The world of Specialty Coffee has grown enormously in the past twenty five years. Improvements in agriculture, roasting and packaging now allow an incredible variety of great origin coffees, blends and flavors to be available to the customer.
For many of us coffee is the wake up call or the conversation with dessert. In coffee houses and homes across the United States coffee is presented in many forms to satisfy the thirsty connoisseur. Pour over, Drip, press, espresso, cafe' latte, cappuccino and blended, just to name a few. Coffee like no other beverage created, is prepared and enjoyed differently throughout the world. It is Coffea Arabica that has been the spark that has changed and continues to change human kind. From its discovery and first cultivation in what today is Yemen, coffee has transformed life, culture, religion, trade and business. In many ways, coffee is the one product that has the capacity to bridge differences and bring people of differing cultures, faiths and ideas together. At Morning Glory Coffee & Tea, Inc. we are very fortunate to share our coffees with visitors from around the world. We believe that whether you are entertaining at home, traveling or in your favorite coffee shop, the only wrong way to drink coffee is to not drink it at all. The rules are, that there are no rules, except to enjoy your coffee how you like it. With this in mind we should also share in the wonder that is coffee, by celebrating and better understanding its origins.
The current coffee market is filled with a confusing mix of labels and marketing schemes that tempt us to pay an extra premium for our daily brew. Specialty, gourmet, single origin, organic, shade friendly, fair-trade, the list seems to be endless. Because the history and consumption of coffee is different among cultures, there is no simple answer to the question; What is the best coffee. There is, however, one distinct difference between commercial coffee and coffees labeled “Specialty”. Commercial coffee is of lower quality on every level. The coffees that are used in the major grocery brands are primarily purchased on the coffee futures exchange in New York City and London. The coffee traded in New York is all arabica species and is referred to as C grade; the lowest certifiable grade in the industry. Coffee traded on the London market is robusta Species. robusta is the second most used species of coffee in the world. Found in the 1890’s in Central Africa, robusta is now a large part of commercial coffee production. robusta is easier to cultivate, is more resistant to insects and disease and has twice the caffeine of arabica coffees; robusta is also cheaper to purchase. During times of high prices for arabica species coffees, robusta use is increased, as a blender to lower the cost and increase the margins of commercial coffee products. Specialty coffee is more complicated. Specialty coffee roasters typically by higher grade coffees, paying a differential on the daily C market price. The differential may vary based on origin, quality and availability.
Higher prices and trendy terms do not denote high quality. With the rapid growth of the last twenty years, some roasters have chosen to focus on gimmicks to set themselves apart. Extravagant coffee shops and equipment along with an over analyzation of taste perception and brewing methods, threatens to marginalize growth of solid medium and high grade coffees. Producers must get sustainable prices for their entire crops not just the top grade, so they can continue to invest in improved methods of cultivation and production. Roasters must not lose focus on the bigger more complex reality of what makes quality achievable and sustainable. Having our pictures taken while visiting coffee origins, new brewing trends and latte' art are important in marketing, but we must not lose sight of where true quality comes from.
The truth is in the cup~