In one hand, I held a map of the world. In the other, I held a coffee. In the air, a world of aromas. And in my sights, a wonderfully enticing prize. More beans, for free. It was time to rev-up my taste buds and get sipping, savouring, sourcing.
This was the challenge that awaited me when I headed down to MAG in Barcelona, a stylish new venture by renowned Catalan coffee roaster, Cafés El Magnífico. Along with dozens of other coffee fans I was invited to taste four distinct coffees then try to match them to their geographical source – El Salvador, Brazil, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Participants were given a paper map with information about each of the four roasts included in the tasting session. Then it was time to forget about milk and sugar and syrups and to focus completely on the complex flavours and aromas of the coffee itself.
The event, called Round The World in Four Coffees and a Flat White – was open to all. Some people (like me) arrived well-armed with a fairly wide knowledge of the complex world of coffee. Others were new to the game and tried to suppress gasps of delight and surprise when they experienced their first coffee epiphany, that glorious moment in which they recognized the radical differences in flavour between an Ethiopian bean grown at 2300 metres and Brasilian coffee grown at 960 metres.
Those who correctly matched all four coffees with their source were rewarded a bag of beans from their favourite region, and everybody who braved the challenge was offered a flat white prepared by Dani Vega – finalist in the Spanish latte-art tournament.
Flat whites – a precise blend of espresso and silky milk – are hugely popular in many parts of the world (see The Coffee Universe article, Got Coffee, Will Travel) but the drink is still a relative novelty in Spain. But if the positive reaction at MAG is anything to go by, flat whites will soon be in high demand here in Barcelona and across Spain.
All in all, the innovative event was a big success.
And what about me? Did I bring pride to The Coffee Universe and match all four coffees to their source?
Confession: I failed. But here’s the good news – my failure means I definitely need more practice. So if you need me I´ll be down at MAG, four more coffees in hand.