Gennaro Pellicia knows his coffee. The tasting lab coat gives it away. Costa's 'Master of Coffee', his knowledge of beans goes far deeper than that little 'strength' score they put on the packet. Hailing from Naples, the world's espresso capital, he began studying the dark nectar some 23 years ago. His tongue is worth £10 million.
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"I didn't actually insure it myself," he tells ShortList.com. "Costa insured it. It was in response to an independent survey that was carried out last year to remove the myth that all coffee in the industry was the same."
The results showed that 7 out of 10 people preferred Costa's coffee to those of competing brands. "Someone thought, 'let’s insure the tongue of the guy responsible for the quality of our coffee'. It was a PR exercise, but more than that it allowed us to talk about where the differences in coffee originate from."
With a cup of the black stuff in hand, Pellicia treated us to an explanation of micro-lot coffee farming, the effects climate has on taste and his own selection of the world's best coffee. Fetch yourself an espresso and prepare for a coffee master class.
Do: use it in espressos
Colombian coffee is a fantastic all-rounder. It has great acidity, which is a fantastic attribute: It enhances the aroma, adds flavours and has a great medium body to it - making it one of my favourites.
It works fantastically in an espresso blend, delivering great acidity levels. The acids help enhance and hold the body of the flavour in an espresso coffee. Having said that, it’s also a fantastic single-origin coffee, perfect to put though a filter or a café tier. Like I say, a great all-rounder.
The best Colombian coffee hails from southern and western regions of the Zona Cafetera - the acidity level is pretty exceptional.
Do: use it as an introduction coffee
Kenya is one of the first coffees I fell in love with when I started my profession. What I like about it is the high acidity level and the notes of berries and fruits it carries. I think my first description of it 20 years ago was "almost like mulled wine". It has a lower body, but it’s not as heavy as some other coffees. Brewed correctly and not too strongly it could be a good introduction coffee because it makes you understand the delicate nuances of coffee.
A medium to light roasted Kenyan coffee is best brewed with a cafétiere rather than a filter, as it's slightly coarse. In the cafétiere, the water and the coffee are in contact for a little bit longer, to bring out the flavour - and pressing approach allows you to bring out some of the nice delicate acidic notes.
Do: drink all day long
Ethiopia produces another fantastic central African coffee. What I particularly like about the Ethiopian coffee again is that it’s best brewed through a filter or a cafétiere, which brings out the distinct citrus, tangerine and lemon notes. It's a very, very bright, refreshing coffee. Something you’d probably want to be drinking in the office all day. Easy to drink but really, really flavoursome and interesting.
Do: have it black
In Guatemala they have some amazing micro-lots - small hold farmers who grow some amazing coffees due to the variety that they used in growing and harvesting their coffee. It can be a lot more subdued than the Kenyan and Ethiopian coffees. Probably not as much body as the Colombian. It's a nice, clean, easy-drinking coffee which we use quite a bit at the right time of the year, because not all of these coffees are at their peak all year round.
Do: use the night before a big deadline
Indonesian coffee, in contrast to the rest that I’ve mentioned, is more heavy-bodied. It works very well as espresso coffee because of the heaviness and because of its slightly lower in acidity. It's quite typical to find it in Italian espresso blend, where Italians tend to go for slightly softer acidic notes. You can get some amazing chocolate and roasted nut flavours from Indonesian coffee, which if blended and roasted correctly can make a great cappuccino.
Gennaro Pellicia, Master of Coffee at Costa will be at the Coffee Festival on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th April 2014
(Images: Rex; Costa)