Transparency of taste at all cost?
I recently heard an interesting discussion between coffee professionals that echoed conversations I had heard before. The trend in coffee these days is transparency. In particular the idea is that if you taste the beans the ideal roast is one which allows you to tell exactly what components are in there. This is especially true for single origin espresso, where you want the drinker to know as much as possible just based on taste about what country the beans come from and preferably more and more detail from there (down to the farm or even square inch it came from?).
This is a cool idea, but to me one aspect of it did not make sense. They tasted an espresso that they agreed tasted great, but they objected to it as not as good as an espresso that did not taste as good because the roaster had instead of revealing everything about the beans had hidden aspects making it a yummy blend, but not one that was transparent at all.
To me if a roaster can do this and his or her coffee tastes better than the one that is transparent, then I think I will pick the tasty one over the mediocre tasting one that is clearly from location X grown on Farm Y and picked by Farmer Z. You may call me a heathen or a low brow coffee drinker. Come to think of it, it will be a nice change of pace to be thought of as being a coffee un-snob.
Then again I’ll never forget the time long ago when I was not quite the snob I am today and I met a huge group of friends at a restaurant – I wondered if the coffee was drinkable so I asked the table (who were all there already eating and drinking coffee) if anyone was a coffee snob and everyone said no. I said, “oh, I am I was hoping someone else was, too, to get a recommendation.” At that point half the crowd confessed they were coffee snobs and were just afraid I was going to judge them for being coffee snobs. (Sorry about the 90 degree turn at the end of the post – who said stream of conscience isn’t a worthy way to blog?).
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