Saturday, December 03, 2011

Geography of Coffee Storage

The coffee fiends who write Adam@Home are at it again! Readers of the strip know that Adam is a work-at-home guy (I keep forgetting the actual job) who as often as possible finds an excuse to be a work-at-cafe guy. This has been inspirational, both as a lifestyle to envy and as fodder for my work on the geography of coffee shops.

In Friday's strip, cartoonists Bassett and Harrell kicked the coffee connection up a notch. More precisely, they moved the discussion a couple of steps up the commodity chain, with barista Andre discussing important aspects of the geography of coffee care. The timing and location of coffee storage between roasting and brewing is geographic, in that choices about how and when to store the coffee are closely intertwined with choices about where to store it.

Because light, oxygen, and time (after the first 12-24 hours) are the enemies of roasted coffee, the distance between roasting and brewing has a tremendous impact on the quality of the brewed product. This, in turn, has implications for farmers, as they are less likely to be compensated for their care in cultivation if people further down the supply chain obscure their good work through sloppy handling.

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