Coffee excellence

A long time coffee drinker, I have recently become determined to find out more about the bean.

Di Bella’s Cup of Excellence and Coffee Appreciation course recently held at their Bowen Hills Roastery was an excellent opportunity to learn more.

It was hosted by Di Bella’s head roaster Anne Cooper, who took a small group through a two hour presentation covering a variety of coffee related topics with tastings. The session was held for the Brisbane Slow Food convivium (chapter) but ring-ins were allowed. The tastings were of coffee roasted the day before.

It might sound simple, but the first thing we did was taste the same coffee brewed three different ways – plunger, stove top and espresso.

Anne’s tips for a good plunger coffee were-
· add water to hot pot too avoid sour tasting coffee
· use about a dessert spoon scoop of coffee per person
· the longer the coffee is in contact with water stronger the coffee will taste
· fresh coffee forms a crema immediately
· allow the coffee to form a crust and steep for 3-4 minutes

I discovered no longer need to feel disadvantaged that I don't have an espresso machine as I liked the plunger coffee better. However this revelation won’t stop me from my mission to visit coffee shops on a regular basis and try out their blends.

We learnt a little about tasting coffee. Aroma, strength, acidity and body were the words used to describe how the coffee tasted. It also was interesting to note where in the mouth you actually tasted the coffee. Some were more readily tasted on the tip of the tongue while others were felt on the sides of the mouth.

Another interesting fact Anne revealed is that 80 percent of Australian coffee is drunk white and many blends are designed with milk consumption in mind.

Tasting the specialty coffees involved first smelling the dry and then wet coffee and then carefully slurping it with a spoon. It’s quite a technical process when the experts do it and a good slurp to aspirate the coffee is considered an achievement rather than something for which your mother might clip you over the head. Then you spit the coffee into a cup.

Cup of Excellence involves tasting coffee made from one species of bean from one farmer. It has been designed to build a bridge between farmer, the trade industry and the consumer. The competition and internet auction rewards small, high quality growers financially for their niche. Otherwise these third world farmers are tempted to increase their holdings by clearing the forest to grow lower quality high yield beans. Judged by panel of experts, those beans that get over 90 points go into the auction and can achieve over US $200 a kilo, which goes to farmer.

The small quantities of beans are supplied around the world to exclusive coffee houses for education purposes. They are used for quality control and to understand the difference between regions or ‘terroir’.

I also learnt that it takes the berries from 60 trees to fill one sack of coffee and that you can grow coffee in Brisbane. If you’d like to know more about coffee, Anne recommended ‘Java Trekker’ by Dean Cycon as a book worth reading.

Di Bella’s Roastery is located at 80 Abbotsford Rd, Bowen Hills. It includes a coffee shop and lots of coffee paraphernalia. Next door is a drive through coffee shop where you can get your coffee on the run.

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