Andrew Timko, one of Kaldi's Coffee's lead roasters, recently made a 10-day excursion to China to help educate coffee professionals there on the finer points of java.
Timko was chosen by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to be the lead instructor for a series of coffee tasting and roasting classes at the Beijing Wholly Coffee Company earlier this month. The company contacted the SCAA to set up the classes to help develop the burgeoning specialty coffee culture in China. Though China is known for its love of tea, as its economy grows, demand for specialty coffee and other luxury goods are on the rise. Timko was already a SCAA lead instructor with roasting and brewing experience, and says he was basically in the right place at the right time when the SCAA was looking for someone to teach the classes.
Timko says the Chinese have all of the tools they need to make great specialty coffee.
"They've latched onto manual brewing, because it's big in the U.S.," he says, adding that drip coffee in China is sometimes regarded as being in the realm of gas stations and Quik Marts.
But while they have the means, Timko says the quality of the coffee grown in the country, as well as the roasting techniques in use and training available, aren't quite up to snuff. He likens the country to a 2 year old dressed up in a suit with an iPad, ready to go but without the requisite maturity. Even so, he says the enthusiasm for coffee is definitely there.
"The people in China are really thirsty for knowledge right now," says Timko. "There's a lot of excitement about coffee."
Timko says the classes will be an annual event at Wholly Coffee. Though he doesn't know for sure if he'll be returning to teach next year, he says the Chinese market is poised for great growth, and "I think Kaldi's is in a good position to be part of that growth."
Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company, multiple locations, 888.892.6333, kaldiscoffee.com