Andy, Ethiopia, and Traceability…Part Four…Reflections…

| January 6, 2011

Editor’s Note: Our intrepid lead trainer Andy Kent recently spent three weeks in Ethiopia representing Caffé Vita while working on a project to shed light on the process of getting beans from farms to your cup. And will return to Ethiopia to continue the project one week and his dispatches will continue…

Now that I am home for the holidays, I am immediately looking back on the time I had in Ethiopia. There is no better way to learn about coffee and truly appreciate it then by experiencing first hand where it comes from. It is an incredible thing to witness all the hands that touch the coffees we drink daily. From our roasters at Caffé Vita spending the time and energy to highlight all the nuances in a certain bean to our baristas who scrutinize over every shot of espresso to the farmers who grow coffee – throwing 60 kilo burlap bags of coffee on their shoulders while they load trucks -  to the way men and women at source hand sorting beans for quality. Each step in its journey from seed to cup is fueled by the human touch. Have you ever thought about this? I did occasionally, but never really deeply contemplated it until I met the men and women who help create our coffee.

I am sure some people (talking about germ-o-phobes here) when thinking of their coffees being handled by hundreds of beautiful fingers might get a little nervous bringing the cup to their mouths. To those people – relax -  your coffee is roasted at temperatures from 200 to 400 degrees and then brewed in water anywhere from 185 to 212 degrees. To the people like myself who are fascinated by the steps from seed to cup, here is a little insight on our industry from our side of the world: find a roaster or a cafe that takes the time to perfect their craft. A roaster that travels to source to better understand where their coffee is coming from by building relationships and buying Farm Direct. A cafe that prides itself on quality and well trained baristas to help better educate their community and highlight the final step of the coffee chain. Find that unique, simple, and cheap (or expensive) brewing device that lets the coffee you purchase really shine. Step away from the instant/ k-cup fad (if you want good coffee prepared quickly see a well trained barista and have them pull you an espresso). And finally find a coffee that fits your pallet and drink the crap out of it, but don’t ever forget about all the other amazing coffees in this world.

 
All specialty coffee at one point or another has been (again) fueled by the human touch. This, in our world of cars that park themselves, is something we should not forget or brush aside; but instead, we should highlight. So the people who are ‘truly’ doing the hard work get the recognition they deserve: their just desserts.

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