So for those of you that are uber geeky into coffee or just have some interest there is a running discussion on tumblr with a group of well respect coffee professionals. Currently the topic that they are going into is the impact of varietal of coffee vs terrior or country of origin.
To me it seems like they are getting to the point where they are starting to run in circles around the topic.
The whole idea of varietal and terrior is very much ingrained in wine nomenculture, and understood/accepted. While coffee is not wine, I think as far as how the interactions of the soil the coffee is grown in, the weather and the potential of the actual plant are the same. I do not think that it is a stretch to assume this as both of these are plants, and just like in animals you are what you eat. Garbage soil in garbage coffee out, you get the picture.
Through a few posts I think they have come to a logical conclusion and one that most people had from the beginning; coffee varietals have potential to taste certain ways, but the growing conditions is what shapes that potential. This is just like wine a pinot noir grown in California is much different that that grown in France, regardless of the way its processed.It also becomes more complex because something like the coffee varietal Bourbon is going to taste different within a country depending where it was grown there, so now you need to factor in elevation of growth, and really it just about the farm or farms located in very close proximity that are going to taste the same if they have the same varietal.
What they are really getting at is if as coffee roasters should they promiently display the varietal as the main descriptor for a coffee as oppose to saying the country of origin.
A problem I see is that since most of them are coffee professionals interested in selling coffee to the masses they are searching for something that ia easy to describe and teach to the customer. Unforunately I do not think that is possible, they just have to divulge more information about their coffees.
To the end in which they are trying to find something simple to sell coffees with they should really look at doing the work for customer. As a coffee professional they should be promiently displaying that if you like this coffee you should try these coffees, if they want to try and make the process simpler for buying coffee and helping consumers choose what they like.
Unforunately, I do not see this. I cannot recall a single roaster that does something akin to that, listing coffees they have or had and then giving the names of current offerings that are related to those. It seems something so simple.