Coffee Facts

Discussion in 'Good Eats' started by Bengal B, Jun 1, 2004.

  1. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

    Sep 5, 2002
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    If you don't know beans about coffee, then “From Seed to Cup” is for you. In this section, you will come to learn coffee basics: What coffee is, how it is grown, harvested, processed, graded, roasted and blended. Also included are coffee trends and data on how Americans feel about coffee.
    [​IMG] [​IMG][font=ARIAL, HELVETICA]"Coffee" comes from the Latin form of the genus Coffea, a member of the Rubiaceae family which includes more than 500 genera and 6,000 species of tropical trees and shrubs.[/font]

    [font=ARIAL, HELVETICA]Eighteenth-century Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus first described the genus but, to this day, botanists still disagree on the classification because of the wide variations that occur in coffee plants and seeds. Species of Coffea range from small shrubs to trees as tall as 32 feet high and the leaves can range in color from purple to yellow, however, green is the predominant color.

    There are about 25 major species within Coffea, but the typical coffee drinker is likely to be familiar with two: Coffea arabica (pronounced either a-rã-bik-a or ar-a-bë-ka and Coffea canephora (var. robusta).

    Coffea arabica
    Arabica represents approximately 70 percent of the world's coffee production. Arabica coffees are described either as "Brazils" (because they come from Brazil) or as "Other Milds" which come from elsewhere. Typica and Bourbon are the two best known varieties of C. arabica, but many strains have been developed, including Caturra (from Brazil and Colombia), Mundo Novo (Brazil), Tico (Central America), San Ramon and Jamaican Blue Mountain.

    The arabica plant is typically a large bush with dark green, oval-shaped leaves that can reach a height of 14 to 20 feet fully grown. Its fruits are oval and usually contain two flat seeds.

    After planting, arabica trees mature in 3 to 4 years, when they produce their first crop. The arabica plant can continue to produce fruits for 20 to 30 years. Arabica trees prefer a seasonal climate of 59-75 degrees Fahrenheit and an annual rainfall of 60 inches.

    A hybrid of arabica, Maragogype -- called the elephant bean because of its large size -- originated from the Maragogype County in the Bahia state of Brazil. Today it is grown in Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil and Zaire.

    Coffea canephora (C. canephora var. robusta)
    Coffea canephora provides robusta beans. Robusta, which can grow up to 32 feet in height as a shrub or tree, has a shallow root system. The fruits are round and take nearly a year to mature. The seeds are oval and smaller than the arabica beans. Robusta coffee is grown in West and Central Africa, throughout Southeast Asia, and parts of South America including Brazil, where it is known as Conilon.

    Robusta trees produce their first crop 3 to 4 years after planting and they remain fruitful for 20 to 30 years. The trees prefer equatorial conditions with temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and an annual rainfall of 60 inches.

    The traditional way to grow coffee trees is to grow compatible trees nearby, to keep the coffee trees and their developing fruit from the sun. The modern techniques are to use irrigation systems and fertilizers. Coffee is grown on both large estates and in the smallest of forest clearings.

  2. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

    Sep 5, 2002
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    General Brewing Tips

    General Brewing Tips
    First, start with freshly roasted, whole bean coffee. Coffee looses it's freshness rapidly once it has been roasted, especially after it has been ground. A grinder is a must for a gourmet coffee lover.

    Secondly, use good water. A cup of coffee is mostly water, and water that tastes bad will affect your coffee's flavor. If your tap water tastes good, go ahead and use it, but if not, use bottled or filtered water.

    Thirdly, select the correct grind. Different coffee brewing methods require different kinds of grind. How coarse or fine coffee is ground is very important to making good coffee. If your coffee is ground too finely it will produce a bitter cup, and if it is ground too coarse it will produce a watery, less flavorful beverage. For espresso, you must also be aware the temperature and humidity, as this will have an affect on the process. A grind that works well on a cold day may need to be adjusted when it's hot. For a more precise and consistent grind try a burr-type grinder, especially when grinding for espresso or Turkish coffee.

    Finally, keep your coffee brewing equipment clean. Coffee oils that build up over time become rancid, which will definitely affect the taste.

    Coffee Brewing Methods
    This list does not cover every method of brewing coffee, but the following are most common.

    Drip Coffee
    Some filters are flat bottomed and some cone shaped. If flat bottomed, the grind should be medium, while a cone should be fine. In most cases the cone shaped filter tends to make a better brew.

    When using an automatic drip machine, do not leave the brewed coffee on the burner because it will continue to cook and become bitter in a few minutes. Transfer the brewed coffee to thermos or air pot for flavor's for best heat retaining.

    French Press
    This coffee maker is one of the most popular methods. First, the glass beaker should be preheated by running it under hot water. Then put in the amount of medium to fine ground coffee needed, add water heated just off the boil and stir. Let the coffee steep for three to four minutes and stir again. Finally, put the lid-plunger apparatus on the beaker and slowly push the plunger all the way down.

    Espresso is the main ingredient of to all specialty coffee beverages (americano, latte, mocha, etc,,,). Espresso is the most difficult coffee to prepare, but is also a great thing for a coffee lover to know. Education and practice are the key to understanding and preparing fine espresso.

    One myth about espresso is that it is high in caffeine. In fact, espresso has less caffeine than filtered coffee. A traditional espresso has 40 mg. of caffeine compared to the 70 mg. in a cup of regular coffee. Caffeine content is determined by the length of time the coffee steeps, not by the pressure of the water. An espresso takes 20 - 25 seconds to brew, while filtered coffee has a brew time of 3 - 5 minutes.

    • The espresso blend must have the correct mixture of beans to give the espresso its characteristic taste and crema.
    • The roast must be dark enough to bring out the body of the coffee but not so dark as to have been burned or carbonized.
    • The water temperature should be below boiling (194 is perfect).
    • Make sure the portafilters are clean.
    • Preheat the portafilter, creamer pot or glass. (Retention of heat preserves flavor).
    • Using fresh espresso beans, grind just before drawing your shot.
    • Check the grind setting often and change if necessary.
    • Use 7 - 8 gr. of coffee for a single shot and 13 - 15 gr. for a double shot.
    • Tamp coffee evenly with consistent, firm pressure.
    • Wipe excess off of the portafilter rim before inserting into brew head.
    • Begin your shot of espresso and time it. If it is not 20 - 25 seconds, check your grind.

    Crema is the heart and soul of true espresso flavor. Simply, it is the foamy golden brown extraction that develops on top of your espresso. It is thick, creamy, with a distinct bittersweet taste not found in other types of coffee.

    For Good Crema
    • Use a freshly roasted properly blended espresso.
    • Use an espresso machine with the proper amount of pressure.
    • Use the correct amount of espresso.
    • Grind the espresso to the proper consistency.
    How to Set the Grind
    For a perfect espresso, the espresso extraction rate should be approximately 20 - 25 seconds in length for a long espresso (2 oz.). This is timed from the moment the espresso leaves the tip of the filter until it reaches a 2 oz. dose.

    If the espresso comes out too quickly, then the grind is too course, while if it comes out to slowly, then the grind is too fine.

    Adjusting the pressure of the tamping can also affect the espresso pour time. This should only be done when you have a lot of pre-ground espresso that is not extracting at the proper rate. You simply tamp harder if the grind is too coarse or tamp lighter if it is too fine. This is not an ideal way to create the perfect espresso but can help reduce waste.

    If the coffee or the grounds are too old you may not be able to produce crema even if the extraction rate is correct.

    Stove Top Espresso
    The Stove Top Espresso pot consists of two pieces that screw together with a filter chamber in the middle. Originally these units were made from aluminium and tended to add an unpleasant taste to the coffee. Newer units can be found that are made from stainless steel that do not taint the coffee.

    First, fill the base with water up to it's safety valve. Fill the filter chamber with finely ground coffee, do not pack it down. Place the filter chamber in the base and screw the top on tightly. Place the pot on the heat. When the coffee starts to pour out of the stem in the top, reduce the heat to low. When you hear a gurgling noise, all of the water is out of the base. Remove it from the heat and wait for the coffee to stop pouring from the stem.

    Coffee Storage
    The first step that you can take to preserve your coffee's flavor, is to keep it whole bean until needed. If you do not already have one, purchase a grinder for your coffee. The second step is to keep your coffee in a sealed container that prevents the coffee from being exposed to the surrounding air.

  3. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

    Sep 5, 2002
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    History of Coffee Beans

    Coffee is said to have been first discovered when a goatherd in Abysinia, while basking in the sun, observed his goats dancing on their hind legs after eating some red berries (coffee). He proceeded to taste of the berries himself and his sleepy eyes got wide open. He took some to the village and everybody there also liked it as it kept them awake during their prayers.

    History has it that when coffee was first introduced in Italy, Italian wine merchants, their wine sales threatened by coffee beans, appealed to the Pope to ban it. But guess what? Pope Clementine VIII requested that some coffee beans be brought to him so he could taste it. After smelling it, he liked the aroma so much he tasted it and then proceeded to BAPTIZE COFFEE and pronounce it a Christian beverage.
  4. Bengal B

    Bengal B Founding Member

    Sep 5, 2002
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    More on Coffee

    [font=Comic Sans MS,Courier New]Coffee Factoids, Stories,
    and Trivia

    [​IMG] [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee Factoids[/font]

    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Germany is the world's second largest consumer of coffee in terms of volume at 16 pounds per person.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Over 53 countries grow coffee worldwide, but all of them lie along the equator between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]An acre of coffee trees can produce up to 10,000 pounds of coffee cherries. That amounts to approximately 2,000 pounds of beans after hulling or milling.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]The percolator was invented in 1827 by a French man. It would boil the coffee producing a bitter tasting brew. Today most people use the drip or filtered method to brew their coffee.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]With the exception of Hawaii and Puerto Rico, no coffee is grown in the United States or its territories.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Up until the 1870's most coffee was roasted at home in a frying pan over a charcoal fire. It wasn't until recent times that batch roasting became popular.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Each year some 7 million tons of green beans are produced world wide. Most of which is hand picked.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee Stories[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee's Beginnings - The Early Days[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee wasn't originally consumed in the form we know it today; as a hot beverage made from boiling water. That practice began around 1000 A.D. Until that time use of the drink was largely linked to medicinal or religious purposes by the Arabs. Soon the feeling of exhilaration from the caffeine of the drink became a sought-after side effect. A popular Arab legend tells of Sheik Omar, who experimented with brewing some coffee from raw wild coffee berries he found in his travels during his exile from Mocha. Thanks in part to the beneficial effects of the caffeine, the Sheik survives his exile and upon his return to Mocha, introduced his new way of preparing the drink.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The Arabs refined their methods of preparing the drink over many years. For over 300 years, coffee drinkers drank the grounds right along with the boiled water. Then, they began drinking the liquid alone, leaving the grounds to settle at the bottom of the cup. As methods for preparing coffee became more refined, the popularity of the drink spread first through coffee houses, known as qahveh khaneh, and then into the home where elaborate ceremonies became associated with consumption of the drink. Soon coffee had became such an important part of the lives of the Arabs that in Turkey a husband who refused to provide his wife with the drink could be divorced by her![/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The Spread of Coffee to the Christian World[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee had been a part of Arab culture for centuries but not so in the western European world. Venetian fleets sailed the known world trading spices, silks, and perfumes with the East. It is believed that coffee come to Venice from Constantinople as part of this trade. There was only one problem. When the drink reached Rome the priest attacked it and forbid it consumption.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The priests believed that the coffee was the drink of the devil. That Satan had invented the drink for the Moslem infidels as a substitute for the wine they were forbidden to drink. Since wine in the Western Christian world was sanctified by Christ and used in Holy communion, coffee must then be of the Anti-Christ. If a Christian drank this devil brew they would risk eternal damnation is how the argument went.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]It wasn't until the late 1500's that Pope Clement VIII settled the dispute. He asked that the brew be brought before him. Intrigued by its powerful aroma, he sipped the coffee. It was delicious. The Pope blessed the coffee, and baptized it on the spot. He reasoned that banishing this drink from the Christian world would be a larger sin. With the Pope's blessing, imports of coffee to Italy and the Western world came flooding in paving the way for the first western coffee houses.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The English word "Coffee" comes from the Latin name of the genus Coffea. The genus Coffea is a member of the Rubiaceae family which has over 500 genera and 6,000 species that are largely tropical trees and shrubs. All species of Coffea are woody and range in size from small shrubs to trees over 30 feet tall. The species Coffea arabica gives us the arabica beans known the world over. Arabica beans are largely drunk on their own where as the Coffea robusta is usually a lower grade bean used primarily as a blend with arabica beans to make them go farther.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The Revolutionary Drink[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]The coffee houses that sprung up in France, England, and eventually the Americas proved to aid the spread of new and sometimes radical political opinions. In 1675 Charles II issued a "Proclamation for the Suppression of Coffee Houses" in an attempt to quell the liberal ideas being discussed by the patrons. All parties rebelled, and eleven days later the coffee houses reopened. The Parisian coffee houses are credited as a testing ground for the ideology that led to the French Revolution.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Across the ocean in Boston, the Boston Tea Party was planned in the now famous Green Dragon coffee house in 1773. And, in New York the Merchants coffee house was site of the Government headquarters in the days following the outbreak of the American Revolution. Later, as American soldiers forged into battle in the Mexican War and the Civil War, they protected their coffee beans as their most precious rations.[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Coffee Trivia[/font]

    [font=Arial,Helvetica]Did you know...[/font]

    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]27% of U.S. coffee drinkers and 43% of German drinkers add a sweetener to their coffee.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]The world's largest coffee producer is Brazil with over 3,970 million coffee trees. Colombia comes in second with around two thirds of Brazil's production.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Hard bean means the coffee was grown at an altitude above 5000 feet.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Arabica and Robusta trees can produce crops for 20 to 30 years under proper conditions and care.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]Most coffee is transported by ships. Currently there are approximately 2,200 ships involved in transporting the beans each year.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]The popular trend towards flavored coffees originated in the United States during the 1970's.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]October 1st is the official Coffee Day in Japan.[/font]
    • [font=Arial,Helvetica]The first coffee tree in the Western Hemisphere was brought from France to the Island of Martinique in the 1720's.[/font]

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