Joane Filler-Varty delicately lifts a cup to her lips, inhales deeply and savours the smell. 'A complex herbal aroma,' she pronounces. She sips, rolling the liquid around the palate. Her eyes half close in ecstasy. 'Definitely, a full-bodied, well-rounded drink and made with experience,' she proclaims. This is her judgment on the Sumatran brew she is enjoying in the lobby of the Peninsula. It is, she judges, one of the finest coffees on earth. 'You should taste coffee the same way as you do wine,' explains the stylish food consultant. She should know: in the course of two decades as a leading adviser on etiquette and all things gastronomic, she has tasted a lot of both. Which is why Ms Filler-Varty was in town recently advising the Peninsula on a new range of 12 coffees which are now being served in the hotel. The queen of coffee, she reigns in Seattle, a city where a hot cup of coffee in infinite variety is the six-times-a-day religion. Nobody seems to know how the moist Emerald City in America's misty Pacific Northwest got the reputation as the coffee-drinking capital of the universe. Residents there swig coffee like Bavarians drink beer or Frenchmen enjoy a glass of wine; it's a passionate love affair. Starbuck's, the famed coffee house, was born in Seattle and Caravali Coffee (for which Ms Filler-Varty is consultant and taster-in-chief) is an offshoot of that mighty cafe latte empire. It supplies exotic coffees such as Guatemala Antigua, Hazelnut Truffle, Kenya AA, Vanilla Creme and Espresso Classico. They are now among the dozen coffees on the menu at the Peninsula, in addition to the house coffee, Caffe della Sera. Long famed for its afternoon teas, which are an icon on the tourism trail, the Peninsula's executive assistant manager in charge of food and beverage, Christoph Zbinden, wanted to boost the hotel's coffee service. He called in Caravali and Ms Filler-Varty. In the 1980s, she ran a promotion company in Los Angeles where she taught people with considerable money but limited social skills how to relax and enjoy themselves in luxury hotels. Part of this discipline was how to enjoy a cup of coffee, something which I would have thought came naturally to most Americans. Then she moved to Seattle where she soon found herself immersed in the city's coffee culture. Making a perfect cup of coffee is no simple business. 'You have to start with great beans,' she says. 'Then you need a focused, talented person to do the roasting. The same beans from the same estate can taste different if the roasting time or heating is altered. Then there is blending, just like wine. 'Grinding is another vital step. It's got to be just right. If you want a complex, full-bodied, unfiltered coffee, the grinding has to be perfect.' If the beans are ground too coarsely, the hot water will flow through swiftly, and end up in the cup without picking up enough flavour. Too fine a grind, and the flow is halted, resulting in harsh flavours. How about instant coffee, I inquire. There is a polite silence. Ms Filler-Varty looks at me with disappointment as I sniff and sip the delicious Hazelnut Truffle. 'Obviously, there is a demand for it,' she observes. Not for her. How to serve coffee is equally important. 'Hot!' she insists. 'It must be hot.' And it has to be 'constituted' properly. This means when she wants a cappuccino, it has to be very different from a cafe latte. The cappuccino must have a collar, but not a layer of whipped frothy milk thick enough to give her a white moustache. Then there's the cup. The Pen's delicate gold-rimmed white saucers are nice, she says. The cup or mug must compliment the coffee. It wouldn't taste as good out of a muddy brown mug. Mug or cup, the rim must not be too thick, nor too heavy. Plastic cups! Horror. 'The cup must be artistically pleasing, too,' she says. We continue the analogy between coffee enjoyment and wine tasting. How about the Guatemala Antigua? Caravali produces a guide to its coffees and this regional speciality is described as having a 'tangy acidity and complex spicy aroma with an elusive chocolaty nuance.' Mexican beans? They come from the high Sierra Madre, I am told, and 'take a handsome roast and brews a fragrant, light-bodied coffee with a satisfying flavour.' The beans from Papua New Guinea produce 'full-bodied coffee with moderate acidity and a racy aroma that hints of velvety cinnamon spice, tropical fruit, roasted nuts and molasses'. Ms Filler-Varty knows them all.