New Zealand, Hong Kong, Shanghai. Is there any difference in tasting coffee? (How many locations have you in total and specifically in HK?)
SP: We are opening our seventh espresso bar in Hong Kong with several more planned in a couple of key cities in China. Our goal is to serve the same flavour in every location - perfect Italian style espresso, from either our dark (really medium) roast or our light (very very light) roast. To get consistent flavour wherever we go, we have had to do extensive work on water chemistry. We find that as we introduce a culture to espresso, people prefer more body than acidity. As they develop their espresso palate they all go the same way, to where the complexity is - big acidity lightly roasted espresso.
What makes you proudest in your career?
SP: Watching baristas enjoy their day. Seeing busy espresso bars full of dynamic customers enjoying the coffee and environments we have created. Tasting each improvement, we make in roasting, water chemistry, espresso production, ergonomics, consistency, in fact any improvement or advancement.
On this issue of the magazine, we are focusing on Hong Kong. Could you describe the city, on your personal and intimate perspective?
SP: Convenience and speed combined with diversity of culture.
Could you suggest us any place or experience we should absolutely try in HK?
SP: A tour by Alan See of The Armoury. Alan will explain the virtues of each of the artisanal craftsmen in his stable. From the finest tailors of Napoli to the finest shoemakers of Japan.
The environmental impact of coffee crops is well-known and has been a topic of discussion for some time. How should an awareness of ecology and sustainability guide the consumer when choosing an apparently straight foward beverage like coffee?
SP: The ethics of labour on coffee plantations has been talked about for years, and recently there’s been questioning around the environmental impact of growing coffee, and issues of sun grown coffee versus shade grown. The global coffee industry is continually working through these issues and making progress however it will take time. There has been some progress on labour ethics and on the environmental impact and organics however there’s no doubt the industry has to do better. We do need to bear in mind that due to economics, many farms are naturally organic. Certification comes at a cost which many farmers can not afford. Coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity after oil.
What do you think is the best time of day to drink coffee? And which variety do you prefer?
SP: Morning. I’m a big blend guy but If I had to choose one variety, I would choose a well-produced arabica from Coorg, South India. Clearly, I am biased because my family has been growing coffee in Coorg for five generations, but my roasting team will attest that Coorg coffee consistently comes out on top in blind cupping (tasting) sessions.
Author : The Slowear Journal