I’ll admit: caffeine does make me jittery, but I adore the taste. There’s something about the richness of espresso, the tang of cold brew and the creamy sweetness of latte that reminds one of the many 8am Wawa runs, coffee shop sketchings, or a cuppa after class to beat the afternoon slump. Coffee is a quintessential component of every college student’s life. Palate kicking into gear on Sunday mornings, eyes still slightly bleary from the remnants of midterm-induced insomnia, I walk just a floor down to the Rosen’s coffee morning.
Ralph and Ellen Rosen, residents of Riepe College House definitely recognize coffee as a way of bringing people together through their Coffee Sundays. Strolling into their home, one is greeted by the waft of freshly roasted coffee beans, and a long table filled with endless goodies. I bite into a brownie, savouring the dense, chewy (oh so sinful) mouthful of salty and sweet. I watch as people mill about, cappuccino in hand.
The warm sunshine streams in, and lights inside the warm home, accented with tones of orange tile and touches of vintage black and white photographs. A harpsichord sits in the corner, the main kitchen counter boasts a fresh orange juice squeezer accompanied by juicy orange halves, and of course- coffee machinery galore! I nudge my way through the crowd of people chewing on brownies and starting conversations with fellow Riepe residents to ask Dr. Rosen a few questions about his love for coffee.
A self professed “Coffee Obsesso”, Dr. Ralph Rosen cheerfully juggled responding enthusiastically, whilst balancing fresh cups of cappuccino on the table. Ellen Rosen, shortbread in hand, attended to the hungry college students who had cleared the cakes in less than 15 minutes.
I was introduced to the subtle complexities a simple cup has to offer. The language behind the flavor of coffee is surprisingly precise. Click Here for a link on how coffees are described! If you’re a book lover like me, you’d also enjoy this book SweetBitter by Stephanie Danler- a story told through taste.
“Taste, Chef said, is all about balance. The sour, the salty, the sweet, the bitter. Now your tongue is coded. A certain connoisseurship of taste, a mark for how you deal with the world, is the ability to relish the bitter, to crave it even, the way you do the sweet.” – Sweetbitter
If you are interested, here’s the description of the Ethiopian beans he uses for espresso!
Peach, nectarine, orange marmalade note, cacao bittersweetness, dark berry, plum, citrus rind, Moderate acidity level. Good for espresso.
A short interview with Dr Rosen:
When and why did you start getting into coffee?
I spent a lot of time as a senior in college trying to figure out what the best canned coffee was, but I mainly got into coffee because of 1. Aesthetics and flavor 2. the gadgetry behind it. (I can attest to this ~ his table is filled with mechanical coffee
What’s your favorite coffee related memory?
10 years ago, I begged one of my friends for single pound of unroasted beans from the island of St. Helena where Napoleon was exiled. To this day, I still remember that cup of coffee. It was completely different to anything I’ve ever tasted before. It was a taste that lingered and changed. It wasn’t just a simple roast, it was very complex. With many layers, it was almost like wine. I’m not quite the equivalent of a wine sommelier, but I would consider myself a “coffee obsesso!”
What did you like about coffee?
This interview question actually led to Dr Rosen demonstrating actually freshly grinding different types of beans in order to let us smell them. I first smelt an Ethiopian type of bean that had a fruit like scent I couldn’t place. Later, he let us know that it was actually blueberry flavoured! It was really interesting because I never associated Coffee with any type of fruit. I would usually associate coffee with cacao notes, but this really made me think about the combinations of coffee I never thought to ponder about before!
Starting college as a freshman is a whirlwind of everything. Of food, laughter, late nights. Often, I must remind myself of the simple affinities that I adore. Salt and Sweet. Coffee and Conversations. Little ordinary things that make life very tender.
Thank you to the Rosen’s for being delightful and kind in answering my questions and inviting all of us into your home!
Written by Nicole Seah