The specialty coffee industry relies heavily upon the trained and calibrated palates of certified Q-graders and professional tasters, while sensory experts have made important gains in recent years in attempting to unify the language used to describe coffee and its complex, interwoven qualities of flavor, aroma, feel and finish. The extent to which the coffee world’s largest commodity-grade goliaths depend on these very human methods is hard to know, though we do know that it’s not solely a legion of experienced, pink tongues that they depend upon. At the upcoming SCA Expo event in Seattle, the U.S. specialty coffee industry will get its first glimpse at one of the more advanced solutions applicable to massive-scale coffee blend production and quality assurance: The Insent TS-5000Z Taste Sensing System, also known in the sensory analysis world as an electronic tongue, or e-tongue for short.
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Weather is to take centre stage in coffee markets, which will “likely” be marked by increasing volatility, as investors balance thin short-term supplies with the potential for a “monstrous” Brazilian harvest next year, Rabobank said. The bank hiked by 2.8m tonnes to 2.5m tonnes its forecast for the world coffee production deficit in 2017-18, citing an increased estimate for global consumption, and reduced estimates for output in Brazil, following a recent crop tour, and Indonesia, after heavy rains.


Brazilians have had to endure a lot of late, between the recession, the impeachment and the never-ending stream of national scandals. But importing coffee beans? In Brazil, the commodity king of the world? The idea hasn’t been well received, especially among those in the rolling hills of the southeast who have made the country the No. 1 coffee producer for years. “They want to kill us,” says Antonio Joaquim de Souza Neto, a second-generation farmer in Espirito Santo state. Sure, some in the region have been hit hard by years of drought, but still, he says, there’s plenty of supply to go around. “We won’t allow this coffee to enter the country.”

I keep hearing that drinking coffee is good for your health. But I drink decaf. Is it coffee or caffeine that’s so beneficial? – Katie J., Hanover, New Hampshire.

In a nutshell – or a coffee bean – some studies show that caffeine has its own virtues, and others point out that caf and decaf are equally health-beneficial. So, clearly other components in the coffee bean besides caffeine are responsible for some of its healthy rating; after all, it contains over 1,000 biologically active compounds.  Decaffeinated coffee has around 97 percent of caffeine removed – eight ounces brewed delivers 2-12 mg of the wake-up chemical; a regular cup has about 75-200 mg. So even with decaf you are getting a touch of the brain-boost that caffeine provides.

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