We chatted with Costa Coffee’s Master of Coffee Gennaro Pelliccia and found out exactly why his tongue is worth so much
Gennaro Pelliccia’s tongue was insured for £10 million (S$21,371,920.88) in 2009.
If you can’t go a day without your caffeine fix and can appreciate the differences between a cappuccino and a latte, you could consider becoming a coffee taster.
Gennaro Pelliccia, Master of Coffee at Costa Coffee, first started out at the coffeehouse as a barista before rising up the ranks to become a trainer, then a Master coffee taster. He tells us what makes a great cup of coffee and reveals more about his £10 million (S$21.3m)-insured tongue.
£10 million is an amazing sum. Why did you insure your tongue for that amount?
My job is to safeguard the taste of Costa Coffee’s Mocha Italia coffee, together with my team at Costa Coffee’s Roastery in London. As such, my responsibility involves deciding whether a blend is suitable for Costa stores around the world. Since the quality of our coffee is so important to Costa, the business decided it would be worth insuring my tongue for £10 million in 2009.
How is a typical day in your work life as Costa’s Master of Coffee?
Every day, I look after the quality of the coffee which goes to all our stores in 30 countries. In our laboratory, we test the raw green coffee for any defects that may affect its taste, and inspect every batch of coffee to ensure perfection. I also have a huge passion for innovation and in helping to develop new ideas, blends and drinks in conjunction with our drinks development managers.
“My job is to safeguard the taste of Costa Coffee’s Mocha Italia coffee, together with my team at Costa Coffee’s Roastery in London.”
How did you become a coffee taster? And why?
During my summer break in school, I found my first job in coffee as a barista at Gatwick airport. When I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I decided to go back to Costa temporarily while I looked for other work.
I must have performed well as a barista as I was offered a role as a Coffee Skills Trainer. During my time as a barista and a trainer, the then Master of Coffee Gino Amasanti took me under his wing and taught me all he knew about espresso coffee and roasting. This led to assisting the Master Roaster and being named Master of Coffee myself in 2005.
How does someone become a coffee taster?
Anybody with a genuine passion for coffee can become one. You need to be able to taste and distinguish the smallest changes in the product and have a vast understanding of the industry.
What are some factors that differentiate a good cup of coffee from a great one?
It comes down to selecting the best blend for your tastes, extracting the coffee just right and finishing it with textured warm milk (if you want a milky drink). But this takes practice. So far, approximately 800-1000 different flavours have been identified but the key desirable flavours include: Roasted coffee, Chocolate-like, Flowery, Fruity & Toasted bread.
What is your go-to cup of joe on an average day and why?
I appreciate the more dominant notes of coffee so I drink an espresso ristretto which allows me to appreciate the piquant and sweet notes without too much bitterness. If I want a milky drink – I like the Corto.
by Samantha Francis