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Coffee-lovers unite for a cuppa at expo in Taipei

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The largest coffee exhibition in Taiwan kicked off yesterday at the Taipei World Trade Center, showcasing the best of local as well as international brands and producers of the popular brew.

The 2007 Coffee World, organized by the Taiwan Coffee Association (TCA) and Chan Chao International Co., Ltd., runs through Nov. 26 as part of the Taipei Tea, Coffee & Wine Expo.

"For the first time this year, we have invited a guest country to the coffee show, the world-famous coffee producer Honduras," remarked Simon Hsing, chairman of the TCA, during the opening ceremony.

Attendees will have the rare treat of learning the techniques involved with coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, the art of evaluating flavors and aromas of brewed coffee from Honduran experts, who will also share their views on the Central American country's coffee quality and competitiveness.

Marlene Villela-Talbott, ambassador of the Republic of Honduras in Taiwan, described her visiting compatriots as "the best delegation from Honduras" who are in Taiwan to share "the flavor of the best coffee in the world, the Honduras coffee."

As a token of appreciation for being chosen as the first guest country representing the coffee industry in the expo, Villela-Talbott announced that Honduras has in turn invited Taiwan as a partner in next year's Cup of Excellence world competition to be held Central American country.

On behalf of the Honduran delegation, Antonio Young, executive vice president of Honduras-based Foundation for Investment and Development of Exports (FIDE), said the exhibition would allow Taiwanese consumers to get acquainted with the quality of Honduran coffee. "It's not for me to say that Honduras has the best coffee in the world; it's for you to realize it through this exhibition."

"One of every three jobs is related to coffee in my country," remarked Ulises Sevilla, regional manager of the Honduran Institute of Coffee (IHCAFE), adding that the bean has a "huge impact" on his country, both economically and socially.

"When my family first started producing coffee in the late 19th century more than 100 years ago we didn't expect that we'd come all the way here — so far!" Sevilla delivered the double-entendre with a laugh.

"What we would like to share with you (not only) the coffee experience, but also the ... friendship experience," said Sevilla, and stressed that he hoped the show would be "the beginning of a long-term friendship."

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