I’m a late convert to coffee. Before college, it was this brownish muck that everyone older than me drank. And then at some point I had a mocha, and from then on I was mixing Carnation Hot Cocoa mix and some ground French Press from a can to get me through my classes. It’s only relatively recently that I’ve developed a taste for espresso by itself.
Which explains why the whole stratosphere of coffee origins seems almost alien to me. Of course I know that coffee beans come from plants around the world, but I couldn’t tell you much about any of them. But it’s a fascinating subject, especially now that independent roasters are buying high-quality beans directly from the farms. In “To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail” (The New York Times), author Peter Meehan writes about companies such as Portland’s Stumptown and Chicago’s Intelligentsia and how their owners spend a good deal of time bean-hopping the globe. Meehan’s lead is particularly inviting:
DUANE SORENSON had planned to fly to Yemen, rattle up dirt roads in dusty four-by-fours and dart through the Arabian sky in prop planes as he toured the country searching for open-minded coffee growers. Mr. Sorenson, who is the owner of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Ore., intended to offer the farmers more money than anyone ever had before in return for a promise to improve their crops.