Coffee-talk: We all drink it, but what exactly is coffee?

Let’s Talk Coffee

Let’s talk coffee! Like so many people I’m a big-time coffee drinker, but I noticed that although it’s a well-known drink not a lot of people know anything about it… Let’s delve into the coffee scene, from bean to bar.

Interesting to know is that almost 70% of all coffee you drink comes from one species of plant, the Arabica. The other well-known species of coffee is the Robusta, far more bitter and contains more acidity than the Arabica. So why does Arabica hold such a large portion of the world’s coffee production? Well, because it’s far more complex and has a lot more varieties of aroma’s in the different plants.

What I didn’t know is that the Arabica coffee originated in Ethiopia (were a large portion of the production still comes from). Did you ever wandered what happens from coffee berry to the bean we all know?

Well, when the coffee berries are ripe there are a few steps in processing the green coffee to the coffee we know and love. Many techniques can be used, sometimes the berries are picked by hand which is very labor-intensive, but it’s more common to strip pick the crops. The disadvantage here is of course that you have ripe and unripe berries in the mix.

After the picking comes the drying. Mostly, the berries are stripped, fermented and washed before drying. However, in some countries water is in short supply. Then, the coffee is dried on drying tables.

After drying the coffee, we can roast it so it can decrease in volume and moisture. During the roasting the starch in the coffee caramelizes to simple sugars and the color changes. How much the coffee is roasted will determine a lot of the coffee’s aroma as well.

Besides the type of coffee plant and the method of drying and roasting there are other coffee processes as well.

I once drank the highly overrated Luwak coffee or civet coffee as it is called in Bali. The process is peculiar to say the least. The coffee berries are eaten by the civet cats and are further processed when they passed through the digestive system of the cats… I know…
It’s one of the most expensive coffees in the world, but believe me, it’s not worth it. Besides the fact that the animals are force fed in battery cages the flavor is far from perfect. Try yourself a descent Arabica grind instead, better taste and much better priced ;-)

The scene, the bar, the drink

Before I’m getting deeper into the subject of coffee bars I want to make something clear. This post is not about where you have better coffee, Starbucks Vs. Barista bars. For me they’re two different entities. The one is mass consumption that specializes in coffee styled drinks, the other is an ode to the craft of making the perfect coffee.

For me both have a place in this world depending on what I crave at that moment. In the Fall for example I’m a sucker for the Pumpkin Spice Latte by Starbucks, but the next day I might crave a descent espresso in a barista bar.

Needless to say, the coffee scene has been growing exponentially in the last few years. Where people used to only drink filter drip coffee there are now an abundance of different coffee types for people to try.

When you step into a coffee bar my motto is, try something new! The methods used for making coffee have a huge impact on what you drink. I’m for example a big fan of the Syphon technique. The steps you do when making this type of coffee could almost be called pure science. It has a huge sensorial process, from grinding the coffee to putting the vacpot on the fire. And the taste? Well it’s pure and soft in aroma, must try!
Besides that, the best-known coffees are espresso based coffees. Think cappuccino, americano, flat white, caffé latte, and so on. Try them all and believe me you’ll taste a huge difference in every type.  Btw, did you know that tasting coffee is called cupping?

One of my favorite espresso based coffees is the cappuccino. Of course, when we’re talking cappuccino we’re in the realm of latte art. The designs we see the most are the rosette, tulip or heart but there are people who really perfect this art to a new level. Some baristas can create little animals while others work with color. I came across one of these places of artistry in Las Vegas Nevada. Namely Sambalatte Torrefazione, a barista bar where they create rainbow latte art (love their lavender latte btw!).

What about home?

So, is it worth to buy an expensive espresso machine at home? My answer, hell no. You can’t use an espresso machine enough times to really make it worth your while.

My suggestion is you drink yourself the best filter coffee you possibly can at home and leave the espressos and cappuccinos for the coffee bars to perfect ;-)

 Finally, I’ll give you 3 tips you should keep in mind when you buy your coffee:

1      Keep the coffee in a closed box in the fridge, the aromas will last much longer.
2      Try to buy beans instead of grinded coffee. Beans can hold the aromas much longer than grinded coffee. Of course, this means buying a small coffee grinder, worth it in my opinion.
3      Don’t stock your coffee, it’s not wine people it doesn’t get better over time…

Hope this helps you sip that amazing cup of coffee we all crave for ;-)

Have any other tips? Let me know!

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