Barista Magazine

APR-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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year. "Maybe the weather was really favorable," he speculates, "and a lot of the cherries ripened evenly and at the same time. We'd have to try this out again on another farm to know for sure." Experts are just beginning to understand the intricacies of the drying process. Most farmers appreciate the importance of even drying, but scientists are now exploring how long and at what tem- perature beans should be dried. Flavio Borem, an associate profes- sor at the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil, has conducted a number of experiments that manipulate the temperature at which coffee is dried, and has found that generally, lower temperatures are better for the bean's internal structure. Flavio's research is particularly interesting because it takes into account the fact that a coffee bean is very much alive even after it has been picked. This ties the expression of variety and processing closer together, as the coffee bean's genetic structure is still being built and solidified during processing. However, there's no sure way to determine which processing methods allow for the clearest or best expression of genetic information, and Flavio notes that the amount of information on this topic is extremely limited. Still, the link is there, and that's a big first step in understanding and developing appropriate processing methods, like the shade drying of El Jordan. "The quality is formed in the coffee," says Flavio, "but is defined in the process." There's still loads of work on the topic of terroir ahead, but the progress coffee growers, scientists, and buyers have made over the past few years has greatly enhanced our understanding of the effects of coffee quality. It has furthermore given coffee professionals a vision for the future and helped carve a direction for further research. "I'm intrigued by Bourbon," says Adam. "Wherever it grows, it's described as incredibly sweet, but why?" George and Josue are similarly drawn to the potential that Guatemala has for elucidating the effects of terroir on coffee due to the number of microclimates; Both are working to identify farms in promising climates that could open up a new understanding of flavor and how it is developed. Clearly, though, there are limitations. As Adam noted, it takes at least a year to see a difference in cup quality if a farmer changes a variable, and just one year-by-year comparison is not enough to establish a definite correlation. Furthermore, as George said, many farmers aren't tasting their best coffees, and don't necessarily know how their growing and processing practices affect their prod- uct. Nor is there a guaranteed financial incentive for many farmers, who would have to invest time, money, and farm space to yield a product that might not garner them much, if any, monetary gain. However, coffee buyers are beginning to understand the poten- tial in creating long-term relationships with farmers not only for future buying security, but for the opportunity to work on involved terroir research projects. Over time, they are seeing coffees evolve and change for the better. "By committing to work with a specific farm or region, you are providing the necessary economic incentive for development which ultimately ends in better farming practices and the constant pursuit of excellence that will distinguish what you are roasting and serving," says Adam. Building and maintain- ing relationships will not only help expand our understanding of flavor, but will support stronger farms and improve overall coffee quality and knowledge across the board. Updated daily with the most relevant and blog interesting coffee news and event coverage www.baristamagazine.com/blog 90 barista magazine B o o k 5 5 - 1 0 8 . i n d d 9 0 Book 55-108.indd 90 3 / 2 5 / 1 4 7 : 4 0 A M 3/25/14 7:40 AM

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