Whilst I enjoyed the Nordic Roaster Forum lectures, Aaron Davis’ was the highlight for me. I regretted missing his lecture at Symposium in Boston and was so pleased to have another opportunity listen to him this year.
He is a Botanist and scientist at Kew Gardens. His discussion was about Coffee or the Coffea genus to be exact. The lecture discussed the wild species of Coffee and started out with Arabica. All speciality coffee comes from a varietal of Arabica. The DNA of Arabica was explained. Imagine that we Specialty Coffee people obsess over 1 of 124 species that exist in the world. Robusta is the other species that is consumed, and beyond these two there are 122 species out there that the world hasn’t explored.
Of the 124 species out there, Aaron’s discovered 21 of them! He mentioned that some of them wouldn’t really provide an alternative to Arabica as they were undrinkable.
- Arabusta-Fragrance of washed coffee with a possible defect yet has a sweet aroma. Inconsistent cups. One cup tastes like a salty Arabica and the other cup tastes like a Robusta
- Batian– Sweet cherry almond
- SL 28/SL34-tainted cup. Fragrance is similar to hairspray yet the aroma is sweet, and it tastes juicy with apricot notes
- Ruiro II, Kenya-Fragrance reminds me of that of a Brazilian Hair treatment (chemicals to straighten your hair), flat
- Caturra– Citrus acidity, juicy, thin body, slightly unpleasant aftertaste
- Castillo, Colombia-Fruity pebbles cereal, reminds me of the Geisha from Panamanian farmer I received this year
- Bourbon- Pointu/Laurina, Brazil– Juicy, leather
- Congusta-Ashy, rough, flat, reminds me of horchata powder, Robusta like
- Robusta, Rwanda– reminds me of one of the disgusting protein powders I’ve had
- S 274 Robusta– Chalky fragrance, definitely a Robusta
- Sln5 from India-in the fragrance I picked up the similar sweetness that you get from a pure Bourbon
Aaron mentioned that the current issues with leaf rusts have actually been prevented in other crops. Other genus such as tomatoes have eliminated susceptibility of leaf rust completely. The World Coffee Research is the only entity that is initiating sizable research and it is perhaps 30 years behind other crops.
On the topic of plagues, Aaron shared the details of how Sri Lanka (Ceylon) transitioned from a coffee to tea producing country. Leaf rust wiped out the entire coffee production in the country. It was only because the country suffered a complete devastation that farmers turned to tea.
I was so moved by his lecture that I’m thinking about making a fan club for coffee scientists.
Whose with me?