Coffee – One of life’s essential pleasures
By the Coffee Sleuth
To some, it is an essential to be consumed within minutes of waking, to others it’s a ritual at a particular part of the day to be enjoyed and savoured. Whatever your choice, coffee is a large part of our lives with coffee consumption growing worldwide at 17% and a staggering 2.25 billion cups being consumed daily.
Asia Pacific is showing the largest growth with a growing consumer base coupled with local supply. Just 20 years ago, coffee addicts in Thailand basically had a choice of Kafae Boran or instant coffee but today there are reputedly more than 8,000 coffee shops now operating and a per-person consumption of 300 cups per year worth THB.36 billion and rising. The premium coffee segment is expected to double in size within 5 years while the mass market will grow 2-3 times.
Whilst big chains have jumped in to capitalise on this fast-growing market (with many new players poised to join them) competition is fierce, forcing smaller brands and individual shops to specialise as high-end coffee shops. ‘High-end’ does not necessarily result in boutique venues with high prices as we are seeing multi-level expansion throughout Thailand. Pattaya and especially Jomtien is particularly well provided by a range of innovative coffee shops and we will be reviewing our favourites shortly.
Harvesting coffee cherries in Chiang May
Before we start on these individual reports let’s first talk about coffee! There are many essential factors necessary to create a good cup of coffee; first the choice and origin of the coffee beans, the grinder, the water, the coffee machine, and of course the skill of the barista. All these factors come into play to produce a coffee to be savoured.
From a traditional coffee machine, there are nine, primary espresso-based drinks. These are Espresso, Ristretto, Lungo, Macchiato, Cappuccino, Café Latte, Flat White, Americano, and Cortado. Drinking coffee is now creating trends with a vast variety of supplementary additions including different kinds of milk and syrups. Thailand has its own peculiarities with a vast range of iced coffees further complementing the choice.
In coffee circles tasting and describing coffee is as advanced and often as ‘inventive’ as tasting wine. In my tastings I look for 5 key points; Sweetness (natural taste from the beans), Acidity (does the coffee present a crispness or juiciness or excessive acidity), Mouthfeel, Balance, and general flavour. In addition, I look for temperature (coffee can also be too hot) and for filter/grind remnants. Each cup of coffee should be a celebration of life and nature!
Espresso Coffee machine in action
The Coffee Sleuth will be coming to an area near you sometime soon. If you would like him to sample your coffee write to us at [email protected] and tell us where you are………….Ed