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A maple spice latte sits on the counter at 1000 Faces in Athens., Georgia on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. This fall drink is made with maple syrup, brown sugar, allspice, fennel seeds, black peppercorn, orange peel, and nutmeg. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

1000 Faces Coffee is a popular café among Athenians and is known for its mission to promote sustainable coffee production and consumption. This local coffee shop roasts its coffee beans in-house — sourced from places like Ethiopia, Rwanda and Latin America — to produce flavorful coffee that lands a caffeinated punch.

James Simmons, the director of education at the café, conducts online coffee training and agreed to let The Red & Black pick his brain for tips and tricks for coffee brewing.

How many different roasts are available?

At 1000 Faces, depending on the season, we have anywhere between seven to 12 different offerings. What’s different about them is where they come from, so we have coffee from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Latin America, and then we have a couple blends, which means they are a blend of multiple growing regions.

Within that range of different coffees that we offer we will roast coffee to a certain level, depending on how good it makes the coffee taste. So, that means there are no dogmatic delineations regarding dark, medium or light roasts. Our coffees can be anywhere in that spectrum.

What do the different grind levels mean and how do they affect the flavor of my coffee?

Grind most directly affects what flavor that you extract from the coffee. If you have a very coarse grind that means, in most brew methods, that the water will move over the coffee so quickly that it will have less time to pull out the same amount of flavor. Water is going to move through the course grind faster than the fine grind, so essentially it changes the flavor.

The finer you get, the sweeter the coffee, but if it’s too fine, it becomes bitter. The coarser you get, the more fruit flavors you’ll taste, but if it becomes too coarse, it becomes sour.

Can you tell me the difference between brewing coffee with a single-serve Keurig cup versus a pour over method?

You have very little control with the Keurig over how that coffee is brewed. The coffee is already pre-ground, and when you pre-grind coffee, it oxidizes very quickly, so you lose a lot of flavor. If you’re able to grind right before, like for a pour over, you have more control.

A pour over is pretty much the same apparatus as a drip Mr. Coffee machine. The difference is that, with a pour over, you can direct where the water goes, control the water temperature and control the coffee-to-water ratio.

What are your preferred dairy and non-dairy creamers? How is the amount used going to affect the flavor?

Milk was originally added to coffee to mask off flavors, so basically you will mask whatever flavor there is, which isn’t necessarily good or bad.

I like oat milk in my coffee sometimes, depending on what it is, and sometimes I like half-and-half or 2% milk, but essentially anything you add to the coffee, like milk or sugar, is going to cover up the flavor, but it will also add a different texture to the coffee.

What is your go-to coffee when you need a pick-me-up?

I just like drip coffee. Right now we have one roast called Fugi from Rwanda, and that's one that I like a lot, and also the bell’s blend.

What is the biggest beginner's mistake when brewing coffee?

Not trusting what you like. I think a lot of people assume that if they put milk or sugar in it they’re not doing it properly, or they think that they have to adhere to what other people think makes coffee taste good. They should really just trust their palette, and if they think the coffee tastes good then they're doing a good job.

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