Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What is happening to coffee taste

I have a few selected places in San Jose, Costa Rica where i can go have a cup of coffee in a time of need, they are commercial venues that can serve a decent cup of coffee before i get home.

But about three months ago I had a surprise. The cappuccino i ordered from one of these places tasted really bad, my feeling that it was not done properly so i asked the girl to do it again. The second time around it was just as bad. So i took a look at the beans in the machine and alas, they were over-roasted. One thing led to another and soon i heard from the employees that their coffee was suddenly coming darker. They wanted to know why.

Sadly for them, the reason was simple. The world shortage and the skyrocketing of coffee prices had forced their supplier to alter the blend to include cheaper, lower quality beans as fillers, in a proportion greater than before. And the way to hide that was to roast even darker, hoping that the stronger flavor would disguise the bad quality in it.

For anybody in the business it was a no brainer. If the coffee is more expensive you look for a cheaper bean to maintain your profit margin. But, for the consumers, nothing like that makes sense. They come to a coffee shop to enjoy consistent quality, not something different that does not taste as good as before.

I visit this shop often and they are still getting the same lower quality product. Probably the owner does not know or does not care. And the same must be happening around the world. With market prices up almost 100%, and retail prices of coffee increasing as much as 80%, you should be prepared to drink a lower quality blend.

Bottom line is that this will be a way to see how reputable your coffee brand/coffee shop is. If the quality goes down substantially, you better look for a new source somewhere else. If the quality stayed the same with a small increase in the price you pay, you should feel proud because your shop values you tremendously. They are probably taking a hit in the profit margin, partly off-setting it with a small increase in prices, but they are sticking to quality. And in turn, you should stick with them.

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