Called Innovea, the network will aim to secure long-term supplies of coffee and improve climate resilience through breeding.


Photos courtesy of World Coffee Research

Last month, during the Sintercafe coffee expo in Costa Rica, industry nonprofit World Coffee Research (WCR) made an announcement with much potential to impact coffee’s future for the better.

The news: WCR has launched Innovea, a global breeding network of nine countries that will “transform global coffee breeding and accelerate the pace of genetic improvement,” per a press release from WCR. They chose the Innovea name by combining “innovation” with Coffea, the plant name of the coffee species, so the name loosely translates to “coffee innovation.”

“Coffee faces a crisis of innovation that makes the industry’s sustainability, quality, and supply assurance goals impossible to achieve if we stay on the path we are on,” says WCR CEO Dr. Jennifer (Vern) Long in the press release. “But as we have seen with COVID-19, incredible solutions to urgent, global problems are made possible with scientific collaboration.”

Close up of a man's hands. He holds coffee flowers gently. The petals are small, long and white, on a long skinny green stalk. The flowers grow in small clusters in a circle around the stem at intervals.
Collecting pollen from male flowers to make cross-pollinations to generate new plants. The Innovea network will aim to accelerate the pace of genetic improvements in coffee.

‘Coopetition’ Not Competition

Collaboration is indeed the name of the game for the Innovea network. Dr. George Kotch, WCR’s former research director, has decades of experience managing global breeding programs. He joined WCR in 2020 and knew he faced a challenge in shaping the new network: Coffee-producing countries are competing with one another, and asking them to collaborate on a breeding network is not an easy sell.

The resulting solution is a “coopetition” model—which Dr. Kotch developed using his experience with other commodities—that allows producing countries to collaborate on breeding but remain competitive overall. “We listened really carefully to our partners who communicated this reality that they face, which is that scientific collaboration sounds like a great aspiration, but it’s not always a realistic opportunity for them,” Dr. Long says in an interview with Barista Magazine Online. “And so this model is really designed to drive value for countries but also allow them to be competitive.”

The same man's hands, putting something in a plastic sample vial with a kind of Q-tip implement.
Creating new crosses through hand-pollination at WCR’s Flor Amarilla Research Farm in El Salvador. Innovea will seek to create new and unique genetic combinations that have not been seen before in coffee.

So what will the new network offer participating countries? According to the WCR press release, the network will give them “unrestricted access to new genetic materials, training in modern breeding approaches, and shared tools while also connecting researchers across national boundaries to achieve results that would be impossible for programs working in isolation.”

Fostering Opportunities

The opportunities afforded by the network may be transformative for producing countries. “The network brings together a wide diversity of high-performing varieties from Africa, Asia, and the Americas that have never been bred together before,” says Dr. Senthil Kumar, director of research at the Central Coffee Research Institute (CCRI), in the press release. “India is enthusiastic about the opportunities this network provides for us to develop varieties that address farmers’ needs and to ensure our success in achieving climate resilience.”

A group of people stand in a semicircle on a hill. There is a WCR banner in the background, trees on the outskirts of the hill, and more hills behind.
Members of WCR’s board of directors, guests, and researchers from the nine invited participating countries at the site of the Innovea breeding factory at CATIE in Costa Rica.

The new network will strengthen not just coffee producers, of course. The whole coffee supply chain stands to benefit from improved varieties—including specialty-coffee roasters, whose businesses depend on reliable supplies of high-quality coffee. James McLaughlin, president and CEO of Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee and the current vice chair of WCR’s board, says, “I think that Innovea is the single most exciting thing happening in coffee right now. We as an industry have under-invested in coffee agricultural research, and the threats that our industry is facing with climate change are really grave.” With the new network, James explains, “I believe we’re going to produce varieties that are next level in terms of quality, productivity, and climate resistance.”

Though the network is now in motion, the results will not be immediate, as breeding programs take time. WCR estimates that some countries in the network could release new varieties as early as 2033, though most will take several more years.

You can find more about the new Innovea network here.

The post World Coffee Research Launches Global Coffee Breeding Network appeared first on Barista Magazine Online.

This article was first published here.

Welcome to winter in the Nordics, where comfort and coziness are sacred rituals.


Featured image courtesy of Joseph Phelan

The people of Northern Europe take Christmas particularly seriously. For those who reside in the Nordics, it is more than just an opportunity to take a few days off work and indulge in some hearty food; it is a time dedicated to embracing tradition, community, and an appreciation of the small things.

It is also a period during which coffee routinely takes center stage. The Nordics are coffee crazy at the best of times—Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark are the four largest consumers of coffee per capita, with Sweden sixth — but at Christmastime, things step up a level. In this part of the world, coffee is as much a part of the festive season as Santa Claus, carol singing, and candy canes.

An outdoor market at night in Sweden. There are umbrellas and strings of electric lights clustered around Tudor style buildings, with greenery and snow on the ground.
A winter market in Malmö, Sweden. Photo by Alex Ghiurau via Unsplash.

A Cultural Experience

“If you’ve been here in the winter months, you’ll know how dark and cold it is,” says Klaus Thomsen, co-founder of Coffee Collective in Frederiksberg, Denmark. “I think we’ve historically needed some kind of warm liquid to heat us up, especially during the winter months when there’s only a few hours of sunlight. We often need that caffeine to keep us awake and alert!“

Klaus continues, “But it has also played a huge social role as a gathering point for people. In the religious parts of the countries, coffee was a more accepted beverage to serve to guests than beer or alcohol, and over time the appreciation of filter coffee, mostly brewed with Melitta paper filters and automatic brewers, also helped to highlight nuances in the coffee. This, in turn, provided the backbone to the Nordic specialty-coffee movement and our style of lighter-roasted coffees.”

A Christmas present, a warm drink in a festive mug, and shortbread cookies shaped liked snowflakes on a white tablecloth with tiny fairy lights on string.
In Nordic countries, coffee and baked goods go hand in hand.
Photo by Becky Fantham via Unsplash.

Over the last century, as coffee has become easier to import in bulk routinely, it has grown in popularity across the Nordics. What’s more, the countries in this region, especially Sweden and Denmark, have had a long association with sweet pastries—klenät, smultring, and tebirkes being three of the most popular—and once the humble coffee bean found its way to their shores, Nordic residents quickly discovered that coffee and sweet treats make for perfect bedfellows.

Today, the drink has become so culturally embedded that rarely will there be a social gathering without coffee being present. “It has taken over as the primary source of the liquid we gather around, at least before 6 p.m.,” says Jonas Gehl of Prolog Coffee Bar in København, Denmark. “This tends to be filter coffee. It has taken some years for the espresso machine to find its way to bars and households, but it is becoming more popular.”

A man smiles behind the counter at a cafe. There is a sugar skull with reindeer antlers on the counter, stickers galore on the back of the espresso machine, and a bouquet of pink flowers beside it.
A look at the holiday spirit inside Next Door Cafe in København, Denmark.
Photo courtesy of Next Door Cafe.

Christmas Coziness

Across the Nordics, coffee and being snug go hand in hand. Hygge, a Danish word that denotes a feeling of coziness, contentment, and warmth, is especially prevalent during the cold winter months, and coffee has a central role in how people attain it.

“Cafés are very popular in our culture largely because of the light and weather conditions,” says Skyler Rowland of Next Door Cafe in København, Denmark. “I suspect people are seeking refuge from the cold and dark. People go out holiday shopping and visit the Christmas markets, and then they warm up with a cozy coffee. It’s affordable entertainment—a coffee with a friend doesn’t cost much, but it’s fun!”

The post Christmas and Coffee in the Nordics: Part One appeared first on Barista Magazine Online.

We continue our in-depth exploration of tea by looking at oolong, black, fermented, and herbal tea.


Cover photo by Drew Jemmett via Unsplash

Several weeks ago, we released part one of the ”A Beginner’s Guide to Tea” series, where we explored where tea comes from and two of the main types of tea: white and green. Today, we’re continuing our discussion by delving into the other main types of tea: oolong, black, fermented, and herbal.

A pile of oolong leaves. These leaves were rolled into tiny balls before being dried.
Oolong tea leaves are predominantly grown in China and Taiwan and harvested in the late spring to early summer. Photo by Petr Sidorov via Unsplash.

Oolong Tea

Oolong is a partially oxidized or semi-oxidized tea, which means that enzymes in the tea leaves are allowed to interact with oxygen, darkening the tea leaves and producing a stronger, earthier flavor. Grown mainly in China and Taiwan, the tea leaves for oolong are harvested in late spring and early summer. The leaves are then gently bruised, releasing the enzymes, and spread out in direct sunlight to dry. During the drying process, farmers will turn the leaves regularly to ensure that they’re evenly oxidized. After drying out in the sun, the leaves are pan-fired, bringing oxidation to a halt.

Oolong tea ranges in color from light yellow to dark amber, with flavors ranging from light, sweet, and floral to strong, smoky, and earthy. Light oolong teas have an airy body, while darker oolong teas have a thick mouthfeel.

Brewing Oolong Tea

To brew a 6-8-ounce cup of oolong tea, use about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves and water heated to about 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Steep the tea leaves for up to 5 minutes, depending on how strong you prefer your tea.

Two clear glass cups of black tea rest on coasters made of unfinished wood sliced out of the limb of a tree. Bark is still visible around the edges.
Black tea is bold and earthy, and requires more extensive production than the other types of teas. Photo by Akhilesh Sharma via Unsplash.

Black Tea

Out of all of the main types of tea, black tea requires some of the most extensive production. After harvesting, tea leaves are withered in direct sunlight, then processed using either the CTC method (crush, tear, curl) or the orthodox method. With the CTC method, tea leaves are fed through machines that crush, tear, and curl them, resulting in small brown pellets. Because the CTC method typically uses lower-quality leaves, it’s a common choice when producing tea bags.

High-quality black teas are typically produced using the orthodox method, which is more time-consuming and requires more human labor. In orthodox processing, tea leaves are produced in the traditional way—with plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying. This process can be done with machines or by hand and is carefully overseen by trained tea professionals to ensure that the best flavors are extracted from the leaves.

In terms of flavor, black tea is bold and earthy, sometimes showcasing floral or nutty undertones and a savory, “umami” quality with subtle hints of sweetness.

Brewing Black Tea

More delicate teas are best brewed with water that’s slightly below boiling point. Black tea, however, is best brewed with boiling water—the high temperatures draw out the strong flavors it’s known for. When brewing black tea, use about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for every 6-8 ounces of water, and steep your tea for about 3-5 minutes.

Some fermented tea leaves spill from a decorative white jar with red interior onto the surface of a table.
Fermented tea is made from tea leaves that have been aged over time.
Photo by Petr Sidorov via Unsplash.

Fermented Tea

Fermented tea is made from aged tea leaves, and the most common form of fermented tea is pu-erh. While other teas undergo oxidation, fermented teas undergo fermentation (a process also used when making beer, yogurt, and kombucha). During fermentation, the tea leaves break down and decompose.

To produce fermented tea, tea leaves are harvested then dry-roasted, lightly bruised through rolling and rubbing, and dried in the sun. To begin the fermentation process, the tea leaves are then placed in a humid environment for months or even years. Some teas are aged over decades and go for up to thousands of dollars a pound. Depending on how long the tea was aged for, fermented tea shows great depth and complexity in flavor.  Fermented tea is typically woodsy and earthy with a full body.

Brewing Fermented Tea

Traditionally, fermented tea leaves are rinsed with hot water before brewing. For every 8 ounces of water, use about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves and water heated to about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Brew your tea for 2-4 minutes.

A person pours tea from a white teapot into a clear glass cup and saucer placed on a wooden tray.
”Herbal tea” refers to tea that comes from plants outside of the Camellia sinensis plant.
Pictured: Constellation Coffee’s ginger guava tea. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim.

Herbal Tea

No tea guide would be complete without including herbal tea. “Herbal tea” refers to any water-based infusion made from plants that are not the Camellia sinensis plant. Another common name for herbal tea is “tisane.“ Popular herbal teas are made from flowers like lavender or chamomile, herbs like peppermint or calendula, and spices like cinnamon or cinnamon. Herbal teas tend to be caffeine-free, and each one offers unique flavors and healing benefits.

Brewing Herbal Tea

When brewing herbal tea, about 1 teaspoon of herbs/flowers should be used for every 6-8 ounces of water. Water temperature and steeping time will vary depending on the type of herbs used, but most should be steeped for at least 5 minutes. Do some research to find the best brewing methods for the particular tisane you’re drinking.


Based in Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses (she/her) is a writer and musician passionate about culture and collective care. You can regularly find her at Echo Park Lake, drinking a cortado and journaling about astrology, art, Animal Crossing, and her dreams. Explore her poetry, short stories, and soundscapes on her website.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Tea: Part Two appeared first on Barista Magazine Online.

This article was first published here.

We continue our chat with this years U.S. Barista champ about their selected coffees, and how their rewarding experiences will shape both their life ethos and content moving forward.


Cover photo by Niki Weegens

Yesterday, we began a conversation with 2022 U.S. Barista champion Morgan Eckroth (she/they), a barista at Keeper Coffee and the content creator of Morgan Drinks Coffee, a successful profile on TikTok and other social media channels. We wrap up our conversation with them by chatting more about working with the team at Onyx Coffee Lab, how they chose their coffees, and what their followers can expect from Morgan Drinks Coffee this year.

Note: This interview has been condensed.

Morgan Eckroth is this years U.S. Barista champ. Photo by Niki Weegens.

Katrina Yentch: There are a lot of coffees to choose from and you picked Eugenioides, a rising star in the competition world. I’m curious how much your coach Lance Hedrick and the team at Onyx Coffee had inspired you to choose this coffee, and how much of your own influence went into the process of selecting your coffee.

Morgan Eckroth: This season there were a lot of constraints that don’t usually exist. Two months is not a lot of time to get coffees brought in internationally. It’s really difficult and time-consuming. In an ideal world we would’ve had time to go to origin and actually work very closely with the farm we’re gonna get coffees from, and we’d have time to taste everything. This year that just literally wasn’t possible, so Onyx came to me with two of the coffees that they thought would perform really well and were excited about and had enough of. Those ones happened to be the Eugenoides and Sudan Rume, which I used for my signature and my espresso.

They were like, “Here you go. Try these out! If you don’t love them we’ll keep exploring. You need to be in love with them, so let’s start from here and figure out what you want.” And so I tried the Eugenioides and I was like, first of all, it’s awesome to be able to talk about and explore a species of coffee that’s gaining more traction and sweeping the competition stages. But also it’s an opportunity to talk about this coffee to my audience, who very few knew about it. 

The Sudan Rume is kind of on the opposite side, whereas the Eugenioides was incredibly sweet—super low caffeine, and high sugar. The Sudan Rume is a much more tropical and high-acidity coffee and it’s wonderful and complex. I just fell in love with it personally, so the two of them coming together just made sense. Even though I had the flexibility if I wanted to try different coffees, it was really lucky. We just nailed these right away.

Morgan incorporated some accessible mixology techniques in their signature drink. Photo by Niki Weegens.

Your signature drink had some strong cocktail mixologist elements to it, like using oleo-saccharum and saline. I was curious how that came together and how much you were experimenting with mixology to influence your drink.

It’s funny because most competitors will say this when you’re developing your signature drink—you just crack open a cocktail book and just start pulling things. So this year a component of creating the signature drink was knowing that we wanted it to be something that people can make at home. Part of the routine was that we had released the recipe and encouraged people to make it alongside watching the livestream. So it’s like you have the same sensory experience as the judges are having; that was kind of a component of it. So that kind of limited a bit of what we could do because it had to be accessible. 

But we knew we wanted it to be chilled, something shaken. It’s a method for drinks that I really like and it’s simple. And then we were like, “Well now we have to put ingredients in!” … A lot of it is looking up cocktail recipes, and learning what those things are, just throwing things at the wall and eventually something tastes good.

What was the most fun part of putting the routine together? And what can we expect from Morgan Drinks Coffee in the future?

I think the most impactful part of this season’s competition was the amount of collaboration that happened. Both with the folks at Onyx, and I know that this is so cliche to say, but it really takes a village to put a competitor on stage, and I think most competitors would say that. There are so many people, so many folks at Onyx and Keeper and my family. Once we got to competition this year, there was a unique sense of camaraderie amongst the competitors. I came out of the competition with a lot of really valuable friendships in a really cool way. Honestly my favorite part this year was collaboration at every single level, from when we started forming the routine to getting to Boston and being with competitors. But we aren’t competing against each other; we’re just doing the best we can in every single way. In that way everyone was supporting each other, which was a very cool experience.

And moving forward, that’s the million-dollar question. Going into this year I just thought that I was gonna do the best that I can do. In a pipe dream, I was like, I’d love to win. You don’t ever really expect it to happen and then it does and you’re like, oh shoot! What do I do now? Do I just go back to normal? 

I can tell you at least that Morgan Drinks Coffee will continue in a lot of ways that it has in the past. I still plan on making my little sketches and plan on doing really silly things with coffee on YouTube. But also my time and my presence online has evolved in the past three years and I anticipate that it will continue to evolve over the next four months. A lot of my life is gonna be taken up by competing for Worlds (taking place Sept. 27-30 in Melbourne, Australia). And so we’re gonna continue sharing the process, which will be incorporated into my content. I am currently figuring out what comes next career-wise in coffee, but for the time being without a doubt there will be shenanigans. We are going back to semi-regular programming after this!

Morgan Drinks Coffee will soon return to “semi-normal programming“ in the months leading up to the World Barista Championship. Photo courtesy of Morgan Eckroth.

What has been one of the most valuable things you’ve learned from this process and your team?

I think the thing I have taken away most from this experience is something that Andrea (Allen) told me when I was working on writing my script. I had tons of ideas and sentences that were too long and very chaotic. I had so many things I was trying to say all at once. And Andrea looked at me and said, “Come into what you’re doing here with a clear message. What is one sentence that you want to communicate with this routine? And then drive that home as hard as you can.”

That was something that was really influential in developing my routine. And honestly I carried it out of competition as well, with defining my mission and sticking to it. …

So what is that message?

That sentence nowadays for me online, my goal is to make specialty coffee as fun and approachable for everyone as possible. That is my goal online at all points. I’ve said many times I don’t make content for coffee people. I make content about coffee for anyone, and I’m really glad when coffee people can enjoy it. But overall my audience is not coffee people and I think that’s something I value a lot and is pretty unique, and so my goal is to make that bridge from me to specialty coffee and add value to the supply chain and make it as seamless as possible, because I care about the industry a lot. And if there’s anything I can do to help it grow, I’m gonna do as much as possible. So that’s kind of my driving force behind everything.

The post A Conversation With 2022 U.S. Barista Champ Morgan Eckroth: Part Two appeared first on Barista Magazine Online.

This article was first published here.