Coffee is one of the important commodities in the world. It is consumed by many people around the world and plays a major part in some economies of the world. It is traded through some major commodities board around the world, e.g. New York Board of Trade (NYBOT). Currently, Brazil is the worlds largest coffee producer which constitutes about 32% (year 2006) of the total world production.
Coffee is an “addictive” beverage made from grounded roasted coffee beans. The pleasant aroma and taste makes it irresistible to coffee lovers. There are many ways to consume this concoction. Some like it hot and some like it cold. It can be consumed with or without sweetener, cream, milk or any other combination you can think of. Its very versatile and creative people can create new taste and flavor. Many businesses have built an empire around coffee, like Starbucks.
The Origin Of Coffee
According to legend, coffee was first discovered in the highlands of Ethiopia during the 9th Century by a shepherd called Kaldi. While tending to his herd, he was intrigued by the strange behavior of his goat. They were happily dancing and leaping after eating strange red berries. He plucked those berries and brought them to a neighboring convent and relates his observation to the priests there. They decided to boil those berries and after drinking the brew, found an extra boost of energy. From there on, the beverage starts to spread to other areas in that region from Egypt to Yemen before reaching Turkey, Persia and some parts of Africa.
Coffee eventually reached Europe in 1690 when the Dutch managed to smuggle coffee plants out from the Arabian land. It was first introduced into Moka (Mauritius), Sri Lanka, India and finally the island of Java in Indonesia before finally brought home to Europe. It was later introduced to the French Caribbean colonies. The coffee plant eventually spreads throughout the American Latin and soon the coffee beans become a major export commodity of some countries here.
Major Coffee Species
There are two major species of coffee plants cultivated for consumption, namely Coffea Arabica Linnaeus (commonly referred to as Arabica) and Coffea canephora (commonly called Robusta). The Arabica variety has a better taste compare to Robusta which is much bitter but less aroma. Sometimes, Robusta is used in the coffee blend to reduce cost. There are also other species of coffee plant like Coffea liberica and Coffea esliaca which is indigenous to Liberia and Sudan respectively.
The Art Of Roasting Coffee
The coffee beans have to be roasted before it can be consumed. After the coffee berries are harvested, the berries are stripped off their flesh leaving only the seed or beans. It is left aside to ferment in order to remove the slimy layer present on the coffee bean. When this process is completed, the fermented coffee bean is washed to remove fermented residue before being dried and graded.
There are several ways to roast coffee, such as traditional roasting, 10 minute quick roast, 90 second flash roast and many others. Different methods will give rise to different taste and aroma. As heat is applied, the coffee beans will loose moisture and turn dark. This is due to the natural occurrence of caramelized sucrose. When there is no more water in the coffee beans, the sugar and acid will begin to release their aroma. This is called the Maillard reactions. The roasting process is then halted and beans cooled and stored. Grinding can be performed and stored in an air tight container to maintain freshness.
Coffee is a favorite beverage of many people. It is now available in convenient forms like instant coffee granules. Some creative coffee companies have introduced pre-mixed sachets so that coffee can be consumed at any time, any place. Just add hot water and your coffee is ready. Canned coffee has also started selling in parts of Asia especially Japan and South Korea.