Saturday 22 July 2017

Nose insurance not to be sniffed at

Dave Roberts has had his nose insured by Nescafe to protect his sense of smell
Dave Roberts has had his nose insured by Nescafe to protect his sense of smell

Celebrities may have insured everything from their legs to their smile but a new £2 million insurance policy for one master taster is not to be sniffed at.

Dave Roberts has had his nose insured by Nescafe to protect his sense of smell, which has been responsible for helping sniff out coffees for a quarter of a century.

Whereas the tongue has only five areas of taste, the nose can distinguish millions of scents and Mr Roberts, known among his colleagues as Mr Bean, said aromas have always been a powerful role in his life.

"One of my youngest memories is of my grandmother making fresh coffee in her kitchen, which is perhaps one of the many things which continues to inspire me working in the coffee industry," he said. "I am often reminded of that fond memory when I am at work tasting coffee."

Mr Roberts' journey to chief master taster had humble beginnings in Reading where he studied food technology at university in the 1980s.

After graduating, he joined Nestle as assistant production manager in the vinegar business, where he could be tasting vinegar as early as 6.30am. Mr Roberts moved into coffee at Nestle in the early 1990s and has been tasting coffees ever since, giving him more than 20 years' experience in the industry.

Although based at Nestle HQ in Croydon, his unusual job as chief master taster has taken him around the world in search of the best coffee beans, to places such as South America and Africa.

The fashion for insuring body parts started in Hollywood in the 1920s when silent movie star Ben Turpin, famed for his cross eyes, took out a 20,000 dollar policy against them uncrossing.

Since then there has been Ken Dodd and his teeth (£4 million), food critic Egon Ronay and his taste buds (£250,000), and chef Antony Worrall Thompson and his fingers and tongue (£500,000 each).

Mr Roberts may be in the minority by insuring his nose, but his is not the most famous to come with a premium. That honour goes to Jimmy Durante who, in the 1940s, insured his for 50,000 dollars.

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