What is Coffee


What is Coffee?

This is going to be my final post about coffee. I’m going to talk about the plant itself, the various drinks and wrap up with some interesting facts about coffee. 


The coffee you enjoy each day has taken a long journey to arrive in your cup. The quality and flavor of your coffee is not only determined by your favorite brewing process, but by the country and origin of the coffee, the variety of bean, the roast, and the texture of your grind.

It has taken a long journey from Planting, Harvesting, Processing, Drying, Milling, Exporting, Grading, Roasting, Grinding and finally Brewing to reach you.

 Coffee is personal - the right way to make it is how you like it best.

Everyone recognizes a roasted coffee bean, but you might not recognize an actual coffee plant. Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3 to 4 years for the newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit. The fruit, called the coffee cherry, grow along the branches, and turns a bright, deep red when it is ripe and ready to be harvested. The average coffee tree produces 10 pounds of coffee cherries per year, or 2 pounds of green beans.


The trees grow best in rich soil, with mild temperatures, frequent rain and shaded sun. The Coffee Belt, an Equatorial zone, is located between latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South. This zone which provides the ideal conditions for coffee trees to thrive is where all commercially grown coffee if from.


There are 4 types of coffee tree, Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. However, the two most economically important varieties are the Arabica and the Robusta, which account for over 98% of the world’s coffee production.


Coffea Arabica is descended from the original coffee trees discovered in Ethiopia.  These trees produce a fine, mild, aromatic coffee and represent approximately 70% of the world's coffee production. The beans are flatter and more elongated than Robusta and lower in caffeine.


Coffea Robusta — is tolerant of its environment and practically immune to disease. Its beans have the highest caffeine content, almost double that of Arabica, Robusta is primarily used in blends and for instant coffee. A good quality Robusta will not lose flavor when adding milk or sugar making it perfect for cappuccino and lattes. Production of Robusta is increasing, though it accounts for only about 30% of the world market. The Robusta bean itself tends to be slightly rounder and smaller than an Arabica bean.  


The beans you brew are the processed and roasted seeds from the coffee cherry fruit Once the coffee has been picked, processing must begin as quickly as possible to prevent fruit spoilage. This involves drying and milling and produces the green coffee bean which is ready for export. It is usually packed in jute bags or bulk packed in plastic containers. Everything from the variety of the plant, the chemistry of the soil, the weather, the amount of rainfall and sunshine, and even the precise altitude at which the coffee grows can affect the taste of the final product. It is these variables that give us the familiar speciality coffee beans such as Jamaican Blue Mountain, Columbian, Ethiopian, Mocha Java, Bourbon, and Hawaiian Kona to name a few.

Roasting, which transforms green coffee into the aromatic brown beans that we purchase in our favorite stores or cafés, is generally performed in the importing countries because freshly roasted beans must reach the consumer as quickly as possible. In general, roasts fall into one of four color categories — light, medium, medium-dark, and dark.  


Light roasts - Light brown in color, this roast is generally preferred for milder coffee varieties. There will be no oil on the surface of these beans because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.


Medium roasts - This roast is medium brown in color with a stronger flavor and a non-oily surface.


Dark roasts - Rich, dark color, this roast has some oil on the surface and with a slight bittersweet aftertaste.


Extra Dark roasts - This roast produces shiny black beans with an oily surface and a pronounced bitterness. The darker the roast, the less acidity will be found in the coffee beverage.  

Many consumers assume that the strong, rich flavor of darker roasts indicates a higher level of caffeine, but the opposite is actually true. Light roasts have a higher level of caffeine. And decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine free. Decaffeination removes about 97% of the caffeine in coffee beans. A typical cup of decaf coffee has about 2 mg of caffeine, compared to a typical cup of regular coffee, which has about 95 mg of caffeine.


The Grind

The objective of a proper grind is to get the most flavor in a cup of coffee. How coarse or fine the coffee is ground depends on the brewing method. The length of time the grounds will be in contact with water determines the ideal grade of grind Generally, the finer the grind, the more quickly the coffee should be prepared. That’s why coffee ground for an espresso machine is much finer than coffee brewed in a drip system. 


While there are a lot of choices, remember that there’s no right or wrong — for instance, you can choose a dark, flavorful espresso roast coffee and still have it ground to be brewed in a drip system.


Of the many specialty bean choices perhaps the most expensive and unique is Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee.  It consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten, digested then defecated by the Asian palm civet  The cherries after being defecated with other fecal matter, are collected, cleaned and roasted. Many swear it is the best coffee they have ever had.

Espresso vs Coffee

Coffee can be made a number of ways—with an automatic drip machine, a percolator, and/or a 
French press—but the basic concept is the same: Hot water is poured over ground coffee beans and then allowed to brew or steep. It is usually served as an 8 oz. or larger size.


Espresso is a coffee-brewing method of Italian origin in which a small amount of nearly boiling water is forced under pressure through finely-ground coffee beans using a specialty machine. Served in 1 oz. portions espresso is simply a small, concentrated volume of coffee, extracted using a lot of pressure.

 Now for those interesting facts I promised you

-        In 16th century Constantinople, not providing your wife with enough coffee was grounds for divorce.

-        Before coffee became popular in the United States, the breakfast drink of choice was cider or beer, even for children.

-        Scientists are turning the oil from waste ground coffee into biodiesel,

-        Globally people consume about 2.25 billion cups of coffee every day.

-        Coffee grounds are physical exfoliators that can lift off dead skin cells, making skin feel smooth and look brighter," 

-        Coffee grounds add nitrogen to your compost, attracting microorganisms and earthworms!

-        Coffee is an effective antioxidant; it restricts the growth of harmful radicals in our body.

-        Coffee requires approximately 21000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of roasted coffee. By comparison it takes about 17,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of chocolate or 15,500 litres of water to get 1 kg of beef to your dinner table. 

I hope you enjoyed our look at coffee. 

Coming up next Mushrooms – Love em or Hate em!


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