Both are popular beverages enjoyed by millions of people across the world. But when it comes to the growing, blending and tasting, coffee and wine are even more similar than you might expect. European Coffee Symposium sponsor, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, has teamed up with Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn to explore the similarities and bring a new approach to the development of coffee blends in its Grand Crü range.

At the start of 2016, Ronan Sayburn, one of only 200 Master Sommeliers in the world, joined UCC Coffee’s Q-Grader, Gayan Munaweera, to rethink its seasonal, premium Grand Crü coffee.

Ronan Sayburn explains: ‘Wine and coffee are very similar. They’re both natural products and the flavour is taken from the terroir, varietal, altitude and climate, through to the way it’s processed. The way you taste and describe coffee and wine is also very similar – you talk about body, aroma and pick out different flavours such as citrus, nuts and earthy notes.

Developing a blend is all about considering the individual attributes of each coffee and how they would work together – just as you would with a blend of grapes. It’s about creating balance with the different elements to provide a harmonious, delicious product.’

They worked together to select, roast and blend three speciality grade coffees. From the exploration of taste profiles and testing different roasts, through to cupping sessions of different blends, the duo worked together on the delicate process of curating the blend.

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Gayan Munaweera, Head of Coffee Quality and Q-Grader, UCC Coffee says: ‘The coffees selected for Grand Crü are chosen for their unique character and extraordinary quality. Each coffee has achieved an industry recognised SCAA International Quality Score of 80+. This denotes true speciality status of the green coffee. When crafting the blend we consider the individual attributes of each coffee and how these characteristics will work to achieve a harmony of complementary texture, acidity and flavour. So far we’ve developed Composition No.1 comprising of Inzá, Cauca (Colombia), Fazenda Samambaia (Brazil), and Gicherori (Kenya) which we’ll be serving throughout the Symposium.

We’ve been working with Ronan on the next blend and have now created Composition No.2. This new blend consists of four components: Ethiopian Wanego, Ethiopian Konjo-Limu, Guatemala Hacienda Carmona and Sumatra Mandheling Tingkem and it offers a refined, premium taste with a complexity of flavour. It’s truly a unique composition, one which we’re really excited about and can’t wait to showcase at the Symposium – delegates will be the first to try it.’

Ronan comments: ‘Coffee is in vogue at the moment and consumers expect a nice cup wherever they are – and it can have an impressive impact on the bottom line. Like with wine, having a good choice of coffee, presented well, by knowledgeable staff will enhance the customers’ experience. Coffee is the last impression before you go home – get this right and customers will leave happy.’

Grand Crü Composition No.1 will be in the hopper at the coffee bars throughout the European Coffee Symposium. Delegates will also be served Grand Crü Composition No.2 at the meet the buyer session.