Currently, I have an accelerating enthusiasm for coffee. Black coffee, to be a little more specific, black and extremely short, often in the form of a double [triple?] and forever shy or ANY sugar, raw or otherwise.
Great coffee is a rarity, even in a city as large and ‘cultured’ as Sydney. It takes a soundness of technique, a depth of knowledge and something I can only describe as a certain feel, perhaps better described as an acute passion for all things coffee and the like, to create something truly exquisite. There is no shortage of good coffee, but great coffee is far harder to come by and the difference – well, perhaps the difference is best characterised by observing the similarities between a toddlers bicycle and an Italian motorcycle; they both have two wheels. In the same way that these two share but one faint idea, so too can we acknowledge that good coffee and great coffee, though worlds upon world apart, share a likened shadowy and long forgotten thought.
My understanding of the coffee process is by all definitions mediocre at best. That said, I see it compromising of three, though overly simplified, steps.
You need great beans. You need to roast them to suit your style, your way of drinking coffee. You then need to settle on a grind that complements the bean, one that releases both the full flavour and aroma. What will your bean say about you?
You have to find a machine fit for your purpose. Not all machines are born equal, its something you want to do your homework on, knowing all the ins & outs before you jump in.
Put a human touch to it, inject some passion and energy. Always pre-warm your cups.
The three together, beginning with great beans, backed up by a sound machine and followed through with a practised, precise and steady hand – plain as day, great coffee.
So without going so far as to state the obvious, coffee – more to the point, coffee you would gladly drive across a city to indulge in – is the result of a culmination of not just one, but several very important factors.
My point? Preparation is unified awareness across multiple fronts. Currently I have identified three such fronts, knowing that in time three will become four and four five, and so on and so forth.
More often that not when we speak of preparation in terms of racing, physical preparation, strength intervals and power conditioning are some of the first things that come to mind. When was the last time you placed more emphasis on seeing a sports psychiatrist, or reading mentally stimulating and strengthening material than time ‘in the saddle?’ Moreover, how many of you could comfortably strip and re-build your entire bike?
I’m not suggesting that you spend less time on the bike and more time understand both how it, and you yourself tick. Though, in fact – that’s exactly what I’m suggesting.
Intrinsic knowledge of self comes slowly and only with effort, the same can be said for the more practical skills required to competently maintain ones own machine. Like anything, balance is essential, have we outweighed the importance of physical development to the point where we are beginning to neglect essential facets such as mental development? Being prepared, in every sense of the word, means that when you do finally throw your leg over the saddle, the quality of return that trickles through from each kilometre and every effort will be at a rate beyond both yours, and my own comprehension.
Understanding why you do the things you do, why you think what you think, how your subconscious is tied into performance or why the bike rides the way it does – is as important as punching out the numbers on the road.
It makes the difference. The difference between good coffee and great – World Championship, Tour de France winning – coffee.