The Best Coffees in the World

When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.

History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.

Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)

Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.

Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.

Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.

The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.

When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.

Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)

Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.

Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.

Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.

When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.

Salty or sweet pancakes Same delicious

Pancake is a very popular food all over the world. Different countries, different variants of shape and material anyway. For example, thin pancakes English version and does not expand (or commonly called crepe in France), in contrast to American pancakes are thicker. They used to add it with toppings such as jam, fruit, syrup, chocolate chips, sausages, eggs, or meat.

Pancakes popularity had long arrived in Indonesia. People we know by many names, there is a mention pancakes or pancakes (from the term in Dutch pancakes, Pannenkoeken). The way we present and enjoy the pancakes were not much different from those in America or Europe. Namely by adding a topping of honey, maple syrup, butter, chunks of fresh fruit, ice cream and a sprinkling of choco chips or various nuts.

The difference is only in the time to enjoy it. Ordinary Americans and Europeans make pancakes as a breakfast menu. This is not the case in Indonesia. Indonesian people have a varied breakfast menu, but not including the pancake breakfast menu that popular.

Something similar is delivered by Fransisca Tjong opening outlets in the ninth Pancious Pancake House in Kemang, some time ago.

“Usually the Indonesian people enjoy pancakes as dessert. After a big meal, they ordered a sweet pancake menu to be enjoyed together as a dessert, “he said.

Then, although the pancakes can be served sweet or salty with the addition of eggs, bacon and sausage, Indonesian people prefer sweet pancakes.

Specialty Coffee – A Vibrant Industry, Or The Future Of Coffee At Crossroads Of Change?

Seattle; the home of Boeing, software giants, grunge music and…specialty coffee. Well, not quite. Contrary to popular belief, while Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Boeing and Oracle do indeed hail from the Pacific Northwest, modern specialty coffee has its roots much further south.

When Alfred Peet died in his sleep a few weeks ago he was a sprightly 87. He passed away peacefully hopefully dreaming of coffee trees laden with ripened cherries. While most people have never heard of him, Peet is widely recognised as being the father of modern “specialty coffee” in the industry. He was a Dutchman who became an American. He had traded tea for Lipton’s in Java, lived in Sumatra, worked in the business in New Zealand before, finally, settling down (somewhat) in the University suburb of Berkeley, California. It was at Berkeley where he founded his roastery in 1966 and Peet’s Coffee was born. Alfred Peet was passionate about coffee. His roasting exploits legendary and his ability to commentate, roast and put out fires simultaneously are famous. His experiences while living in Indonesia had given him an affinity with farmers who grew coffee, as well as a thorough understanding of the origin, the place where coffee was grown. This background, combined with his love of roasting, resulted in a place where coffee was not just a cup of Java, but something exotic, living and with a story.

From Alfred Peet’s inspirational example came many of the coffee cultures that now are household names today in America and around the world- Starbucks being the most famous of these of course. The original founders of Starbucks- Baldwin, Bowker and Ziv Seigel originally leant their roasting trade from Peet, in fact Peet roasted for them in their early years. Many others in the industry in America today also passed through the Peet’s Coffee experience. In fact when Howard Schulz purchased Starbucks, Bowker and Baldwin moved across and purchased Peets Coffee- Alfred Peet retiring to a role of Coffee Mentor for the Industry as a whole.

Today most coffee drinkers, from Surabaya to San Francisco, recognise Starbucks and its logo, but the name “Alfred Peet” often draws draws blank looks.

Specialty Coffee today is at a crossroad- an important junction in deciding which direction coffee will be heading over the next decade. In the last 10 years many new comers have entered the business. It is estimated that the global coffee sector today is valued at over US$80 billion. It is no wonder that with these revenue numbers, the industry attracts a mix of business people with mixed agendas- who often see the potential bottom line rather than education and passion as being the driving force in what they do. Traditionally the specialty coffee industry has been built on the strong foundation of sharing knowledge and experience- with the supposition that by helping each other the industry will be strongly quality focused. However a number of the more recent arrivals in the market are perhaps choosing coffee for the perceived easy profits, rather than for a real passion for coffee or its heritage. As a result many of the traditional methods of exchange are not as effective, or used as frequently as they have been in the past.

Globally Coffee is in a position where consumption is beginning to slow down and opportunities to grow coffee are becoming more difficult to find in the traditional coffee consuming markets- Europe, USA, South America and Oceania. The easy answer if to look at new emerging markets- China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are prime targets. These countries either have low coffee consumption (Indonesian’s, for instance, consume 500gm per person per year vs. Norway’s 12kg per person per year), or have reasonable consumption, but historically are tea consumers (India). The new markets are also very suggestible to western branding- in many cases the strength of branding has been shown to be more important than the product itself. This presents a number of opportunities to strong western brands and of course new local brands to emerge. However it does not necessarily equate to long-term longevity of specialty coffee in these new frontiers.

In the more mature markets, the patterns of consumption have changed markedly over the last 15-20 years. The traditional, lower quality coffee products such as instants, are being replaced by roast and ground coffee (drips, plungers etc) and of course Espresso Based Drinks (cappuccino, latte, espresso etc). Fresh roasted coffee has many advantages over the instant coffee. It is more flavoursome and more importantly has a greater link back to where it originally came from. This means that customer awareness is also on the increase- bringing into the spotlight the actual paper trail of where the coffee comes from, who picked it, what price the grower get from it etc. To consumers in countries such as New Zealand this is very important- as generally there is a linkage between quality of coffee and the return the farmer or grower gets. The correlation is the better the return to a farmers, the better the coffee will be. Higher returns means more time can be spent in the origin country looking after the crop, pruning, selective harvesting, proper intensive drying and packing/storing the coffee once it is dried.

The role the specialty coffee industry plays in all this is very important. Retail shops that source and supply only the best coffee help to sustain the industry both upstream and downstream. This means the farmers and workers will be rewarded and the consumers will have access to quality coffee, hopefully growing the business further.

Unfortunately the reverse is gradually becoming more often the norm. Cafes, coffee shops and roasters entering the market all over the world tend to look for short-term cost advantages to try and fuel their business models. To achieve this they either buy poor quality coffee, as cheap as possible or average quality coffee…likewise as cheaply as possible. Cheap coffee equates to, at the best, very average finished product. This in turn means generally a poor perception of the place selling the coffee. This would perhaps be OK if there were not so many cafes now selling poor quality coffee. As it is it means that poor quality coffee is often accepted a being the norm- hence having the result of putting people off drinking coffee.

In many ways the industry can be seen as having come almost full circle back to where it was in the early 1970’s when instant coffee and coffee sitting on hotplates for 10 hours were seen and accepted as being normal coffee. This is what pioneers like Peet worked so hard to change. It is also why the crossroads the industry now stands at are so important.

The choices are really quite simple. For coffee to evolve and grow further there needs to be education of the retailer and the customer. The global industry is built around national organisations that play a varying role in providing advice and education to those in retail or wholesale. The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe) are two such organisations. However to become members of these organisations is as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee. Often the motivation of the people joining is just to get a sticker to put on their shop door, knowledge is a secondary motivator. There is talk that membership should involve some form of basic enter test and then continuing education via the internet- which would at least help to provide tools to pass information on to those drinking the coffee.

Looking at those in the industry who do things well, is also a great way of building and planning the future for specialty coffee. In the USA quality roasters and café operators such as Allegro, Blackstump Coffee and Intelligensia have taken industry standards to a new level. Buying quality coffee, hiring quality staff and imparting quality knowledge to customers buying their morning coffee has proven very successful for these companies. So much so that it is an unquestionable part of their corporate culture. All of these companies also practice something unique- they regularly visit their growers in countries such as Indonesia, Guatemala, Kenya, Brazil and Colombia. To take this one step further, they do not just visit and spend a few nights- taking photos of a grower’s coffee trees, they maintain regular contact with those growing the coffee. This approach must be seen as the future for coffee in competitive, quality driven markets. It is true relationship coffee where the roaster becomes by default part of the farmers extended family.

Passing knowledge on to those who buy a coffee everyday, and arming them with information on what type of coffee they drink, how it is grown, who grows it, when it is picked, how it gets to them gives all power to the customer. It is a very important, yet lagging piece of the future of coffee globally. Being able to learn the differences in tastes/cupping qualities has some snob quality, but more importantly it helps the buyer to differentiate between good, average and poor coffee. Here lies the problem. A successful café founded on the principles of sustainability and true coffee culture has nothing to fear from education. A café selling poor quality coffee is unlikely, or perhaps unable, to want to educate clients about quality.

A failure to address quality, education and sustainability in the business sector (from the farmer to the retail customer) will ultimately result in consumption patterns falling further. Quality issues- especially over the counter and in the cup, need to be addressed. If not unfortunately those to suffer will be the grower or origin country, rather than the retailer. With current economics a grower in Indonesia receives only around 2-5% of the cost of the average cup sold in America or Europe. If demand drops off, the Arabica business ultimately will fall back into a cycle of commodity pricing rather than specialty pricing that many quality origins now enjoy. Competition from other beverages, and lifestyle choices, compete with the disposable income that coffee comes from.

If Alfred Peet was still alive, undoubtedly he would just carry on doing what he did well and loved, roasting coffee and sharing his knowledge and experience with anyone willing, and wanting to learn and listen- a model to all of us in the industry today.

© Alun H.G Evans, Merdeka Coffee, 2007. The writer reserves all moral rights to this article. May only be reproduced.

How To Recognize The Best Flavored Coffee

Flavored coffee is becoming more and more popular every day, in spite of negative reactions of the classic amateurs of coffee. In this article we cover:

– What flavored coffee is

– Is it just fashion or a new market and taste habit?

– What are the key factors that influence the quality

– Tips to recognize if we are in front of a ‘best flavored coffee’ or not.

WHAT FLAVORED COFFEE IS?

In its simplest definition, flavored coffee is coffee with additional flavors added to the beans to give a specific taste, different than the classic organic taste offered by the coffee ‘alone’. Flavored coffee is made by adding flavored oils to the beans after they have been roasted and before they have been ground.

JUST FASHION OR NEW TASTE HABIT?

You may like it or not, but flavored coffee is today synonymous with gourmet coffee.
Flavoring coffee is not just a ‘new fashion’, and it is a very old habit as well. Flavored coffees have been used for centuries: Arabians began flavoring their coffees with cardamom hundreds of years ago; Africans experimented with citrus flavours; and South Americans enjoyed a hint of cinnamon in their cups.

Flavored coffee as we know it today began its development in the 60’s, with the spread of flavored tea from Europe. But it was with the specialty coffee boom of the 1990s that the overall interest in exotic flavours increased so remarkably.

Flavored coffee is a controversial topic among roasters and retailers. Real coffee connoisseur do not like it at all. But business is business, and despite a sometimes less-than-enthusiastic reception, flavored coffees are continuing to penetrate deeper into the market, as a result of exposure from large coffee shops, restaurants, and retailers of all kinds.

Today we can choose from a wide array of flavored coffees, with attractive names like ‘Amaretto’, ‘French Vanilla’, ‘Hazelnut’, ‘Chocolate Swiss’, etc.
Flavored coffee has therefore become a very trendy drink, so popular that according to some estimates one out of four Americans (25%) drinks a flavoured coffee at least twice a month!

KEY FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE QUALITY

Three main factors influence the quality of the best flavoured coffee:

– the selection of coffee beans

– the quality of flavors

– the process used.

Coffee beans: the type of beans used to make flavored coffee greatly impacts the taste of the finished product. Arabica beans are most frequently used for creating the best flavored coffee, due to their low levels of acidity and bitterness.

Flavors: the coffee roaster must choose between 100% natural flavours, artificial or ‘Nature Identical’ flavorings. Although the flavor name on packages may be the same (‘French Vanilla’), the product inside is of course very different.

The Process involves the appropriate amount of flavoring to be used, the chosen roast level, and how and when the flavours are applied. A more in depth view about how the best flavoured coffee is produced will be covered in another article, ‘How Best Flavored Coffees Are Produced’.

HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE BEST FLAVORED COFFEE

To help you make the most of coffee flavorings, here are some final tips to help you buy only the best flavored coffee beans.

Be sure you are buying from a reputable coffee roaster, to ensure your beans and flavorings are of a high quality. Firstly, verify that coffee beans are high-quality. Secondly, checks if flavor is made with 100% natural ingredients.

Some roasters may be adding flavor to low-quality beans thinking that their low-quality will be disguised by the flavoring. About 75 percent of taste is experienced through the nose, so the aroma makes for much of the flavored coffee experience, but best flavored coffee should not overdo it: the flavor should complement your coffee, rather than overwhelm it. The ideal flavor should mask some of the harsh notes of the coffee yet not interfere with its aromatic characteristics.

The degree of roasting determines the depth of flavour: the darker the roast, the heavier the flavor. If flavoring is added to beans which have too mild a roast, the coffee lacks significant flavor characteristics, and a flat-tasting beverage results. If the roast is too dark, the added flavor is covered by the taste of the beans. For example, a Vanilla flavor can be lost on a French roast, because the robustness of the bean may overwhelm the sweet creamy tones of the flavor.

Finally, flavored coffee should be stored as closely as possible to room temperature.

CONCLUSIONS

Many black coffee drinkers dislike flavored coffees, because they cannot fully taste the ‘native’ coffee flavor. While according to estimators, flavoring coffee is just making coffee even more appealing, by adding complimentary flavors.

Many coffee aficionados turn up their nose at the thought of adding flavorings to their beloved black beverage. On the other way, the taste habits of those who like flavored coffee are not much different than the ones who say ‘no, thanks’ to flavored, but then drink their coffee with milk or sugar (or both…).

As a matter of fact, whether you are a connoisseur of black or a lover of flavored, best flavored coffee is here to stay.

For two simple reasons. Consumers like it. And coffee business professionals like it as well, since they have seen the opportunity to create new profitable market niches, with higher margins than the traditional coffee.

Asparagus with Clean Water is Not Enough, Need Ice Cubes!

ASPARAGUS relatively new in Indonesia. No doubt, the European vegetable processing must be known, including the cleaning.

“Clean the asparagus is different from other types of vegetables, where the asparagus must be given ice chips,” said Wawan Setiawan Barito, Chef de Cuisine Plaza Hotel Jakarta, the Okezone in Jakarta, recently.

Use ice cubes made after asparagus washed under running water. This function gives coolness in asparagus that maturation process stops. This process is judged very reasonable because the asparagus come from mainland Europe subtropical climates.

“If there were ice cubes, then after cleaning asparagus will easily wilt, its texture when cooked too much changed,” he added.

Process indwelling asparagus in ice cube does not have to be long. Most importantly, the extent of making asparagus so comfortable.

When it cleared, then the asparagus to go through the boiling process before it will be processed into meal, well made soup and pan-fried. In perebusannya, give lemon.

“If given the other food items during boiling, the flavor will be lost and the fitting removed it will change, because asparagus has properties to absorb odors. Happens to be enough just to pull lemon asparagus bitter levels. Enough lemon juice to give a third to half the size of the asparagus pounds, “he concluded.