(Disclaimer: I may have had a slight obsession with putting flowers in my photos when I took them over a year ago 😉 )
As you may have noticed in my travel diaries, I have a tendency to search for a particular kind of coffeeshop. Specialty coffeeshops, namely. And while most people in Australia or the UK will be quite familiar with this term, it’s still a bit of a mystery to many others.
I only learned about it about 2 years ago, at one coffeeshop in Salzburg I now get to work in (yay 😀 ).
So – it’s a difficult topic, because most of us have a very specific idea of what coffee should be and why we drink it. For many that probably sounds something like this – ‘I drink it to get energised and it should taste, well, like coffee… strong.’ And then there are people who won’t like the taste of said coffee and dilute it with water or milk, a lot of it, and one, two, three sugar cubes.
What if I told you that coffee doesn’t have to be this generic ‘coffee’-tasting beverage? That there are actually hundreds, thousands of different-tasting coffees in the world?
There are! All you need to do is forget about what coffee should taste like and be open to the idea of a new flavour experience with every bean you try and every brewing method you use. Try it without milk, without sugar. Try it as an espresso and as a pour-over. And then judge. Chances are, if you are using any random supermarket coffee, you won’t enjoy it very much.
So what is the difference between that supermarket coffee and specialty (single-origin) coffee?
I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but let’s review the most important points:
- The origin: Specialty coffee will often be from a single farm or just a select few. You can taste where the coffee grew, just like with wine. It might be chocolatey or fruity, nutty or citric. Commodity coffee will be a mix of several farms, maybe several countries, dictated by the prices.
- The processing: For specialty coffee, the beans will be washed and dried in a way that takes time and actual manual labour, like seperating the ripe beans from the green or rotten ones. For commodity coffee, all the work is done by machines, which means most of the green and rotten beans will go into the coffee.
- The roasting: Commodity coffee will be roasted dark without paying attention to which roast would bring out the most flavours in a bean. Specialty roasters will try different roasting profiles, with a tendency to go lighter.
- Coffeeshops: Specialty coffeeshops will have a selection of coffees; the baristas are trained to know how to get the best out of different beans, trying various methods and extractions. The attention to coffee will vary in all other places.
You can use this flavour wheel as a guide to tasting coffee and once you will try a coffee from Ethiopia and one from Brazil side by side, you will be stunned.
Source: Counter Culture Coffee
As I’m working in a specialty coffeeshop now and learning more and more everyday, I would love to share some more aspects of coffee and coffee-making with you. Let me know if you are interested in that!