The opportunities that blogging opens up never cease to amaze me. Having had a bad coffee at a particular cafe, and blogged about it, I received an email not from the cafe owner (this has happened before), but from the coffee distributor, asking me to come in to their warehouse and try the coffee.
At first, I was a bit wary: there’s something about meeting with people face to face when you’ve only heard about them via the internet that always gives me reason to hesitate, but after a bit of email dialogue, we agreed on a date and time, and so I found myself a guest of the house of Musetti: a couple who import the coffee directly from Italy, where it’s one of the most highly regarded coffee brands.
I learned a few things in my visit. Firstly, that a coffee distributor will have a number of different coffee blends in their range: though they advertise “Musetti coffee”, or “Vittoria” or “Lavazza”, there are actually a number of different blends, of varying qualities, that they will on-sell to cafes.
I should have realised this when I saw a “black label” Schibello coffee sometime last year, but for some reason, I thought that more fanfare would be made of the different blends. Clearly, I was mistaken: for the sake of a few dollars per kilo, a range of difference is to be had from one blend to the next.
It turns out that the coffee I had a bad experience with is the cheapest blend that Musetti import: combine this with someone who is inexperienced on a coffee machine, and you end up with a less than ideal cup of coffee. By going direct to the distributor, I had Tony making the coffees on his machine: he’s a man who knows the art of making coffee, and he was pouring some fantastic shots – I left buzzing, to say the least!
They even gave me some of their Grand Cru beans to try at home, and I certainly made the most of them.
As it turns out, it’s possible to get a good cup of coffee even though you may have a bad experience from time to time. A good lesson to learn. Thanks to Tony and Evonne for making the effort.
I hope this visit hasn’t affected your caffeine diet. This one little set back may have undone all the good work that Decaf was achieving and who knows what affect this mite have on your Greek!!
Interesting anecdote. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m tempted to write off a bad coffee as being the brand’s fault.
I’m actually a month overdue in writing this one up, so the decaf dream is still alive (with the occasional weekend detour – I’ve had 3 caffeinated coffees in the last 16 days, I think).
So Dave, you talk about Musetti ‘importing’ a number of different blends – does that mean they import them already roasted?
If so, then they are all STALE, and all you did (and all they sell) is a range of stale coffee blends.
They may be blends of differing quality (originally), but they will be stale, stale, stale, and no operator, no matter how skilled, can fix that… 🙁
Wow, this blog is certainly getting you places!
Can you employ me as your assistant/re-tester? Like a Caffeine-loaded Mythbuster… ? Kath 🙂
In reply to NeilA, I think your reply is very dubious to be honest. Nobody, especially any quality importer of any brand of coffee is going to stock and sell STALE products. They’d go out of business in 5 seconds flat.
The food and beverage industry is pretty fickle, the fact that they invited Dave out to try coffee was something really, if they weren’t confident in the quality of the product they wouldnt have done that.
Mike, there might not be an area 51, but there is a “coffee conspiracy.” Coffee never really goes “stale” in the sense that it will potentially poison you if you consume it. That’s what the date on the packages usually means. Coffee does, however, lose its aromatics ridiculously quickly. Something like 30 days out of the roaster is the furthest that I have ever really had decent coffee from.
The kindest way that it can be put is this; there is a division between people that think that coffee is only acceptable if it is less than a month out of the roaster (usually less than that) and ground minutes before using and those that think that it will last significantly longer than that. Personally, I think that the public has been duped for a fair while and, as a result, have become accustomed to coffee that I would call stale. However, I think that tasting the difference between good and bad coffee requires you to get your palate used to it in exactly the same way as people can choose to enjoy wine or beer at varying levels.
If you’re ever in Melbourne, drop me a line and we’ll let this blog open up some more opportunities for you to try coffee. Until then, though, I’d suggest a very simple experiment: get your hands on a coffee grinder, buy some “fresh” coffee from the supermarket and also buy some “FRESH” coffee from a decent local roaster. Grind up the same amount of each, pour boiling water on them and stir. You will be amazed to see that the FRESH stuff bubbles up, whereas the fresh stuff pretty much does nothing.
A word of warning, though; you’re at a point where you can choose the blue pill or the red. If you choose to build your palate and try coffee that I would consider fresh, you will probably not be able to go back. So choose wisely.
I have worked at 2 coffee companies who both roasted their own beans and distributed it themselves. We would get some feedback that it was the best coffee they had ever had and others would say it was BAD. At the end of the day the person standing at the coffee machine can make or break a coffee company therefore, I believe its up to the distributor to ensure the right thing is being done.
Its like buying the same pie from two different stores and one is stale and one is so fresh.
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