Coffee to an Average Joe or Plain Jane is a quick-fix solution to how they start their day.
With each sip of that comforting warm brew, the morning sluggishness quickly dissolves. The mind becomes more focused.
And so this routine continues, day in and day out.
Of course, there are others who are more serious about their java. Snobs, some might say. And they’ve taken the time to expand
their knowledge as well as invest in purchases that suit their refined palate.
Either way, there are different types of coffee lovers. And there are different brewing processes.
To Bean There barista, Cuth Bland, love is a secret ingredient when tasked with producing the perfect cup of joe.
The 37-year-old is also one of two qualified Q-Graders in South Africa. She qualified in Ethiopia and, last month, got re-certified in Kenya.
What does that mean? Well, it involves a battery of close on 20 tests.
She explains: “You get tested on how sensitive you are to things like salty, sour and sweet. Obviously, you don’t want people that are too super-sensitive or people who are not sensitive at all. Thankfully, I’m sensitive enough but not too sensitive.
“What we are looking for is quality, uniformity and cleanness. So coffee shouldn’t taste like dirt, or muddy. It’s a rigorous exam. But it is to make sure we aren’t misrepresenting coffee in any way.”
Bland adds: “My biggest advice to anybody who is interested in coffee is to taste as much as they can. Never pre-judge the coffee.”
She says: “A latte has more milk in it. What you are looking for is something sweet and creamy, with a hint of coffee. With the cappuccino, you put in a little less milk.
“It should still have that creamy aspect. But now you are getting more of the chocolatey-caramel characteristic of the coffee coming
through. For those who are looking for a more well-rounded coffee taste, have an espresso. It knocks your socks off... in a delicious way.
“With speciality coffee, you are now asking where your coffee comes from, how it was processed and you look at the different characteristics of that,” she points out.
“An Ethiopian coffee has a lovely fragrance, whereas Kenyan coffee is rich, complex and you can taste blackberries.”
That being said, she reveals that coffee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is making a big noise in the international market.
She explains: “It’s a war-torn country. Getting the coffee out is tricky. And so you end up paying premiums. But it is definitely worthwhile.”
Closer to home, we are also making in-roads in this sector.
Bland notes: “We have under 10 coffee-producing farms in the country. Beaver Creek, a farm on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, have been producing coffee for a while. Their quality is getting better and better.”
Next week, Bland will be doing a coffee and chocolate pairing demonstration. She takes us through some of them.
Kenyan coffee is incredibly complex. We are pairing it with lime and basil chocolate. You get this incredible acidity from the lime and lovely fragrance from the basil, which, combined together, highlights some of the rich notes of the Kenyan coffee.
Quite an unusual coffee. It’s not as sweet or acidic as some of the other coffees. We are pairing it with a white buttercream chocolate. It’s almost like a dessert. There’s a nice sweet and chocolate nuttiness that you taste.
This is paired with chocolate made from coffee. The expectation is that this is a bit boring but it’s the most amazing experience.