COFFEE 101 - BACK TO BASICS
EVERYTHING TO LOVE & KNOW ABOUT COFFEE
What is Coffee ?
Adored by Arabs, celebrated by Turks and judged by popes, consumed with fear, curiosity and thrill, coffee keeps writing the pages of its majestic story. The time has come to reveal some of the chapters.
Its Royal Highness – coffee!
Throughout the history of its existence, the rich aroma and nuanced flavors of this magic drink have been the key components of delightful consuming ritual, millions of people enjoy every single day.
However, even some of the most passionate coffee lovers don’t know much about what coffee is or how it looks like. Would you be able to recognize a charming coffee tree?
Let’s dig a bit into the cherries, leaves and branches of this peculiar plant.
The coffee tree is covered with green, waxy leaves and enrichened with cherries that grow along the branches.
The taste of the final product depends on numerous complex factors – the coffee plant prefers fertile soil and mild temperatures, with lots of rain and shaded sun. That is why all the world’s coffee is grown in a band around the middle of the globe, the Equatorial zone called The Bean Belt.
While experts estimate that there are anywhere from 25 to 100 species of coffee plants, a commercial coffee industry made it all a bit easier for us – Arabica and Robusta are the ones we drink regularly.
History of Coffee
It all started with a cheerful goat
A popular Ethiopian legend says coffee is discovered by a herder named Kaldi, who found his goats full of energy after eating the red fruit of the coffee shrub.
Kaldi the Great
Coffee cultivation and trade began on the Arabian Peninsula and by the 16th century, it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Ottoman Turks introduced coffee to the glorious power center of Constantinople. Historians believe that rapidly emerging coffee shops of Constantinople have been the first ones in this part of the world. These places quickly became hotspots for vibrant discussions and political debates of eminent patrons. While drinking coffee, they would listen to music, watch performers or play chess. Evolving into essential centers for the exchange of information, coffee places were soon named Schools of the Wise.
The 17th century was a golden era of coffee all around Europe. Coffee houses were quickly becoming centers of social activity in the major cities of Arabia, Italy, England, Austria, France, Germany and Holland.
Although adored by many consumers across the globe, things didn’t always go smoothly.
“The local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615, calling it the bitter invention of Satan”
Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene to solve the controversy. However, after tasting the beverage, he was so enchanted that he gave it papal approval with no second thoughts.
In 1650 the first coffee house in all of England opened near the University of Oxford where curious students consumed it for both pleasure and energy boost - two years later the first coffeehouse welcomed its visitors in London.
If you ever visit Paris, having a perfect sip of coffee in the city’s most iconic and oldest café, Café Procope is a must! The Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened it back in 1686 as the first literary coffee shop in the City of Lights. The table of Voltaire, antique and magnificent, still greets impressed visitors.
Did you know? Coffee mania became so intense that in 1668 coffee will overtake beer as New York City's favorite breakfast beverage!
In the late 1800s, coffee turned into a worldwide commodity, so entrepreneurs began looking for new ways to profit from it. In 1864, John and Charles Arbuckle, brothers from Pittsburgh, began selling pre-roasted coffee in paper bags by the pound. This is how, straight from the factory in New York, the Arbuckle Ariosa became the first mass-produced coffee sold all over the country.
The twentieth century introduced stellar events in the history of coffee.
Italian Luigi Bezzera patented the first commercial espresso machine in 1901 and 37 years later, coffee guru Max Morgenthaler and his team invented Nescafe. It took them seven years of research to find a way to produce a quality cup of coffee that could be made simply by adding water while retaining the natural flavor.
Many names have marked the rich history of this blissful drink and among them, another to remember - Achille Gaggia! By using a piston in the espresso machine to extract the brew at a higher pressure, he created a layer of soft crema on the coffee. Oh Gosh! This is how, in 1946, the Cappuccino was born!
Due to its terroir and complexity of flavors, coffee has become a genuine artistic trade. Today, small independently-owned cafes are slowly taking over the market, offering locally roasted, fair-trade beans, writing the next chapter of the history we all belong to.
The overall impression of the coffee depends on the type of bean used to prepare this delight! Coffee beans determine the taste and flavor and it is equally vital knowing where they come from and learning about the different roasts and their effects on the final taste of the brew.
There are two distinct species of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. These two bean sorts taste differently and are harvested and used in a different way.
Robusta beans are pale green with a bit of brown tint, while Arabica beans are deep green and slightly larger. Robusta beans also contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, while these have more acidity compared to Robusta beans. Roasts made from Arabica beans are often pricier because of its high quality.
The origin of beans is what determines their flavor characteristics during the process of brewing. The finest coffee beans originate from the three central coffee-growing regions called the Coffee Belt.
The Latin American region produces coffee with chocolate and nutty tones - Arabica beans. Fruity and floral coffees are attributed to the areas of Africa and Arabia, while spiced, herbal or earthy coffees are grown in the Pacific and Asian regions. The last two areas are where both Robusta and Arabica beans thrive.
Types of Coffee
A lifetime of tasting would not be enough to indulge in palette of all sophisticated coffee flavors. New, refined types of the world’s most favorite drink keep intriging even the most skilled coffee prfessionals. Thick and rich textures, delicious foams and cremas and innovative taste paired with peculiar fruity notes never stop awakening interest – so many of us keep exploring, consuming and enjoying in search of that extra unique hint. see more on the various types of coffee and their unique traits.
Taste and flavor
BEFORE WE DIG INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE OF COFFEE FLAVORS AND TASTES, LET’S CLARIFY THE BASICS.
TASTE REFERS TO THE SENSES INSIDE OUR MOUTH, AROMA RELATES TO OUR SENSE OF SMELL, WHILE THE FLAVOR IS HOW OUR BRAINS MERGE AROMAS, TASTE, AND TEXTURE INTO AN OVERALL FULFILLING EXPERIENCE.
A COFFEE'S FLAVOR IS A COMBINATION OF CHEMICAL COMPONENTS PERCEIVED BY THE TASTE BUDS, AND AROMATICS DISTINGUISHED BY THE NOSE. OTHER THAN THE SWEET, SALTY, BITTER AND SOUR TASTE ATTRIBUTES, THE COFFEE AROMA IS CONSIDERED AS A CRITICAL ATTRIBUTE TO COFFEE TASTING. BOTH AROMA AND TASTE PROFILING IS ESSENTIAL TO UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATING COFFEE.
A SOUR FLAVOR IS PERCEIVED AS A DESIRABLE CHARACTERISTIC OF EXCELLENT COFFEE, WHILE BITTERNESS IS AN OMNIPRESENT QUALITY OF THE BEVERAGE AND VITAL TO COFFEE’S FLAVOR. FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT THE LEVEL OF BITTER TOUCH INCLUDE OVER-STEEPING OR A COARSE GRIND.
THE SWEET QUALITY IS USUALLY A GOOD INDICATION THAT THE COFFEE HAS BEEN CARED FOR THROUGH EVERY STAGE – FROM WASHING TO DRYING AND ROASTING TO STORING. COFFEE CHERRIES CONTAIN NATURAL SUGARS WHEN HARVESTED, SO THE SWEETNESS IN COFFEE IS CLOSELY RELATED TO THE MATURITY OF THE BEANS.
EACH MAJOR AREA OF COFFEE PRODUCTION BRINGS ITS UNIQUE FLAVORS AND EXPERIENCED COFFEE CUPPERS CAN IDENTIFY THE REGION JUST BY TAKING A SIP. DIFFERENT REGIONS HAVE DIFFERENT CLIMATES AND THIS FACT IMPACTS THE OVERALL TASTE OF THE COFFEE.
FOR EXAMPLE, MOST OF THE COFFEE TYPES GROWN IN CENTRAL AMERICA HAVE A DEGREE OF ACIDITY TO THEM, MUCH LIKE AN APPLE, WHILE STILL PRESERVING A SWEETNESS THAT WILL REMIND YOU OF CREAMY CHOCOLATE. THESE TASTE FACTORS DEPEND ON GROWTH AND PROCESSING TECHNIQUES.
WORLD TOUR OF COFFEE
COFFEES WITH A NUTTY UNDERTONE AND LESS ACIDIC ARE THE ONES YOU WILL FIND IN THE REGIONS OF SOUTH AMERICA. THEY ALSO HAVE A BIT OF CARAMEL SWEETNESS. BRAZIL NATURAL COFFEE HAS A STRONG NUT FLAVOR, WHILE THE ONES FROM LUSH INDONESIA ARE VERY DARK AND HAVE A MEATY EARTHINESS TO THEM. GROWN IN AREAS WITH NO SHADE, COFFEES PRODUCED IN KENYA GO THROUGH THE LONG PROCESS OF POST-FERMENTATION SOAK – THIS RESULTS IN THEIR SWEET FLAVOR.
Know your roast
Roasting, Ladies and Gentlemen it’s when
Roasting, Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s when the real magic takes place!
AROMA AND FLAVOR OF COFFEE ARE LOCKED INSIDE THE GREEN COFFEE BEANS AND THE PROCESS OF ROASTING IS WHAT BRINGS IT ALL OUT. A GREEN BEAN HAS NONE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A ROASTED BEAN – IT IS SOFT AND SPONGY TO THE BITE AND SMELLS GRASSY.
ROASTING CAUSES CHEMICAL CHANGES THAT RAPIDLY BRING BEANS TO VERY HIGH TEMPERATURES. WHEN THEY REACH THE PEAK OF PERFECTION, THEY ARE QUICKLY COOLED TO STOP THE PROCESS. ROASTED BEANS SMELL LIKE COFFEE, AND WEIGH LESS – THIS HAPPENS BECAUSE ALL THE MOISTURE HAS BEEN ROASTED OUT. THEY ARE CRUNCHY TO THE BITE AND READY TO BE GROUND AND BREWED.
THERE ARE FOUR COLOR CATEGORIES OF ROAST — LIGHT, MEDIUM, MEDIUM-DARK AND DARK.
LET US REVEAL A LITTLE SECRET: DON’T BE TRICKED BY THE ROBUST AND RICH FLAVOR OF DARKER ROASTS, THEIR TASTE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AN ASSUMPTION THAT THEY CONTAIN A HIGH LEVEL OF CAFFEINE. LIGHT ROASTS ARE, ACTUALLY, THE ONES THAT WILL KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT.
Roasting your beans will make a massive difference in the taste of the coffee.Freshly roasted coffee is creamy and smooth, with less acidic notes.
However, have in mind, there are many essential stages to go through before we reach that first heavenly sip – it includes a lot of observing, exploring, drying and throwing around.
First, coffee is processed to remove the outer skin, pulp, and inner parchment skin. Once that is complete, the inner seed, coffee bean, is dried. After the process of drying, it becomes green and is ready to be roasted. During the roasting process, green coffee changes drastically – tiny moist bean turns into a dry bigger one. Some of the natural sugars convert into CO2 gas while others are caramelized, contributing to the complex flavors in the coffee.
Pro roasters have identified nine levels of roast that beans can go through, from the green one to dark french roast. During these phases, beans change its color, aroma, texture and size. Still, if we want to make it simple, remember the primary denomination separates the stages as light, medium, medium-dark and dark roast.
The process of roasting ends with dumping the hot beans back and forth between the two strainers to remove the chaff.
The final result? Double-sized brown beans about eighteen percent lighter and ready to be ground.
The first sip of a morning coffeeis the most sacred moment of the day
Therefore, it better be a delicious one. This is the reason many brew their own coffee or learn about different brewing methods like full immersion and pourover. The way coffee is brewed defines its taste, intensity and overall flavor. From French Press, Nel Drip or Siphon to funky New Orleans brew.
Each of these techniques makes enjoying your cup a one-of-a-kind experience. Here’s a complete look each type of brewing style.
Coffee & Your Health
Is coffee good or bad for you?
Coffee contains many useful nutrients, including vitamins B2 and B3, potassium, magnesium and various antioxidants. Some experts suggest that these and other ingredients in coffee can benefit the human body in multiple ways including reducing the risk of type two diabetes, lower risk of developing Parkinson's or liver cancer, protecting against heart failure, helping against anxiety etc.
Studies have shown that people who drink the most coffee have a 23–50% lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. According to an extensive review of 18 studies in a total of 457,922 people, each daily cup of coffee was discovered to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7%.
Besides, Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by around 40%, while some results suggest that people who drink three cups per day might even have a 50% lower chance.
But the benefits don’t stop there - the caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people with Parkinson's and consuming around two 8-ounce servings per day protects against heart failure. At the same time, the 2011 Harvard study has shown that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.
The most common discussion that arries between coffee and your health is regarding french press coffee. You can catch all the details on our research by checking out the writeup on our findings.
Be aware though - there are some challenges to have in mind.The researchers added that coffee consumption might not be safe for pregnant women as well as the ones with a higher likelihood of bone fractures. Consuming high amounts of caffeine may, also, increase the risk of anxiety, especially among people with panic disorder.
Know how to enjoy – there is no need to stuff your cup with creams, flavors or too much sugar.