Calling all coffee connoisseurs

Winner of the Rwanda Cup of Excellence comes to Cape Town.

by: Kerry Gibbs: Food24 | 14 Aug 2009

For some a cup of coffee is not just a morning wake-up cure, it is a way of life. There is an increasing trend in South Africa to sit at a coffee shop with your fellow coffeeholics/elitists with a cup of Civet coffee or La Esperanza Columbian coffee.

Coffee that is not just from a bag behind the counter, but has been hunted down, sorted, roasted and ground till perfection. Coffee that comes with whole new dictionary of flavours such as sweet cream, honey, buttery popcorn and red apple.

Speciality coffee is quite different from the commercial coffee we buy in supermarkets. Like fine wine, a cup of specialty coffee goes through a rigorous set of evaluation rounds, called cupping. Tasters slurp many samples of coffee from a spoon while inhaling deeply in order to appreciate the full aroma and flavour of the coffee. The Coffee is then judged, according to its body, mouthfeel, sweetness, acidity, flavour and aftertaste.

And every year the best coffees from competing countries are judged according to the above categories in the Cup of Excellence. (COE)

Best coffee in the world
Only the very best coffee is submitted and is the result of farmers labouring endlessly, picking only the ripest cherries, which contain the coffee seeds, and cultivating the land and trees to perfection.

The winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five different times during the competition. Only a few outstanding coffees from each country are awarded the prestigious COE and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.

Lucky for us, one of these bidders (the only one in South Africa), Origin, is located just up the road from the building in the trendy De Waterkant area. Cath Shone (restaurant ed.) and I followed the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, up the street and harassed owner Joel Singer and barista Cuth for a sniff of their prizewinning lot.

Origin bid on and bought the Burmera MIG – Cup of Excellence Rwanda Lot #3 which represents farmers distributed in the coffee hills of Huye, in Southeast Rwanda.

The lot was bought due to the colourful descriptions provided by the judges, who noted the coffee as having a sweet cream aroma with flavours of cherry, red apple and green grape, and with a complex, yet gentle acidity.

When asked how he would describe the flavour and his opinion of the coffee, Joel, with a grin says, “there is something very red about the flavour...can red be a flavour? It is without a doubt one of the best coffees in Africa and therefore, in the world.”

Cuth, who placed 4th in 2008’s National Barista champions competition says, “It’s the best straight espresso I have tasted in a long time, a sweet, crisp coffee.”

For more pictures of The Rwanda Cup of Excellence follow Jasper Unlenbusch's Flickr stream and my blog for more on Origin.

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