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Cancer and Capricorn

Have you heard people saying: Why the coffee cannot grow in Europe?

It’s pretty simple, it requires certain elevation, steady temperature, light rain, sun and soil. Between this 2 tropics, you find this important aspects, that’s why Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenia, Rwanda and some more other countries can cultivate coffee.

Today I want to be focus on Specialty coffee, is a term coined in 1974 by Erna Knutsen. Later the Specialty Coffee Association would formalize the term to mean Arabica coffee that scores 80 points or higher on a 100 point quality scale. To do that a coffee needs to have distinct, positive flavours and be free of defects.

Robusta was originated in Uganda, requires temperature between 18 to 32 degrees Celsius, it can grow at any altitude, the caffeine is 2.7% which meαn high disease resistance and produce around 10kg of coffee cherry per tree.

If I compare these 2, only Arabica is specialty coffee and harder to grow, nowadays with the climate change, farmers has been summited to address this issue having to move their farms to another location with higher elevation, and unfortunately this cost a lot of money, one of the way to support them is buying their coffee by direct trade and transparent exporters, this is the concept that in most of the specialty coffee shops, the baristas should share to the customers to make them realise that behind a cup of coffee, there is a contribution made to a farmer that gets pay according to the amount of cherry that they can carry on his bucket, later on I will share a good explanation about how is coffee produce. The flavour profile of these two are different, one as it has less caffeine is sweeter, and the other one as it has more caffeine is bitter.

Have you heard that the coffee is a fruit? Is a seed inside a cherry that is collect once is ripe enough and it has a different processing methods to bring out flavours.

Today, I want to talk about 3 main process, wash, natural and honey.

Wash is the most common, Defects are often picked out and discarded, Ripe coffee is fed through a de-pulper to separate fruit from seed, Coffee is fed through channels using water to rinse and move floating beans. The coffee is put in water tank to soak for typically between 12 and 72 hours, The coffee is placed on raised beds, on patios or in a mechanical drier, While drying the coffee is mixed and rotated to ensure even drying, Defects are often picked out and discarded, Typical cup profile: no typical flavours, higher acidity, medium to low body.

Natural Ripe coffee is placed on raised beds, on patios or in a mechanical drier, While drying on beds or patios the coffee is mixed and rotated to ensure even drying, Defects are often picked out and discarded, Typical cup profile: fruit forward cup, lower levels of acidity, higher body

Pulp natural or honey, Ripe coffee is fed through a de-pulper to remove the skin from the fruit, The coffee is placed on raised beds, on patios or in a mechanical drier, While drying on beds or patios the coffee is mixed and rotated to ensure even drying, Defects are often picked out and discarded, Typical cup profile: more fruity than floral, medium to high body, balanced acidity

After all of this process is done and the coffee is ready to export, there is another process that I would like to mention. What is coffee roasting? Roasting is carefully controlling heat to cause physical reactions to the coffee bean.

Roasters create unique roast profiles that apply or take away heat based on knowledge of how to unlock a coffees flavour.

Roasting coffee can only ever highlight the unique flavours already present in a coffee or destroy them, it can never make new flavours.

Once the coffee is roasted, the freshness plays an important role, the unique flavours that make speciality coffee special is best found when it is:

  • Brewed within 25 days if stored in closed bag
  • Brewed within 24 hours if stored in the open
  • Brewed immediately once ground

As a conclusion, I believe that specialty coffee shops are in a goal to keep educating people and the most important, bring good experiences, understanding from the bean to the cup, origins and processing methods, open their perception and allow them to have a great and personal experience.  

Special thanks to Rodolfo Borré, coffee specialist based in London, who authored this article for
gr-ocery.gr.

Few words from the author, Rodolfo Borré.

    A coffee Journey

I was born in Colombia. I grew up surrounded by coffee. In Colombia coffee culture is our culture, producer culture is who we are. But even though we grow up with a passion for it we only get to really experience one part of the coffee chain only one part of what it means to people. Three years ago, when I stepped off the plane from Bogota at Heathrow, I started a journey that completely changed how I look at coffee. In the weeks and months after arriving I ran around London experiencing a whole other side to coffee, the café culture.

Although this was the first time my world of coffee was turned upside down it wasn’t the last. After living in London for years I thought I knew what quality was, I had been to all the best shops and I had tasted countless great coffees. But the other day a customer came into the café I work at, Kiss the Hippo. I gave him a taste of a coffee and he told me all these flavours he experienced, bananas, gummies and wine. I was confused because I tasted none of those things when I drank the same coffee, and I thought my experience was so intense, so clear. He left and this stuck in my head, what was so clear to him, was so different for me. Before I keep going I need to tell you about the coffee I gave him. It’s from my home country of Colombia from a producer named Mauricio Shattah. It was grown at 2100 masl and it is an Anerobic Gesha.

The most common processing methods are: wash, natural and honey, being mine anaerobic it’s made the coffee more unique and it could bring a different experience. 

Now coming back to the coffee that I gave to him, its anaerobic, which means that is fermented without oxygen, this produce certain acids during the fermentation, and this particular acid in this occasion was tartaric acid.

So why did we taste such different things? Well maybe it is where we’re from. He was from the US and I’m from Colombia, when he said bananas, gummies and wine those are all different in our countries so we experienced something completely different. Our personal context, shapes our experience.

So what I realized was happening between me and that guest that came to the shop was we both could have such a clear and intense experience with this coffee because its of such high quality and roasted at Kiss The Hippo Hippo to maintain all of its unique identity. When I later researched about those flavour notes he said they all shared the same acid of what I experienced. Without that acid being of such high quality we wouldn’t have been able to taste what we had. So my realization is that quality allows us to connect over our own unique backgrounds and bring those different perspectives to the table and collectively share an appreciation for the great work of producers and roasters.