My Peruvian Coffee Experience 

Quillabamba View
Morning view in Quillabamba, in the mountains of Cusco

Join Me On A Coffee Adventure

From a new brewing technique, coffee from cats poop, a different tradition, to coffee in a wine glass. My trip to Peru in 2020 has me experienced many things coffee for the first time. Let me take on a trip from the Sacred Valley in the mountains of Cusco to Lima under Covid-lockdown.

Coffee In Shop in Quillabamba
A little cooperative café in Quillabamba

Local Grown, Local Roasted, Local Consumed

A seven-hour bus drive away from Cusco, beyond the famous Machu Picchu, lays the city Quillabamba. After hours in the bus up the small roads further into the cloudy mountain forest, you keep wondering, where there should be a city. Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, there is this vibrating, busy city with more than 20.000 inhabitants, unknown to tourist. Little tuck tucks swarming around all-day, bringing everyone from A to B. 

Quillabamba marks the starting point from where I’m about to visit cacao plantages for the next few days. In the areas around farmers bring their beans to fermentation- and drying stations. And where is cacao, coffee is not far. So let’s explore the coffee culture in this remote place in the Peruvian mountains.

Coffee store in the front, cacao fermentation station in the backyard – that is the in-house sale belonging to a cooperative, an association of local farmers. Farmers from around bring their beans to be dried in fermented in this station, in front shop and café you can enjoy local coffee, also roasted on the place and buy chocolate made from the local beans

Ices Coffee at cooperative
Iced Coffee in tropical heat in a fermentation station

Cacao & Coffee Is A Good Match

There is nothing better than an iced coffee in hot tropical heat while learning more about fermentation of cacao beans. The Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Alto Urubamba Ltda. N ° 239 collects and modificates of coffee and cacao beans, collected from the harvests of its cooperative members in the area who manage their crops with ecological and organic standards. While I’m learning more about the fermentation protocol of their cacao, I get to enjoy their beverage ice cold with vanilla ice. Imagine your starbucks frappuccino on a hot summer day, but with actual good coffee beans. 

Traditional Peruvian Coffee Drip Method
Trying a peruvian driping method of coffee brewing

Traditional Peruvian Drip Coffee Method

I’ve never saw a brewing method like this before. Although you can get emaille coffee can with filter like this in antique french stores, it seem to be a Peruvian style. For three persons the barista used 29 gram of fresh grinded coffee and 90 degrees water, poured over slowly. It takes its time to pass, but the coffee is strong and if good quality beans are used, you can achieves better aroma than with other methods, I was assured.The grinding should be finer than you would use for a french press but coarser than for a filter. It was a excellent and unique tasting experience.

Kopi Luwak Coffee Cusco
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The Most Expensive Coffee In The World – Is It Worth It?

You have probably heard of Kopi luwak or Capis Coffee in connection with poop. The Capis Coffee is processed like the following: The Coati or Cat-Monkey (Civet) animals are in charge of “harvesting” or collecting the Best Coffee beans, Guayaba fruits, Lucuma fruits, Pears, Peaches and other exotic local fruits. This fruity mix will enter into a deep fermentation with a unique aroma, yes by being partially digested and then pooped out by the civet.

Now there comes some problems with this. The high demand leads to more wild civets are being confined to cages on coffee plantations as tourist attraction.

I visited in animal rescue reservat where they not only kept this civets but also tigers who were rescued from clubs in Lima, where they were drugged for the sole purpose of entertaining visitors and making selfies. The rescue center sell this coffee along with handmade alpaca wool products to sustain themselves. 

So what is all the fuss about this premium coffee? I can assure you, you don’t miss out on anything here. Is the coffee good, mild, little acidic? Yes? Is it worth to pay such a high price for it and endanger a species? No. You can totally get a good tasting quality coffee at your local roaster. 

Lima Coffee Shop
The new normal?

Speciality Coffee Stores Under Lockdown

I was spending months in Miraflores, Lima before the first speciality coffee shops opened again and drinking out again with new hygienic measures was something for all of us we’ve never experienced before. For me, my first visit was a specialty coffee store, of course. With mild climate and doors open … This is far from normal but I wonder, what it means for hygienic standards in the future when hospitality opens again. 

Filtered Coffee In Wine Glas
No, this is not wine, it's filtered coffee.

Peak Hipster Level Coffee

I knew I reached peak hipster level when I was served coffee in a wine glass. This was nothing fancy os special and the café also doesn’t have any pretentiousness on it. It was just their way to show dedication to their coffee or maybe because I was a tourist. It was my last week in Lima before returning to Europe and somehow this weird thing gave me comfort. If you can serve coffee like this in the middle of a pandemic and your Land in chaos, eventually everything is gonna be alright again. 

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Was ist Craft Chocolate?

Dunkle Schokolade 82%
Dunkle Schokolade muss nicht bitter schmecken.

 

Auch Bean – To – Bar Chocolate genannt. Und warum ist das schon wieder englisch?

Deutschland hängt dem Trend ein wenig hinterher, aber keine Sorge, dafür bin ich ja da. Craft Chocolate ist dabei mehr als ein Trend. Es geht um wahrhaften Genuss und eine Bewegung zurück zum Ursprung von Kakao. Du lernst hier gute von schlechter Schokolade zu unterscheiden und was es mit diesen neumodischen Begriffen auf sich hat.

Dazu musst Du zunächst alles vergessen, was Du über Schokolade gelernt hast. Bist Du bereit?

Schokolade ist Nahrung, keine Süßigkeit

Was wir seit unserer Kindheit als Schokolade kennen, ist vor allem Zucker und nur zu einem geringen Prozentsatz tatsächlicher Kakao. Du denkst “aber ein hoher Prozentsatz an Kacao macht Schokolade bitter!” Was, wenn ich Dir verrate: gute Schokolade ist nicht bitter. Auch nicht wenn sie 80, 90 oder gar 100% Kakao enthält. Das ist einer der Unterschiede von Craft Chocolate zu dem, was Du als Schokolade kennst. Das bedeutet, dunkle Schokolade ist genau das Superfood, als das es immer vermarktet wird. Aber hören wir bitte auf, es Bitterschokolade zu nennen. Wobei, kein Wunder! Hast Du schon mal eine 99% Lindt Schokolade probiert und wolltest sie danach gleich wieder ausspucken? Du musst jetzt ganz stark sein: Lindt ist kein Maßstab für gute Schokoladenqualität. Fangen wir ganz von vorn an…

Lindt Excellence
Die einzige “Excellence” hier ist das Marketing. Alle Süße und Fruchtigkeit wurde aus den Bohnen heraus gebrannt, darum bleibt nur Bitterkeit und “Röstaromen” und das wird uns seit Jahren als “Kakao-Geschmack” verkauft. Bullshit.

Was ist drin in Schokolade?

Es ist eigentlich ganz simpel:

Gute Kakaobohnen +  Zucker (+ Milchpulver für Milchschokolade) = gute Schokolade.

Simpel, nicht einfach. So eine Schokolade herzustellen, ist ganz schön komplex. 

Hast Du mal in die Zutatenliste geschaut, was in so einer “Schokolade” fast immer drin ist? Sojalecithin, Stabilisatoren, Vanille. Industrielle Schokolade ist voller Füllstoffe und Aromen. Da hat es sich jemand einfach gemacht. Natürlicher Kakao enthält von sich aus über 400 Geschmacksaromen. Die meisten Menschen werden diese Vielfalt niemals kosten.

Industrielle Schokolade aus dem Supermarkt vs. Bean-To-Bar

Der Unterschied liegt in jedem Schritt der Schokoladenherstellung. Vom Anbau der Kakaobohnen bis zur fertigen Tafel. (Englisch: from bean to the [chocolate] bar.) In der industriellen Herstellung ist die Lieferkette um ein Vielfaches länger und jeder Produktionschritt ausgelagert. Die Bean-To-Bar Hersteller möchten diese so klein wie möglich halten und damit mehr Transparenz in die Lieferkette bringen und die Verarbeitung passiert oft noch in kleinen Manufakturen, nicht weit vom Verkaufsort. Ähnlich wie einem Hofladen. 

Die Bohnen – The Bean

Der Kakaobaum ist eigentlich ein Schattengewächs und fühlt sich am wohlsten inmitten anderer Sträucher und Bäume. Kakao wächst rund um den Äquator, meist in Regenwaldgebieten; umgeben von Bananen, Avocado, Vanille, Pfeffer oder Kokos. Je nach Umgebung nimmt die Kakaobohne die Aromen anderer Früchte aus ihrer Umwelt auf. So schmeckt Kakao – und letztlich auch die Schokolade – ganz anders je nach Herkunft. Schokolade aus Peru z.B. schmeckt ganz anders als aus Madagaskar oder den Philippinen. 

Warum Du das wahrscheinlich noch nie probiert hast? Weil 60% der weltweiten Schokolade aus Ghana und der Elfenbeinküste stammen und der Markt von nur vier multinationalen Konzernen dominiert wird. Die vier Multis, auch als Big Chocolate bezeichnet, sind Mondelez (dem Cadbury und Milka gehört), Mars, Nestlé und Hershey. Die Industrie will, dass sie immer gleich schmeckt und möglichst billig ist. Darum wird der Kakao in großen Monokulturen angebaut und nicht nach Herkunft unterschieden. Du musst schon ziemlich suchen, um auf einer Schokoladentafel die Herkunft der Bohnen zu finden. Das ist ein weiteres Merkmal von Bean-To-Bar. Diese Hersteller sind so stolz auf ihre Bohnen, dass sie Dir schon auf der Verpackung sagen, wo sie herkommen. Ein richtiger B2B Schokoladenmacher sollte seinen Kakao bis zur Plantage zurückverfolgen können. Von der Bohne bis zur Tafel eben.

Die Tafel – The Bar

Der Einfachheit halber haben wir mal einige Zwischenschritte übersprungen. Wie kommt also der Geschmack in die Tafel? Da der Grundstoff in Supermarkt-Schokolade fast immer gleich ist, unterscheidet sich der Geschmack nur wenig von Hersteller zu Hersteller. Natürlich hat jeder seine eigenen Rezepte und einige sind z.B. bekannt für ihren zarten Schmelz. Dieser Schmelz kommt durch die Verarbeitung in der Conche. 

Ein Bean-To-Bar Schokoladenmacher hat oft gar nicht die Kapazitäten für so eine Conche. Um die Lieferketten klein und übersichtlich zu halten, kaufen sie oft kleine Mengen und verarbeiten diese auch in kleinen Mühlen. Dadurch bekommt die Schokolade eine andere Textur. Das ist nicht besser oder schlechter, nur anders als Du es gewohnt bist. Der Geschmack kommt also von der Bohne. Allerdings kann Schokolade aus der gleichen Bohne von unterschiedlichen Herstellern trotzdem anders schmecken. Ich sagte ja, es ist simpel, aber nicht einfach. Viele weitere Schritte wie die Röstung können den Geschmack beeinflussen. So sind der Vielfalt der Aromen keine Grenzen gesetzt.

verschiedene Kakaobohnen aus Cusco, Peru
Frische Kakaobohnen

Was ist nun Craft Chocolate?

Dort, wo die Industrie einen Einheitsgeschmack produziert, wollen kleinere Schokoladenhersteller mehr Diversität hinein bringen. Biodiversität z.B.. Wusstest Du, dass Kakao viele genetische Variationen hat, die alle unterschiedlich schmecken? Wenn mehr Leute diese Kleinbauern unterstützen, in dem sie Schokolade kaufen, die nicht von großen Schokoladenfirmen hergestellt wurde, können diese unterschiedlichen Arten erhalten werden. Diese kleinen Schokoladenhersteller nennen ihre Schokoladen Craft Chocolate, weil eben viel Handarbeit hineinfließt, um eine Tafel zu produzieren, die die Aromen der Kakaobohnen am besten herausbringt. Alles nur, um Dir ein besonderes Geschmackserlebnis zu bieten. 

Der Unterschied zwischen Craft Chocolate und Bean-To-Bar 

Sowohl Craft Chocolate als auch Bean-To-Bar sind keine geschützten Begriffe. Sie meinen im Grunde dasselbe: sie sind das Gegenteil von industriell gefertigter Massen-Schokolade. Diversität statt Einheitsgeschmack. Bio Anbau statt Monokulturen. Während der Begriff Craft sich mehr auf die Qualität und Kunst der Herstellung bezieht, möchte Bean-To-Bar sagen, dass es mit seinen Lieferketten verantwortungsvoll umgeht. Warum das eine Rolle spielt? Weil Dinge wie Kinderarbeit und Abholzung seit jeher ein Problem im Kakaohandel sind. Aber das heben wir uns für einen anderen Artikel auf. 

Wo kann ich Craft Chocolate kaufen?

Weil das noch eine sehr kleine Nische mit kleinen Herstellern ist, haben diese oftmals a) gar keine Mengen um Supermarktketten zu beliefern und b) keine Kapazitäten um sich um diesen Vertrieb zu kümmern (das ist eben auch ein Teil von kleinen Lieferketten). Darum ist das Internet die Beste Anlaufstelle. Es gibt einige wenige Online Shops, die eine Auswahl an verschiedene Herstellern zusammengetragen haben. 

Aber diese Schokolade ist so teuer!

Tja, Bio-Anbau, faire Preise für Bauern und kleine Herstellung haben nunmal ihren Preis. Vielmehr sollte man sich fragen, warum Supermarkt Schokolade so billig ist. Billige Preise werden erkauft, wie sooft mit billiger Arbeitskraft (genau, Kinderarbeit) und Abholzung. Wenn so viele Zwischenschritte erforderlich sind, die zumeist noch ausgelagert sind, eine Tafel am Ende 1,20€ kostet, und dabei das meiste an den Handel und große Marken geht, kann man sich ja denken, dass am Anfang der Lieferkette, nämlich bei den Bauern, fast nichts hängen bleibt. Dabei sind die doch dafür verantwortlich, dass es auch in Zukunft noch gute Kakaobohnen gibt. Sie machen auch den harten Teil der Arbeit. Sollten sie nicht wie alle, vernünftig entlohnt werden? Wenn es sich für Bauern nicht lohnt, in guten Kakaoanbau zu investieren, verlieren wir alle daran. 

Lohnt sich der Aufwand für Schokolade?

Puh, ziemlich teuer, schwer zu bekommen, warum sollte man sich überhaupt die Mühe machen gute Schokolade zu suchen? Weil Du belohnt wirst, mit einzigartigem Geschmack. Aber ich muss Dich warnen – Du wirst nie wieder Supermarkt Schokolade essen wollen.

Auf den Geschmack gekommen?

Komm in meinen Telegram Channel, wo ich immer aktuell über Live Events und Verkostungen informiere. Außerdem gibt es Tips zu guten Schokoladen. 

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Now Is Not The Time For Dieting

A spoon full of dulce de leech

 

A spoon full of dulce de leche anyone?

To the people who know me best for my low carb eating approach, my commitment for intermittent fasting and my inspiring post on Instagram about morning routines: I’m currently spooning 200-gram can of dulce de leche. At times, on a daily basis. Sorry, not sorry.  #quarantinelife

In this article, I will address why our bodies turn to comfort food in times of crisis, why it’s necessary to be nice to ourselves nicely while the world seems to be up in flames and how you can find a balance of treats and nutrition. 

Comfort Eating In Times Of The Covid Pandemic

What is it your Lockdown Lifeline​​​​​​​ during this global pandemic? Unless you’re not reading this from your yacht or domicile​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ in the Hamptons I assume you, too been affected by major changes to your daily routines and trying to cope with this strange, new situation. 

The global health and economic crisis brings us uncertainty and stress. And the routines, that gave us a form of stability and predictability have vanished. It’s understandable if you feeling anxious right now.

As the world went into lockdown, I find myself in Lima, Peru. At first, I embraced a new adventure in a new country and was eager to explore local food customs and tastes. The new quickly turned into being locked in the same room for weeks, I also seek into indulging into something familiar.

I suddenly found a can of dulce de leche in the supermarket. Despite my better knowledge, I choose some childhood memories instead of worrying about all that sugar.   

Long before dulce de leche became popular in Germany, it was used in Poland and my mum and aunt would add it into their baking. The cans of sweet condensed milk would need roughly two hours to cook on the stove and required real patience. After ages, when the can was finally cooled and could be opened, I was only allowed to spoon out the leftovers.

But the good thing about being an adult is, getting to eat all the good stuff like cookie dough or a full can of sugar by yourself.

In a mix of sugar rush and childhood memories I could drown my responsibilities as an adult for a while enjoying its pleasures. (And maybe I was so greedy that I cut myself on the rim of the can when I wanted to sniff out the rest.)

Crisis Mode And Comfort Food

According to theOxford English Dictionary, “comfort food” is “food that comforts or affords solace; hence, any food (freq. with a high sugar or carbohydrate content) that is associated with childhood or with home cooking. orig. N. Amer.” Merriam-Webster’s 10th editionCollegiate Dictionarydefines comfort food as fare “prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal,” while in theEncyclopedia of Food and Culture(2002), Julie Locher notes that it is “any food consumed by individuals, often during periods of stress, that evokes positive emotions and is associated with significant social relationships.”

Jones, M., & Long, L. (2017). Introduction. In Jones M. & Long L. (Eds.), Comfort Food: Meanings and Memories (pp. 3-16). Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. doi:10.2307/j.ctv5jxmmz.3

And with our society being obsessed with food, this is the ressource best available when we deal with emotions.

The Role Of Sugar And Carbohydrates When You’re Stressed

In a crisis our body produce the stress hormone cortisol. Under stress the body requires as much fuel as possible to fight or flee, and sugar is the ultimate fuel. It gives you immediate energy. Cortisol raises blood sugar and increases the desire for sugar and salt. But fast releasing carbohydrates like sugar, glucose, wheat, cereals and crisps cause your body to spike your insulin levels, but what follows is a fast crash of insulin and your are soon hungry again.  

We almost cannot avoid cravings.

To prevent the insulin crush it would be better we would consume slow releasing carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. But under stress we rather make short-term decisions, based on the resources that we have now. Processed food is easy and everywhere available. You don’t have to wash, peel or cut anything – just tear open a packaging and stuff it in your mouth (nobody’s watching anyways). 

Beware Of Malnutrition

When we’re in survival mode, we tend to turn to cheaper, less nutritious food.

It’s a trap. The insulin rush from the sweet or salty “treats” makes you crave more sugar and more crappy food. The food industry designed food that makes us addictive. You are supposed to eat when you’re not hungry and buy more of whatever gives you quick pleasure. Or did you ever actually not finished a package of crisps once it’s open? How long did this joy actually last?

This is why poor communities with lack of nutritious food are the most often overweight. Poor people make poor decision because their brains are in constant survival mode.

We must not fall into the trap of seeking short term gratification because we pay for it long term with our health. (I can already see my skin paying the price for my newly addiction to dulce de leche.)

Although the couple of pounds more you’re gaining in this lockdown aren’t the problem, the new trained habits are. It will be hard to get back into a healthy food routine again. It’s easier to maintain a lifestyle than create a new habit.

Treat Yourself But Find A Balance

“Satisfaction is not a sign that you’ve lost control”. Christiana Johnson

A treat is something occasionally. When it becomes the norm, it’s not special anymore. Apply the 80/20 rule. Give yourself in in whatever you please 20% of the time without guilt, but do something for your body the rest 80% of the time. This way you are better able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and some snacks every now and then won’t destroy that. 

The common sense of natural, unprocessed food. Protein and fat will keep you full for longer than carbohydrates. Put the sweet treats after a nourishing meal. Your insulin levels will increase slower and therefor fall slower. You will feel less tired and have better energy. Keep the pizza and crisps for the night. 

Nourish your brain and body. Get out in the fresh air, cook fresh if you can. And I know you don’t like to hear it, but give some workout a try. It will reduce your stress and anxiety, give you lucky hormones and help you to sleep better. Don’t do it because you must but because you may. Don’t see workout as a punishment for your body you only link with an excessive routine to lose weight or trim yourself. 

Begin with a little stretching routine. Just a couple of minutes. Make yourself comfortable. Be nice to yourself. You deserve it. 

Parent Yourself

There is no shame in indulging or fighting stress the easiest way. 

But we have to parent ourselves now. So remember what our parents teach us: Eat your vegetables first, then comes dessert.

How are you coping? Do you find it hard to find a balance?

Leave me a comment, drop me a message at hello@foodipol.com or DM me on my Instagram.

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Sorry, “the best chocolate” doesn’t exist
melted chocolate drops by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Sorry, “the best chocolate” doesn’t exist

melted chocolate drops
melted chocolate drops by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

People asking me “which is the best chocolate on the market?”

Working in marketing I’ve been selling this for a while, “the best chocolate.”

Sorry to break it down for you but:                  It’s a lie.

You swallowed the truth pretty good so far. It’s getting better from now on. Let me tell you why you don’t want there to be a best when it comes to chocolate: you would limit your experience. 

Our taste is changing and so is the chocolate market 

Imagine your favourite song from your favourite artist, let’s say, back in the 90ies. Yes, good times. But as we still might enjoy the songs from years ago, new artist have come along since then. Some of our favourite singers, rappers and bands have evolved (others disappeared for the good). Imagine, if you never have listened to anything else but 90ies music ever since. 

Craft chocolate or the fine flavour sector of chocolate is still young and only at its beginning. Because many small chocolate makers are disrupting a market now that has been dominated by big players for long. 

You might have come across a chocolate bar that is different from what you have known before. Or you might have already discovered craft chocolate for you and are looking for the holy grail? The best brand? The best bar? Don’t.

Every origin has its own flavour

Well, this is a broad subject I will dedicate an own article soon. But for those of you unfamiliar with the term single origin – you may think of it like terroir when it comes to wine. When we’re talking about coffee it’s also very common to know where our beans are originated from. For cacao this is still new, though the environment plays a major role for the aroma and taste of a bean. 

For example cacao from Madagascar has distinct vanilla aroma. Piura in the north region of Peru is known for its fruitiness while dry african regions like Tanzania can have an earthy taste and it’s closer to what we know of a chocolate taste. Because most chocolate comes from Ghana and Ivory Coast and that is the chocolate taste we’ve been use to and grew up with. When you then taste a vietnamese chocolate for the first time you’d be surprised by the variety of flavours you have never been exposed to before. 

Everything that plays into the flavour of a chocolate

  • The Origin (climate, soil) 
  • The fermentation process 
  • The roasting
  • The grinding 
  • The tempering and conching
  • How much sugar you add 
  • What kind of sugar (or other sweetener)
  • For milk chocolate: the milk (cow milk, buttermilk, goat milk, nut milks)

And the finished couverture you can still 

  • blend, mix with spices, herbs, nuts etc.

As you can can see the variables are endless and so is gonna be the end product.

  • And last but not least: warehousing – can make or break a bean or a chocolate. 

Each chocolate maker brings his own handwriting

Chocolate making is an art. Like a writer, singer or photographer every creator wants to wake your emotions a different way. Every chocolate maker will bring his own handwriting and signature.

This piece of expensive craft chocolate that is now melting in your mouth? Someone has put all their passion into crafting this for you to enjoy. But I will tell you yet another secret: even chocolate makers do not have a favourite of their own. Because in a different mood we’re seeking a different kind of comfort. As you have a different playlist for when you need to focus, when you are working out or are heart broken, you seek a another taste. How we taste things differ even during the day, depending on what we are eating and drinking. What might be your favourite to enjoy on a friday night with a glass of wine is something else you want and need at 10 am at your desk.

Your next favourite song

There is so much more to explore in chocolate. Why would you limit your taste experience? Why would you want to find the best chocolate and stop there? Don’t settle. Chocolate is the easiest way to take our emotions on a journey. Close your eyes and wander …

 

Wanna know more?

Read the basics on "What Is Single-Origin Chocolate?" and  

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