I heard myself asked dozens of times the question: “Is this espresso of Arabica or Robusta?”. I must tell you that if the question is correct, it is also true that the answer gives us an extremely indicative data. In fact knowing the quantity of Arabica and Robusta present in our blend, we certainly have an indicative parameter of what to expect in the cup; to have the exact data, even where the equipment used is professional and perfectly maintained, where the person who prepares us our espresso is professionally trained and works with passion, it would still be appropriate to know at least 6 parameters that most influence the final result in the cup, which are: 1) the country of origin of the beans 2) the height of growing 3) the harvest method 4) the processing method used after the harvest 5) If there is a real traceability of the previous points, 6) the rosting degree.
The knowledge of the country of origin provides us with an important data to understand the features of coffee, for example from a Colombian coffee coming from government plantations we will expect a very present body with an almost tactile sensation and an excellent cocoa aftertaste; from an Ethiopian Coffee of Altura, like Sidamo, we will expect a complex acidity with fruity and floral sensations, as for a SHG (Stricly High Grow) coffee coming from Honduras cultivated above twelve hundred meters with traceability of the producer, we expect an important aromatic complexity etc. A coffee grown in height will certainly be more refined than one from intensive plantations a few hundred meters above sea level; even during the harvest, a coffee, selected by the specialized operator’s hand who only chooses the ripe drupes, will certainly be of greater quality than a product harvested with automatic machines that take everything from the tree, including the cherries that are not mature yet. Obviously the processing method and processing time after harvest affect the results, for example from a sun-dried coffee, we will expect an important body but also a big possibility of defects resulting from mold that can be generated if the product is not promptly protected from atmospheric variations or is not constantly rotated; instead from a washed coffee we will expect a greater fruity sensation. Not to be neglected the art of composing the blend and the choice of the roasting curve, each of these steps it can radically change the result of our cup.
Certainly before drinking a coffee we don’t have to spend half a day trying to understand some of these things but we can’t even expect to have understood everything if we are told that we are drinking 80% Arabica; what we have to do is to train our sensory ability while tasting good espresso and then choose the producers we trust by refusing to believe the fake professionals who introduce us a coffee by saying that their coffee is a Santos from Brazil, as to underline the difference of their product compare to others….Santos is just a port where to ship the coffee that could come from everywhere in Brazil, as indeed it is difficult to define the quality of a Brazilian coffee only by providing the name of the company that produces it, as in Brazil there are companies that have production as big as the whole Bolivia.
So be aware consumers, quality has its right price, you also choose the coffee that better meets your personal taste without ever distrusting new experiences but, above all, choosing companies that work with passion and proven quality.
Have a good espresso!