Coffee Master Yu-chuan Jacky Lai: The Pride of Kaohsiung／咖啡職人賴昱權 高雄之光
Coffee Master Yu-chuan Jacky Lai: The Pride of Kaohsiung
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photos by Huang Ching-wen
Coffee beans emit their first crack in the roasting room. The roasting process is almost finished, and the room is filled with the aroma of coffee. Coffee roaster Mr. Yu-chuan Jacky Lai checks the beans to determine if the aroma is sufficiently distinct, while simultaneously discarding bad beans.
Mr. Lai was named 2014 World Coffee Roasting Champion at the World Coffee Events (WCE). Visiting him at his coffeeshop OH! Cafe around noon, his place of business looks like a science lab. The walls are covered with what seem to be math formulas, drafted by Mr. Lai and his partners as part of their efforts to come up with the best roasting processes and time frames. Developed after many experiments, they now use these formulas as their standard roasting procedures.
Mr. Lai says the purpose of coffee roasting is, "to translate coffee beans into great flavors." According to him, the key elements of coffee roasting include the coffee not having any raw, astringent, bitter, or burnt flavors.
"Drink the best coffee, or drink mediocre coffee!" says Mr. Lai, pointing out that one has to learn how to taste coffee before starting to study it. He utilizes all his coffee-related knowledge and has devoted himself to roasting the most delicious coffee beans. His routine is to roast coffee beans for eight hours every other day; his dedication and discipline are hard to imagine.
A cup of delicate coffee embodies Mr. Lai's countless hours of hard work. In 2014, Mr. Lai was not only the World Coffee Roasting Champion, but also was accredited as an Authorized Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) Coffee Roasting Trainer, a Specialty of Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Certified Cupping Judge, and a Licensed Q Grader from the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). Mr. Lai makes sure his customers are able to enjoy the best coffee. He takes all criteria into consideration, including the taste of ground coffee beans and brewed coffee, the aftertaste and fragrance remaining in the throat, the balance between sweetness and acidity, as well as the acidity, richness, and aroma.
Before a cup of coffee is presented to a customer, its contents undergo a long journey. From green coffee beans, coffee flavors, roasting, grinding to brewing, there is a deliberate connection between every step.
Mr. Lai says he prefers Ethiopian coffee beans with high acidity. To him, coffee without acidity has no soul. Mr. Lai says Taiwanese people are not used to acidity in coffee, but more and more can accept this kind of taste after he explains how important acidity is to coffee tasting. Mr. Lai is now more willing to share acidic coffee with fellow coffee-lovers.
This February, Mr. Lai introduced his brand COACHEF to the commercial coffee-bean market. The brand has won popularity nationwide, and Mr. Lai's drip-bag coffee has sold in supermarkets around Taiwan since this May. Applying his professional knowledge and roasting skills, Mr. Lai strives to make every cup of coffee delicious.
"Kaohsiung definitely has the potential to become a City of Coffee." says Mr. Lai. Kaohsiung residents have won two of the seven championships organized by the WCE, showing the city has many talented coffee baristas. Kaohsiung also has the advantage of offering some of the best coffee available in Taiwan, attracting coffee lovers from all over to visit!
No. 5, Binhai 2nd Road, Gushan
District, Kaohsiung City