Saturday, 18 January 2014

Connoisseurs savour coffee's third wave

THE so-called third wave of coffee has arrived in Japan. It’s a trend of enjoying coffee by choosing beans based on where they were grown and focusing on the various ways of brewing them. There is a sophisticated way to enjoy the taste of coffee.

The trend first became popular in the United States, with coffee consumers focusing on where the beans are grown, even down to the particular farm, and the way in which the coffee is prepared – such as by hand dripping.

The first wave of coffee came during the 1960s and 1970s, when massive amounts of coffee were consumed, and the second wave is considered the era of “Seattle coffee” when such coffee chains as Starbucks first served espresso with milk in the 1980s and 1990s.

This autumn saw an event in Tokyo where attendees could enjoy the taste of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

“Through the drip method, hot water courses through the freshly ground beans in a filter, the best way to bring out the beans’ characteristics and flavours,” said Wataru Mori, a coffee adviser at UCC Ueshima Coffee Co.

“The taste becomes mild if poured in several batches, and it’s strong when poured out all at once.”

Wine sommelier Shinya Tasaki, who was at the event, said, “Just like wine, the coffee beans’ flavour changes based on the climate and soil where they are grown. Blue Mountain has a good balance of flavour accentuated with a fresh acidic taste. Mocha possesses an ambrosial aroma and has a fruity sourness.”

At long-established Japanese cafes, it’s not a new practice to label where beans have been grown and to serve drip coffee.

“In the United States, slow dripping without using a machine is seen as a new idea. Young people in Japan also consider the method to be innovative,” Mori said, adding that there’s a trend of buying beans by first checking the farms where they were grown and learning various methods of roasting or dripping the beans.

Followers of coffee trends place high value on using the proper items. At Tokyu Hands Inc, sales of coffee-related tools such as servers and paper filters has increased over the last couple of months by about 10% from the same period in the previous year. Its Shinjuku store holds demonstrations, and people buy both coffee beans and equipment.

Meanwhile, third-wave coffee shops are opening one after another. One such shop is Standard Coffee, which opened in an office building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, in March. Customers can choose one of four world-renowned coffee production areas, such as Brazil’s Ipanema farm, and have the coffee dripped by hand. It costs ¥360 (about RM11) per cup.

All Day Coffee, which opened in April in the Grand Front Osaka commercial building in Umeda, Osaka, takes orders and grinds beans in front of the customers. Prices begin at ¥380 (about RM12) per cup. — The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Coffee culture , Japan , UCC Ueshima Coffee Co , All Day Coffee , Mocha


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