STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 1

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STiR tea & coffee industry international 65 SPECIAL EVENT ORGANISED BY 10/12 June 2014 Rimini, Italy SPECIAL EVENT dominate, in spite of the fact that "The intelligent" consumers are multiplying. They want something more than a sales pitch that plays on their emotions. They want precise sensory descrip- tions and an explanation of why it tastes the way it does — from you. Sight. In theory what your eyes see is what your mind be- lieves. In other words, it is not what you see that is important; it is what you think you see. That is how magicians make their living and package designers make our days brighter, and for the barista to make coffee more visually tempting… there is latte art. Fine, I'll drink to that! But when someone has noth- ing to tell it is tempting to stick to emotional phrases like "My grandfather's secret old recipe" or in a worst case to sing it in a jingle. Take note that what you write will actually be read. First make sure that your credibility is established. And finally: The touch This is a mysterious sensory word. Both used and abused. We first touch coffee in our mouth, sensing its temperature and viscosity, or body. But there is more to it. Far more, as we are now reaching the essence of a sensory experience. Take the word "Touch" it also describes a state of mind. "I was touched by the beauty of the music, the painting, her voice, or the taste of the meal. I was moved; in the meaning it changed me. Touch is also an emotional expression as it is a real description of a hu- man reaction. The sensory pulses that travel through your body eventually reach the pleasure centre in your brain. There it is decided whether you liked it or not, and the interpretations are individual based on our personal experiences and values. For coffee the most common interpretation is ignorance, or OK, or "good enough" here and now. But that is changing. There is actually chemical reaction to the coffee in your body. You get a feeling of wellbeing that spreads gradually through your entire body, starting in your neck and expanding down through your spine. You feel "touched". If you are not familiar with these emotions; try steaming sex. Sensory is not an exact physiological science… In our perception of sensory impressions we are influenced by where we are, who we are, whom we are with, where we have been and our own state of mind for the moment. I will take one extreme example from wine. The Greek wine Retsina is what most of us consider the deepest you can sink in wine quality. (Sorry Greek friends). But when you are in Greece, you sit with the one you love at the beach, the sun is going down, the waves are rolling gently in, and the sea breeze is warm, nothing tastes better than Retsina. It is so good that you decide to fill your tax-free quota on your way home with Retsina bottles only. Back in your kitchen you realize that you have made a terrible mistake. All the other elements there and then completely overshadowed what should have been your sci- entific sensory skill. It happens all the time, to all of us. That is what psychology is all about. An even stronger force is our habits. We simply prefer what we are used to. Examples in coffee are many around the globe. To change an ingrained habit may take a generation; sometimes it is quite fast sometimes more slowly. In my own country it was blends only; light roast and filter brew only. Two decades later there is gradual change in brewing habits and social drinking patterns. We will not go deeper into psychological aspects as childhood experiences alone would fill the entire magazine. But I still recall the taste of over-extracted Liberia 65 years after my first taste, and I had a solid flashback in inland Liberia only a few weeks ago, but they love it there. With lots of sugar. We are also flock animals That is a recognized fact. We behave differently as individuals than as a group. Think of a football crowd with cursing, scream- ing and shouting. Alone on the stand most of us would be quiet We also tend to follow fashion and above all strive for in- dividualism; we all tend to do the same. Fair enough, that is life and it also appears in coffee for good and bad. Coffee tends to breed new flocks. At my local coffee bar there is a new flock. I named them the Latteladies. They are in the bar at regular hours with their prams and newborn babies. (We have a handsome so- cial welfare program for that group) And they drink their same lattes as the dominant person in the herd; proving that Maslow was right. In the WBC a winner may come up with an original recipe or an original way to present. It immediately becomes fashion without sometimes understanding how close this it linked to the individual personality of the winner. A new flock is born, but the lifespan is short — it lasts until the next championship. In the meantime: Enjoy your coffee. Alf Kramer is the co-founder of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe and the association's first president.

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