A PUBLICATION OF THE SPECIALTY COFFEE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA ISSUE NO

Friendly Competition:
There is No I In Coee
Go Your Own Way:
Calculated Risks =
Smart Business
Fresh Starts:
How to Do a
Do-Over
ALL FOR ONE,
ONE FOR ALL
THE COMPETITION ISSUE
THE experience OF
Specialty Coee:
Engaging the heart,
the mind and the senses
by Peter Giuliano
4 The Specialty Coffee Chronicle
I’m not alone in this. There is a whole generation of people who
live to eat, and who are immersing themselves in food culture
every day. For these people, good food provides a thread that runs
through their entire lives. A meal in a restaurant or a trip to the
farmers’ market provides much more than nourishment—it can
offer entertainment, social interaction, community networking,
it can even become a political statement. Passionate eaters read
about food, they watch television programs about it. For millions of
Americans, good eating has become a lifestyle.
Which is why it’s always good to remember: coffee, too, is food.
It’s grown on a permanent farm that resembles a fruit orchard.
It’s fermented like wine or beer. It’s milled and roasted like grain.
And it’s prepared and served like food is, in grocery stores or in
restaurants, in coffee shops and coffee bars.
I think a lot about coffee when I am having other food
experiences, and there is a tremendous amount we can learn
from the way the food marketplace is evolving. Just as slow
food and artisan foodways are distinguishing themselves from
commercial, industrial food, so can specialty coffee distinguish
itself from its commodified counterpart. In Specialty coffee, we do
this instinctively, almost without thinking. We know and feel the
special-ness of the coffee we bring to consumers, and we naturally
construct our businesses to differentiate ourselves. We seem to
run off an instinctive archetype of what a specialty coffee business
is: an antique roaster, some exotic-sounding coffees, comfortable
furniture in the coffeeshop. These are the things that distinguish
us, but why do we do them? What are we doing, anyway?
It’s valuable to step away from coffee just a bit, to look at how
other specialty foods distinguish themselves, and how they set
themselves up to compete with cheaper, more ubiquitous, less
special foods in the marketplace.
A common thread with special food experiences is that they are
multidimensional; they have a meaning that surpasses nourishment
or consumption. They have a quality that stimulates our senses
while filling our stomach or slaking our thirst, but somehow
satisfies our soul as well. I’ve come to think of a great food
experience as one that engages the senses, the heart, and the mind
all at the same time.
There is a whole generation of people
who live to eat, and who are immersing
themselves in food culture every day.
For these people, good food provides a
thread that runs through their entire
lives. A meal in a restaurant or a
trip to the farmers’ market provides
much more than nourishment—it
can oer entertainment, social
interaction, community networking, it
can even become a political statement.
Passionate eaters read about food, they
watch television programs about it.
For millions of Americans,
good eating has become a lifestyle.
L
ike many of us in the coffee
business, I am a passionate
eater. I love food, food people,
food places; I love farms and I love
farmers and I love food artisans. I,
like most of my friends and family,
collect food experiences as some of the
most significant moments of my life. I
remember the day I learned the secret
of good bread; I remember the time I ate
wild boar in Tuscany; I remember my first
taste of Japanese salt-grilled mackerel…I
could go on and on. These memories
enrich and animate me, and I spend tons
of energy seeking out new foods and new
food experiences.
The Specialty Coffee Chronicle!!5
6 The Specialty Coffee Chronicle
EXPERIENCE SPECIALTY COFFEE CONTINUED
THE SENSES
It goes without saying that flavor is the sensory experience at the
center of it all. Food is about flavor, and coffee is especially so. In
the distractions of our everyday world, we can lose track of flavor;
it’s pretty tough to experience taste while driving a car or watching
television. We’re in the middle of a kind of flavor renaissance at
the moment—beer artisans are celebrating the intense flavor of
hops rather than focusing on characteristics like “smooth” or “easy
drinking”; consumers are delving into intense, complex chocolates;
even donut artisans are daring palates with dynamic, creative
flavor combinations. There is a gleeful spirit of flavor as palate
entertainment. For example, in
Durham, NC, a small popsicle
company called Locopops has
set the city on fire with popsicles
with flavors like watermelon
habanero and guava mint.
In coffee, we have the
opportunity to impact people in
the same way, never forgetting
that drinking coffee is more than
just drinking coffee, that it is a
complete sensory experience.
Drinking coffee, or cupping it,
or even preparing it, can be an
enjoyable act in itself—smelling
the coffee as it grinds, detecting
the changes in aroma as the
coffee brews, noticing the
aftertaste that remains after the
coffee is gone—these are part of what makes coffee enjoyment such
a spectacular culinary activity. Smart coffee companies are engaging
their customers’ palates by utilizing the power of amazing coffee
flavor, by bringing the coffee drinker’s attention to the scintillating
blackcurrant acidity of a great Nyeri coffee from Kenya; or the almost
transparent cleanliness of a crisp Huehuetenango; or the fruit-forward
jammy aromatics of a dry-process Sidamo. And by using tools like
public cupping, tasting flights, or even a simple act like letting the
customer smell the coffee in the filter before brewing.
The senses don’t stop there however: we see and feel coffee as we
drink it. The style and weight of a porcelain cup, the material of a seat
at a coffee bar, the paper and art used to make a coffee package all
contribute to the complete sensory experience of coffee.
THE HEART
The ultimate reductionist argument in coffee says “It’s what in the
cup that matters.” The point is that flavor is important, which is true,
but it’s not the only thing that matters, not by a long shot. I have a
theory: that artisan products made by a craftsperson who enjoys his
work have a certain soulfulness that other products don’t have. Why
is this? Well, we humans are social creatures by nature. Most of us
love our fellow man, and crave the positive interactions we have every
day with our family, friends and members of our community. Buying
a piece of furniture from an artisan who is obviously passionate
about their work has a certain human quality that transcends the
object itself; and which somehow stays with the product for its entire
lifetime.
It’s the same thing with food and drink. I buy pizza from an artisan
pizzaiolo (that’s the equivalent of “barista” but for pizza). This guy
stands in front of his handmade stone oven all day long, positively
beaming with pride as he turns out handmade pizzas for the patrons
of his restaurant. When asked about his ingredients, his eyes sparkle
as he describes the farm where the arugula is grown, or talks about
the method by which he stretches his housemade mozzarella. You
can perceive his enthusiasm and pride long before you ever taste
It goes without saying that
flavor is the sensory experience
at the center of it all. Food
is about flavor, and coee is
especially so.
his pizza, and as your food appears on the table before you, you’ve
already fallen in love. The best way to eat is heart first.
I feel the same way when I meet a barista whose heart is obviously
in their coffee. I remember seeing a barista once who seemed to
caress the portafilter as she was making my coffee—her connection
with her coffee and her craft was so obvious, and her naked desire
to make the coffee taste great tugged at my heartstrings. This way of
engaging the heart through passion for craft is a huge part of coffee,
and the honest expression of passion in roasting, farming and coffee
preparation is one of the greatest virtues of specialty coffee.
THE MIND
We humans are curious by
nature. We love to explore the
world, and learn about it. We do
this constantly, all day, in a million
different ways. I remember as a
child reading the sides and backs
of cereal boxes, devouring not
only advertisements and cartoons,
but also ingredient lists and
nutritional data. Passionate eaters
still love information with their
food; there exist books, magazines
and even television channels
dedicated to food education and
learning.
It’s not limited to media,
however. My favorite restaurant
in the world is a little Japanese
restaurant in San Diego, where elegant home-style Japanese small
plates—many unfamiliar to me—are served to Japanese expatriates.
A trip to this restaurant is an education for me: the delightful servers
explain the tradition of Lotus Root salad (which, as it turns out, is a
popular children’s snack that is packed with fiber, buckwheat noodles
(served chilled in the summer, ideally slurped from bamboo canals
filled with icy water) and mackerel (grilled in a salt crust to season and
keep moist). These stories engage my mind while I eat, and my mind
wanders to thoughts of Japanese home life, history, and culture.
As it turns out, in coffee we have similar traditions. In fact, the
Ethiopian coffee ceremony has always included discussion and
information exchange as a crucial part of the ritual, and coffeehouses
have, since antiquity, been places of learning and discussion. We carry
on this tradition when we give our customers glimpses of the details of
coffee production and trade—the way the Bourbon coffee variety got
to El Salvador, or the impact of altitude on flavor; the reason nine bars
of pressure is important in an espresso machine or the meaning of
“microfoam”; a glimpse into the life of a coffee farmer or the success
of a cooperative. All of these stories, whether relayed over the counter
by a barista or read on a specialty coffee bag label, engage the mind
of the consumer, completing the experience of coffee consumption.
Great coffee artisans and companies instinctively understand
this idea, that engaging the heart and mind along with the palate
is of crucial importance as we present special coffees to the world.
Sometimes, however, we lose track—getting lost in the details of
coffee preparation, debating coffee process, collecting science or
statistics about great coffee. A great coffee company develops an
intention about flavor, spirit and knowledge, and infuses that intention
throughout their business and their craft.
Peter Giu|iano is director of coffee and co-owner of Counter
Cu|ture Coffee, a specia|ty coffee roasting company based in
Durham, NC.!He has worked with ſne coffees since 1988. He is
the president of the Specia|ty Coffee Association of America.

THE Specialty Co ee: Engaging the heart. the mind and the senses by Peter Giuliano experience OF 4 The Specialty Coffee Chronicle .

some exotic-sounding coffees. And it’s prepared and served like food is. and I spend tons of energy seeking out new foods and new food experiences. For these people. good eating has become a lifestyle. and who are immersing themselves in food culture every day. less special foods in the marketplace. There is a whole generation of people who live to eat. For millions of Americans. to look at how other specialty foods distinguish themselves. We know and feel the special-ness of the coffee we bring to consumers. and there is a tremendous amount we can learn from the way the food marketplace is evolving. it can even become a political statement. food places. social interaction. I remember my first taste of Japanese salt-grilled mackerel…I could go on and on. Passionate eaters read about food. collect food experiences as some of the most significant moments of my life. It’s milled and roasted like grain. A meal in a restaurant or a trip to the farmers’ market provides much more than nourishment—it can o er entertainment. good food provides a thread that runs through their entire lives. These memories enrich and animate me. but somehow satisfies our soul as well. Which is why it’s always good to remember: coffee. they watch television programs about it. In Specialty coffee. I remember the time I ate wild boar in Tuscany. and the mind all at the same time. in grocery stores or in restaurants. I remember the day I learned the secret of good bread. and we naturally construct our businesses to differentiate ourselves. more ubiquitous. Just as slow food and artisan foodways are distinguishing themselves from commercial. too. The Specialty Coffee Chronicle!!5 . it can even become a political statement. so can specialty coffee distinguish itself from its commodified counterpart. community networking. We seem to run off an instinctive archetype of what a specialty coffee business is: an antique roaster. and how they set themselves up to compete with cheaper. I love farms and I love farmers and I love food artisans. I love food. good eating has become a lifestyle.L ike many of us in the coffee business. Passionate eaters read about food. It’s fermented like wine or beer. social interaction. but why do we do them? What are we doing. good food provides a thread that runs through their entire lives. they watch television programs about it. I. For millions of Americans. There is a whole generation of people who live to eat. comfortable furniture in the coffeeshop. I’m not alone in this. A common thread with special food experiences is that they are multidimensional. is food. For these people. they have a meaning that surpasses nourishment or consumption. These are the things that distinguish us. anyway? It’s valuable to step away from coffee just a bit. I am a passionate eater. industrial food. It’s grown on a permanent farm that resembles a fruit orchard. community networking. almost without thinking. and who are immersing themselves in food culture every day. we do this instinctively. food people. like most of my friends and family. I’ve come to think of a great food experience as one that engages the senses. I think a lot about coffee when I am having other food experiences. A meal in a restaurant or a trip to the farmers’ market provides much more than nourishment—it can offer entertainment. They have a quality that stimulates our senses while filling our stomach or slaking our thirst. the heart. in coffee shops and coffee bars.

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I remember seeing a barista once who seemed to caress the portafilter as she was making my coffee—her connection with her coffee and her craft was so obvious. Drinking coffee. never forgetting that drinking coffee is more than just drinking coffee. Great coffee artisans and companies instinctively understand this idea. creative flavor combinations. Food is about flavor. the reason nine bars of pressure is important in an espresso machine or the meaning of “microfoam”. I remember as a child reading the sides and backs of cereal boxes. or the impact of altitude on flavor. his pizza. It’s not limited to media.%/. For example. there exist books. I buy pizza from an artisan pizzaiolo (that’s the equivalent of “barista” but for pizza). it’s pretty tough to experience taste while driving a car or watching television. all day.0%?8"$'/*=% It goes without saying that flavor is the sensory experience at the center of it all. 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We do this constantly. You can perceive his enthusiasm and pride long before you ever taste 6 The Specialty Coffee Chronicle . where elegant home-style Japanese small plates—many unfamiliar to me—are served to Japanese expatriates. All of these stories. farming and coffee preparation is one of the greatest virtues of specialty coffee. we can lose track of flavor.85*+6%9*-"."%5$"-'. and her naked desire to make the coffee taste great tugged at my heartstrings.+%. or even a simple act like letting the customer smell the coffee in the filter before brewing.00""%$.$%.2+"$%. consumers are delving into intense. NC. in Durham. debating coffee process. in coffee we have similar traditions. or even preparing it. and coffeehouses have.*-#'+7%/. history. and crave the positive interactions we have every day with our family. not by a long shot. his eyes sparkle as he describes the farm where the arugula is grown. or talks about the method by which he stretches his housemade mozzarella. This way of engaging the heart through passion for craft is a huge part of coffee. the paper and art used to make a coffee package all contribute to the complete sensory experience of coffee. we lose track—getting lost in the details of coffee preparation."%>5"/'*)#6%3. Why is this? Well. or the fruit-forward jammy aromatics of a dry-process Sidamo. collecting science or statistics about great coffee. Most of us love our fellow man. since antiquity. and learn about it. Sometimes. We carry on this tradition when we give our customers glimpses of the details of coffee production and trade—the way the Bourbon coffee variety got to El Salvador. is a popular children’s snack that is packed with fiber. can be an enjoyable act in itself—smelling the coffee as it grinds.1. and infuses that intention throughout their business and their craft. complex chocolates.%'+% :($. however. and as your food appears on the table before you. Food is about flavor. a small popsicle company called Locopops has set the city on fire with popsicles with flavors like watermelon habanero and guava mint. I have a theory: that artisan products made by a craftsperson who enjoys his work have a certain soulfulness that other products don’t have.EXPERIENCE SPECIALTY COFFEE CONTINUED THE SENSES It goes without saying that flavor is the sensory experience at the center of it all. by bringing the coffee drinker’s attention to the scintillating blackcurrant acidity of a great Nyeri coffee from Kenya. The senses don’t stop there however: we see and feel coffee as we drink it.” The point is that flavor is important. It’s the same thing with food and drink. we have the opportunity to impact people in the same way. we humans are social creatures by nature. but it’s not the only thing that matters. in a million different ways. as it turns out. The best way to eat is heart first.*84%<3=! #. positively beaming with pride as he turns out handmade pizzas for the patrons of his restaurant. Smart coffee companies are engaging their customers’ palates by utilizing the power of amazing coffee flavor. Buying a piece of furniture from an artisan who is obviously passionate about their work has a certain human quality that transcends the object itself.

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