World Coffee Research

Coffee Questions: What is Terrior by Caleb Savage

Every so often, we get a question at the bar related to coffee or our thoughts on coffee that we feel should be discussed on a larger platform. We started a series of posts called Coffee Questions where we try to answer those questions and leave as a resource to anyone looking to learn more about the industry, brewing, or anything else! Click here to check out other posts in this series!

For our October Palate Training, we tried some Dick Taylor Chocolates from Madagascar, Belize, and Brazil and discussed the role different environmental effects have on the outcome of coffee, chocolate, and most other plant products! Factors like what variety of plant is being used, where the coffee is grown, sunlight and water received, and other decisions being made by farmers can all make a significant impact on the quality of the your morning cup of coffee. We can wrap all of those ideas into a single idea: terroir.

Terroir. /terˈwär./ Tear-wah. Yes, we’re bringing French to the blog. Pardon.

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Are Red Delicious Apples even Moderately Delicious?

I don’t think so. I’m more of a Granny Smith fan. Gala is okay, but save the Red Delicious for applesauce. I don’t want it. What’s with the apple rant? Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious are all varieties of apples. We can categorize them under that broad category of “apple” and you recognize them as they are, but no one would say that a Granny Smith apple tasted the same as a Red Delicious apple. Like apples, coffea arabica, the species of plant we use to make coffee has dozens of varieties grown around the world.

How does variety affect coffee?

Thanks to World Coffee Research, we can learn more about the different Arabica varieties, their susceptibility to various diseases, and other information farmers making decisions about profitability would be concerned with.

The variety of coffee plant grown can have a significant factor in the outcome and profitability of coffee, but it’s not the only factor.

Elevated Sweetness

In general, the higher elevation a coffee is grown, the better we will be able to achieve more sweetness & better developed flavors in the cup. Why?

Because temperatures are lower at higher elevations, coffee cherries mature more slowly which allows for more and more complex sugars to develop in the fruit. These sugars get stored in the seed that ends up becoming what we know as roasted coffee beans and when brewed, result in sweetness in your espresso or coffee!

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For coffees grown at lower elevations, farming decisions like shade and controlling access to water can mimic the benefits of higher elevation.

Care Creates Quality

At the end of the day, terroir is the set of environmental factors that affect the quality of our end cup of coffee, and more importantly, the sustainability of our industry, and the profitability of coffee producers.

For most coffee farmers and producers, developing coffees to their fullest potential is about increasing profitability and providing for their families and employees. This dedication to quality leads to higher premiums for their coffees and recognition from the coffee community. Therefore, a producer armed with the right tools, knowledge, and experience can temper potentially negative environmental concerns to cultivate excellent coffee.

We love getting to share great coffees with you every day. These coffees come from roasters, importers, producers, and farmworkers working hard to ensure that only the best is harvested, sorted, roasted, and brewed for you. If you’re curious about learning more about the coffees we serve, just ask a barista next time you’re in the shop!

Seed to Cup Part 1 Recap by Caleb Savage

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For this month’s class, we kicked off a new series of classes called Seed to Cup! In this series, we’ll explore how we get from coffea arabica to your morning pour over or Blood Orange Latte. Today we covered the ins and outs of the coffee plant, examined some common varieties of coffee, and debated the merits of Washed vs. Sun-Dried Coffee.

Coffee is a Fruit

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Coffee is a flowering fruit tree, typically grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, near the equator. The roasted bean that we grind and drink is the seed found inside the fruit of this tree. The trees take years to mature enough to produce fruit and even then only produce a couple of pounds.

This cherry-like fruit has been cultivated in areas of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America for hundreds of years, first found in Ethiopia well before the 10th Century and then carried around the world throughout the 1700s and beyond. Learn more about coffee farming here.

Coffee is Diverse

Not only have coffee trees been cultivated in places all over the world, but as they’ve been moved and cared for, they’ve also been bred to become more resilient and yield more fruit!

From Heirloom varieties like the Geisha of Panama to the French Mission Bourbon, coffee trees, cherries, and seeds, take on all sorts of different sizes, shapes, and colors.

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Thanks to great diversity of coffee varieties and the growth of specialty coffee, research is being done over at World Coffee Research to provide producers with valuable information about what varieties might work best in new environments or places which have historically only grown one or two varieties.

Coffee is a Business

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For our tasting, we compared KLLR Coffee’s Washed and Sun-Dried Ethiopia to discuss how the process of removing the fruit of the coffee cherry from the seed can drastically impact flavor of the coffee and the profitability of the producer. While washed-processed coffees can be more consistent and can be better protected against natural disasters that could ruin a crop, they also require large amounts of water that can be too costly for some co-ops or producers to use. Sun-Dried coffees are memorable and give producers are more economical way to process their coffees. However, the process is entirely dependent on unknown variables like the weather and time to be successful.

We host these classes each month as a way to share information and coffee with anyone who’s interested. Sign up at the bottom of the page here to subscribe to our newsletter, or reach out to us in the Contact Form with a question or idea for a class!

 

Palate Training Recap by Steve Willingham

We had a great time this afternoon tasting and talking about flowers and coffee at our first Palate Training! This class kicks off a series of events we’re hosting to grow the coffee community in Oklahoma City. We talked about what happens as we taste and how we can better discern levels of the various parts of taste, why we use the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel, and got to put our knowledge to use on some floral notes and some KLLR Coffee!

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Here’s a little recap below:

How We Taste

In school we were taught the five parts of taste: sweet, salty, sour, savory, & bitter. Our taste is also affected by aromatics, the smells associated with the drink or food, tactile sensations like body or mouthfeel, and trigeminal sensations like spice or cooling, acidity or astringency. All of these things play a role in determining how we taste what we consume. However, this would be a very in-depth and slightly boring sell to anyone looking to get into coffee. Hello Flavor Wheel.

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Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel

Thanks to World Coffee Research and the Specialty Coffee Association, we can discuss coffee in terms that are descriptive, quantifiable, and replicable. With over 110 different aromas, flavors, and textures, the flavor wheel makes it easy to categorize tastes by giving a concept like “rose” to a more complex description like “soft, slightly sweet, & aromatic.”

We had a ton of fun getting to compare the flowers like chamomile and jasmine and talk about the way these notes might appear in coffee. Be sure to talk to one of our baristas to learn more about palate training and how to better develop your palate!

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We are looking forward to hosting our next class on November 11th. If you’re interested, contact us here to be one of the first to know about our next class!