Black olive, marmalade or tobacco – welcome to your next coffee, says Shannon Harley.
AS WITH WINE, terroir – the taste, or in the words of The Castle’s Dennis Denuto, “the vibe” of a place at a moment in time – is now a buzzword in the buzzed-up world of coffee.
“A lot of people drink coffee, but not a lot taste coffee,” says Cam Stephens of Sydney’s Mecca Coffee. “The single-origin movement showcases terroir in coffee, and its complex flavour profile.”
At Mecca, single origins are served neat, so the unique flavours of the farms in Bolivia, Peru, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Kenya can shine through. Don’t fancy notes of blueberry or leather boot in your cup? Skip acidic high-altitude varieties for a blend that has a chocolatey, nutty profile for mass appeal.
It takes six stages to get coffee in a ‘sippable’ state. This explains the huge focus on how and where beans are grown, with transparency a major part of sourcing trips. BeanScene magazine’s Sarah Baker says that climate change is another major factor. “By 2050, the amount of suitable land for producing arabica coffee will have halved, according to World Coffee Research.” This is at odds with the two per cent annual increase in coffee demand, meaning we’d need to double production by 2050.
What’s next? Researchers are working on climate-resistant hybrids, as well as naturally decaffeinated coffee plants. Plus, the latest technology can freeze roasted beans for up to five years without affecting quality. Coffee’s journey does not stop here. From the days of Blend 43, we are now in an era of at-home coffee aficionados, while global giants such as Lavazza are investing in research with Ferran Adrià’s el Bulli Foundation to secure the future of the bean.