Coffee is about pleasure. It’s that moment when your hand is warmed by the mug, you bring it up to your nose, inhale deeply and then take a sip.You are smelling the most complex thing humans consume. When people talk about the flavors of coffee — notes of orange, or hints of clove — it’s because those organic molecules are contained in the coffee bean. If a coffee reminds you of apple pie, it’s because coffee shares some of the same components as food, like lactic and malic acid.
Inside that small bean are the same natural components that make flowers smell so lovely, the same ethers that let you know when a piece of fruit is ripe. Coffee has twice as much going on, molecularly speaking, as red wine.
When tasting coffee, try waiting for it to cool down a little — you’ll be able to taste (and smell) the most when it’s the same temperature as your body.
Flavor only matters in the context of you. What do you like? What does this scent remind you of? Are you looking for a full-bodied cowboy co ffee, or a delicate, tea-like finish? Chocolate aromas, or hints of jasmine?
Don’t worry if you can’t describe it precisely, or have a different perception than someone else. Even when you can’t put it into words, you’ll know what you like.
You experience the full flavors of the coffee bean if and only if nothing has gone wrong during…On your way there, you’ll pass through Houston’s H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport, or you’ll stand in the endless security line at New York’s JFK en route to distant parts of Ethiopia, Colombia, Indonesia and 10 other countries around the world.
You’ll also experience 8 vaccines (the malaria pills—which can cause hallucinations and nightmares—are the worst), a passport that fills up with handwritten visas, bumpy eight-hour van rides, granola bars and in at least one case, eating the heart of a bull that has been slaughtered in your honor.
The Green Team members, named for the color of coffee beans before they are roasted, don’t do it the easy way, which would be buying bulk, mid-quality beans at a trading floor in a capital city. Instead, they go right to the source of the best coffee — that farm or washing station high atop a distant Ethiopian hill. It ends when they arrive at that distant farm, washing station, factory or mill. They sit down in a home or around a campfire to talk about this year’s crop with a producer they have met many times. They get to work.

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