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Thursday, April 28, 2005 

Coffee , HoJo's and Class of 2003

Java journey: Starbucks HQ the place to be if you know beans about coffee

A pretty cool story about one of six Starbucks "coffee education specialists". Coffee roasting is compared to making wine. Here's a couple of paragraphs from the article.
The eye-opening flavors and aromas we associate with our morning coffee are released from these tasteless green beans after just a few minutes in a roasting drum. Cohen's tasting room contains miniroasters where visitors can watch - and listen - as a half pound of green peas turn into black, oily, flavorful beans in just eight minutes. As the beans heat up, they pop twice. The first is a loud, sharp pop, just like the sound of popping corn. The second is a fizzling, Rice Krispies-like crackle. The beans lose about a quarter of their weight but double in size as their oils heat and expand, covering the beans in a slick coating.
Then, towards the end of the piece we learn more about "cupping".
Back at the tasting room in Seattle, the effects of the roasting process are evident as Cohen demonstrates the art of "cupping." A generous portion of a dozen Starbucks coffee varieties are placed in glass coffee cups and steeped with near-boiling water. The ground beans rise to the top of the unfiltered cup of coffee. Cohen uses a special metal spoon to agitate the thick liquid and holds his nose down to the cup to judge its aroma. He then sips from the spoon, swishes it in his mouth and spits it into one of the tasting room's brass spittoons. He's looking at two major components, acidity ("nothing more than the tingle you get on your tongue like lemon, grapefruit or orange") and body ("the weight you get on your tongue"). Through the cupping method, it's easy to tell the difference between the soft, floral aromas of Ethiopia Sidamo and the spicy complexity of Guatemala Antigua - the coffee, said Cohen, "that's most respected by Starbucks partners."
Sounds good to me. It does sound like a wine tasting, doesn't it?

As the last Howard Johnson's in New York City closes, Jacques Pepin recalls his days working in one of the restaurants during its heyday.

So how are the European class of 2003 wines turning out? Michael Lonsford has a report on this class from a very dry summer.

Hands off Dim Sum! It seems that heath experts are speaking out, saying that the "steamed or fried pastry dumplings stuffed with anything from pork and beef to shrimp and egg custard" may not be so healthy for you.

"Longtime dim sum lovers are indignant."

I don't know that I have much to add to that.