A Hamburger Today

The Best Coffee Is the Third World's Wine

20070912coffeebeanz.jpgReading Peter Meehan's terrific piece on "direct trade" coffee, which simply means that high-end, insanely discerning roasters buy their beans directly from growers and their cooperatives, I concluded that coffee has become the third world's version of wine.

Grapeheads make pilgrimages to Napa and Sonoma in the U.S., to Burgundy and Bordeaux in France, and to Tuscany and Veneto in Italy. Coffee freaks head to Nicaragua or Rwanda or Honduras, where the accommodations are not likely to be as luxurious.

Duane Sorenson, owner of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon, describes a Nicaraguan coffee from the Las Golondrinas farm as having "mango, peach, cantaloupe, and jasmine flower flavors." Another obsessive coffee roaster and taster, Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, North Carolina, instructed one of his suppliers to pick the coffee berries when "half the fruit is at a burgundy red ripeness and the rest when it's bright red."

We're getting perilously close to wine geek territory here, aren't we? Can "oaky," "buttery,"and "tannic" coffees be far behind?

What does this mean for the average Joe's cup of joe? I can easily imagine the following:

Photograph from iStockphoto.com

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