Coffee: Wine's New Bestfriend by Andrew McWilliam

Coffee: wine’s new best friend. 
When you state the fact that you live in the Okanagan you usually get a quick response back about how great the wine in the Okanagan is. Yes it’s true the Okanagan has an incredible wine scene. With a plethora of local vineyards and wine experts the Okanagan has become the hotspot for wine tourism and the “it” spot for wine in British Columbia. If you really want to step up your wine game here in the Okanagan you can go to wine school, receive tasting training or even become a Sommelier (no easy task!). In short if you want to be immersed in wine culture or simply consume amazing wine, the Okanagan is the place to be.
I want to suggest that a new culinary experience is gaining momentum and is about to hit the Okanagan. Yes my friends, coffee is wine’s new best friend. You may not know this but coffee can have a range of complex & amazing flavors, a variety of mouth feels and a wide range of acidities. Yes I just described the parameters for a wine tasting, but trust me, coffee can be just as satisfying as that memorable bottle of Pinot Noir. The reason that you have a hard time believing me is that the majority of coffee we consume is roasted to a depth that cancels out all these unique qualities. Your typical roast from one of the giant coffee company’s are roasted very dark to give a uniform deep, smokey flavor. Many have come to love this dark flavor, in fact many seek out the darkest roasts they can get their hands on. Although desirable to many, this roast level eclipses any unique flavor that the coffee bean (originally a ripe coffee cherry fruit) held. These flavors come (much, but not exclusively, like wine) from the beans place of origin, the quality of soil, the humidity, the elevation, the processing procedures, the shipment procedures and many other variables that take place between “seed to cup.” 
This is exciting to me because when the variables that produce a quality coffee are cared for by passionate farmers and producers you can end up having a exciting culinary experience with every cup. I have experienced a great variety of flavors in my mug. The most memorable being blueberry, cranberry, caramel, buttery pecan, cinnamon, citrus, toasted nuts and a wide range of chocolate. Also you can taste unpleasant flavors in coffee. While not enjoyable they are still interesting and teach us much about how to produce better coffee: pepper, potato, tomato and mold/mildew. 
My experience as a coffee consumer in the Okanagan has taught me that most of our coffee establishments, although well intentioned and comfortable community establishments have not realized the potential that coffee holds. While in larger cities like Vancouver, Seattle and Portland there is a vibrant and growing community of coffee enthusiasts who are striving to experience coffee in this unique way. My hope and prediction is that this movement is gaining momentum and will soon find it’s home in the Okanagan. With the enthusiasm and popularity behind wine tasting and production it’s only a matter of time before this same type of excitement is given to coffee. Already there are a number of great cafe’s that are moving in this direction and seeking to give coffee the stage it deserves. I encourage consumers in the Okanagan to seek these establishments out and begin to taste and experience all coffee has to offer. Ditch the cream and sugar and taste what coffee was meant to be.
"Discover & Harvest & Roast & Grind & Brew & Sip & Wonder."
- taken from coffeecommon.com a collaboration of world class coffee roasters & baristas. 
Culinary coffee experiences to be had at these fine establishments in the Okanagan:
Summerland - Good Omens Coffee
Kelowna - Streaming Cafe, Pulp Fiction Coffee & Bean Scene
Kamloops  - Red Beard Roasters & Caffe Motivo
Vernon - (Coming Spring 2014) Triumph Coffee
Armstrong - The Wild Oak Cafe
Andrew McWilliam,
with your monthly Coffee Confidential

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