Friday, August 14, 2020

All About Coffee

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Coffee is a widely consumed beverage prepared from the roasted seeds, commonly called “beans” of the coffee plant.  Coffee was first consumed as early as the 9th century, when it appeared in the
highlands of Ethiopia. From Ethiopia, it spread to Egypt and Yemen, and by the 15th century had reached Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. From the Middle East, coffee spread to Italy, then to the rest of Europe and the Americas. Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide.
     The two most commonly grown species of the coffee plant are Coffea canephora and C. arabica, which are cultivated in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Arabica coffee is by far the most popular variety because of it’s smooth taste and aromatic qualities. Basically coffee berries are picked, processed (flesh removed from around the coffee beans), and then they’re dried. The seeds are then roasted at
temperatures around 200°C (392°F), during which the sugars in the bean caramelize, the bean changes color, and the true flavor of that delicious drink we call coffee develops. The beans are generally roasted to a light, medium, or a dark brown color, depending on the desired flavor.
     Coffee ingestion on average is about a third that of tap water in most of North America and Europe. In total, 6.7 million metric tons of coffee were produced annually in 1998–2000, and had risen to 7 million metric tons annually by 2010.  Brazil remains the largest coffee exporting nation, but in recent years Vietnam has become a major producer of robusta beans. Robusta coffees, traded in London at much lower prices than New York’s arabica, are preferred by large industrial clients, such as multinational roasters and instant coffee producers, because of the lower cost. Four single roaster companies buy more than 50% of all of the annual production: Kraft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Sara Lee.
     There are two main cultivated species of the coffee plant, Coffea canephora and Coffea arabica.  Arabica coffee (from C. arabica) is considered more suitable for drinking than robusta (from C. canephora), which, compared to arabica, tends to be bitter.  For this reason, about three fourths of coffee cultivated worldwide is C. arabica. However, C. canephora is less susceptible to disease than C. arabica and can be cultivated in environments where C. arabica will not thrive.  Robusta coffee also contains about 40–50% more caffeine than arabica.  For this reason it is used as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends.  Good quality robustas are used in some espresso blends to provide a better foam head and to lower the ingredient cost. Other species include Coffea liberica and Coffea esliaca, believed to be indigenous to Liberia and southern Sudan respectively.  Most Arabica coffee beans originate from either Latin America, East Africa/Arabia.  Coffee plants are grown on a coffee farm like many other types of produce. Here the coffee plants are planted on a hill to ensure each coffee plant receives plenty of sunshine, and for proper drainage.  Robusta coffee beans are grown in West and Central Africa, throughout Southeast Asia, and to some extent in Brazil. Beans from different countries or regions usually have distinctive characteristics such as flavor, aroma, body, and acidity. These taste characteristics are dependent not only on the coffee’s growing region, but also on genetic subspecies (varietals) and processing.