City Pages - Minneapolis/St. Paul
''... Now, somehow, I've managed to go to a bunch of coffee tastings, or "cuppings," as they're known in the trade, but I never managed to absorb what an amazing discovery coffee really is. For one thing, that tortuous route from wild thing to food makes you realize how much of our diet began as a quixotic experiment--I mean, I can't think of the last time I looked at something and said, 'You know, I'm going to take that little tiny thing there and dry it, and really break my back trying to husk it, and then roast it, and then grind it up, boil it, and see if it's any good then.' (For all I know, this would make the cassette tapes and paperbacks that line my shelves delicious.)
For another, remember the environmentalist refrain that we can't afford to destroy the rain forest because we don't know what treasures lurk within it: Thinking about coffee's origins, the only response can be: Jumping jahoozefats, yes! Get in there and taste it all! And finally, examining the twisty tale of coffee has an unnerving way of knitting together all of human history, from prehistoric nibbling in the mountains of Ethiopia to the double latte spilled on your mouse pad.
Ethiopian coffee is particularly close to those prehistoric origins: It grows on the same line of trees, in the same soil and much the same climate as it did tens of thousands of years ago. Most important, it is also processed the same way--the ripe fruit picked by hand, dried in the sun, and then painstakingly stripped down to the bean. In contrast, most South American coffees are processed by soaking the ripe fruits in water, which allows the outer layers to ferment off. This is a big deal in coffee circles, with some arguing that "wet processing" removes subtle flavor while others maintain that a dry process can allow the fruit to overripen and the beans to sour..." >>more