blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The mysterious D. and his quest for genuine quality.

Yesterday, a restaurateur with a French Tunisian accent mysteriously dressed in black came to the roastery unannounced. I wonder if any of you readers will be able to guess the identity of this mysterious D. He brought us some samples we had requested. And he had another weighty issue on his mind which had prompted his visit.

The issue was D.'s unrequited search for quality coffee. In a blind taste test last week, D. and his wife (yes, he is married) almost reluctantly chose the Blue Moon Blend from amongst four coffees we tasted. D. was chagrined when later he noticed, while perusing our price list, that Blue Moon is one of our "value priced" coffees. His dilemma now is that he likes the Blue Moon, as many of our customers do, but also understands that you get what you pay for, and he wants to buy the best. So he asked us if he could explore some of our premium coffees, try some more samples, and continue the quest.


After we got past my sarcastic suggestion of selling him the Blue Moon and charging him a premium price anyway, we began analyzing what had gone on during the taste test. Steve (Espresso Evangelist) was of the opinion that the Blue Moon had simply overpowered the rest of the coffees, and I think he's right. Next to the Blue Moon, even my beloved Timor (which is what I wanted D. to choose) tasted mild and unimpressive. So we learned an important lesson from this, which is the Blue Moon has to be tasted by itself or it will skew the results of a taste test.

I will relish the unraveling of this taste mystery. Will D. choose a subtle varietal, like the elegant Kenyan or the complex chocolatey Yemen? Or will he go with a blend, maybe even a more mild version of Blue Moon? Since D. harkens from Tunisia, it would be fitting if at least part of his blend was comprised of African coffee. No one is using a Yemen blend, and Yemen is a coffee that has quality hard-wired into its genetics. Yemen coffee tastes great because it just grows that way. It isn't subjected to fancy or standardized modern processing techniques. It's intelligently wonderful coffee. I wonder how Yemen would blend with another coffee? This sounds like an adventure waiting.


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