SpillingTheBeans’ Maja Wallengren with coffee producers in La Selva in Mexico’s Southern Chiapas
Spilling The Beans is always thrilled to help when students from across the world and from all different levels of studies approach the author for help and insight with questions about coffee. Recently Ashtyn Bouslog, a sophomore student with a keen interest in sports and coffee currently studying at the Mount Airy Christian Academy near Baltimore, Maryland, asked SpillingTheBeans to respond to 5 questions for a school project. In his reasons for choosing coffee for his free project, Ashtyn said:
“I chose coffee because I love to drink coffee. Even though I regularly drink it, I do not know much about it. I am very interested in studying the different ways it is prepared (Drip, Espresso, French Press, etc.). For this project I will also be studying the different types of coffee grown around the world and the difference of the fields the beans are grown in.”
Spilling The Beans applaud the interest by consumers in seeking more in-depth information about the roots of coffee and the issues effecting the people at the core supply chain. We are even more excited when we have young students opening up their eyes to this incredible world, which offers such a wide variety of exciting career opportunities for those who truly care to contribute toward a better world.
See Ashtyn’s wonderful coffee questions in the Q&A session with SpillingTheBeans here:
1. What is your favorite coffee shop? Where is it located?
SpillingTheBeans: “Coffee shops change, they get renovated, they close and new ones pop up, so the term favorite coffee shop also is subject of change, but in the last year my favorite coffee shop is called Café Manduca, located less than 10 minutes walk from where I Live in Colonia Condesa, the lovely Bohemian neighborhood in Mexico City which for over 16 years has been the base for my global coffee reporting. I love Café Manduca because they have great coffees, they have a great lunch menu and delicious home-made pastry and bread, not to mention the staff is wonderful.”
2. How much coffee do you drink every day?
SpillingTheBeans: “On a normal day I have 2 or 3 mugs of filter coffee drip-brewed the traditional method and then at least the equivalent to 2 shots of espresso, in total it would make for consumption of no less than 50-60 gr of ground coffee per day.”
3. What is your favorite type of coffee? Where is it grown? (What country)
SpillingTheBeans: “I often get this question and it’s a question that’s impossible to answer with one single origin because the quality of coffee change from one harvest to the next, and some crops are better than others. But among the coffees that are always included on my Top-5 is Tanzania Kilimanjaro, multiple regions from Guatemala and Nicaragua, and pretty much all types of beans from Ethiopia. I recently tried two exceptional coffee from tiny islands, Guadeloupe in the Caribbean and St Helena in the Atlantic, and they were simply awesome, but the production is so small on such islands that it would be difficult to keep these coffees consistently on my Top-5 of favorite coffees.”
4. What is your favorite way to prepare your coffee? (Drip, Espresso, French Press, etc.)
SpillingTheBeans: “This is a no-brainer for me, because the longer I work with coffee and the more different coffees I try, the more I get convinced that traditional old-fashioned drip coffee by far is the best way to prepare good quality beans. In the last few years I also came to realize that some of the best coffee I get, I always get when visiting my Mom and Dad in my native Denmark, where drip coffee is brewed not using a drip coffee maker, but boiling water, letting it sit for a few minutes to not burn the ground coffee before poring the hot water straight over the coffee in a paper filter within a manual filter-holder. This way of brewing allows for extracting the utmost of flavor attributes in coffee and it simply produces some of the best coffee you can get. Now having said that, there are exemptions, like the traditional Illy espresso coffee which always allows for a delicious espresso experience, or the Nespresso “Dulcão” which is made 100% of Brazilian yellow bourbon, and for Ethiopian beans like Sidamo, Harar or Kaffa I really do like it in the French Press, but at the finest Turkish style ground possible which makes the final result resemble the strong, sweet and creamy coffee you get in the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony which is so flavorful and delicious.”
5. What inspired you to be a coffee enthusiast?
SpillingTheBeans: “Over 10 percent of the entire world population depends on coffee production for their full or partial daily survival and that is one of the key reasons that has made me a coffee enthusiast because I am convinced that if more people drinking coffee knew this you would have a much larger and active contribution from coffee consumers toward eradicating poverty in the developing world. But the short answer to your question is the people behind, the producers growing the coffee we drink. I was just starting to get into commodity reporting 20 years ago as a young journalist based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and I had written my first few coffee reports on coffee developments in Cambodia and Vietnam. But after my first trip to a coffee region in Laos I was so amazed by the incredible warmth and generous hospitality that I met from the coffee growers, and during all these years reporting on coffee from 42 countries across the world it’s the resilience and true survivor spirit that I had met from the people in coffee regions across the world simply goes unmatched by any other industry. And then, of course, by the end of the day I get to drink a lot of great coffee too!”
Happy coffee drinking and as always, we welcome your comments!