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Enjoying a Fine Aroma

Sipping a Cup of Full-bodied Nantou Coffee

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Sipping a Cup of Full-bodied Nantou Coffee

Source:Nantou County Government

An electronic engineer by training, Stanley Chien nonetheless went on to open a breakfast store because he loved food and drink. Inspired by a remark from a customer, Chien delved into coffee roasting, which turned into a real passion for the caffeinated beverage. He became such an expert at brewing coffee that he won the Taiwan Barista Championship in 2011, making a name for himself in the industry and making the promotion of coffee culture his mission.

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Sipping a Cup of Full-bodied Nantou Coffee

By Integrated Communication Department
Sponsored Content

An electronic engineer by training, Stanley Chien nonetheless went on to open a breakfast store because he loved food and drink. Inspired by a remark from a customer, Chien delved into coffee roasting, which turned into a real passion for the caffeinated beverage. He became such an expert at brewing coffee that he won the Taiwan Barista Championship in 2011, making a name for himself in the industry and making the promotion of coffee culture his mission.

Although Chien, who hails from near Zhongxing New Village in Nantou County, moved away with his parents during childhood, he still harbors strong feelings for his old home. Chien’s maternal and paternal grandfathers both run farms in Nantou. Each time Chien returns the countryside, he takes in the green farmland stretching to the horizon and the clean and pleasant air. The lychee, longan and makino bamboo shoots grown on the family farm are etched in his mind with incomparably sweet memories. This is why he is always eager to recommend the rich flavor of Nantou despite his busy coffee promotion schedule.

 “Nantou’s coffee production is located in the Guoxing, Yuchi belt, which belongs to the higher latitude production areas at lower altitudes. In recent years, quality has been steadily improving thanks to the refining of post-harvest procession techniques, and you can taste many layers of flavor,” explains Chien. The coffee growing areas in Nantou stand out for big day and night temperature differences and favorable soil conditions such as very good mineral composition, water and air quality. On top of that, the processing of the coffee berries (also called cherries) after they have been picked, such as removing pulp and skin, washing and roasting, keeps improving, resulting in a fuller flavor.

Looking back on his life, Chien notes that he chose to open a breakfast store after deciding to set up his own business. While running the store, he discovered that coffee played a minor role in the typical Taiwanese breakfast. Yet he felt that a cup of coffee could have enormous power and become a memorable experience. (Read: How an Island of Tea-Drinkers Came to Love the Bean!)

Therefore, he decided to learn the craft and set up his own coffee shop. He realized that coffee can make people feel happy and that he could use his expertise to let his guests experience a blissful cup of aromatic coffee.

Source:Nantou County Government

He eventually became so passionate about coffee that he became a barista champion. Over the past decade, Chien has sampled a countless number of coffee beans, including beans from plantations in Taiwan. “Since Taiwan’s production quantity is low and labor costs are high, one pound of coffee costs more than NT$1,200, much more than imported coffee, which is why it is not easy to promote [Taiwanese coffee],” remarks Chien, pinpointing why the average consumer is not familiar with Taiwanese coffee. (Read: Louisa Coffee Takes Aim at Starbucks)

Chien also makes a point explaining where Taiwanese coffee has a competitive edge, and how to make good use of it. “You see, when you rate alcoholic beverages like whisky and red wine, you will definitely consider its vintage, and then there is the common claim of ‘the older the better.’For coffee, the complete opposite is true; the ‘fresher’ the beans the better. Therefore, locally produced coffee always has an advantage because it has short food miles.”

The coffees from Taiwan’s coffee growing areas in Nantou, Chiayi on the west coast, Hualien and Taitung on the east coast or Pingtung in the south all show different characteristics. Citing Nantou coffee as an example, Chien points out that growers mainly plant coffee trees of the Arabica varietals Typica and Caturra, which produce beans of lower density. However, this disadvantage can be corrected during post-harvest processing, so that the beans still make a flavorful coffee.

Nantou coffee farmers make honey process coffee, which means the skin and pulp are removed, but the beans are sun-dried with some or all of their sticky fruit coating, known as “honey”, remaining. Chien explains that the sensation that honey process coffee creates when entering the mouth resembles that of honey-scented black tea. There are sensations of sweetness and acidity, and amid its savor the drink has a full body resulting from the presence of oily emulsions and insoluble substances knowns as colloids that give it its typical viscosity.

“It’s not just this balanced flavor but also this sweet taste that resembles the warmth and hospitality of the Taiwanese people. It is very representative of Nantou’s local conditions and customs,” says Chien.

Source:Nantou County Government

It is quite rare that a small island like Taiwan can offer such a rich variety of coffee flavors. Those who would like to sample Nantou coffee might as well also sip coffee from different production areas, tasting the different Taiwanese coffee flavors as they travel across the tongue, delighting the taste buds, or even take a trip to coffee country to experience the richness, flavor and aroma of local coffees.

Translated by Susanne Ganz
Edited by Tomas Lin
Content sponsored by Nantou County Government


Additional Reading

Prick up Your Ears to Listen to a Symphony of Mountain Forest Sounds
Focusing on the Joys of Authentic Nantou Cuisine
♦ Taiwan’s Architecture Comes of Age

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