Q&A with Jordan Michelman, co-author of “But First, Coffee”

Michelman, coffee journalist and Sprudge co-founder, talks coffee cocktails and industry trends.

With Thanksgiving approaching and winter approaching, one great way to stay awake and cozy is to indulge in one of the Bay Area’s favorite cocktail combinations: coffee cocktails.

“But First, Coffee: A Guide to Brewing from the Kitchen to the Bar” (Union Square & Co., $20) by Portland, Oregon-based coffee journalists Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen highlights the best ways to use a bag of coffee beans — including some Bay Area-inspired cocktails. To learn more, we spoke with Michelman.

Q: What inspired you to create this cookbook?

A: My co-author Zachary and I run a daily coffee news and culture website that covers everything from cool Czech coffee shops to new coffee brewing gear and equipment. We published our first book, “Rules of Coffee,” about the history of coffee with Ten Speed Press in 2018. We realized at some point that we might have written the first coffee book ever that didn’t actually tell you how to make a cup of coffee.

We wanted to gather everything we’ve learned about how to appreciate coffee as a delicacy in your own home for this book, beginning with a cool bag of coffee and asking: What are all the things you can do? As it turns out, there’s a lot.

Q: Could you tell us about the Bay Area-inspired Irish Coffee and Chartreuse Cappuccino recipes?

A: When we finalized the book deal in San Francisco, we agreed that any sensible coffee lover with good news like this should go celebrate at the Buena Vista Cafe with Irish Coffee. And we did, and they were fantastic and flawless.

(However,) we ordered a zero proof Irish Coffee in addition to the classic and had a strange experience: they made us a beautiful drink, but it didn’t have anything different; they simply omitted the whiskey. It was a challenge for us to play with that format, to pay homage to this place we adore while also adapting (the drink) in a way that drew on other tips and tricks to create a fun zero-proof take.

Paul Einbund at The Morris deserves full credit for the Chartreuse Cappuccino. This is his beverage. He is truly one of the world’s foremost Chartreuse experts. It’s a fascinating, brilliant drink, and his method involves steaming the milk and Chartreuse together with a pinch of Indonesian dark sugar. It’s the most delectable, frothy, and delightful drink.

Q: Do you notice any new coffee trends these days?

A: There used to be a lot fewer roasters for a coffee shop to subscribe to. Certain roasters would restrict who could participate in their wholesale program, and it felt like a record label or something — if you served that coffee menu, you were part of the cool crowd. Many more mom-and-pop shops are now roasting their own coffee. Not only coffee shops, but also bakeries that roast their own coffee, such as Craftsman and Wolves. They can roast their own coffee, which they say complements their pastries. There has also been an increase in the number of collaborative roasting spaces, where a cafe can rent time and space to roast their own coffee.

Another major trend that is about to break through into the mainstream is the way coffee is processed. One method that’s becoming increasingly popular is what’s known as the cold ferment or fruit processing method, which involves removing the cherry fruit from the seed and combining it with papaya, oranges, grapes, or other agricultural products that naturally infuse those flavors into the finished product.

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