• So long, and thanks for all the coffee. Bloggle notes the passage of the venerable Dr. Ernesto Illy, the son of Illy’s founder, Francesco. Ernesto Illy forwarded the science of espresso coffee more than any individual on the planet. I think Don Schoenholt — a fellow SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate — will not mind if I quote him verbatim…

    The trade is reduced by more than one roaster today. We have lost an inspirational coffee thinker, a high personality, an early friend of the specialty coffee movement on this continent, and an individual who contributed to our understanding of ourselves by raising our scientific consciousness of coffee. Ernesto Illy, SCAA 1997 Lifetime Achievement Laureate, was an extraordinary gentleman who deported himself with grace and dignity.
    Donald N. Schoenholt
    SCAA 2007 Lifetime Achievement Laureate

  • Godspeed, Ernesto.

  • Starbucks Takes a Mulligan on Training. Howard Schultz is back at the helm of the good ship Starbucks, and in addition to gifting iPods to associates that push bean sales — beans, what are these beans? and do they come in a venti? — he’s decreed that Starbucks baristas everywhere get a refresher course on building espresso beverages.

    Starbucks will close 7,100 stores nationwide for three hours on the evening of Feb. 26 to retrain about 135,000 in-store employees and people who oversee the stores.

    “We will have all new standards for how we create the drinks,” said spokeswoman Valerie O’Neil. “They will be trained in creating the perfect shot, steaming the milk and all the pieces that come together in a drink.”

    Go, Howie, go!

  • Robots and Coffee, Redux. Nestle researchers have developed an electronic taster for espresso which purports to rival the palates of trained espresso tasters.

    The machine analyzes the gas espresso gives off when heated, translating combinations of ions into subjective descriptions like “roasted, flowery, woody, toffee and acidity.” Called an “electronic taster,” it was created by chemical engineers at Nestle in Switzerland, and will be used as a quality control device in the coffee industry. And perhaps as an evaluation tool for a few coffee snobs (for the record, the machine only tastes ristretto pulls).

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