It All Comes Back To Balance
Want to be a connoisseur of pretty much anything? Here's what the dance looks like: wonder, saturation, fatigue, and the final pursuit of balance. And even though we can see the end goal, there is no shortcut. We have to first have vigorous singular experiences of all the things we eventually wish to enjoy in balance.
There is a sense of freedom that comes from the awareness of this universal path. Know also that this is not a linear path, but more of a cyclical pattern where we gather a new piece of an endless puzzle with every orbit.
Balance In The Cup
Balance is a favorable quality in a cup of coffee. You will never hear anyone describe a coffee as being 'too balanced.' On the contrary, any time a coffee is described as being 'too' anything, this is always a complaint of a lack of balance.
All coffee craft could be generalized as the pursuit of some sense of balance, whether in farming the bean, sourcing and roasting, or building a beverage. Our experiences will dictate how we define desirable characteristics, and our craft will always tend toward first accentuating (and then balancing) these with whatever means we have available.
Balance In The Industry
Balance is an aesthetic that we crave, but not just in what we take in with our senses. We appreciate balance in our lives and in the world around us. When we perceive that something is a waste of resources or an unnecessary or unfounded exultation of minutia, we rebel because we know this is an offense to this sensibility. Struck by the intrinsic notion that an aesthetic object is a gift for the common man, we sense that this elitism is damaging.
Coffee exists for us. We are all responsible for bringing it into fullness of wonder while maintaining whatever balance may be possible. There will always be different expressions that resonate with different people, and the democracy of subjective taste is the ultimate balancing act.
If you are a coffee lover who has lost a sense of wonder, it may be time to do some new exploration. Your sense of balance is likely well developed but may have become like an empty coffee cup: an object of beauty which needs to be re-filled to bring about renewed satisfaction. Try something new. The industry is like a living organism with ever evolving potential and there has never been a better time than now to experiment.
On the other hand, if you have become overly dependent on an unending progression of wonder, you may do well to explore the depth of value in what you already know you love. Perhaps it is time to stop chasing wonder and marvel at the beauty of simple satisfaction. In true poetic form, this will make your entire sense of wonder more balanced.