Coffee Confidential: Spilling the Beans

Over 54 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, but most people don’t know the origins and varieties available to them.

There are over 40 different strands of coffee plants that span all over the globe. Each strand has its own unique flavor that can be roasted over 10 ways, changing its taste entirely.

It all started in the 13th Century when Ethiopian shepherds noticed their sheep had become extremely energetic after eating from a certain berry plant. The story goes that the shepherds picked the berries, which they named coffea and boiled them into a stew.

Years passed and the spread of the coffea plant reached all corners of the world. The soil and resources from different geographical locations added different flavors to the berries. The province of West Java in Indonesia is notorious for their coffee as it is grown near the base of a volcano adding earthy notes to their berries.

Once the coffea plant is ready to be harvested, the berries are picked and stripped of its seed known as the bean. To bring out the bean’s flavor it must be aged. The standard age is one year although reports have shown some can age up to eight years.

The beans are now ready for the most iconic part of their lives, the roasting. How long and how high the temperature is when roasting the beans all adds to the flavor of the coffee. High temperature allows for a more smokey flavor while low temperature gives the coffee more earthy aromas.

The bold flavors you see in coffee comes from long roasting and high temperature periods. This form of roasting adds rich flavors to the beans. Lighter roasts take on the flavors of tea with soft notes and mellow fragrances.

The coffee is now ready for its first taste test. When tasting coffee, it should be enjoyed black in a two-to-three ounce cup. First take in all the aromas the coffee has to offer by smelling its notes and roast. Once smelled take a small sip and let it cover your pallet to ensure taste. Doing this allows you to taste its acidity and body from the region it was grown in.

Tasting is crucial because it allows the recipient to know what flavors are going to be prevalent if one adds cream or sugar. Full body means more bold flavors, to counteract the body we add cream. Acidity means bitterness, to balance the bitter we add sugar.

What all kinds of varieties and roasts there are so many ways you can enjoy a cup of coffee. Join us next issue as we go over the preferred brewing method used by coffee experts all over the world, the French press.

Author: Daniel Gaglio

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