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Start Here: Creating A Happier Life Via Specialty Coffee
Written by: Raj Jana
Your life is a string of small events and actions. The little things count—they're the whole point—so infuse happiness and gratitude into every moment.
Making the most of each moment, no matter how small, is how we create a rich and fulfilling life that transcends our physical circumstances.
We call it ‘Staying Grounded’.
It’s a lifestyle that we embrace to find happiness in the now. It keeps us centered, empowers us to be mindful, and helps us choose happiness daily.
One powerful way we’ve discovered that helps us follow this lifestyle is nothing other than our morning mug. For us, it’s not just a cup of black liquid—or at least, it doesn’t have to be.
Because, while you can’t control your entire day, you can control how it begins. We transform our daily brew into an energy-breathing, gratitude-generating, life-enhancing cup of coffee that launches the day with a moment of peace.
Read: How and Why To Create The Perfect Morning Routine
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad coffee out there.
- We spend so much money on it
- We waste so much time on it
- It gives us a kick, but we have to gulp it down with cream and sugar
That’s not how coffee is meant to be enjoyed. There’s so much more.
I’m going to show you how you can transform your daily brew into a meaningful and energizing ritual that’s full of flavor and happiness.
We’ll look at…
- Why most coffee companies are holding you back from happiness
- How to extract the most flavor from your fresh beans
- How manual brewing your coffee can be a powerful catalyst for gratitude
- And how you can take your own happiness and infuse it into others
You can’t control much in life, but you can control your coffee. So make the most of it.
But something's got to change first.
How Store-Bought Coffee Is A Barrier To Happiness
The old ways are dying. People everywhere are realizing that the average supermarket coffee aisle isn’t everything it promises to be.
It’s not the best source of energy. It’s not stocked with flavorful beans. In fact, supermarket beans are some of the worst there are. Allow me to explain.
Read: Why Fresh Coffee Is The Best Coffee
- Store-bought coffee beans are usually stale. Once roasted, coffee beans only have 2-3 weeks of peak freshness and flavor. Once ground, they only have 20-30 minutes. Those pleasant aromas from a new bag you just opened? That’s the smell of weeks-worth of freshness floating away, never to actually be tasted in your coffee.
- Those coffees are basically flavorless. Any bag of coffee beans that you can buy for under $15 are low-quality beans. They’re simple, flat, and don’t have the rich, vibrant flavors that well-grown beans have from quality-focused, small-batch farms.
Store-bought coffee is not a good conduit for gratitude, focus, or happiness. It’s hard to embrace life when you’re drinking meh coffee that tastes flat and bitter.
You deserve better.
"Specialty-grade" beans are coffee beans that have been grown and processed with zero major defects. They’re the cream of the crop—and they taste like it to. These coffees can have wild, fascinating notes of strawberries, roses, star anise, and even cola (more on this later).
Read: Learn How To Taste Coffee Like The Pros
But even specialty-grade beans can become stale, which is why it’s so important to buy them freshly roasted. We suggest buying smaller bags (12 ounces) more frequently, rather than big bags that last a long time.
This is the most important part.
Start with fresh beans and you’ll end with better coffee. But there are still some things you can do to enhance your daily brew even further, and thus, enhance your morning and potentially your entire day.
Always Grind Your Beans Freshly
Remember what I said about coffee bean freshness? It’s fleeting.
The best way to preserve those amazing flavors is to buy whole beans (not pre-ground), then grind them just before you brew. This keeps the aromatic oils from evaporating away, keeps oxygen from breaking down the crisp acids into bitter compounds, and ensures the coffee’s natural sugars stay sweet.
Read: Why Your Grinder Is The Most Important Piece of Coffee Gear
Grinding your own beans is part of the Staying Grounded experience, especially when done using a manual grinder. As you feel the beans breaking down inside the grinder, you smell the rising aromas and feel connected to your upcoming mug of coffee.
It’s all part of the brief journey that helps you start your day with something special, something just for you.
Don’t Get Cheated On A Grinder
Here’s what you need to know about coffee grinders to maximize the benefits of this step:
- Skip the blade grinder. Blade grinders don’t grind coffee. They chop coffee. Those inconsistently sized grounds don’t brew at the same rate, which means you end up with really imbalanced coffee that’s either too sour or too bitter. Yuck.
- Buy a burr coffee grinder. Burrs aren’t like blades—they carefully divert whole beans down a narrow path where they are ground into small, uniform pieces. These grounds do brew at the same rate, which means tasty, balanced coffee.
Many people buy blade grinders because they are cheap, only $20 or so. We hated that expensive burr grinders were forcing people to buy junk blade grinders that ruined their coffee, so we made our own.
Guess how much it costs. Close to $20.
We give our grinder this price point so that you don’t have to settle for a cheaply-made blade grinder that’s bound to disappoint. You should check out the grinder for yourself!
Treat Your Coffee The Way You Want It To Treat You
Skip the Keurig. Skip even the normal coffee pot. These devices may be convenient, but they don’t empower you to focus in and make something by your own hand—and they certainly don’t produce great coffee.
The adage "you get out what you put in" is so relevant here.
Read: How Manual Coffee Brewing Can Change Your Life
We suggest getting yourself a manual brewer, like a french press or pour over cone, and taking full control over your coffee brewing. Rather than letting a machine do a bad job, you have the chance to do a great one.
Sure, it takes a couple minutes, but it’s worth it.
There’s something about drinking coffee that you know you made. It’s personally satisfying, confidence-boosting, and it almost always tastes better than coffee out of an automatic drip pot.
Here are some of our favorite coffee brewers for staying grounded:
- French Press — This classic, quintessential manual brewer is deceptively simple to use. Mix coffee and hot water, wait for four minutes, and plunge the filter. The result is a mug of full-bodied, full-flavored coffee.
- Pour Over — Using pour over drippers is a little more hands on since you have to slowly pour water over the grounds for about two minutes, but it’s a different kind of experience. The pouring motion is calming, focusing—and the final brew is just as delicious, though it often has a cleaner, smoother body.
- Aeropress — This travel-ready brewer is quick to use, nearly indestructible, and makes a killer cup of clean, rich coffee. You mix coffee and water, wait two minutes or so, and press down on the plunger to force the coffee into your mug.
No matter which brewer type you decide to try, the whole manual coffee brewing experience can take as little as five minutes. Five minutes of focus, anticipation, control, gratitude.
But it doesn’t stop there—those good vibes continue on throughout the entire day. When you take control of your morning to do something special for you, the payoff lasts for hours, not minutes like with a normal cup of coffee.
Here are a few other resources for brewing A+ coffee you'll love:
- The Perfect Water Temperature For Coffee Brewing
- How To Measure Coffee Without A Scale For Better Coffee
- Bad Brew? Here’s A Simple Coffee Troubleshooting Guide
Taste And Enjoy Your Specialty Coffee
This is the reason most of us are drawn to specialty-grade coffee: the flavors.
The rich, diverse, stunning, exotic, wild flavors.
With beans like these, coffee doesn’t “just taste like coffee” anymore. There are subtle flavor notes given to the beans by healthy plants, careful processing, skilled roasting, and balanced brewing. The key to finding these subtle flavors is to ask yourself this question:
What does this remind me of?
Here are some of the things you have to look forward to.
- Acidity can be vibrant and fascinating. In stale, low-grade coffee, any acidity just tastes like gross tart lemon. In fresh specialty coffee, acidity can take a variety of forms. It can be tart like an orange, crisp like a red apple, or even a sweet berry-like tang.
- Coffee can be refreshingly sweet. In super dark roasts, the sugars are literally burned away. In specialty coffee, sweetness can really drive a coffee’s flavor. Sometimes the caramelized sugars taste like caramel, other times honey or molasses.
- Aromas become more powerful than ever. In stale coffee, the only aromas left are of bitter, woody notes. In fresh beans, aromas can be all over the board. Robusta floral aromas are common, as well as notes of spice. And in some Ethiopian coffees, amazing blueberry aromas form.
- Bitterness can be extremely pleasant. Unlike super bitter dark roasts, fresh lighter roasts have little or no bitterness at all. If there is any, it’s gentle and pleasant, rounding out the acidity to make the whole flavor experience more balanced. This low-level bitterness usually manifests itself as notes of earth or dark chocolate.
- Coffee can even feel different, thanks to mouthfeel. Some coffees have a light, gentle body. Others can feel heavy and full. And some can even feel silky or juicy—only with specialty-grade beans, of course.
- The aftertaste rounds out the entire experience. Wrapping all of the flavor elements together, the aftertaste is the final huzzah as you swallow the coffee. And, just as it’s going down, those last aromas rise to your retronasal passages, giving you the sense of a rich, sweet flavor.
Read: Our complete series on How To Taste Coffee
We’re not making this stuff up. These subtle flavor notes are actually very common—if you’re buying the right beans—and they’re oh-so-satisfying.
The Tasting Process
Here’s the thing: we don’t learn to taste things very intentionally growing up. We are taught top-level categories and foods, but we don’t learn the nuanced differences between variations of those foods.
For example, there are dozens of types of apples, all with their own flavor quirks—but we generally just stick to saying apples taste like “apple”. Similarly, even cheddar cheese has a variety of subtypes with different flavors, but we usually just say they all taste like “cheddar”.
Don’t get me wrong, this makes complete sense, and it’s not really anyone’s fault. But we have to be open to tasting beyond these general flavors to really be able to experience the beauty of coffee. Otherwise, our closed minds will only taste… “just coffee”.
Here’s a look at the actual tasting process:
- Brew a great cup of fresh, specialty-grade beans
- Take a small sip and slurp it loud (this gets the coffee all over your tongue)
- Acknowledge the normal “coffee flavor”, then start noticing the subtleties
- Ask yourself: What does this remind me of?
- Enjoy that moment as you discover the subtle notes of your coffee
Don’t be dismayed if you can’t really taste lots of weird flavors at first. Like I said, you’re having to teach your tongue and brain to think about flavor differently. You’re having to teach them to look harder than they’re used to, and it can take some time for them to catch on.
But don’t give up!
As you work out your tasting muscles, you’ll start to experience more and more. And once you finally taste a Guatemalan coffee with notes of red apple, dark chocolate, and honey, you’ll know it was all worth it.
Pay It Forward
Great news: by buying high-quality coffee, you’re already paying it forward.
Specialty coffee companies typically pay premium prices (often 200-400% the "market rate") for exceptional coffee beans. So while low-grade, cheap coffee keeps farmers vulnerable in an unethical supply chain, specialty coffee works to give those farmers empowering, dignifying wages for their hard work.
At JavaPresse, we work to create a better supply chain by...
- Helping women farmers access better healthcare. We worked with a women-led farm cooperative in rural Guatemala to send a women's health doctor so the women could get specialized treatment.
- Helping Colombian farmers get out of the drug trade. We partner with farmers across the country who want to transition their coca farms to coffee farms. By paying a premium for quality coffee, we're able to help them transition with more stability.
- Giving terminally ill children wishes-come-true. We have a soft spot for kids living in difficult situations. That's why we partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make a dream come true every year.
We're not in the business of sourcing beans as cheaply as possible, then turning a massive profit at the expense of farmers. Specialty coffee aims to create a more equitable, just supply chain.
Read: How Much Should You Pay For Coffee Beans?
Buying bags of coffee that are more in the $15-25 range means you’re contributing towards a healthy coffee industry for millions of people worldwide, rather than feeding the unsustainable industry that’s dominated the globe for decades.
For extra proof that the coffee is economically or environmentally sustainably sourced, look out for these certifications:
- Bird-Friendly Certification
- Rainforest Alliance
- Certified Fair Trade
Paying It Forward Is Also About Your Life
How many people do you know that hate mornings, that struggle to wake up happy?
As you learn to embrace happiness via your morning brew, bring them along. Show them that it’s possible to start your day on the right foot. Show them what it’s like to have gratitude and focus each morning.
Because there’s no limited supply of happiness—so share generously.
Here are a few practical ways you can do that:
- Bring your french press and grinder to work. Make the afternoon coffee break something extra special for you and a couple others. Not only will it be fun to show them something you care about, but maybe they’ll catch on to how your daily ritual has impacted you.
- Host coffee tastings. Get a few different bags of coffee from different regions of the world and have a few friends over. Taste how they’re different. Appreciate the unique characteristics of each coffee. It’s a fun small group activity, but it’s also a powerful way to fill you with gratitude at the hundreds of people who made each cup a reality along each bean’s journey to you.
- Meet for coffee—in your own home. We love the cafe experience, but bringing someone to your own space and brewing them a stellar cup or two is more personal, intimate, and relational.
Here’s what we’re getting at: share the lifestyle, share the mindset.
Even if you don’t buy a single bag of JavaPresse coffee, that’s okay. Our primary goal is to empower people to live in gratitude, happiness, and mindfulness. Coffee’s how we do that, but it’s the avenue, not the goal itself.
Life’s too precious to waste on bad coffee. Especially when it’s a daily ritual.
So buy beans that are full of life and freshness and grind them yourself.
Take ownership of your coffee and brew it like you mean it.
Savor that coffee like you made it by hand—because you did.
By doing so, you participate in making the world a brighter place for millions.
And you experience mindfulness, focus, and gratitude for yourself and can pass it on to others.
Ready to take the next step?
Here’s what you need to do next to embrace the Stay Grounded lifestyle.
- Find a source of freshly roasted, specialty-grade beans
- Get yourself a coffee grinder
- And then a manual coffee brewer, like a french press or pour over cone
We can help you out here.
Our JavaPresse Coffee Club sends you specialty-grade beans from some of the best farms in the world.
We roast the coffee and ship it to you on the same day, which means you get to experience the beans at peak freshness and flavor. We change up the beans every month so you can enjoy a variety of coffee flavors from around the world.
In the end, it’s about living intentionally, finding gratitude and happiness, and helping others along however you can. For us and thousands of customers, coffee’s done the trick.
Think it’ll work for you?