Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Winding, wild path to best beans

COFFEE lover Jamie Hodson has been living up to his business card.
“Poisonous snakes, narrow mountain passes, crazy bus drivers; the lengths I go to produce a good cup of coffee,” it reads.
The New Zealand man has been doing all that in Peru, in search of the best beans for Inca-Fe, the coffee roasting company he and wife Karen, together with Joop Verbeek and his Peruvian wife Carmen, have set up in the wilds of Waiwhakaiho, on the outskirts of New Plymouth.
This is a serious science, so Jamie and Joop went straight to the source. The men spent three weeks of seeking, sampling and securing sacks of green beans straight from coffee farmers and co-ops in the South American country.
Their quest began in Lima, population 8 million, and took them over the Andes to the lush, high-altitude jungles of Peru where the coffee grows.
“It’s the most beautiful and the most heinous,” Hodson says of the journey.
On the way they were forced off the road by mad drivers, and passed through the potently polluted city of La Roja.
“They have acid rain because they have smelters going and no restrictions,” he says. “Then two hours later you turn a corner and it goes from dust to jungle.”
The men met coffee growers, pickers and sellers, and tasted cup after cup of organic coffee, which literally left them flying. “Yeah, we did swing on a few jungle vines,” Hodson says.
As well as ordering stacks of sacks, the pair brought home a 30kg stash of samples, which led to a delay at Auckland International Airport. The beans were taken to the laboratory for testing to make sure they were free of pests, impurities and anything that could endanger New Zealand’s environment.
The beans were clean and now the pure science begins – roasting, blending, tasting and making.
All this for the love of coffee.

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