Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The B Word

OK, so it has been a while since I last updated, but it hasn't exactly been hard to get your fix of Luca coffee rants. My last article, on Fair Trade coffee, was published in BeanScene #3 and is on my other web page, complete with copious footnotes and the full reviews of the featured coffee. My recent article in Cafe Culture gave a very brief overview of the wonderful coffee tasting course that I did in the USA earlier this year. And there is much more in the pipeline ...

The one thing that is decidedly missing in the above is controversy and opinion. After all, what is the bloggosphere if not a virtual soapbox?

There was a tiny bit of controversy in response to my last post, where I dared to use the word "best," albeit with half a billion disclaimers, including prefacing the word with "one of" as opposed to "the". The person who posted the comment since deleted it. I kind of wish that that person hadn't because the comment raised a very good point. From what I remember, the comment was something along the lines of "don't use the word best; can't we all get along and appreciate everthing that everyone is doing without comparing and whilst singing kumbaya." Obviously I'm paraphrasing. The poster of that comment is welcome to take exception and correct me, but is welcome to stay silent, safe in the knowledge that I won't reveal his (or her) name ;P

I certainly agree that the B-word is used indiscriminately online in relation to coffee and its presence often indicates unreliable information. In the past, I have been careful not to use that word where possible. That said, all coffee, all coffee machines and all coffee roasters are most certainly not created equal. I don't think that it's controversial to recognise that some things are better than others and having spent a lot of time exploring the world of coffee I'm happy to mention some things that I like. (I'm even more happy to do so against a background of a disturbing rise in coffee roasters using buzzwords over substance, but that's a rant for another rant!)

In that spirit, let me point out that our good friends at Square Mile have to be amongst the world's best coffee roasters. (Stick that up your pipe and smoke it, anonymous commenter!)

On a more serious note, I have now had the pleasure of tasting coffee from Square Mile on multiple occasions and in each instance I have been quite amazed at the care taken to select different coffees and roast them to present vastly different sensory experiences, which mostly match up pretty closely with the description of the coffee.

Now, there are a few really top notch coffee roasters around and whilst the shelves at Square Mile groan under the weight of many trophies, that's not really enough to merit my dragging my lazy hide to the keyboard for this blog post. What merited this post is that Square Mile seems to be a happy convergence of an abundance of coffee talent and a dearth of accounting talent leading to a ridiculously cheap subscription for us Aussies. Long story short, we can get a 350g bag of coffee delivered to our door from merry old London every month for about $20/month (roasted for filter brewing). That's about $60/kg delivered. I actually wrote an email to Anette to check that this price was correct for Australia, given that postage of anything to Australia from practically anywhere is usually enough to impoverish all but the six richest kings of Europe. To be fair, though, this is also in part due to the AUD being the strongest that it has been against the GBP for a long time.

There's always a catch and this time around it is quarantine. It seems that AQIS has now decided to inspect anything and everything. Green coffee imports quite clearly require a permit, but I have never had a problem having roasted coffee shipped in until a few months ago - presumably because nothing nasty can survive the 200C+ temperatures that coffee is exposed to when it is roasted. The first time around, my order arrived a mere week after it was posted, but this time around it was delayed two. Here's hoping that we return to the situation where roasted coffee is acknowledged to be as low risk as it clearly is.

Great coffee every month and reprieve from the agony of choice. Lovely.

Anyway, with my obligation to put something on this blog fulfiled, I bid you adieu!



At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Luca,

WAS ME WHO DELETED! Geez didn't know I was gonna cop so much slack for it. I actually just posted accidentally under my dog's name (yep he has a blog) and deleted meaning to do the whole sign in properly and leave my name thing and got distracted .. it wasn't because I was having second thoughts of the wrath of Luca! I can't really remember what I wrote, something along the lines of interesting post, but the whole best can be a bit tiring in this industry. Why do we always feel the need to categorize something so objective into chronological best order. I'm always interested to hear the substance but can't help but tune out as soon as I hear the word best ... I think it's tainted for me ... booohoooo I know, I know. While I'm at it ... can we stop saying we went to origin and start acknowledging the actual countries we visit!

Jen Murray

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