#33 Specialty coffee and robusta from San Tomé


Some time ago I wrote a post about how the concept of specialty is different for all of us. The word is the one, but what we see, what we mean by it – is not.

And I got into a situation yesterday that made me think about it, and see it from the different angle.

It is about blogging. Imagine that there is a guy, he posts pictures of coffee he drinks, or plate he eats, and gives it his evaluation. And my question is: who said, that he has some capability to taste?

Because yesterday I got into a hilarious situation, with a coffee instagrammer visiting Portugal, making a list of “specialty” places, going to them, being like “this espresso is not great overall, cause the machine was not flushed and the shot went too fast” (I imagined right away the guy watching behind baristas back with the score sheet and timer) – and then he goes to a place where they serve espresso from the beans from San Tomé (coffee from San Tomé!!!) , burned to charcoal – and writes how fantastic it is, and how close to perfection.

Robusta from San Tomé. Speciality coffee blogger.

My mind gets crazy.

I try to persuade myself that it is all about the taste, that he likes robusta, and there is no problem in it – I have no problem with the tastes, everybody likes what he likes. I, for example, eat marinated herring and tomato juice in the night – but, wait a second…

I don’t put a costume of a professional of the herring, just because I like it… I don’t know anything about it, I don’t know the quality parameters of evaluation, I didn’t train my palate, I don’t know, what is quality or not quality – I am just conscious that I just LIKE herring marinated with the dill.

And the guy likes dark robusta espresso – but thinks that his personal taste and some general knowledge of where to press the buttons on the espresso machine – makes him a valid taster of specialty coffee.

Why the word specialty is here at all – this is my question. What is specialty for him? Good looking coffee shops that work with the freshly roasted coffee?? What is left from the original definition of specialty coffee in that approach?

Nothing. Specialty coffee here is a new gourmet.

Because we are not talking here about the variety, processing, region, seasonality. We are not talking here about the skill of tasting, being objective. It is just a personal blog about what he drinks, just a normal guy who likes dark roasted robusta.

I know it is unavoidable, and has it’s right to exist. Instagram serving as a playground, place to express an opinion – not necessarily informed one. This is the reality.

I think it just puts more pressure on us, who dedicate to this industry professionally. It gives us a reason to be better, which mistakes to avoid at all the cost. Be objective. Distinguish common taste and your taste, quality and your preferences. Insist on the rules only when you know this is THE ONLY way – in other words, almost never. Only in the cases of discipline and practice there is no other way – to be better you have to train and practice – but the shots can run for 20 seconds, or 40 seconds, be extracted at 9 bar or 5 bar, 90 degrees or … you know what I mean.

Let’s be professional and open-minded.

Published by liza maksimova

Q Grader. Roast Master. SCAE certified.

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