Coffee, one of the world’s largest commodities, aspires to be treated like wine, as an artisanal beverage. Coffee tasters are to coffee like sommeliers are to wine. They identify the quality of coffee through cupping with its own flavor profiles – burnt sugar, molasses, and tangerine – not unlike wine profiles such as fruit forward, citrus or tannic.
Large corporation coffee, such as Folgers and Maxwell House, instant coffee too, are part of the first wave of coffee promoting convenience and mass production. Starbucks and Peets represent the second wave with a focus on the cafe lifestyle. In the current movement, the third wave, coffee lovers are interested in the character of the coffee itself, best expressed by single origin coffee, according to craftbeveragejobs.com.
“Specialty coffee uses the highest quality green beans roasted to their greatest flavor potential by true crafts people and then properly brewed to well established Specialty Coffee Association of America developed standards,” according to the SCAA website.
The smaller independent coffee roaster provides the specialty coffee beans roasted to perfection better than the large coffee corporation. Fair Trade and Direct Trade continue to play a significant role in getting American consumers to pay more attention to where their coffee comes from.
“Coffee is the pit of a fruit,” says Newport Beach Kean Coffee Roaster Ted Vautrinot. “Single origin is one farm, one lot. It is not one country, not one region. With single origin you get a higher quality of coffee. There are 11,000 Starbucks units in North America, there are not enough single origin beans for Starbucks.”
Vautrinot explains each year the crop differs with flavors changing from year to year even on the same farm. Depending on the amount of sun, rain, wind and mist the beans receive, the taste will be affected and may require a lighter or darker roast. Vautrinot roasts a green bean sample lightly, then cups it to see if it needs more roasting to bring out exactly the flavor needed from the bean.
The prestigious competition, Cup of Excellence, gives awards to farmers for the highest quality coffee grown. Farmers from different nations vie for the top prize, which leads to a higher purchase prize and many years of good coffee sales for the winning farmer. Such competitions encourage the farmer to continue to provide the highest quality bean possible, according to eater.com.