Coffee is a beverage that is made by brewing roasted coffee beans. Caffeine, which gives coffee its characteristic dark colour, bitter flavour, and mild acidity, is responsible for coffee’s stimulating impact on humans. It is the hot beverage that is consumed most frequently all across the world.
The seeds of the fruits produced by the Coffea plant are extracted and then separated to produce green coffee beans that have not been roasted.
A cup of coffee is made by roasting the coffee seeds, then grinding them into finer and finer particles, commonly soaked in hot water before getting strained aside. Although cold or icy coffee is widespread, hot coffee is the most traditional serving method.
Coffee can be made and served in various methods (such as cappuccino, French press, latte, or canned coffee that has already been brewed). Each of these methods has its distinct flavour. Sugar, artificial sweeteners, dairy, and cream are common ingredients in recipes that aim to cover up an unpleasant taste or boost the flavour.
Even though coffee is today a commodity traded all over the world, it has a rich history that is inextricably linked to the culinary customs surrounding the Red Sea. The first verifiable evidence of people drinking coffee in the form consumed today dates back to the middle of the 15th century in what is now Yemen. This evidence comes from Sufi shrines, the first places where coffee seeds were roasted and brewed in a way comparable to current practices.
The Yemenis obtained the coffee beans from the Ethiopian Highlands through intermediaries in coastal Somalia, and then they started cultivating them. By the 16th century, the beverage had already spread over the remainder of the Middle East and North Africa. The 20th century saw the rise of coffee production as a commodity, which led to the development of numerous distinct coffee cultures across the globe.
Arabica and Robusta are the main coffee seeds varieties grown on commercial coffee farms. There are around seventy nations across the globe that are liable for the growth of coffee plantations. In addition to the equatorial parts of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the equatorial portions of the Americas are excellent coffee-growing territories.
As of 2018, Brazil dominated the international market as the primary producer of whole bean coffee , accounting for 35% of the total. Green bean coffee has not been roasted and is the most widely traded. It is the most extensively traded coffee worldwide, ranking only second to petroleum. Although the global coffee market is worth billions of dollars, many farmers who produce green bean coffee live in poverty. Those opposed to the coffee industry point out that it negatively influences the environment, particularly in clearing land for coffee cultivation and water usage.
Coffee beans are an integral part of our daily lives and are taken for granted. However, before arriving at its final destination in the form of coffee in your cup, every coffee bean must traverse a significant distance, interact with many individuals, and complete several steps.
So, let’s go for the ride and see where the coffee seeds journey takes us. You’ll have even more reason to enjoy your next cup of coffee.
There is just one family of plants that can produce coffee: the Rubiaceae family. Coffee plants are evergreen shrubs, also known as coffee trees, that, if left unpruned, can reach a height of up to 5 metres (15 feet).
The coffee trees are beautiful tiny specimens with shiny leaves and stems and a growth pattern that is more constrained. Unexpectedly, it thrives in the confines of an indoor container. The coffee trees, also known as Coffea arabica, are native to Ethiopia and bear small white flowers in the spring before producing berries about half an inch long that change colour from green to brown or black pods during the growing season.
Each of these fruits includes two seeds, which will eventually develop into the coffee beans that are used to make coffee and are used in the brewing process.
It is normal for coffee plants to take several years to produce blooms and then fruits, although they grows fast. It is extremely important to be aware that the components of a coffee tree, except for the seeds, can be toxic to humans and animals.
Although coffee plants have a life expectancy of up to 100 years, they are at their most prolific between the ages of 7 and 20. Depending on the type, they can keep producing at the same level or even grow it with proper care over time. A coffee tree will average yield 10 pounds of coffee cherries a year, or about 2 kilograms of green beans.
Harvesting And Processing Coffee Cherries
Typically, coffee trees begin producing beans in their third year. Their flowers fall off, revealing tiny green beans “coffee cherries” that develop into red or purple berries over the next nine to ten months.
Collecting coffee cherries (only the ripe cherries) one by one may take a few months. It takes a lot of work to transform coffee cherries into a cappuccino. Expert cultivators often use specialised machines. Suppose you’re set on doing something the old-fashioned way. In that case, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is a great place to start looking for guidance. Here, though, is a rundown of what goes down.
1. Pulping- After harvesting, peel off the skin and scoop off the pulp. The seeds can be extracted from the berries by squeezing them one by one or tamping them with a plank of wood in a pail. The next step is to add water and mix the seed skins and seeds in the bucket. The skins (and floating coffee beans) should be poured away before the coffee settles.
2. Fermentation – Put the beans in a plastic bucket and cover them with water to wash away the sticky mucilage that has accumulated around them. However, fermentation using only natural enzymes will be effective after at least 18 hours. You can test its efficacy by washing a few beans. Rather than being slippery, they should have a crisp, gritty sensation. To thoroughly clean beans, wash them in a pot of agitated water three times and then drain each time. Don’t bother with the beans that float.
3. Drying – Dry beans in the sun while avoiding rain by setting them out in a fine layer on racks. Timeframes range from 5-30 days for this to occur. Also, a food dehydrator at home is set to 40 degrees Celsius. Coffee beans with dried parchment have a brittle, straw-like appearance. To ensure the beans are dry, you can test them by peeling the parchment off a few at once. It’s ideal for the bean within to have a bluish-grey colour, be quite firm, and be easily cracked. You should keep drying it if it is still soft and chewy.
4. Hulling – Small batches of beans can be hulled in a food processor fitted with plastic rotors (to prevent harm to the beans) by pulsing them at a slow speed for 30 seconds, which shreds the tough parchment coating off the beans. Next, use a hair drier to remove the thinner parchment. Alternatively, you can use a hessian bag and rub the dry beans over concrete.
5. Roasting – Prepare the beans by roasting them in the oven in big tins. The beans should be spread out and stirred often. At 230–250 degrees Celsius, 12 minutes are required to roast a single layer of beans. It can take 30 minutes to harvest beans from a depth of 25 millimetres. You can use a frying pan or a popcorn popper to roast.
The beans have a yellowish-brown colour that darkens over time. They shrink until they are halfway cooked, and then they expand. The flavour in the light brown beans (a light roast) will be less intense than in darker brown or black beans (a dark roast).
Coffee Cherries: Are You Able To Eat Them?
The lack of nutritional value in coffee cherries or coffee berries is the primary reason they have never achieved the same level of popularity as strawberries or traditional cherries.
When you take a bite out of a coffee cherry, you’ll discover that most fruit comprises the cherry’s peel and seeds (or green coffee beans). The skin is abrasive, and the flesh clings to the seeds; the texture is similar to that of a peach stone, with some sticky portions that won’t come off.
What Are Different Types Of Coffee Beans?
Coffee beans distinctive flavour is a product of their origin and processing methods. It is common practice to designate coffee varietals by the region from whence they originated. Colombian, Ethiopian, and Brazilian are just a few well-known options.
If we focus on the most common varieties, we can divide coffee beans into four categories:
1. Arabica coffee beans (Coffea arabica) – Ethiopia is where the Arabica coffee plant was first domesticated. Still, Brazil is now one of the most important Arabica coffee production regions. It is responsible for producing 70 per cent of all coffee globally.
Coffees made from Arabica beans have a more subdued flavour than those made from Robusta beans. Nevertheless, when subjected to a rigorous roasting process, various beans begin to have a similar flavour. Temperature and altitude are some factors that can influence flavours.
2. Robusta coffee beans (Coffea canephora) – After Arabica, Robusta is the coffee most often grown worldwide. It is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and is responsible for thirty per cent of the world’s production.
The tolerance of Robusta beans to environmental variables and pathogens sets them apart from other coffee beans. Due to this, it is named Robusta
3. Excelsa coffee beans (Coffea excelsa) – Excelsa beans are extremely rare and only account for 7% of the world’s total coffee industry supply. They are grown in Southeast Asia. This particular bean strain is frequently used in many coffee mixes.
Excelsa was previously categorised as belonging to a different species of coffee plant; however, coffee experts have recently reclassified it as a Liberica variety.
Despite this, the two types appear to be distinct sorts of coffee in appearance and flavour. They may produce huge trees 20 to 30 feet tall and flourish at high elevations. Still, they couldn’t be more different regarding flavour.
4. Liberica coffee beans (Coffea liberica) – This heirloom shrub, native to Western and Central Africa, produces very little fruit and is difficult to locate. A true coffee connoisseur will find that drinking Liberica coffee, which has a one per cent share of the global coffee market, is an unforgettable experience.
Green Coffee Bean
The term “green coffee beans” refers to the unroasted, unhulled seeds that are removed during the “processing” of coffee berries. You’ll find every bit of flavour and aroma that can be extracted from coffee beans in one single green seed. Roasting the green coffee is the key to unlocking this potential.
This heirloom shrub, native to Western and Central Africa, produces very little fruit and is difficult to locate. A true coffee connoisseur will find that drinking Liberica coffee, which has a one per cent share of the global coffee market, is an unforgettable experience.
Where It All Began: The Coffee Plant And Your Cup
After the coffee cherries have been collected, they undergo one of several processes, again depending on where the coffee came from. Washing, semi-washing, and natural processing are the most frequent methods for coffee processing. In all the above processes, the fruits are removed from the coffee cherries, and the green coffee is left. The flavour you taste whenever you drink it results from multiple processes. However, the beans must be roasted before making a cup of coffee.
Coffee’s flavour and aroma are brought out during the roasting process. The sugar in the beans browns and caramelises during the roasting process thanks to a chemical reaction known as the “Maillard reaction.” Green beans are roasted to enhance their flavour, fragrance, acidity, and body.
Roasting coffee to bring out its individual flavour qualities is an art form in and of itself. The Coffee expert roasters know how to bring out the most in each unique green coffee.
Brewing Coffee Is An Art
The taste of coffee is based on the fact that brewing coffee is an art in and of itself. Some individuals like a lighter and more acidic flavour in their coffee, while others favour a coffee with a deep and rich flavour. Either type of coffee can be delicious. How you brew coffee can significantly impact the finished product’s flavour and quality. The amount of time allowed for brewing coffee is an important factor. The more you experiment with and learn about different methods to brew coffee , the better the coffee you make will taste.
Why Is Freshly Brewed Coffee Better In Taste?
When a bag of coffee beans seeds is opened, the countdown to the expiration date begins. After being roasted, coffee beans seeds only has a few short weeks left before it starts to lose its glossy appearance. The exquisite flavour and aroma of coffee come from the oils within the coffee beans. As time passes, these oils begin to evaporate, depriving you of the component of your coffee that is considered to be the most vital. This is why fresh brewed coffee (or freshly roasted beans) has a superior taste and flavour to coffee stored for a long time.