“It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”
This quote from Terry Pratchett percolates in the food and beverage industry today, and in particular that of Kahveh, Qahwah, Kaffa or as we all know it our saving grace at 6am moments before dashing out the door to start Monday, head to that management meeting or to cover up the 3 bottles of Chardonnay from Sundays movie night. Ok, Coffee.
I am lucky enough to stay in an area surrounded by beautiful mountains, wine estates and a boutique micro roastery. Terbodore is situated on a small family run farm. With rustic decor, raw exposed wooded cafe bars and up-cycled hessian cushions. It’s easy to see that the focus here is that of the natural product. Focusing on treating the coffee beans with respect and a desire to become the best craft-roasters while not losing sight of why it all began. The beans.
The roastry hosts a wide variety of multi-origin raw coffee beans, you can see each patriotic bag stacked awaiting metamorphosis. In what has now become known as “the train”, the owner micro roasts, toasts and blends a variety of beans to create his artisanal coffees with various flavour components and eye catching packaging. They pay homage to fair trade coffee farms and an organic Ugandan single origin roast.
Much like wine makers, coffee roasters show their skill in creating perfectly toasted blends. Using the right amount of single origin beans to make your favourite “side walk blend” or “house couture roast”. Similar to making a good wine or the perfect roast the main component needs to be that of quality. They are loving producers with a transparent traceable history, often making use of the Fair Trade initiative allowing a full traceable history back to the farmer with a few trees in his back yard.
Ultimately, coffee lovers filter through the blends to see how roasteries can treat single origin, individual terroir stand alone beans and through the Fair Trade brand ensure farmers are treated respectfully and in the same manner a roaster would treat their green beans. Where are these precious gems, much the same hue as rubies, harvested? Single terroir berries needn’t solely come from a single specific farm often farmers of the same area and/or country will come together forming co-operatives to create a single country labelled shipment of green bean bags. Often sharing milling machinery and other production costs. Proudly stamping a hessian bag with the loyal words Cafe de Brazil, Ethiopia or Guatemala.
Where it becomes a little confusing for coffee consumers are words like single origin blend. In wine, blends or even a single cultivar of grapes, a wine maker will try and use the best grapes per block when making their estate Shiraz. This is the same with single origin blends. Often roasteries will try produce the best of let’s say Ethiophian beans and using a recipe for their desired blend can guarantee their clients a consistent tasting, and an aroma arousing Ethiopian single origin blend. It still maintains its integrity to the terroir and nuanced flavour profiles.
It’s important that we, coffee lovers or question where what we put in our mouths originates. We can no longer play ignorant, we need the power that is knowledge, questioning that cute hipster running our double espresso shots. Where are the beans from? Like your butcher or wine connoisseur at your wine market if they have no idea, or do not understand the term fair trade, you’re probably at the wrong place. Better off finding a boutique roastery with a shared passion for coffee as you are after an all nighter at work.
So why not search the alleys and small craft markets, and as with wine tasting do a single origin coffee tasting, picking up on each flavour characteristic, aroma and colour. This way when you go back to your favourite Ethiopian, Arabic blend you understand its composition. Then, call up a friend and share this article over the perfect double shot, with an alluring cream. After all, life is long enough for a slow cup and good conversation.