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March 29, 2011

Anyone for a cuppa? What do you fancy – strong and bitter, a little bit of flowery tang or are you more after a fruity flavour… Get down to the “Caféotheque” in Paris  and your tastebuds will be in a for a treat!

T. & I participated in an international coffee tasting evening recently where we were sniffing and slurping some very aromatic beans, pure, no blends by the way.

We learned that really good coffee is not blended into conformist tastes, but should be rather experienced as single varietal. The flavours vary widely “depending on the biodiversity of the flora surrounding the coffee plantations” as green coffee literally soaks up the flavours of whatever it comes into close contact with. Once roasted it doesn’t soak up anymore, but locks in what it has already gained, changes direction and gives off amazing aromas instead.

A very engaging personality, Gloria Montenegro is originally from Guatemala, but has long loved France, first studying architecture here and between 1996-2000 even serving as the Guatemalan Ambassador.  She now has turned her focus on her native love for all things coffee, creating the science of coffee-ology, and developing around her a network of “noses” who in their other lives are professional wine-tasters.

Convinced that France does not have a great coffee drinking tradition like Italy, she set about changing that and now employs professional baristas who are properly trained, prepare the perfect cuppa and can enrich your whole coffee supping experience.

Gloria taught us so much….like how to make a good selection of “gold” coffee: first check for no defects in the beans, ensure they are from a designated, named area (an ‘appelation’, like in wine), and preferably see that the beans have been dried naturally, all ensuring the highest quality.

We learned that beans that are roasted too much and are black rather than brown are effectively burned and not recommended.

We first smelled the whole beans, then the ground beans and finally the coffee infused drink itself, before a drop passed our lips. The flavours change at each step, but it is indeed possible to discern aromas like fruit or flowers – and a bit of guided help made it all much clearer to our novice noses.

So Arabica or Robusta?

Well they can both be good, but are different was the reply. There is more caffeine in robusta (xx% versus ZZ%). Arabica is also more difficult to grow and is considered subtler in flavour.

It’s a shame I cannot link to an aroma-video at this point to share the incredible smells and flavours with you as that really is the most enjoyable bit. However what I can do is provide the address so you can try it out for yourself under the expert eye of the baristas: sip, swirl & enjoy!!

Caféothèque of Paris
Open 7 days a week
9 h 30 to 19 h 30
52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 75004 Paris
—  Line 1 Saint-Paul or Hôtel-de-Ville
—  Line 7 Pont-Marie
—  Hôtel-de-Ville

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