The Delicious, Varied Coffee Bean

Posted: August 16, 2012

Copenhagen and the Nordic Barista Cup

I just returned from Copenhagen where I had the chance to attend the Nordic Barista Cup (“NBC”). If you had a chance to try any of the amazing coffees the competitors from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark prepared you would surely understand that coffee has become as much about the preparation as about the farmer and the agriculture. While I knew that there were two major types of coffees in the world – arabica and robusta –  I had no idea about the variation within the species. While at the NBC event I tasted the difference between coffee from different varieties of the same species of coffee plant. There was a true difference.  During an amazing talk by 2004 World Barista Champion, Tim Wendelboe, I learned that only about 200  –  400 varieties of arabica are grown commercially. That figure represents less than 10% of the genetic varieties available. What do the others 3500+ plants taste like?

During the NBC we also had a chance to taste the same coffee processed differently (shade vs. no shade while drying) and coffee beans that were hand selected off the tree because of their perfect cherry red color compared to those that were picked not quite ripe. Just like a perfect apple compares to one that isn’t ready, each of these factors makes a huge difference in taste, freshness, and what can be called deliciousness.

There is a crazy amount of diversity and choice in the agriculture happening all around us. Do yourself a favor and go try something special and different. Give some thought to where you buy coffee, where it was grown, how you store it, grind it, and the cleanliness of your machine. Each of these factors will make a difference. Most of us drink at least one cup a day. Shouldn’t it be great?! You deserve it.

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Josh

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