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Coffee Trends: Rhymes With Coffee

Rhymes With Coffee


April 1, 2008
By Brian Martell

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As more and more people get into the esoteric attributes of coffee, the
breadth and depth of coffee knowledge being requested is greater than
at any time before.

As more and more people get into the esoteric attributes of coffee, the breadth and depth of coffee knowledge being requested is greater than at any time before.

Admittedly, some of the hype is just that … hype. But for those who are truly looking for great coffee there is something to be said about the growing trend towards über grade coffees.

martellBut first off, we really have to dispel the snake oil purveyors who wax eloquent about specific varietals grown on certain estates on specific hill sides facing the south east at the exact right angle, but no lower than 1,543 metres in altitude, etc. etc. These coffee promoters fancy themselves as the prophets of all things coffee and imply if you are not drinking (for example) PNG Sigris harvested during a full moon by virgins then you are not part of the “in” coffee crowd.

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What they are really good at, however, is bidding up the price of specific coffees sold on auction to where price has no relation to the objective quality. Essentially, they are the modern version of the king’s tailors.  Here is a passage from one of their writings:

“…where some rough surface texture still exists on the bean, this cups out like a darker roast; pungent, and zesty chocolate bittersweets. I like that, because at this roast level it still has a very lively and bright cup too, things I value highly in a good high grown coffee. There are a lot of spicy notes in the cup: clove, nutmeg, mulling spice. Along with the apple hint, this makes for a real “hot apple cider” effect, passing through into the long aftertaste.” 

Now coffee taste can definitely be subjective, but the above is a little over the top when it comes to description. All creative writing aside, there are truly great coffees that deserve the attention of the consuming public and just as it became more in vogue to find great wine of great value rather than high priced wines of questionable value, so too will the “fine coffee” market go.

What is surprising is the fusion of brewed coffee into other culinary works so as to complement meals.

Often drunk with breakfast as the only meal of the day where we would have a cup while eating, coffee is now being served with lunch and dinner as an accompaniment rather than as an after-meal dessert beverage. As this trend becomes more and more popular, requests are coming in for “what tastes good with red meat, poultry and fish.”
It has taken quite a bit of primary research to develop a good scoreboard of what goes well with what; but once completed it helps put in perspective how our beloved coffee is changing. Being objective in our evaluations, however, is the constant we always try to maintain. Outside influences can often blind you to what qualities exist or do not.

From time to time, we’ll hear about a fantastic coffee that someone had while on vacation in an exotic setting. And while great coffee is served all around the world, the environment of relaxation, sun, sand and all meals cooked for you often tends to skew one’s perception of how good something really tastes.

Expert cuppers who excel in olfactory perception (taste and smell) will still use objectivity as the standard used in determining truly great coffees from crop to crop and year to year. These are the people who have followed a much disciplined path of putting their skills to the test on a daily basis and recognize that being honest with coffee evaluations has little to do with where the coffee is from.

Indeed it has to do with judging coffees on the merits of body, acidity, aroma and taste and their inter-connectivity. Once completed, then and only then should the appellation be revealed to the cupper. In the great coffee scheme of things, as with the Roman Goddess Justisia, good coffee cuppers should be blindfolded (sword optional) and objectively weigh the value of the coffee they try before pronouncing their verdict.

Questions or comments?  E-mail Brian at Brian@heritage-coffee.com.


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