Friday, 29 May 2015
Coffee according to Hippolyte Courty

"Let's stop drinking coffee and start tasting it", says Hippolyte Courty, founder and CEO of the Arbre à Café, a company that has been importing and roasting exceptional coffees since 2009 (rue du Nil and avenue du Maine in Paris).

Hippolyte Courty is a trained historian, and worked as a food writer and wine expert before moving into coffee. Today, he works with the best patissiers (Pierre Hermé) and chefs (Anne-Sophie Pic, Alain Ducasse, Jean-François Piège...). He sources his coffee from small growers of rare and complex biodynamic beans and travels the world to find the very best.

Here he draws a new map for coffee, its economy, changes in taste, and launches into the defence and illustration of a coffee that comes with a "terroir" (soil, history, climate-related characteristics...).

Despite the fact that coffee is the second most popular drink in the world, it is also gastronomy's "poor relation". In Paris, the "petit noir" served at bars is supplied by non-specialist suppliers. In the 22 000 Parisian cafés and bars, there appears to be a tendency for "non-quality", a trend that has accelerated the migration toward Nespresso (2 billion pods are sold annually in France). At the same time, with the generalisation of Western living practices, the rest of the world is discovering the virtues of coffee. Brazil became the second largest consumer of coffee in 2014 from a country that didn't used to drink it at all. China is starting to drink coffee and many equity firms in Silicon Valley are currently investing in beans.

Hippolyte Courty draws a map of coffee's different cultures. The traditional aesthetic canons of coffee (Rome, Vienna, Paris) are not those of the United States where the taste was built by industrial agriculture (acidic, sweet, mixed with milk). The French tradition of coffee emphasises the idea of an "after taste" and a quest for a certain complexity... A good Italian expresso is smooth, full bodied and bitter.

He also talks of the best coffees in the world, like the "Bourbon pointu" (from Réunion), or Jacu which comes through the digestive tract of a bird in Brazil...

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