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Coffee and wine appreciation

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I just stumbled across an interesting article at the Roasters Guild web site (the Roasters Guild is a part of SCAA, the Specialty Coffee Association of America).

Coffee and Wine: The Industries and their Common Denominators

It's brief but offers good insight. I'm not a drinker of alcoholic beverages and therefore can't speak from the position of a wine enthusiast. I do, however, believe that the conclusions drawn seem valid. The article offers hope that coffee appreciation can continue to be developed and elevated to the point where we can break out of the commodity mentality that has pervaded the industry for so many years (and, tragically, made it difficult for most small growers to earn more than a basic subsistence income).

On a related note, the Illy company of Italy has been influential in raising the bar of quality for growers in Brazil, long one of the world's leading producers. By paying a higher price and also establishing an annual competetion with a cash prize, they've encouraged growers to focus on quality rather than quantity. It's a slow process but a technique (paying higher than commodity prices) that has already seen success in the area of food products (e.g. heirloom vegetable varieties, "antique" apples, Niman Ranch pork etc).

Here's a piece about the annual competition that Illy sponsors - its a bit of fluff to some extent as this is their own press release but it does offer worthwhile information.

Illy's Brasil Prize Competition

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It's funny. I think coffee and wine share a number of factors on which they can be judged as far as quality in the cup/glass. I also think an overlooked alcohol comparison is beer. A few weeks ago I rented the Beerhunter with renowed beer conisseur Michael Jackson and was so fascinated with all the elements that make a good beer. I knew beer had the potential to taste good, but I was so suprised at how complex it was. The hops and barley, the degrees at which the hops are brewed, the soil the hops and barley are grown in, the fermentation process.....I could go on and on. I kept thinking, "Man, this is just as complex as coffee and wine, yet people often write beer off as the beverage of the cretins".

Anyone else share this view? Sorry that this is kind of off the topic of Coffee/Wine comparison.

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The Wine Spectator article

Blending coffees is as common as blending wines.
Estate coffee has a different denotation than estate wine. It is not merely coffee produced and processed on a specific plantation, but is of the highest quality, akin to single-vineyard or reserve wines. Like wine, however, the key is controlling the entire process from plant to green bean

an article worth reading on this topic...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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