Excellent reason to indulge in a cuppa
WHAT champagne is to sparkling wine,
a Cup of Excellence is to your standard morning coffee.
Bringing new meaning to the term international roast,
the Cup of Excellence range is recognised
by the coffee industry worldwide as the cream of the crop.
Cup of Excellence beans are considered the peak
of coffee production, offering the best quality brews
from nine of the world's top coffee-producing nations.
British coffee expert Stephen Hurst, who is visiting Australia
this week, is on the board of directors
of the annual Cup of Excellence competitions,
in which producers vie to be ranked
their country's top coffee producer.
"We're at the sharp end of the industry, the top 2
to 3 per cent of coffee production," he said.
"This is the very top level of tasting."
Since the non-profit Cup of Excellence organisation
was launched in Brazil in 1999,
with three member countries,
the value of its coffee beans sold at auction
has risen from $US4.63 per pound
to $US7.05 per pound between 2005-2008.
The competition is now run every year
in nine coffee-producing countries,
from Colombia to El Salvador and Rwanda,
and Cup of Excellence coffee is sold
at cafes and foodstores
from Britain to America to Norway and Japan.
The cafe latte sets in Sydney and Melbourne
can now enjoy Cup of Excellence coffees
in a few specialist cafes in Sydney and Melbourne.
Russell Beard, owner of The Source cafe
and roastery in Mosman on Sydney's northside,
will be charging his standard $3.50 for the special brew.
"The whole experience is really about
celebrating the farmer and the farm
where it was grown," he said.
At Brother Baba Budan, a cafe in Melbourne's CBD,
owner Mark Dundon is offering Guatemalan
"Finca La Perla" Cup of Excellence
for $3 a cup,
his standard coffee price.
Mr Dundon, who is travelling to Colombia next week
to be one of 15 international judges at
the 2009 Colombian Cup of Excellence competition,
said the program offered significant financial benefits
for coffee farmers.
Almost all the coffees are sourced from a single estate,
and occasionally two or three small farms
will be grouped together.
As well, the farmer's name is included
on the elaborate tasting notes
that accompany each bag of beans.
So what's the best way to enjoy the ultimate coffee?
Mr Hurst said the best way to appreciate
the individual qualities of a Cup of Excellence
is to enjoy it as filter or plunger coffee.
"That's when they really come into their own,
" he said."You might taste a Kenyan alongside
The Kenyan will be like a Barolo wine,
with big, bold, blackcurranty flavours;
the Ethiopian will be floral, jasmine, delicate,
like a refined white wine. They're totally different."
To continue the wine analogy for the moment
you can go to a cafe and drink the coffee equivalent
of a glass of Krug champagne
for the price of a Domaine Chandon.
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