Interview: Kenneth Davids Discusses His New Book, 21st Century Coffee: A Guide

Kenneth Davids’ new book, inside and out. Courtesy Kenneth Davids.

 

“When my first book about coffee came out in the 1970s,” Coffee Review editor Kenneth Davids says, “people I met at parties used to wonder how I managed to find enough to write about coffee to fill a whole book on the subject.” Given the explosion of coffee innovation and change since then that Davids describes with affectionate yet thorough detail in his latest book, 21st Century Coffee: A Guide, coffee insiders today may wonder how he managed to get away with writing one new book this time rather than two or three. Nevertheless, he appears to have gotten most of the latest innovation and excitement in coffee into his latest volume, enriched by a perspective afforded by his over forty years of active engagement with the specialty coffee world.

The book offers particularly detailed chapters on … Read more

Reflections on the Art of Coffee Blending: Daily Drinkers With Personality

Diedrich IR-7 coffee roaster at Old Soul Co in 2006, used to roast the original Whiskey Dreams Moka Java Blend. Courtesy of Andri Tambunan.

The idea of the coffee blend is a long and winding road. Blends give roasters an opportunity to create a coffee that evokes specific sensory properties, and blends are often designed to give consumers a consistent experience over time (much like a Champagne house approaches the non-vintage brut). But before consumers began insisting upon knowing the origins of what’s in their cup, it wasn’t all that common for roasters to label blend components on the bag, or even necessarily indicate that a coffee is a blend.

In this month’s report, we consider the “house blend,” a full 25 years after Kenneth Davids, co-founder of Coffee Review, wrote this publication’s first-ever report, which happened to be on this very topic. Embedded in that first report … Read more

The World and the Cupping Table: 25 Years of Change at Coffee Review

Kenneth Davids in the Coffee Review lab circa 2007.

 

Coffee Review has been reviewing coffees and reporting in depth on the world of specialty coffee since 1997, making this our 25th year of slurping, spitting and writing. Over those 25 years, we have published reviews of thousands of coffees, tasted tens of thousands more, and produced more than 350 in-depth monthly reports on coffee growing regions, processing methods, tree varieties, and roaster issues. We were the first in the world to apply 100-point ratings to coffees (in 1997) and the first online publication to offer serious in-depth coffee reviewing and reporting. (During our early years most roasters hadn’t developed websites; we published phone numbers). You can find an account of our founding years here.

What in coffee has changed over these 25 years, particularly as seen from the perspective of our cupping table? What has not changed?

Our … Read more

An In-Depth Look at the Top 30 Coffees of 2021

Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2021 represents our ninth annual ranking of the most exciting coffees we tested over the course of the year. This annual effort supports our mission of helping consumers identify and purchase superior quality coffees and, in the process, helping drive demand and increase prices to reward farmers and roasters who invest time, passion and capital in producing high-quality coffee. The Top 30 celebrates and promotes coffee roasters, farmers, mill operators, importers, and other coffee industry professionals who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character.

In 2021, we tasted more than 2,000 coffee samples and published more than 500 reviews. These reviews focus primarily on the highest-rated coffees, which are of most interest to our readers. This year, roughly one out of four of the more than 2,000 coffees … Read more

Our Love Affair with Geisha — It’s Not Just a Panama Thing Anymore

Geisha seedlings in a Chiapas, Mexico nursery. Courtesy of Kim Westerman.

The Geisha variety of Arabica is the most expensive green coffee in the world. Year after year, this sought-after variety — known for (in the hands of a good roaster) its florality, delicate fruit, integrated structure and balance — breaks new price records in the Best of Panama auction. The Panama with the highest price in 2021 was a Geisha that sold for $2,568.00 — per pound. It’s gotten stratospheric in the way that wine auctions did long ago. You can debate the relative (in)sanity of this phenomenon, but the fact is that Geisha is the darling of the specialty coffee world.

Geisha’s Migration Around The Globe

Geisha originated in the Gori Gesha Forest of Ethiopia, but made its spectacular appearance on the global specialty coffee stage in Panama, where, in 2004, a Geisha grown by the Peterson family … Read more