Coffees like fine wine? Well let's see how can we compare a caffinated beverage to wine. Let's consider how today's Coffees are similar or like fine wines. My wife and I have belonged to several coffee clubs over the years. Still it really wasn’t until we traveled together and through parts of Costa Rica with some dear friends before I can say I started genuinely appreciating fine coffee. Oh, I had been enjoying some good coffees, but a coffee tour while visiting this beautiful country with a good friends of ours got that call Costa Rica home me looking a bit more seriously at coffee.
I realize I am probably not the first to compare fine coffees with fine wines. Coffee that delightful brew as I knew it, is more than just the warm caffeinated beverage, to enjoy every morning. Oh, believe me, I look forward to a nice warm cup each morning. Likely you already know coffee beans, are really the seeds from the fruit of the coffee plant. Coffee plants much like wine varietals and vines themselves, are significantly affected by where they are grown and the conditions soil where they are grown. Have you heard the saying; “you are what you eat?” Well the same goes for a lot of living things. Wines and coffees certainly share similarities as to the terroir from which they came.
The Terroir –
The terroir are the characteristics, or special traits expressed in the wine, or coffee that result from the interaction of geography, geology, climate, and the plants genetics. So, sun exposure, rain, heat, altitude, soil quality, coffee plant variety: all these factors, among still others, strongly affect its taste and aroma. Sounds a lot like wine, doesn’t it? Yes, roasting technics and wine making technics used by a winemaker influence the final results of the beverage to be enjoyed.
How has Coffee become more like wine?
About fifteen to twenty years ago, precious few of these now available and intriguing variations were transferred to our cups to enjoy. Individual green coffee buyers for large coffee production companies knew the differences between beans from Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, or Kenya, but consumers the nuances of each of these beans were hardly what the average coffee drinker knew anything about. Most of us were focusing instead on roasting styles; Italian Roast or French Roast, and little thought went to country of origin as our morning ritual.
Uniqueness and Characteristics –
Uniqueness, today's marketing, and availability of coffees from around the world have completely changed how we now look at coffee. More and more today we have opportunity to savor and experience the uniqueness of coffee beans from a specific country, region, and even a given plantation. Does this sound a little familiar to you fellow wine enthusiast? Starbucks is one example of coffees with origin that has had an impact possibly on millions of people around the world. We begin to see the comparisons between select coffees from various regions and the Terroir from which they came. It becomes a little clearer that this new interest in product origins is similar to the trend underway in wines. For example; in California Cabernet Sauvignon (a well know wine grape) are not just grown in Napa are they? You might try for example trying a Paso Robles Cabernet with a Napa or another California wine growing AVA. When you do, you detect a personality in the wine all its own, and this is especially so when you try them side-by-side of one another.
Coffee has become like a fine wine in that it is now defined with a typical characteristics and flavors that are appreciated and associated with a given region or origin. Coffee beans that come from Ethiopia are known for intense, fruity, and floral traits, while Brazilian beans are more subtle. If you look to Central America the beans are known for their cocoa and notes of spice, Kenya has a more acidic characteristic and many of the beans from Indonesia are warmer and exotic in their flavors. Interestingly today you hear more about tasting notes of a given coffee and detect or read about mention of flavors ranging from strawberry, cocoa, ginger, mushroom and even citrus. All these tasting notes help us to see that fine coffee, like fine wines while not nearly the same have many similarities when it come to savoring our beverages.
Hawaiian Coffees from Kona Coffees are a great place to explore. Of course, Costa Rican Coffees have a special place in my heart but there are so many more are a great places to start you search.
In Conclusion –
Whether you are enjoying one of your favorite wines, or your cup of coffee, may your cup or glass, be good to the very last drop.