An Evening of Coffee and Digestives with Slow Food Philadelphia

On December 13, 2012 we attended a Slow Food Philadelphia Seminar on Coffee and After Dinner Spirits/Digestives, featuring Joe Cesa of Philly Fair Trade Roasters. This was our third Slow Food Philly seminar of 2012, and we can’t recommend these seminars highly enough. At $20 per person ($25 at the door), we think this is an amazing value for two hours packed with learning and tasting, all with an emphasis on local and sustainable food and drink.

Joe Cesa spoke passionately about fair trade coffee, which clarified what fair trade is all about and why it is important, especially in regards to the living and working conditions of the farmers. Then we watched the short documentary, After the Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands, in which we learned more about the lives of the coffee growers straight from the people themselves. Between hearing Joe speak and watching the film, we were all very moved about the human experience involved in the coffee industry.

While we watched the video, Joe’s assistant Bobby came around with samples of four different Philly Fair Trade coffees: Costa Rica Medium, Nicaragua Full City, Guatemala Dark, and Decaf Mexico. We were already big fans of the Costa Rica Medium, and after trying the others, it remained our favorite. We were impressed by full flavor of the Decaf Mexico, though, and would definitely recommend it to decaf drinkers. Joe also shared some tasty Market Day Canelés to enjoy with our coffees.

We had some internet problems while streaming the video, and a few times had to pause the video to let the buffering catch up. Interestingly, this technical difficulty turned into a wonderful opportunity for discussion. As this was a smaller-than-usual group, we were able to interact in a more intimate way, and everyone there was very engaged in the topic.

Now, let’s not forget the booze. Joe Brandolo of Slow Food Philadelphia brought an excellent selection of after dinner drinks for us to sample and talked about the benefits of digestives after a meal. The spirits included Jacopo Poli Mirtillo Blueberry Grappa, Argiolas Limonsardo Tremontis, Nardini Aquavite di Vinaccia Bianca Grappa, Giokarinis Samos Ouzo, St. John Commandaria, Nardini Aquavite di Vinaccia Riserva Grappa, and Centerba Toro. Tom and I both started with the Ouzo, which Joe explained was actually an apertif. It was better than any Ouzo either of us had had before and we quite enjoyed it. After the Ouzo, Tom tried the Nardini Aquavite Riserva from Veneto, and I tried the Centerba Toro from Abruzzo. Tom had never been a grappa fan, but the Nardini turned him into a convert. I truly enjoyed the Centerba (“100 herbs”), which was fantastically herbal and complex, with a pale green color. Most of what we were able to try is not easily found in Philadelphia, so we appreciated Joe sharing with us.

Since we already buy Philly Fair Trade Roasters coffee as part of our commitment to supporting locally roasted coffee, it was wonderful to meet Joe Cesa in person, and it was great to recognize Bobby the following Saturday manning the Philly Fair Trade booth at the Fitler Square farmers’ market. We love that this seminar in particular has helped us make deeper connections with our community and with the local businesses that support sustainability and slow food values.

Previously, we attended Slow Food Philadelphia seminars on The Art of Making Chocolate Bean to Bar with Philly Love Bar, which also included an excellent Scotch tasting/pairing, as well as a seminar with Philadelphia Distilling, where we learned more about some of our favorite local spirits, including Bluecoat Gin and Vieux Carré Absinthe. We truly appreciate these seminars, between the educational aspects as well as the connections we make to the people doing good things in the Philadelphia area. We’re looking forward to more seminars next year!