The goal of this article is to simplify the entire coffee experience for you.
From seed to to cup, we’ve boiled it all down to a few simple to understand ideas about coffee.
Where does coffee come from? Within 10 degrees north & south of the Equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
is the only place in the world that can produce commercial grade coffee. This zone of the planet is known as “The Coffee Belt” or “The Bean Belt”. There are two harvest seasons each year, December-February and May-August.
What makes coffee taste good? Altitude might have the largest influence on the flavor of a coffee bean. There are many factors that can change the flavor profile of a bean along the way, like how it’s roasted, ground or brewed, but ultimately it’s the beans that are grown at the highest elevations (between 3,000 – 6,000 feet) that provide ideal growing conditions for coffee.
What determines the price of coffee? It’s not always true that the best tasting coffee has to come with a high price tag. Quality & flavor do play a small part in the cost but in most cases it comes down to simple economics. High-altitude specialty coffee yields are smaller & pose many challenges to farmers who live in remote mountainous areas who must produce the crop. Therefore the harder it is to grow, the more expensive it winds up… usually.
How many stages of processing does coffee go through? Under the right conditions, if you planted a seed for a coffee tree today, it may be 3-4 years to mature. On average, each tree will produce approximately 2,000 coffee “cherries” per year. That’s not even one full pound of beans. Harvesting is mostly a manual process, the berries are hand picked, washed & pulped to remove most of the husk. After fermentation, the beans are hulled, dried & sorted by hand to safeguard against “green coffee” defects.
What happens to coffee beans after they are harvested? Coffee roasters are at the final stage of the coffee production line. Each roaster’s selection & roasting methods are unique and can choose to produce a lighter or darker roast, depending on how long the beans are roasted. “Green Coffee” refers to beans that have yet to be roasted, as that is the color it starts out. The roasting process usually involves placing the beans on a large metal cylinder and blowing hot air into it. Once a bean’s temperature reaches between 431- 449 degrees Fahrenheit ( 220-230 Celsius ) it begins to transform, releasing steam & other gases. Expanding to nearly double it’s original size, yet loosing up to 25% of it’s weight, the beans start to release an awesome aroma as they darken and form a crisp, crumbly outer texture. The beans are then cooled & packaged.
How many ways are there to make coffee? No matter what method you use – the coffee brewing fundamentals remain the same. Water + Grinds = Coffee.
Beyond that, it really comes down to personal preference & how much time you want to dedicate to the ritual. Each method can modify the outcome of your coffee, depending on a few variables…
- Ratio of Coffee to Water
- Temperature of Water
- Duration of Brew
Freshness is first and foremost. The moment your coffee has finished roasting, it’s flavors begin to escape. That’s why it’s important to keep your coffee sealed and wait until the last possible moment before grinding. There are many types of apparatus used for brewing coffee. They range greatly in price, size & shape – with so many options, it will be hard to choose just one! Choosing the right grind type suggested for your brewing method, as some require a finer or more coarse grind. The filter sits between the water and the beans. Filters can be made of paper and should be discarded after each use. Others can be made of plastic or stainless steel and are reusable. The last three factors all have to do with getting the perfect extraction from the bean. Too hot or too long, and you’ll risk ending up with something acidic & flavorless.