there is a thread over at Coffee Geek that has spawned a lot of reflection for me. the question was posed, what is the "definitive moment" in your coffee experience/career/quest?
looking back, i have realized that, for me, there have been a series of defining moments and memories - and i know that this list will continue to grow over time (one of the things i love best about coffee).
1 - as a boy, after a huge amount of begging and pleading, being allowed to go with my father and my uncle and their (all male) friends down to the caffe bar for "the usual" and some impassioned "discussion" (the real reason for the trip). i think it was this experience that made me feel such a strong emotional bond with coffee bars and the social community they represent and could, thus, be responsible for my career.
2 - later, as a young man, having an espresso in the airport in Pisa and realizing that it was better than any coffee i had tasted in the US and understanding that this was why i didn't drink coffee at home. and comprehending that it was not just the coffee that was so good - it was (again) the social structure around that coffee (the balance of seriousness and ordinariness). i then came back to the US and despaired. i figured that a place like San Francisco, with its culture of taste and obsession with food and Italian heritage, would be the optimal place to find good coffee and instead it was all worse than the worst coffee i'd tasted in Italy.
3 - being served a short cappuccino by David Schomer that transported me back to memories of Italy and suddenly realizing that the coffee, at the very least, could be duplicated here in the US after all. perhaps it will never be possible to duplicate the social structure and the social mechanisms that enable coffee in Italy to be what it is. but people are trying to create something that is, at the least, an adaptation that allows those who want a quality coffee experience to get that. and this once cappuccino inspired me to join those quixotic few.
4 - sitting at Toronado with Duane Sorenson, talking about coffee, and realizing that not only was i not too obsessed with coffee - not only was i not too passionate about espresso - i might actually be taking it all too lightly! and suddenly seeing that it could be possible to create the combination of quality coffee and quality experience right now in the US. and thus, i moved to Portland.