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WHEN DOES COF­FEE TASTE LIKE TEA?

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD- FILE -

Have you no­ticed a trend in spe­cialty cof­fee for cof­fee that tastes a lit­tle bit like tea? Some pack­ets of sin­gle- ori­gin beans boast flavour notes of citrus and berries, promis­ing a silky, tea- like mouth­feel. Beans that can pro­vide these flavours have be­come in­creas­ingly lu­cra­tive for grow­ers and bro­kers as their pop­u­lar­ity has grown, thanks to their cham­pi­oning by baris­tas and cof­fee ex­perts.

“To­day, peo­ple are look­ing at their cof­fee in a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent ways,” says Shane Kelleher, a barista and cof­fee roaster at Red Strand Cof­fee

( face­book. com/ red­strand­cof­fee) based in west Cork. He brings his Red Strand Cof­fee van to mar­kets in Kin­sale, Clon­akilty, Bantry, Sk­ib­bereen and Schull, and he sup­plies cafes and restau­rants in Cork city and county.

“Cus­tomers know that there is more to cof­fee than just the tra­di­tional French or Ital­ian roast, or light, medium, or dark roast. Peo­ple can see the po­ten­tial in dif­fer­ent flavours, and buy­ers are in­creas­ingly look­ing for cof­fee that can bring out those flavours.”

One of the world’s most ex­pen­sive cof­fees is the Geisha ( other­wise known as Ge­sha) va­ri­ety grown in Panama. This va­ri­ety has be­come prized for its dis­tinc- tive tea- like pro­file, jas­mine aroma and flo­ral notes.

When I’m buy­ing cof­fee, how do I know what to ask for if I want a brew that’s tea- like or some­thing that’s a lit­tle more fa­mil­iar? “Very gen­er­ally speak­ing, you’ll of­ten find that cof­fee with the more tra­di­tional notes of nut­ti­ness and choco­late, and a rounded syrupy body are nat­u­ral pro­cessed beans that come from lo­ca­tions with lower al­ti­tudes,” ex­plains Kelleher. “The more fruity style cof­fees tend to come from higher al­ti­tudes and go through what’s known as a washed process. I’m gen­er­al­is­ing here but it’s a good start­ing point to think about lo­ca­tion and pro­cesses.”

The washed process, ex­plains Kelle- her, is when the bean is re­moved from its cherry and is al­lowed to fer­ment in tanks of wa­ter be­fore be­ing dried. It’s com­pletely re­moved from the cherry be­fore it dries. The nat­u­ral process is when the cher­ries are left on the bean when they’re dried, so that the fer­men­ta­tion part of the process hap­pens when the bean is still in its cherry. This can im­part more sweet­ness onto the bean but it can also have a less clear flavour, says Kelleher. Nat­u­ral cof­fees tend to have a more but­tery, creamy mouth­feel, while washed cof­fees can have a cleaner, more crisp and tea- like feel.

If you’re look­ing for that crisp­ness in your cof­fee, try a washed bean from Kenya, Bu­rundi or Rwanda. Look on the pack­ag­ing for tast­ing notes of flo­ral and citrus. If you’re in the mar­ket for a more but­tery, full- bod­ied brew, go for nat­u­ral pro­cessed bean from Brazil, Colom­bia or El Sal­vador. Keep an eye out for tast­ing notes like choco­late, dried fruits and jam.

Aoife McEl­wain

PHO­TO­GRAPH: ISTOCK

■ If you’re look­ing for a tea- like crisp­ness in your cof­fee, try a washed bean from Kenya, Bu­rundi or Rwanda.

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