Coffee, like wine, is a world full of intricate details, history & wonder. There are many things the coffee connoisseur should consider: aroma, acidity; Turkish, French Press; medium dark roast, dark roast, light roast. It wasn’t until I started my own coffee business that I began to notice how much went into the average cup of coffee. The coffee berry has a long, and at times, revolutionary history, starting in Yemen around the year 850CE and finally finding its way to the United States in 1723. For example, coffee was considered a “Muslim drink” and banned from use in many religious communities. In Paul Revere’s day, he and his friends would meet at the local Coffee Houses where they would plan the moves that led to the American Revolution. Coffee Houses were then thought of as places where the rebellious met, and were banned. Currently, coffee is the 2nd largest traded commodity in the world, bringing in a total of $90 billion in annual sales. Recession, depression and all that goes between, whether purchased from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, people will “need” their coffee and will pay
upwards of $5 a cup to have it. What’s the history on this very popular bean?
Although no one can say for sure how long coffee has been around, the earliest mention of the coffee berry goes back to 850CE in Yemen, where it was first cultivated. From there, the coffee bean traveled to ancient Arabia where the term “Arabica” was coined to describe the bean grown in the region. Although there are a few different
types of coffee berries, the main two categories are Arabica & Robusta. Arabica & Robusta beans account for over 90% of the coffee beans cultivated and sold around the world. Coffea Arabica must grow at high altitudes in equatorial countries in order to grow properly. The Arabica bean is sensitive & much more susceptible to disease &
changes in the climate, which is why it is considered “gourmet” or “premium.” Arabica plants have lower yields, but are known for their smooth taste, containing half the amount of caffeine found in Robusta beans.
Robusta plants produce more beans, are less difficult to harvest, have less flavor and twice the caffeine found in the Arabica beans. Robusta coffee accounts for most of the coffee available in the supermarkets.
Aside from Robusta & Arabica, there are other types of coffee beans and flavors to try such as: Kona, Sumatra, Yirgacheffe and others. In order to really taste the difference between the different types of coffee beans and how they’re grown, things to look for and experiment with are flavor, aroma, body, and acidity. So for example, the Arabica variety is less acidic while the Robusta is more acidic & full bodied. Also, depending on how long the beans are roasted, the coffee could have less or more caffeine, aroma, & oil. This depends largely on how the coffee is ground and brewed. Finely ground coffee beans are known as “Turkish” while the most coarsely ground bean is the “French Press.” The common grind is in between the two extremes—Turkish & French Press—
and is known as the “Common Grind.”
Coffee is a plant that requires a lot of water in order to grow properly. It can take as many as 37 gallons of water to grow the beans needed to produce one cup of coffee. However, with programs like Starbuck’s “Grounds For Your Gardens” or a community program known as “Ground to Ground,” every coffee consumer can do his or her part
by repurposing their coffee grounds. Worms and acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, can benefit greatly from acid-rich coffee grounds being used as mulch.
There is still much debate on whether coffee is good or bad for overall health. Many say that coffee & caffeine products alike should be avoided while some believe coffee can help us live longer (source here). There are also those who say that coffee does not help or hurt health. Is coffee good for you, bad for you? My answer is, “it depends.” Most experts will agree that coffee is acidic and depending on the acid tolerance, diet, and pH of the individual, could do serious damage over time; however, what if there’s a coffee available that doesn’t negatively affect the pH balance of the individual drinking it? Such a brand does exist! For more information on this brand, feel free to contact me on Twitter at @CafeAfrodite with any questions.
Happy Coffee Trails to you,