Is caffeine good for us, or for the plant?

by Luigi Odello
(president of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters)

Luigi_Odello

When a country does not feel threatened, it dismisses the army. This is precisely what the coffee plant does to caffeine, which in practice represents one of its weapons against attacking diseases. The tendency to produce caffeine is however part of a plant’s genetics, and as such is difficult to change.

However, the Brazilian researcher Mazzafera achieved just this, through genetic manipulation, to obtain a plant that produced no caffeine at all, but when reproduced, this same plant then returned to producing the traditional caffeine content. The fact remains that when the plant no longer needs to defend itself against external attack, it produces less caffeine: the Robusta coffee plant, when grown in a healthy environment, such as at high altitudes, reduces its own production of caffeine. This is the same case of the Arabica. In a virtually parallel manner, the trend of chlorogenic acids acts in the same way, constituting another essential defence mechanism for any compounds exposed to the risk of mould, as these acids neutralise their enzymes by acting on the protein part.

Thus for humans, it is important to obtain coffee from plants that had less need to defend themselves, as doctors generally agree on the maximum recommended daily intake of caffeine: 300 milligrams. This means that we can actually drink 6 or 7 espresso coffees, if the alkaloid content is around 40-50 milligrams, but we should halve this in the case of coffee with a high caffeine content. Here is another advantage that the world would have passing to Italian Espresso: an Italian moka coffee can contain twice the caffeine and a filter coffee even three times. But we were talking of Italian Espresso: 7 grams of coffee to obtain a cup of 25 millilitres in 25 seconds. Obviously, that changes if we take the case of the recent inventions of 9/10 grams.

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Coffee around the world: Guatemala Chimaltenango

We are in deep love with Italian Espresso, but from time to time it is nice to take a look at the way people choose and drink coffee in the world. We are glad to publish this short contribution by Andrea Gersi, an Italian-American coffee roaster that blends its Italian roots with the new American trends.

Guatemala Chimaltenango

A Guatemala Chimaltenango (San Jose Ocana Red Bourbon) roasted by Cuvée Coffee, Austin (Texas). Awesome notes of lavander during the cupping and black fruits. Very silky coffee with a pleasant bitterness. 19 g shot for 27 second at 92.5°C temperature.

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Seminar Espresso Italiano Experience in Denmark

Learn to distinguish real Italian Espresso from the many poor imitations sold nationally and internationally.

This is the aim of the Espresso Italiano Experience: the three-hour seminar provides participants with the essential sensory skills to distinguish and appreciate the true taste of an Italian Espresso.

The Espresso Italiano Experience is an exciting, active seminar. Through a series of intuitive exercises, participants acquire a precise appreciation of what a high level Italian Espresso really is.

After successfully completing a seminar last January, Giovanni Ferraro is organizing a second one on February 26 in Aarhus, Denmark, at Caffè Inspirazione (for information please contact: giovadk@gmail.com).

Espresso Italiano Experience

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Coffee around the world: Congo Kivu

We are in deep love with Italian Espresso, but from time to time it is nice to take a look at the way people choose and drink coffee in the world. We are glad to publish this short contribution by Andrea Gersi, an Italian-American coffee roaster that blends its Italian roots with the new American trends.

Congo Kivu

Beautiful notes of citrus, dark fruits and hibiscus awesome. 18 g shot for 25 seconds at 93°C temperature . Nice body for a single origin, very silky. The crema holds very well and the aftertaste is so pleasant: a very delicate cup . By the way, a very surprisingly cup.

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The International Institute of Coffee Tasters opens its branches in Korea and Taiwan

The International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac), which for over twenty years has dedicated its work to the tasting of Italian espresso coffee, actively collaborating in the promotion of this product with the Italian Espresso National Institute, has now strengthened its presence in Asia with the opening of two new branches in Korea and Taiwan.

Over the past two years, the educational and promotional campaigns of the Institute in these two countries has seen significant growth in the numbers of local tasters. This area now boasts an impressive number of 38 Espresso Italiano Trainers, instructors with the task of promoting the culture of Italian espresso coffee through ongoing and varied educational activities. Alongside these figures, there are the Italian instructors who regularly hold sensory analysis courses in Seoul and Taichung.

“The creation of these branches in Korea and Taiwan will provide these two countries with more organisational autonomy, and represents another step forward for our work – commented Luigi Odello, Chairman of Iiac – These two new branches can now be added to the Japanese branch in Tokyo, now active for six years, thereby reinforcing the network that in Asia alone has nearly 700 tasters, many of whom have now reached advanced training levels”.

 

2014-01-24 ICT asia

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Coffee challenges Asian markets with International Coffee Tasting Asia 2013

 

International Coffee Tasting, the coffee competition from the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac), is poised to conquer the world. International Coffee Tasting Asia 2013 will in fact be held in Tokyo this November. After four editions organized in Italy, the competition moves to one of the most definitely interesting areas for the world of coffee: Asia.

The rules and methods implemented will be the same that helped International Coffee Tasting succeed so far: completely blind tastings performed by Iiac tasters and statistic validation of data. Only the winners will be announced (those who ranked in the first 30 %), the others will still receive a sensory profile and their placement so that they will be adequately informed about their performance (in this sense, the competition is also a useful market research).

"The big difference is that the tasting commissions will be made up exclusively of Asian Iiac tasters: Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese," says the President of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters Luigi Odello, "Here is the real value of this competition: a sensorial evaluation performed by professionals who operate in arguably the most interesting export markets of the moment."

Many of the past winners have told us how being able to claim an International Coffee Tasting Gold Medal supported their export business. An award won in Asia for the Asian market could therefore have very important value.

Regulations and the application form are available at www.coffeetasters.org.

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Certification Session in October 2013: become an Espresso Italiano Trainer

Espresso Italiano Trainer - International Institute of Coffee TastersWe are glad to announce a new certification session to become an Espresso Italiano Trainer. It will take place in Brescia (Italy) from 14 to 17 October 2013, just before the international exhibition Host in Milan.

The Espresso Italiano Trainer is entitled to hold the seminars “Espresso Italiano Experience” on behalf of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters. He is an ambassador of the Italian espresso culture and passes on information and basic tasting techniques to students, in order to evaluate the coffee.

The seminar “Espresso Italiano Experience” provides a basic training for the Italian espresso tasting. The basic principles of sensory analysis and the use of the tasting card must be passed on to participants in an intuitive way, alternating theory and practice of tasting. This can only be done by a qualified trainer: the Espresso Italiano Trainer.

For more information, please download the application form or write to carlo.odello@italiantasters.com.

 

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Italian Espresso Abroad: A True Story In Taiwan

by Carlo Odello

Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters 

When I arrive in Taipei on Saturday afternoon, the city welcomes me by light rain that is getting heavier. It often rains here in Taiwan. My interpreter Raffaele always jokes about this and tells me that the rainiest city in the country is the one he comes from, which is even worse than Taipei!

When I get to the hotel I’m told that unfortunately I’m too early to check-in. I have to wait: Taipei is like a small Japan and yet they speak Chinese here – however I don’t intend to upset the orderly balance of this island. Raffaele, who apart from the Italian name is one hundred percent Taiwanese, suggests that we go and visit a good friend who has just changed his job. I think it’s a good idea. Three subway stops and twenty minutes later we get there.

The place is new and manages to combine Asian refinement with that modern touch that one can find in similar coffee bars in the United States (everyone knows that the Americans are good at exporting their formats). However, this one is not part of a big chain and it serves up the espresso of a famous Italian brand.

My friend wants me to try the coffee and give her my opinion on it. To say no in Italy would be rude, so never mind in Asia, where good manners are everything. And then again I haven’t had a real coffee in over 24 hours (why do they always serve up that dark broth on the flight?).

After a short wait we are served a cup of coffee of a known Italian brand. The first sip confirms what I had observed from looking at it: it’s under-extracted. It’s watery and bitter in the mouth and the aroma barely reaches my nose. It is well known that this coffee is delicate even when fully extracted, so under-extraction destroys it. The problem is not the quality of the product; you can drink far worse in Italy, as I tell my friend. With her beautiful Asian smile she asks me what I really think of it. And I explain the problem using all the tact that I possess. I do so in technical terms because she is a taster of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters.

She nods in agreement: it is under-extracted and she explains why. Basically, the owner of the coffee bar does not allow anyone to adjust the grinding, as he is probably terrified of the possibility of wasting coffee. In a country where the least that you can expect is rain, getting up to typhoons during the summer, grinding coffee correctly becomes very important.

I think to myself that the issue is not the owner of the bar who imposes this strict diktat. The point is the Italian brand which should probably check up more on what goes on in the bars that serve up its coffee. Business is business, but not checking what customers are doing in a turbulent market such as the Taiwanese market means that you stoop to the mediocre quality offered by the American and Japanese chains that are popping up everywhere on the island.

The good news is that meanwhile it has stopped raining and I can take up the road towards the hotel. The under-extracted coffee has given me a coup de grace: I’m totally ready to enjoy the comfort of my room now.

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Coffee and milk: Starbucks takes a step backwards

by Carlo Odello

Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters

In the September/October 2012 issue of the Global Coffee Review, Michelle Gass, Starbucks President EMEA, told about the flavour of the latte (according to the American-style recipe), judged by consumers from United Kingdom as being too…milky. Therefore, Starbucks had to work hard to create the right balance between coffee and milk.

In a recent training course with Japanese students, the Italian cappuccino, made with 25ml of espresso and 125ml of frothed milk, was thought to have a too low olfactory intensity as far as milk was concerned. This is probably due to the fact that in Japan the proportion of milk in coffee-based drinks has become more and more high, according to the American coffee style, where the longer the drink is, the better it will taste.

In short: in recent years, the world of coffee has been diluted by milk, and the Japanese case above shows how this has shaped the sensory trends. However, the fact that Starbucks has decided to take a step backwards gives us cause to hope for a greater balance between coffee and milk.

And, why not, you could even consider moving on from Latte Art, which has now probably reached peaks of graphomaniac autoeroticism, to a more balanced, and complex, Coffee Art.

 

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International Coffee Tasting 2012: The Winners

For two days judges from various countries tasted and assessed coffee from all over the world

Brescia, 7 november – The fourth edition of the International Coffee Tasting held in Brescia on the 29th and 31st October has closed. Coffees from all around the world have been challenging each other. 26 judges from 11 countries were given the task of assessing as many as 113 coffees from 13 countries: the winning products of the competition were chosen from a truly international selection (Editor’s note: the list is below).

"The winning coffees possess an exceptionally wide range of aromas – commented Luigi Odello, president of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and Professor of Sensory Analysis at various Italian and foreign universities – accompanied by a bold but round and smooth body".

Among the competing products there were also coffee pods and capsules, a phenomenon which has increasingly grown in recent years. It is very interesting to observe how these coffees come very close to perform as espresso, but are still not able to reach its silkiness, rich body and powerful aroma.

"It is equally interesting to see how non Italian espresso roasters are progressing – concluded Odello – Many of them are definitely trying to align themselves with the Italian style ".

The competition sponsors were Wega Macchine per Caffè, Luigi Bormioli and Compak. The competition also enjoyed the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and of the International Academy of Sensory Analysis.

The winners of International Coffee Tasting 2012 (ex aequo, in alphabetic order with the name of the winning product in brackets)

Espresso – Italian blends

  •  Costadoro, Turin (Coffee Lab)
  • Esperia Distribuzione, Monza Brianza (Caffè Milano)
  • G.I.Fi.Ze, Bologna (Club Kavè)
  • Holly di Ulivieri Raffaele, Perugia (Bar 100% Arabica)
  • Italcaffè, La Spezia (Excelso Bar)
  • La Genovese, Savona (Caffè Anniversario Metal Box)
  • La Genovese, Savona (Caffè Qualità Royal)
  • Milani, Como (Milani Gran Espresso)
  • Mokaor, Vercelli (Intenso)
  • Omkafè, Trento (Superbar blend)
  • Taurocaf di Alberto & Anzola, Turin (Caffè Alberto Pappagallo Rosso Blend)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia (100% Arabica CE)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia (100% Arabica N)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Roen, Verona (Espresso Bendinelli – 100% Arabica Gourmet)
  • Torrefazione dei F.lli Morandini, Brescia (Maxima Blend 100% Arabica)
  • Torrefazione El Miguel, Varese (La Cafferia – Portofino)
  • Torrefazione Olimpica, Rieti (Faraglia Espresso Barrique)
  • Torrefazione S. Salvador, Sondrio (Super Bar)

Espresso – Non Italian blends or single origins

  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Dromedario Colombia Nariño Supremo "El Tambo")
  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Pozo Artesania)
  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Tostadora Natural Hosteleria)
  • Caffè Principe, Germany (Ottanta)
  • Droga Kolinska, Slovenia (Barcaffè Bar)
  • Gourmet Coffee Roasters, South Africa (Häzz)
  • Milano Coffee, Canada (Espresso # 1)
  • P & F Coffee, Thailand (P & F Espresso Blend)
  • P & F Coffee, Thailand (P & F Splendid Blend)
  • Peaberry, Thailand (House Blend Coffee Roasted)
  • Peaberry, Thailand (Roadster Blend Coffee Roasted)

Coffee pods and capsules

  • Caffè Agust, Brescia (Natura Equa Biofairtrade capsule)
  • Mocoffee, Switzerland (Bel Canto – Strato Coffee Machine)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Roen, Verona (Monodose Capsule)

Coffee for non-professional automatic coffee machines

  • Milani, Como (Milani Guatemala Antigua El Pulcal)

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