Complete guide to coffee
What’s On celebrates International Coffee Day with a tour of a coffee roastery and a video explaining how Coffee Planet Q-Grader Roastmaster tastes coffee.
We all know about the ever-increasing variety on the coffee menu, with your mochas, chocas and latte dattas. But did you know that it’s right back to the bean from where the real taste sensation of coffee can be found?
There is much that affects what can be done with the taste of your coffee, even before it has reached the roasting stage. Consider the various heights in the Bolivian mountains at which the crop is grown. Or the differing temperatures from the Andes to Africa. Like potatoes or people, beans are a wildly diverse product of their environment.
And as with almost anything that is grown from the ground, there is such thing as a bad batch. That is where the Roastmaster comes in.
‘Roastmasters’ – how’s that for a job title to put on your business card? (more cool jobs in Dubai) – are responsible, in many cases, for the entire process known in the industry as, ‘From crop to cup’. To celebrate International Coffee Day on September 29, What’s On met locally-based Matt Wade at the Coffee Planet roastery in Jebel Ali.
Englishman Wade, the only coffee buff in the region to be granted industry-respected ‘Q-Grader’ – or, ‘highly-trained calibrated coffee expert’ – status, has been with Coffee Planet for more than two years. It’s his job to ensure the UAE-grown brand get only the best beans from around the world.
And that means travelling. A lot. From the mills of El Salvador to the vast processing plants of Ethiopia, award-winning Matt has visited all four corners to of the globe, honing both his skills and understanding of every part of the coffee making process, as well as his palette.
The Roastmaster’s globetrotting is part of the commitment of Coffee Planet to cutting out the middle man and putting the responsibility of the crop into the hands of those who work hard to maintain it. Fitting them that on the internationally recognised day of celebration for fair trade and opportunity in coffee, that we took a tour of their facility to find out exactly how coffee gets from raw green flavourless bean to dark satisfying cup.
Wade and his team are proud of the relationships they have built with farmers the world over, and are continuing to develop those links as the company – which only started in 2005 and has gone on to lead the way in the region – continues to expand.
So how to know who to use and what taste to expect? First and foremost, the manner in which the beans are grown must pass muster, but after that it’s all down to palette.
In October, a professional taster will visit the region armed only with one tool of his trade; his tongue, which in insured for a staggering Dhs60 million. Italian barista Gennaro Pelliccia’s tongue is said to be the most expensive tongue on earth and see him trying hundreds of raw coffee materials everyday from his barista base in London.
The tasting process is known as ‘cupping’. And it’s not pretty; certainly not the sort of behaviour one might expect at your local coffee house. Best leave it to the experts.