“That’s how you know you got a great product,” Todd said. The passion pooled up in his eyes like latte’. He ran his fingers ran over the hole and poking through one layer of the bag. It stirred up the jute in the sun and made its sweet scent drift past my nose.
“The buyers,” he said a little more excited, “they have this…tool — kind-of like the guys who buy wine do when they’re going to test a keg. It’s a long metal thing. They stick it into the center and pull out a sleeve of beans. If they’re any good, they buy them, if not, they pass. Right then. Right there. Before they’re ever even roasted.” He gestured with his hands when he said “right then. Right there.” I knew he meant it.
“What makes a ‘good bean?'” I asked.
“It all depends. Soil. Temperature. Water and sunlight have a lot to do with it, too. They have to be just the right size so they’ll roast evenly, have just the right amount of oil so they’ll produce the right aroma. They have to be ripe. The ‘pick’ has to be clean — no stones, or leaves, or branches. And they have to be the right variety in the first place. When we say ‘Arabica,’ we can’t have something else floating through the cup, now can we?”
I shook my head, humbled by my ignorance. “I’d wondered what that hole was. But I had no idea. I just took my morning coffee for granted.”