This week, NPR is doing a series of reports on our second, maybe third, favorite beverage: coffee.
The first one on Monday focused on how coffee brings the world together. Link here, to a print and audio version. From the story:
Vietnamese farmers grow a species of coffee tree called robusta. (The scientific name isCoffea canephora.) It grows fast and produces a big crop, but the bean has a bitter taste. It’s often used in blends, especially in Europe. But high-end coffee producers like Counter Culture avoid it. They stick to another species — arabica.
This is one big divide in the coffee business. On one side is “commodity” coffee; on the other, small companies like Counter Culture Coffee, or even big ones like Starbucks or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which sell coffee that’s been more carefully harvested and graded. These companies market coffee almost like wine, labeling where it came from and how it tastes.
At Green Mountain’s headquarters in Waterbury, Vt., tasters suck in mouthfuls of fresh brew, pause to reflect, then give each sample a score and talk about what their supersensitive taste buds picked up. “Chocolate, melon, lime, subtle peach,” says one taster.
Specialty coffee like this accounts for only a small part — probably 10 or 15 percent — of the global coffee market.
Sometimes, these two sides of the coffee business seem to live in different worlds. But Counter Culture Coffee’s Ionescu says they sometimes come together in surprising ways.
NPR also has a little quiz up about coffee, its history and its production. We of course got all 10 questions 100% correct.
Mostly thanks to our third cup of coffee that’s powering us through the mid-day!
Posted by Steve