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Coffee & Wine Comparison – Part 1

May 29, 2012

Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means an expert on wine and I do not know everything about coffee.  What I can lay claim to is that I have a love for both.

When I first started in the coffee industry 6 years ago I had an appreciation for and found enjoyment in coffee, but I had a definite lack of understanding and knowledge.  As I’ve grown within the industry, my knowledge, understanding, passion and respect for coffee has continued to grow.  I don’t expect this to ever stop.  Through this process, I also discovered wine.  This too I had an appreciation for but was admittedly very ignorant as to regional variations, varietal variations, terroir variations, etc…  I’ve found that interestingly in both instances these variables can have a profound impact on the characteristics of the beverage you choose.  Ultimately for me, it came down to and education in how my palette works.  This brings me to my first discovery of the cross-over between these two wonderful beverages.

The flavor-wheels of coffee & wine:

Coffee and Wine flavour wheels

Starting in the middle of each of these we work our way to the outside in order to establish a definition of what on earth we have in our mouth.  While many of the names differ, the use and understanding of them is the same.  Ultimately it’s the similarities that drew my attention.

Another interesting social observation I’ve made is that during the time we’ve seen the uprising of the so-called “3rd wave” of coffee, with its high end, made to order coffee bars serving, fantastic coffee prepared by baristas who know and understand exactly what they are serving, how it should be served, and why it’s served that way, there has been a marked increase in the number of  “Boutique” wine shops, I’ve noticed a shift in inventory of larger big box liquor stores to carry an ever increasing inventory of fine wines, and the opening of dedicated wine bars.  I find the similar evolution astounding.

The more I think about this the more I appreciate the similarities.  Coffee is impacted by climate, so is wine. Coffee is impacted by terroir, so is wine. Coffee is impacted by processing, so is wine.  You can only drink soo much wine before you don’t feel well, we all know that it’s the same with coffee.  These are emotional drinks, they can elicit fond memories, they can bring joy, and they can quite literally alter your mood.

The only real and unfortunate difference I can find is that coffee is for the impatient…  Coffee needs to be enjoyed now.  Wine on the other hand can be for the patient.  It can have a shelf life.

What is the point of this post?  I have no idea.  It’s just something I find fascinating and is a great topic to ponder over a great cup of coffee, or glass of wine…  This being said, I’ve now decided that this will be followed up with a subsequent post discussing a little more about regionality and how we fall in love…

Written by Joel May of Fratello Coffee Roasters