roast it. It's interesting, too, that he refers to them as cherries. I wonder if he came across coffee in cherry form. I have so many questions, but unfortunately, very few answers.

When you're a coffee enthusiast, and you've taken it to the level of roasting your own coffee at home, it makes you sort of a coffee snob. So I have to confess I'm guilty of coffee snobbery! My family is guilty of being coffee snobs too. And to top things off, I'm raising children that will grow up to be coffee snobs. I thought we had reached the highest point of coffee snobbery until I met Matt Kellso. I can say that because he was roasting coffee before I did, and I'm pretty sure he taught my husband everything he knows about roasting coffee. I think it's safe to say that the person you bought your at-home coffee roaster from is a bigger snob than you are. And that person is Matt Kellso. We stopped at roasting beans at home and enjoying our pour-overs just how we like them, but Matt took it to a whole new level and built a business. It's not just a coffee roastery; it's a roastery of coffee the way Matt likes it. And why not? Clearly, he's not alone in how he likes coffee. Our army of customers proves that. Sagebrush Coffee has grown from his garage to a small storefront to a full-blown coffee house. What's next for Matt? Farming coffee? It wouldn't surprise me.

Humphrey Broadbent set the bar high regarding coffee snobbery, and in my opinion, Matt Kellso comes at a close second. But there's something Matt hasn't done that Mr. Broadent has, and that is writing a book. If one day Matt writes a book, I might consider him the most significant coffee snob of all time. Although, his book would have to stand the test of time, and that's a tall order. Humphrey Broadbent wrote his book 300 years ago. That was before the United States was even a country. Is it possible that the greatest coffee snob baton will be passed on? If it does, who will it go to? Will it be Matt? Only time will tell.

Where do you fall on the coffee snob scale? Are you particular enough to buy from your favorite roastery that roasts how you like it? Are you a home roaster who wants to create your own coffee experience and is willing to put the money, time, and effort into getting that perfect cup of coffee just how you like it? Are you the home roaster who shares his roast with the world and supplies other coffee snobs with equipment and green beans? Wherever you land, we salute the coffee snobs of the world and cheer you on as you seek your perfect and unique coffee experience. When you think about it, if it weren't for the coffee snobs of the world, coffee would've never reached the heights it's achieved. Today we enjoy a vast array of coffee flavors, different processing methods, and even different roasting techniques. Today, there are air roasters, and depending on the flavor profile and density of the bean, some roast better in drum roasters than air roasters and the other way around. Mr. Broadbent was a fan of what would today be the drum roaster since he recommended a tin with holes while the coffee spins. I would love to see exactly what his roasting method was. And, it would be interesting to know what Mr. Broadbent would think about today's coffee culture; how it's farmed, processed, roasted, and enjoyed.

At Sagebrush, we love coffee snobs because they don't settle and only want to drink the best. That's why we offer the Coffee Snob bundle. The Coffee Snob bundle features a selection of some of the best coffee we think you'll love.

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