Sunday, April 9, 2017

Coffee, anyone?

During my visit to the Madrid Fusión Manila 2017, I chanced upon a coffee-tasting session hosted by Chit Juan. You know, the Chit Juan! She used to be the CEO of Figaro, who now is what is known as a social entrepreneur. More importantly, for the purposes of my visit to this coffee-tasting session, she leads the Philippine Coffee Board and is one of the experts on the nuances of flavours in that cup of joe.

As I took my seat, I noticed that the participants were provided with granola bars and other healthy goodies (goodbye junk food!) that would help cleanse our palates in between coffee samples... after all, coffee is known for its strong flavours. As someone with very sensitive taste receptors (which make bitter food and drink, like coffee, taste extra bitter for me), the bits of side munchies might not be enough to cleanse my palate.

What I needed was lots and lots of water. Thankfully, a bottle of water was given to each participant. I was finally able to rest easy.

And so as the program started, we were introduced to different types of coffee. I learned that there are coffee varieties that grow best in the uplands, such as the Coffea arabica varietals (also known as the "mountain coffee"). During the session, we were presented with three samples of arabica coffee: the Catimor variety (harvested in Davao), the Typica variety (with regular beans, sourced from Benguet), and Typica peaberry beans (the shape of the coffee beans are different from regular coffee beans because of a mutation).

As a rice taster, the tasting opportunity was something that I couldn't pass without taking notes about the flavours I perceived during the session. It was fascinating to note that the peaberry tasted very differently from the Catimor (naturally because they are different varieties) and the Typica regular beans (which is strange because they're from the same variety). However, I could hardly say that the peaberry really is the best among the three because I had to consider the way the samples were prepared.

And this was the point when I just had to raise my hand to ask Chit about the effects of the preparation to the taste and texture of the coffee. After all, Catimor and Typical regular beans were cooked in a coffee maker (the regular drip coffee) while the peaberry (which, I had the impression, was precious to the coffee enthusiasts because these beans are extremely rare) was prepared using the Hario V60 coffee brewer. Apparently, using the V60 allows the ground beans to aerate and the added air causes the beans to release more flavour and aromas... leading to a more tasty and a unique coffee-drinking experience. Imagine perceiving citrusy flavours while drinking coffee!

While thinking about what I learned, I couldn't help but think that the Filipinos have journeyed a long distance... from drinking dissolved powdered coffee mixed with creamer and sugar, they have now reached a level of sophistication that has elevated coffee drinking into an art form. V60 is one; preparing cappuccinos with "latte art". 

Cool, huh? It's almost tempting to not drink the coffee and just take a whole lot of Instagram-ready photos.