Inside Thoughts | Infused Coffees with Jesse Dodkins
Infused coffees. What are they? Where do they belong in an industry that prides itself on authenticity? What does the future hold for them within the world of speciality coffee? Through this series of blog posts we explore this topic of debate by asking some leading industry experts and observers on their thoughts and opinions.
Before we dig in, it's probably best to identify what we mean by infused coffees. When we speak about infusion we are talking about the addition of wine yeasts and fruit pulp that is added to fermentation tanks during processing at origin. This addition to the anaerobic fermentation process allows producers to further manipulate the flavours that are associated with specific varieties and origins. While this has been commonplace for producers within different industries for many decades it is something that is relatively new to specialty coffee.
Jesse Dodkins - La Marzocco
HHCo - What are your personal views and experiences of infused anaerobic fermented coffees?
JD - I remember the first time I had one and was very surprised at it tasted like yoghurt, a completely different drink to coffee. I wanted to go back because it was so interesting but I didn’t feel like I could have a whole cup!
HHCo - What do you feel is the long term value created by infused coffee for the speciality coffee industry?
JD - I’m not sure I would count on the process of infused coffee creating value long term as the economy isn’t really there and while it can be seen as making flavours more accessible it can equally be alienating to a proportion of casual coffee consumers.
HHCo - Do you feel that infused coffees change access and audience to speciality coffee and if so, how?
JD - As mentioned above, I feel it's a balancing act but the scales will tilt away from infusion.
HHCo - Where do you see parallels in other industries and how does this impact speciality coffee?
JD - I see a parallels with gin and beer. However I feel this takes us further away from what makes coffee more of unique drink to enjoy. I’ve always felt that what made coffee so special was that it expressed a place and you could taste what mate that specific place unique. My fear is that infused coffees will make the place less relevant than the process and we will lose the unique expression.
HHCo - How do you feel infused coffees impact Cup of Excellence and can these coffees exist within the same categories?
JD - I don’t think it fits in with cup of excellence and shouldn’t be judged in the same category. Cup of excellence has the the ability to award great places, clean processing, great picking practices all that could be perceived through conventionally processed coffee. With infused coffees there is potential to lose some of this transparency and lose the value created through the terroir conditions of the coffee.