Moving People

The Art of Coffee

For those in the know, coffee is a blend of culture, art, passion and science. We explain why the coffee spoon must be placed just right, what is important in sourcing for wholesale and what it takes to become a true coffee expert.

First thing in the morning, afternoons with a slice of cake or in a café chatting with friends – coffee is an integral part of our day-to-day lives. It is a stimulant and a pleasure, bringing friends, colleagues and customers together. Coffee is the most frequently consumed beverage in the world after water and the second most frequently traded commodity on the stock market. Around 25 million people worldwide depend on coffee cultivation for their livelihood, and it is grown on the continents of America, Africa and Asia. There are 2 main types of coffee: Arabica and Robusta. Over 800 aromatic associations can be identified in coffee, though the much-loved drink is 98% water.

A good breakfast in a shared dining room, a break back in your room for a moment of private relaxation, a coffee during an important business meeting to talk about future projects: ‘Coffee is much more than just a simple drink; it is a true cultural phenomenon,’ says Simona Simionescu, responsible for international sourcing in the Coffee category at METRO. The Common Sourcing Coffee range covers all customers’ needs: Italian coffee blends with different weight formats, mono-origins coffee, fair trade coffee, organic coffee and coffee capsules. ‘The blends of Arabica and Robusta beans feature an aromatic, smooth, well-rounded flavour. They are excellent coffees which are great with or without milk,’ Simona explains. But one thing must not be forgotten: many coffee-producing countries face extreme poverty and lack an effective social infrastructure. ‘That’s why we at METRO focus mainly on sustainable coffee,’ Simona says. ‘In the highly volatile coffee market, producers and their families are vulnerable. The economic sustainability of the industry is strongly linked to the social sustainability of communities around the world. To do this, teamwork is key, and suppliers’ selection is very important because sustainability is a shared responsibility.’

Coffee Plant

A dedicated team of 6 passionate people works in various departments: Buying, Quality, Packaging, Brand Management and Supply Chain. ‘Together we select the proper suppliers to enable our customers to have the best cup of coffee at the right price. For this reason, our coffee is checked regularly both by the external lab and internal sensory MPAC Test Centre.’

A coffee’s aroma is the result of a perfect combination of chemical substances that interact with each other and trigger that sense of wellbeing that is pleasure in a cup. The range of its flavours – which includes acid, bitter and sweet – and its extremely rich range of aromas, with notes running from citrus to caramel and flowers, are derived from the whole series of stages that lead to its preparation: from the plant to the coffee cup, the journey of coffee comprises many stops, and each one plays a role in determining the final result. ‘The most important part of coffee is the bean,’ says Simona. ‘To provide intense flavours and aromas, the beans themselves must be very good.’ Another element that determines coffee quality is the roasting of the beans. Subjected to very intense heat, the beans develop around 800 new chemical compounds and acquire the aromas and flavours that the customer will ultimately find in the cup. The extraction method is based on factors that can be controlled by the barista, such as the quantity of water and coffee, the fineness of the grind, the water pressure and so forth. The relationships between all the factors are perhaps more complex than some people imagine: ‘Just making a coffee seems like a very simple act but on the chemical-physical side, there are so many variables in play,’ says Simona, explaining the ‘science of coffee’.

Coffee Roasting

A dedicated team of 6 passionate people works in various departments: Buying, Quality, Packaging, Brand Management and Supply Chain. ‘Together we select the proper suppliers to enable our customers to have the best cup of coffee at the right price. For this reason, our coffee is checked regularly both by the external lab and internal sensory MPAC Test Centre.’

Coffee has always been extraordinary at bringing people together. Becoming a coffee expert means taking a deep dive into all the different types on the coffee market, their origins and cultivation. Today, the trend is towards speciality coffees that require in-depth knowledge of the different origins, cultivation, harvesting, roasting methods and the right techniques that are called for to make the perfect coffee. ‘No single location provides all of the elements necessary for a perfectly balanced coffee. That’s why the creation of the blends is so important. Blends combine beans of different varieties and from different regions to obtain a perfect balance among the various components of taste and an intense aroma, which offers a spectrum of rich, pleasing scents. Customers want to know what makes this coffee different from others and what to expect when they drink it,’ Simona says. Her recommendation for coffee shop owners: build a relationship with their guests when serving a cup of coffee. Even the correct positioning of the spoon on the saucer or a good choice of biscuit can make the small but decisive difference, besides the type of coffee. And, a maxim that applies to METRO just as much as to customers: never stop learning – there is always something new to discover.

Art of Coffee

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