Are You Sure You Want A Strong Coffee?

“I like my coffee strong”… I’m sorry to say this, but what you’re saying and what you mean, doesn’t match up. Let me explain…

After learning about the way coffee grows (catch up here and here) and how it’s processed (also, here), you now know that there is a lot of time, energy and effort behind a single coffee bean. I’ve also mentioned that each coffee tastes differently according to its country of origin, varietal, process method… 

However, there is yet another variant in the coffee equation. When the coffee bean is shipped to caffeine consuming countries, we obtain what is called “green coffee”. If you were to brew this green coffee, you would get a bitter and acidic beverage which you would not want to have. On that note, there are some countries and companies that have been experimenting with green coffee. It does not taste like the traditional coffee taste though.

In order to get that coffee taste, we need to roast the coffee. What roasting does to coffee is that it extracts the moisture out of the bean. This causes the bean to release the natural sugars, which are converted into CO2 gas and then caramelised (Maillard reaction). This happens with other foods, like meat or bread.

Coffee roasters have identified several stages that coffee beans go through. The most important are: first crack and second crack. These “cracks” sounds like when doing popcorn in the microwave. After this second crack, the coffee starts to burn.

There is a common misconception that the “darker” the coffee, the “stronger” it is. This is actually not true. Depending on how you brew the coffee, it will be more or less “strong”. You can use more or less coffee, water and time to brew it, and you will get different levels of strength in the coffee.

Now, when people say they like their coffee “strong”, I think they generally refer to the taste. And yes, it is true that if a coffee is dark roasted, the bitterness will be more intense.

This is because the sugars and fruity notes within the coffee bean are the lighter compounds and easier to extract. The more you roast the coffee, the more bitterness you’re going to be able to extract.

In terms of the caffeine, there isn’t really that much of a difference between a dark roast or a light roast. But there is, in terms of flavour, between burnt coffee beans and a specialty coffee beans 😉

About me…

My name is Marta Ramírez Vaquero, Spanish girl, in my late 20s. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a linguist, a Reiki healer, a dancer… a multidimensional being living a human life. While being a perfectionist, I also adore signing and dancing in my underwear, whether it’s to Disney songs or Beyoncé or ACDC.

2019 has been a crazy year… Let me get you up to speed.

After 4 years studying in Madrid, I switched to London – another big city – for another 4 years, where I did my masters and then, worked and saved money for my dream destination: Taiwan.

Why Taiwan? I’ve always found really interesting Chinese culture. When learning the language, I realised I could also speak Chinese but not in China. Call me millennial, but for me, a country with Google seemed like a better option.

Anyway, I left my job, house, flatmates, friends and chosen family in London and went back to Spain for a little while. I did my Reiki course and I opened myself up to spirituality.

And then I did it. I went to Taiwan by myself.

Hold on… By yourself?

If not now, when? If I don’t do it for myself, no one will.

Me, 2018-2019

After that, I solo travelled to Cuba for a month. There, I learnt to dance salsa the way Cubans do and to live life a little bit more like them.

As I write this, I have been studying and living in Taiwan for 5 months… And I’m figuring out as I go.

This online space is a collection of experiences, knowledge and services that I’ve accumulated through travelling, coffee, Cuban salsa and spirituality.

Confessions Of An Introverted Traveller

Travel is usually seen as something joyful and happy… And it is… I personally love it. And I love meeting new people, visiting and discovering new places. I am so thankful to have been able to travel as much as I have. 

But I’ve got something to confess… I am also an introverted person. I feel exhausted if I talk with people for too long and if don’t have time for myself, I will become really serious and not fun to be around. 

When travelling, I often feel the pressure of going out and visiting all there is to visit in a place. It feels like if you’re not doing something, you’re wasting your time. I think that growing up in a society with the mentality “if you’re not being productive, you don’t have value/add value to the world”… takes a toll.

For me, this means that sometimes, I just don’t feel like going out of my hotel room. Sometimes I just want to be in my own little bubble away from the rest of the world; I just want to be back home, with a glass of wine and my favourite film. If I’m feeling a bit extra that day, maybe some popcorn and a nice comfy blanket. Sometimes I just want to speak my language and not make an effort at all to remember how to say certain things.

But you’re travelling, and you’re seeing all these new things, meeting all these new interesting people, experiencing new cuisines… How ungrateful of you to just stay at the hostel and watch a movie. Such a waste… 

I has these thoughts as well… Until I planned my own trip around Taiwan. I did my lists and my planning to visit as much as I could, but by the second week ended up exhausted. Tired from talking to people all day, from taking pictures of things that honestly, didn’t seem that special because I didn’t have time to read the description. From looking for the food that was popular at that place, even if I felt like eating something else… Until I arrived to a particularly good hostel where by chance, I had the room to myself for a few hours. I put on a face mask, did my nails, had a nap, watched a film and felt 100% better with myself. 

Then I realised…

You don’t have to visit every single tourist attraction to have a good time.

If you enjoyed that cup of coffee while people watching, you did not waste your time.

You are allowed to enjoy and relax during your travels in any way you want.

I had the chance to meet Kasia & Victor, a lovely Spanish-Polish couple who have been travelling for a while now. They made me realise that I wasn’t alone in this idea. They have a very interesting blog post about “slow travel” (in Spanish). The concept is about enjoying every step of the way. Not focusing on the “touristy” stuff and just observing life in the place you’re staying. It’s about getting to know the culture and people. About being a “traveller” rather than a “tourist”.

I am well aware that not everyone has that much time off work to do this, but even if you have a week… Rather than planning a “gymkhana week” where you’re going from touristic attraction to the next touristic attraction, maybe try to slow down. Take the pressure off yourself. Let your self relax and breath and enjoy.

Instead of getting that perfect shot for your IG and ignoring the child that has stopped playing with a ball to help an old man, you could be present in where you are and watch life happening around you.