For many people, coffee is what helps get them through a long day. Just recently I joined those who need that cup, but it is amazing how much has to be done before I get that boost of caffeine.
At Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co., 410 Pine St., I got a chance to see what goes into brewing just a single cup of coffee from beans to mug.
As the name suggests, the coffee shop downtown roasts its own beans in a machine so high-tech that when owner Karl Fisher led me to it, I was scared I would break it.
Messy Business columnist and reporter Alyssa Murphy adds a lid and press for a cup of French Press Coffee as owner Karl Fisher gives instructions at Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Co.
Everything is controlled by a laptop computer. It manages the time of the roast, the temperature and other features that all need to be tried and retried with every new kind of coffee that comes into the shop to make sure the taste is up to Fisher's standards.
The first step came from precisely measuring the green coffee beans to fill the roaster.
Unroasted coffee beans look green, but it is the roasting process that force the beans to expand and change in color, taste and smell, which is why perfecting the roasting variables is so important.
Roasted coffee needs time to sit to improve its taste, so I sealed the container after the beans dropped out of the roaster to be cooled.
My work was not finished yet, as nobody just wants coffee beans in a container.
For those too busy to stop in for a cup of coffee before work, Alabaster sells bags of coffee, which I got to package. Once again, it was all about correct measurements. Since coffee has to be marked to show what kind it is, my awful handwriting skills were put to the test as I wrote out the information on the individual bag, hoping that maybe I would be lucky enough that someone could translate my hieroglyphics into words.
My favorite part would have to be playing waitress for a day. I have worked at fast-food restaurants, book stores and libraries, but I never had a chance to try waitressing.
Fisher knew better than to let me actually serve a customer, because it is very likely that person would never return after such horrible service. Instead he handed me a French press, which I had never previously seen. It's safe to say that I am no coffee expert.
Actually making a cup of coffee in a French press was a lot more difficult than I imagined it to be, but then again, I needed the help of three people to brew coffee for the first time in a drip coffee pot.
Luckily Fisher stood right next to me the entire time, correcting me every time I did something wrong.
However, I think I learned my lesson that is much better to be in front of the counter with money to buy a cup of coffee than to be behind it and try to make it yourself.