Wake up and take a whiff of this: The cof­fee en­thu­si­ast be­hind The Cu­ra­tor and EDSA BDG gives us a quick tour of the globe via the spe­cialty cof­fees we should all be sip­ping now.

Preview (Philippines) - - Chapter Seven Dish - BY DAVID ONG

I love cof­fee. Spe­cialty cof­fee, in par­tic­u­lar.

For those of you who are not fa­mil­iar, spe­cialty cof­fees are sin­gle-ori­gin cof­fees that score 80 points and above on a 100-point scale. Q-graders are in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als that grade th­ese cof­fees by way of cup­ping, a rit­ual of tast­ing cof­fee in which its at­tributes are ex­am­ined, such as fra­grance/aroma, acid­ity, body, sweet­ness, fla­vor and bal­ance.

The origins of cof­fee should be traced down to coun­try, re­gion, farm, lot and farmer. This way, you know that you truly have sin­gle-ori­gin cof­fee in your hands. When two or more sin­gle-ori­gin cof­fees are mixed to­gether, this is called a blend.

Fac­tors such as climate and soil are es­sen­tial in grow­ing cof­fee of good qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity. It is ideal for cof­fee to be grown in cooler cli­mates (usu­ally of high al­ti­tude) where there is enough sun­light and rain­fall. More­over, the soil should be rich in ni­tro­gen, min­er­als, and should have am­ple acid­ity. In­ter­est­ingly, cof­fee that is grown around grain/fruit/veg­etable crops are known to have more com­plex fla­vors.

Roast­ing the green beans is just as im­por­tant in that a good bal­ance brings out the nu­ances of the cof­fee. When roast­ing, acids in the cof­fee un­dergo sig­nif­i­cant chem­i­cal change. The Mail­lard re­ac­tion (brown­ing) and carameliza­tion upon roast­ing the cof­fee con­trib­ute to its over­all sweet­ness and fla­vor. When roasted too light, the cof­fee could be too acidic. When roasted too dark, the cof­fee could be too bit­ter. Think of it like a pop­corn ker­nel—when left in the heat too long, it burns and be­comes bit­ter. There­fore, tem­per­a­ture and tim­ing must be pre­cise.

Hav­ing said all of this, sin­gle-ori­gin cof­fees taste dif­fer­ent from one an­other. The origins above are some of my re­cent fa­vorites, roasted by #Yk­wroast­ers, Manila. If you no­tice, there are cof­fees from Africa, South Amer­ica, Cen­tral Amer­ica and Asia. While a lot of stereo­types can be made about cof­fees from th­ese re­gions and what they would taste like, the fact re­mains that ev­ery­one should try them and make their own im­pres­sions.

When you do, please be open to try­ing dif­fer­ent origins that are out­side of your pref­er­ence—they may just sur­prise you! More­over, avoid re­strict­ing your ex­pe­ri­ence by us­ing words like “acidic” and/or “strong.” In­stead, re­fer to the fla­vor wheel while tast­ing cof­fee to re­in­force some of your sen­sory cues. Most im­por­tantly, do not for­get to en­joy the process! #Yk­wroast­ers hosts free cup­ping ses­sions at EDSA Bev­er­age De­sign Stu­dio ev­ery Wed­nes­day at 10 a.m.

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