- Posted by intrepid510
- Sun, 03/25/2012 - 17:12
So for those of you that are uber geeky into coffee or just have some interest there is a running discussion on tumblr with a group of well respect coffee professionals. Currently the topic that they are going into is the impact of varietal of coffee vs terrior or country of origin.
To me it seems like they are getting to the point where they are starting to run in circles around the topic.
The whole idea of varietal and terrior is very much ingrained in wine nomenculture, and understood/accepted. While coffee is not wine, I think as far as how the interactions of the soil the coffee is grown in, the weather and the potential of the actual plant are the same. I do not think that it is a stretch to assume this as both of these are plants, and just like in animals you are what you eat. Garbage soil in garbage coffee out, you get the picture.
Through a few posts I think they have come to a logical conclusion and one that most people had from the beginning; coffee varietals have potential to taste certain ways, but the growing conditions is what shapes that potential. This is just like wine a pinot noir grown in California is much different that that grown in France, regardless of the way its processed.It also becomes more complex because something like the coffee varietal Bourbon is going to taste different within a country depending where it was grown there, so now you need to factor in elevation of growth, and really it just about the farm or farms located in very close proximity that are going to taste the same if they have the same varietal.
What they are really getting at is if as coffee roasters should they promiently display the varietal as the main descriptor for a coffee as oppose to saying the country of origin.
A problem I see is that since most of them are coffee professionals interested in selling coffee to the masses they are searching for something that ia easy to describe and teach to the customer. Unforunately I do not think that is possible, they just have to divulge more information about their coffees.
To the end in which they are trying to find something simple to sell coffees with they should really look at doing the work for customer. As a coffee professional they should be promiently displaying that if you like this coffee you should try these coffees, if they want to try and make the process simpler for buying coffee and helping consumers choose what they like.
Unforunately, I do not see this. I cannot recall a single roaster that does something akin to that, listing coffees they have or had and then giving the names of current offerings that are related to those. It seems something so simple.
intrepid510 | Tue, 03/27/2012 - 15:06
I agree with you, it's the most obvious way to do because like the posters of the blog state their are many different variables that are going to impact the taste of the coffee. So really the only way you can tell if something will taste similar since the varietals of coffee plants are being spread to numerous regions (thus getting rid of some country specific tastes) it is harder to know. BUT the varietal is not the only aspect of the plant you will taste, only one part.
Chamie | Mon, 03/26/2012 - 09:19
...because a roaster friend did exactly what you're suggesting: recommended coffees I might like based on what I already liked. My favorite baristas have always done the same. When the Java Hut was open, it wasn't unusual for me to be greeted with something like, "I was hoping you'd come in. We just got this coffee you'll love..."
I'd love to see a roaster -- or maybe a site like ROASTe -- do something like "This coffee is similar to:" with a list of coffees that have similar flavor profiles. But then, I'm the one that loves Joe Bean because they put the flavor profile on their packages, so I may just be obsessed.
intrepid510 | Sun, 03/25/2012 - 23:13
Well about my suggestion, I understand the hesitation, but then again how are you ever going to recommend anything then? I believe that it would be better for some places that have a busy barista that doesnt listen to the customer and just recommends their favorite of the moment without their consideration. At the end of the day it should just be a recommendation coming from the company as oppose to a employee that may or may not be able to give a good answer.
intrepid510 | Sun, 03/25/2012 - 23:10
Agreed, having the information in a tucked away part of the label would be one thing, but trying to talk about with the person that comes in from the street that is just asking for a recommendation might be problem. And I would hope a "if you like this try that one," would be a good approach.
intrepid510 | Sun, 03/25/2012 - 23:08
Well I am with you wanting to have the most information that I can have, and would hope to have variety of coffee along with all of the other information. Part of the problem that was address in a part of the discussion is that farmers a lot of the time do not know what they are growing, so you simply do not have that information or they do not think it is important to note. However, in the utopia they describe it as the variety being the stressed part of the information, so it would be Bourbon, with little else. Not a defining characteristic in my point of view.
jbviau | Sun, 03/25/2012 - 22:42
We must follow the same people on Twitter, because I've had a tab open to this very discussion for days now that I keep meaning to check. I agree with Nick that country of origin means something, but I'd like for the "taste of place" to move toward something more fine-grained like region within the country, at least, because I agree that varietal and terroir (not to mention processing) interact in very real ways. About the "if you like this coffee you should try these coffees" business, maybe roasters would be hesitant to put this info. out there simply because people's tastes are unpredictable and they don't want to have to deal with dissatisfaction?
Son Ton | Sun, 03/25/2012 - 21:03
I very much agree with the concept that good soil produce good coffee. However, a focus on additional factor is not going to draw more people into coffee. It is likely going to confuse people even more.