While there are several different coffee species, two main species of coffee are cultivated today. The coffee bean plant is a perennial evergreen that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. Because it grows to a moderately sizeable height, it is more correctly described as a coffee tree. The vertical main trunk (orthotropic) and primary, secondary, and tertiary horizontal branches (plagiotropic).
Coffea arabica, known as Arabica coffee, accounts for 75-80 percent of the world's production. Coffea canephora, known as Robusta coffee, accounts for about 20 percent and differs from the Arabica coffees in terms of taste. While Robusta coffee beans are more robust than the Arabica plants, but produces an inferior tasting beverage with a higher caffeine content. Both the Robusta and Arabica coffee plant can grow to heights of 10 meters if not pruned, but producing countries will maintain the coffee plant at a height reasonable for easy harvesting.
The Coffea Arabica coffee plant is a self-pollinating plant, whereas the Robusta coffee plant requires on cross pollination. Three to four years after the coffee is planted, sweet smelling flowers appear, growing in clusters in the axils of the coffee leaves. The coffee bean or cherry will change color from green to red about thirty to thirty five weeks after flowering.
The green coffee seller is responsible for grading coffee beans before sending the coffee to the buyer. Once graded, "Exceptional" and "Specialty" green coffee beans can still have problems that are not necessarily accounted for in coffee grading. These coffee "defects" are less serious, but harm the potential of the coffee. You can tell a great deal about the processing conditions of a coffee by looking at the appearance of the green coffee beans.
Coffee comes from the seeds of the coffee plant. The seeds or the coffee beans undergo a process that prepares them for drinking. The process starts with the coffee cherries being picked from the tree and de-fruited. De-fruiting means the fruit is taken away and only the coffee beans are left. They are then dried and then sorted after which the coffee beans are sometimes aged or roasted directly.
While all green coffee is processed before drinking, the method that is used changes and can have a significant effect on the flavor of roasted and brewed coffee. The raw fruit of the coffee plant (cherry) is turned into the drink we love… coffee. After harvesting the cherry has the fruit or pulp removed leaving the seed or bean which is then dried.
Grade 1: These Are Specialty Grade Coffee Beans: must be free of cup faults and taints. Zero Quakers allowed. Moisture content between 9-13%.no primary defects, 0-3 full defects, sorted with a maximum of 5% above and 5% below specified screen size or range of screen size, and exhibiting a distinct attribute in one or more of the following areas: taste, acidity, body, or aroma.
Grade 2: Premium Grade Coffee Beans: These are the same as Grade 1 except maximum of 3 Quakers. 0-8 full defects.
Grade 3: Exchange Grade Coffee Beans: 50% above screen 15 and less than 5% below screen 15. Max of 5 Quakers. Must be free from faults. 9-23 full defects.
Grade 4: Standard Grade Coffee Beans: Can have 24-86 full defects.
Grade 5: Off Grade Coffee Beans: Can have more than 86 full defects.
Coffee been roasting is a chemical process by which aromatics, acids, and other flavor components are either created, balanced, or altered in a way that should augment the flavor, acidity, aftertaste and body of the coffee as desired by the roaster.
The beans turn dark while going through the roasting process because the sucrose in them is caramelized. Some coffee connoisseurs prefer to do the roasting of the dried beans themselves at their home. Roasting brings out the flavor of the coffee beans because the heat it is exposed to turn carbohydrates and fats into aromatic oils. Roasting also burns off the moisture in the beans and also the carbon dioxide.
Proper coffee been roasting is very important. Every coffee will taste different at different degrees of roasting. A roast will bring out certain nuances that will be favorable to intensify. As there is no scientific way to measure the proper coffee roast degree it is necessary to experiment until you achieve the desired flavors.
After the roasting, coffee beans are typically ground to make them ready for brewing. A Turkish grind is a straightforward process of making coffee where the ground coffee is mixed directly with water. This procedure makes very fine textured ground coffee. Other ways of preparing the ground coffee is using the percolator or coffee maker.
Espresso is made by forcing very hot but not boiling water through compacted ground coffee. A stronger flavor is made and there is more coffee bean matter in the drink. This process results in a stronger flavor so most espresso drinkers use very small cups to consume this.
For those who do not wish to be encumbered by the long process of percolating or making coffee from ground coffee, there are several alternatives. These are pre mixed coffee, available in canned form. Some varieties come already sweetened or already mixed with creamers. Other coffee drinks, which are pre-mixed, come in plastic bottles or cans.
Another quick alternative is to use instant coffee. Instant coffee is coffee granules that have been freeze dried or dried into soluble powder. These powdered coffee forms just need to be mixed with water and other ingredients depending on the drinker’s preference.
Many people like the convenience of just adding the granules to hot water compared to percolating, which may take time.
Some coffee producers also make their roasted coffee decaffeinated. This takes out the caffeine from the coffee beans but still leaves the flavor and aroma.