The coffee that the caterer had set down alongside some guava-filled pastries was tepid and bitter, with top notes of chlorine. Several of the guests would not touch it, no matter how much they craved caffeine. Standing on a narrow balcony, facing the scrubby hills of Turrialba, Costa Rica, they sipped water or pineapple juice instead. They were entitled to a little coffee snobbery. The roughly 20 people gathered this past March at CATIE, an agricultural university, to discuss the uncertain future of Central American coffee included leading experts on humanity's most beloved beverage.