High-tech in German kitchens
Germany has been drinking coffee for more than 300 years – at an annual average of 150 litres per person. The past decade hasn’t just been the decade of “Coffee to go”. Germans are increasingly focussed on beans and indulgence.
After getting out of bed in the morning, more and more Germans head for the kitchen first to switch on the espresso machine. 15 minutes later, these machines have reached their operating temperature and the daily espresso ceremony begins. These machines of gleaming chrome, and often worth several hundred Euros, turn each kitchen into a studio for coffee-artists. Or not, as the case may be. There are many variables that influence your two spoonfuls of coffee: the kind of coffee, the grinding degree, the pressure in the filter holder, the pump pressure and the quality of the water.
Coffee is becoming fair
Even those among Germany’s coffee drinkers who choose not to spend quite so much money on a machine and who stick with their French press, stove-top pot or percolator are paying attention to the quality of the coffee beans. “Increasingly, consumers want to know where their product is from and who is behind it”, says Jörg Volkmann, the initiator of Coffee Hunting. This is a small network of coffee roasters and trading companies who aim to buy high-quality coffee directly from producers. “We know the producers personally, we visit them at regular intervals, we negotiate fair prices and we support social and ecological activities.” Mr Volkmann sees a clear trend towards “high-quality, ecologically and ethically sound coffee. The conditions in coffee’s countries of origin has become a much bigger issue.”
The German Coffee Association reported a significant increase in the supply of organically grown coffee for 2009 (the numbers for 2010 will be published in June 2011). The annual report says: “Honduras has been continually increasing its exports and has now replaced Mexico as the largest export country for organically grown coffee.” Colombia has the third largest export rates. Worldwide, Brazil exports by far the largest amounts of green coffee, followed at some distance by Vietnam.
The secret lies in the roasting
Each growing region has its own characteristics. There are more than 1,000 aromas in each single bean. Their development depends on the temperature and duration of the roasting process. Large producers roast their beans for two minutes at more than 400 degrees. Smaller roasters can take up to half an hour at around 200 degrees. Nowadays, there are 300 roasting houses in Germany. Carolin Maras and her sister Annika Poloczek from the “Black Pirate Coffee Crew” help to keep track of the bean-mixtures. They sample the coffee, present specialties on their webpage and sell them too. “We sell twice times as much espresso than coffee and three times more beans than ground coffee”, says Carolin Maras. And by the way, filter coffee is losing its negative image. “It is just as diverse as wine and tea – there’s a veritable culture of filter coffee.”