My Morning Cup features the coffee rituals that most of us have. People from all walks of life — from US senators to ballplayers, subway drivers to college professors — have submitted entries that will run each day.
Ayr Muir, 37
CEO and Founder, Clover Food Lab
Describe your coffee routine. Where do you frequent, what do you like?
I’m not addicted to coffee. I rarely crave coffee. I might be a tea person.
And next to me is a half cup of one of the most delicious cups of coffee. It’s a Kenyan coffee from George Howell, Karatu (the name of the processing mill) AB (sorting designation).
My cup is half full because when I drink coffee it’s almost always with others. I’m either sharing with a friend, training a colleague, or introducing a customer. I’ve had a few sips from this half cup but I’m waiting for it to cool. It’s hard to taste when too hot. My coffee routine is consistent in that I’m doing it everyday, but it’s not some quiet time where I’m sitting alone in ritual. I’m at the Coffee Trike visiting with San, or at a Clover restaurant testing a newly trained employee, or I’m sharing a sample with a friend or customer introducing them to something new. I’m always tasting, enjoying, and trying to learn.
I think drinks shouldn’t be left out of the culinary landscape. That’s why we make every beverage we sell at Clover carefully and from scratch. This might rub some the wrong way, but I love a great coffee shop at least as much as I love a great fine dining restaurant.
Make or buy?
Most days I taste many cups of coffee. Most are at Clover. Some at other shops I’m visiting (Dwelltime, Voltage, Render, Coffee Trike are among my favorites in town).
If make, what coffee do you use and how do you make it?
Ninety percent of the coffee I drink is what most people are calling pour over. At Clover we opt for the cheap and simple Melitta plastic cone. They have a slight off taste for the first 10 cups or so, but once they are worked in they’re every bit as good as the porcelain cones. And they cost 1/20th the price. They restrict the flow rate so pouring is more consistent between cups. Unlike porcelain they don’t require much pre-heating, so there is little chance of screwing up a cup because you didn’t pre-heat the cone. And did I mention they don’t break when you drop them on a food truck?
I’ll grind with a Baratza grinder. I have one at home that I bought before Clover. It was the grinder we used on the first truck for nine months or so when we were figuring out coffee. Now we have fancier new versions with scales built in and custom specified grinding plates and upgraded motors. They’re amazing.
If buy, where? What time? Do baristas know you?
If I’m buying it is generally at the protest of a barista. I always insist on paying. I think everybody works hard and great food shouldn’t be free. Sometimes I’m paying the tip jar. Dwelltime, Voltage, Render, and Coffee Trike are some of my favorites. Lucy from Voltage is doing something really unique, I haven’t seen anything like it in the country. She was a Clover employee in the early days with a small espresso business on the side and we’ve remained friends over the years. I love the folks at Dwelltime (which is sort of the same thing as Barismo). They’ve taught me a lot over the years. And San at the Coffee Trike is just one of the nicest guys. And he has a very well tuned palette, so he’s always reaching to make something that tastes better.
When I’m out I’m generally splitting cups with somebody else so that we can all taste.
What’s your order?
At Clover there’s only one size cup (10.5 oz) so it’s really simple. What’s left over after I share a cup is what I drink. If out I never order a large. When there is an option I order for here.
How do you take it?
Iced or hot?
I’ll taste iced but generally I lean toward hot.
Alone or with company?
Almost always with others.
Where do you drink it? Seated or on the go?
Almost always standing.
Any simultaneous non-caffeinated stimulation?
Conversation, usually about food or the coffee we’re tasting.
How many more cups the rest of the day?
I sort of do this all day. Tasting here. Tasting there. I don’t think it adds up to much cup-wise, but it’s an ongoing thing.
What time will you drink your last cup?
I try not to drink coffee after noon. I looked it up once and caffeine has a half life of 5-7 hours for most people. That means 1/2 of what you drink is still in your system after up to 7 hours. So if you have a cup or two in the afternoon get ready for a restless night.
What’s your stance on decaf?
I love decaf. I’m not sure why people say so many terrible things about decaf and find myself defending it all the time.
Is it the same as regular? No. Can it be as good? No. Can it be much worse? Yes.
But we’ve tasted hundreds of decaf coffees and there are some really delicious ones out there. It’s not the coffee I’m going to pick as my favorite beverage, but I think everybody can enjoy a cup of good decaf if they’re willing to leave their prejudice behind.
When and why did you start drinking coffee?
A few years ago I knew absolutely nothing about coffee. When I decided coffee was going to be critical to Clover’s breakfast I forced myself to learn. It started with a trip to New Harvest roasters in Providence and dozens of dumb questions. At this point I’ve now asked thousands of dumb questions and I’m still learning everyday.
Describe the most memorable cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
At my grandma’s house in Michigan. She used to drink coffee all day long. Many many cups. I think she still “takes coffee” as she would put it, but limits herself. She uses Folgers out of a tin. She puts like 2 tablespoons for a pot. I think if you were around for the Depression you carry that forever. She has corning glass mugs because they live in a town run by Dow, the chemical company, that combined with Corning (the glass company) a long time ago. My grandma loves coffee so it’s delicious because she’s sharing something she loves with you.To submit your own My Morning Cup entry, e-mail Matt Viser at firstname.lastname@example.org