The Coffee Club: Penn State’s Newest Caffeine Crazed Organization

Are you addicted to coffee? You know, the bean-based drink you can buy at the store! If you consider yourself a coffee enthusiast, you will definitely be interested in the brand new Penn State Coffee Club.

The club, just established this summer, consists of a number of individuals who are crazy about the caffeinated beverage. Segueing off of the Penn State Tea Institute, the founders of the Coffee Club developed their affinity for coffee after learning professional tasting techniques and developing a better understanding of tea connoisseurship within the Institute. The founder, Ryan Ahn, is well-versed in all aspects of tea and coffee, and his immense passion for the two drinks is shown in his devotion to the two clubs. The Coffee Club aims to be a diverse cultural hub, where students, faculty, staff, and community members can learn more about coffee and have the opportunity to taste certain blends that would typically be available only in large cities or online.

The club’s main focus is to explore and create a brand of third wave coffee — a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity. Ryan talked extensively about all things coffee, explaining the ultimate goal of the Coffee Club. He hopes, with help from substantial funding, to create a full sized coffee lab in order to brew gourmet coffee unique to the club. Ahn and his clubmates hope to learn more about brewing methods, extraction methods, different origins, and generally would like to position themselves to be able to create coffee to the highest degree — right here at Penn State. Right now the club is aiming to host some sort of exhibition this spring and bring in experts to spread their knowledge of the beverage.

The intricate chemistry that goes into brewing coffee is fascinating to say the least. Making the best cup of coffee possible is the main focus, but the intricate steps that go into making the coffee is what produces the best result.

Most people don’t realize that coffee should be treated like produce. Like a fresh food, it should be used around two to three weeks after being roasted. The majority of coffee that is store bought has been sitting in a can or a bag for far too long, significantly reducing the flavor. The new movement of higher grade coffee has urged vendors to put labels and dates on the bags so that people will know when their coffee’s flavor is at its peak. The emerging coffee culture is something that has started to really become a prominent undertaking — one that isn’t unique to just State College. Saint’s Cafe is a good bet if you are in the market for an upper echelon cup of coffee. The small cafe located on West Beaver Avenue does pourovers — a brewing method that extracts a more pure form of coffee — while also freshly grinding their coffee and creating specialty lattes like the Matcha Latte, among others.

One thing people often mistake is off-loading flavor onto bitterness. A nicely roasted coffee’s flavor is very complex, as the flavors stem from everywhere, and the ability to dissect each one makes it enjoyable and enthralling to drink. However, if you lack a certain coffee prowess, it can be overwhelming at first to drink a cup of fine craft coffee. A good cup of joe is suppose to be perfect without any additional flavoring. No need to add milk or sugar, which can mask the potent flavors within the cup.

In theory, good coffee producers will be able to blend and roast coffee, often knowing people will want to put milk and cream into it. They will cater the taste towards that notion, and do it purposefully so cream serves as a perfect complement. This coffee movement is relatively new, beginning around 20 years ago, but despite its novelty, the third wave movement is in its early stages.

Craft coffee is something that the Coffee Club prides itself on, and with new independent donors adding to a significant budget, the club looks to become a serious organization at Penn State. If you are interested in joining, or just feel like getting your sludge on, feel free to stop by. The Coffee Club is open to anyone who is interested in coffee, and aims to start having weekly meetings in the near future. You can learn more about them at the club’s official website.

Coffee fanatics, you’ve found your new home.

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About the Author

Ben Rappaport

is a junior English and Journalism major at Penn State. He loves spending way too much money on concerts and music festivals. Ben can usually be found walking around campus listening to Kanye West. A fun fact about him is he once was resuscitated from unconsciousness by Pusha T's verse on the song "Mercy." Feel free to contact him at [email protected] or follow him on twitter at @Benrappp.

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