Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world, as measured by monetary volume, after crude oil. Coffee, without a doubt, is big business. This is good news for coffee lovers and aficionados who can turn their passion for the brew into a permanent occupation. Coffee demand goes well beyond using beans for hot or cold beverages only. Cooking with coffee is an established trendy culinary practice in many upscale and specialized restaurants. The menus feature dishes with many savory sauces which include coffee as one of the ingredients. Take a quick look at titles of published cook books, recipes, and cuisine news and you will see the use of the brew just about everywhere.
Let's take a look at some of the occupational paths available in the coffee trade.
Coffee Supplier: a middleman between the coffee grower and the bean-buying enterprises. A coffee supplier needs to be an expert in coffee varietals, types of beans, sales and marketing trends, supply and demand conditions for the various types of coffee. Strong business and organizational skills are necessary. Coffee trading includes a complex system of packaging, shipping, export regulation, and transportation coordination. The supplier needs to have great personal skills to communicate with coffee growers on their level and also communicate with coffee buying executives using a very different business language. Foreign language skills are extremely useful, particularly Spanish, since so much coffee is produced in Spanish speaking countries.
Coffee Taster: a very "cool" occupation that requires an extremely advanced sense of taste and smell. Tasters exist for wine, champagne, beer, orange juice and many other consumable products. Coffee tasters are very important in the trade. Professional coffee tasters can distinguish differences between 100 types of coffees. The main purpose of taster is to determine the quality and usability of beans and to develop new blends. The coffee taster does not actually swallow the brew. Instead, the coffee taster sucks it from a spoon to the back of the mouth to sample the flavors with the tongue and then spits out the sample.
Coffee Trader: Arabica coffee futures and options are traded in New York on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE, formerly the New York Board of Trade). Robusta coffee futures are traded in London on Euronext.liffe. There are other international exchanges that trade coffee futures in other foreign locations. Becoming a coffee trader requires knowledge about fluctuation in prices, production and seasonal variations from country to country, keeping up with news about weather, politics and social changes that can impact coffee production. Most of all, a trader needs to have nerves of steel to withstand the emotional and peer pressure that is normal in commodity trading pools where fortunes can be made and lost in a matter of hours or minutes.
Coffee flavorist: this occupation requires an undergraduate degree in either biology or chemistry with specialized food studies at a post graduate level. Most coffee flavorists are passionate about the brew. They are also very curious individuals who love experimentation to find that "next unique flavored brew." The coffee flavorist spends the day mixing and matching specific compounds in order to create unique flavors. Not surprisingly, many flavorists are also very good cooks.
Coffee Inspector: this occupation requires very good knowledge about the beans, ground coffee quality and ingredient testing. Most coffee inspectors work for organizations that are certified to assist with inspection and certification services at docking stations, ports, warehouses and large coffee processing centers. Coffee inspectors inspect bulk shipments and certify quality-control laboratory coffee tasting. The coffee inspector makes sure that bulk coffee buyers receive the correct quantity and quality of beans ordered.
Coffee "Barista:" originally, this term was used in Italy for uniformed bartenders or trained "mixologists" familiar with all types of drink mixtures. Due to the growth in the gourmet coffee industry, the term barista has become synonymous with an expert in producing espresso, espresso-based drinks and many other kinds of coffee beverages. A trained coffee barista knows precisely how much hot water should be forced through the mesh of an espresso machine and for how long in order to create the perfect froth from steamed milk or allow the espresso to form a natural dark. Many baristas also practice "coffee art" and master the art of creating shapes on the brew with milk, cream, coffee flavorings and other ingredients available.
The list continues with many more specialized work opportunities in the trade for coffee lovers. So, what about taking a break and enjoying a delicious cup of White Chocolate flavored coffee or Chocolate Cinnamon Hazelnut flavored coffee?