Link to Original Article: http://www.metrohnl.com/hidden-depths/
Years ago, when Jackie Suiter of Kona Coffee Purveyors was starting out in the coffee industry, she went to a tasting where she nearly was convinced that one of the experts must be clairvoyant. With just a sip, he was able to determine that something had happened to the beans during the drying process. For Suiter at the time, even with her background in flavor science, it just tasted like regular coffee.
“It’s almost like he was a fortune teller, or that he was able to go back in time,” Suiter recalls with a laugh.
But looking back after years of studying the science of coffee, Suiter now knows exactly what that man had been tasting — she, too, can detect such nuances in a cup of joe.
According to the most recent numbers from National Coffee Association, 59 percent of adults in the United States drink coffee. Plus, the National Coffee Survey that Zagat conducted earlier this year found that coffee drinkers consume an average of 2.1 coffee drinks a day.
But although coffee is so prevalent, the knowledge surrounding its intricacies — including flavor profiles and elements that affect its taste — are less so. As Suiter says, for many people, coffee may just be an automatic morning routine.
“Coffee is that beverage when you wake up in the morning, so sometimes you kind of are spoiled to just push a button and your coffee is right there for you, or you go to the drive-through at Starbucks,” Suiter says.
That’s why Kona Coffee Purveyors seeks to perpetuate coffee knowledge. Last month, the company became the first Specialty Coffee Association of America certified teaching institution in the state and hosted the first class of what is slated to become regular offerings. The classes can go toward certifications for coffee industry professionals, and also are designed to help any coffee drinker enjoy their beverage in a new, more elevated way and explore the range of flavors.
“I want to teach people to hone into their senses. We are so busy on a day-to-day basis and wrapped up with things that are probably not very sensory,” Suiter muses. “It’s almost like a meditation to really become connected back to your food.”
Kona Coffee Purveyors, which was created by Honolulu Coffee Company founder Raymond Suiter, provides artisan roasting of hand-harvested Kona coffee and blends from select farms. It’s an involved process that entails thoughtful sourcing and rigorous testing each season — and the finished product is provided to both consumer and wholesale markets.
Suiter, who holds a degree in food science and human nutrition from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has been working alongside husband Raymond since the inception of Kona Coffee Purveyors. She now is a licensed Q grader, which in layman terms basically means she’s a certified pro in all things coffee.