Japanese consumer fads notoriously have about the same lifespan as mayflies — or a Rudi Giulliani presidential campaign, whichever comes shorter. However, here’s one we had not heard of before until seeing this in today’s The Daily Yomiuri: Newly harvested coffee beans attracting attentions : Arts Weekend : Features : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).
Japanese coffee consumption habits are vastly different from Western ones. It’s not just street coffee in a can or the rare siphon bar either. Instant coffee is still rampant, and decaf doesn’t even exist here. For those with higher standards, they do have fashionable, pricey coffee bars called kissaten that ceremoniously select and grind fine beans for you … and then boil the living crap out of it. However, some of Japan’s coffee elites have the habit of buying up small packages of boutique beans from around the world, and this latest consumer trend suggests a growing preference for the “freshness” of early harvest beans.
Coffee cherries (and the beans they contain) are an annual crop — though there are exceptions of some growing regions having both a main crop and a fly crop (a smaller, interim crop between the prime harvests). The harvesting period for coffee depends on the region, climate, and, well, labor, and it can vary between three to six months (or year-round, as in the odd case of aged Indonesian coffees). While it’s not as critical as the freshness of roasted beans, green coffee bean freshness is important. But we haven’t heard much about the qualities of early harvest beans being that much fresher tasting than late harvest, as long as shipping supports lots as they are harvested. But, hey — at least it’s not shark fin soup or whale bacon.
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