More and more invitations are rolling in at Tasting and Living. Tastings, events, openings etc take us pretty much all over Brussels now and being coffee fans, Julie and I couldn’t resist the temptation to meet up with a world champion coffee tasting this week. Hosted by Mmm! in Chaussée de Charleroi, we were kindly invited to meet up with Fabiana Pozzar, quality manager at Illy and above all champion of the coffee tasters.
Firstly we were invited to slurp lots of coffee to be able to understand that there are sour, bitter and sweet parts to the flavour of a coffee. Lots of slurping is obligatory in order to get as much oxygen as possible in the brew, this way the full impact of the aromas becomes clear. Then press your tongue upwards (keeping your mouth closed please) and then an equal amount of liquid is divided over the surface of the tongue so that it is possible to distinguish notes of flowers, caramel, and sweetness.
Illy produces just one blend of coffee which in actual fact is a mix from 9 different origins.
Novelty for Christmas will be the production of Arabica coffees from 1 specific origin, rather than the blended version.
So the Brazilian variety will be more full-bodied, the Ethiopian variety more sour etc
Fabiana’s favourite coffee comes from Ethiopia and Kenya, because of the sour notes and the hints of flowers and caramel.
Of course being Italian, her favourite coffee preparation is espresso, so no frappé nor latté for her!
She went on to say that the choice of water is a component that is crucial to the taste of the coffee. If the water is too soft, it will damage the foamy layer you get on your coffee. On the other hand, more salty water gets you better foam. So far she hasn’t tried the water in Brussels, but apparently in Trieste (where the Illy headquarters are) it’s remarkably good, so here’s another reason to travel to Trieste!
Finally I asked her what it takes to become a World Champion Coffee Tasting. Well apparently the big test consists of being able to distinguish the ‘odd’ coffee amongst 7 sets of 3 cups each. So for each set of 3 cups there are 2 identical coffees and 1 different one. It’s a race against time to pick out all 7 ‘odd’ coffees. She can pretty much guess which country a certain coffee is from aswell.