During this portion of the training you will learn what coffee is, the history and the basics of how coffee is roasted. The importance of blends and the effect that freshness and water have on the finished shot of espresso will be covered in detail as well.
Coffee is not a bean, it is the seed of a coffee cherry.
While some may think of Italy as the epicenter of the world’s coffee addiction, the world’s most popular drug arrived to Europe fairly late in history. In fact, coffee was born in Ethiopia. Both the arabica and robusta varieties have their origins there. The story of how coffee came to be is, over a millennium ago, a young boy named Kaldi lived with his family in Ethiopia. Kaldi’s job was to tend the goats in the fields. His family was nomadic, moving every few months to a new site in a cycle that had been repeated for generations. One day, Kaldi grew bored of watching the goats and started playing songs on his wooden pipe. Time passed. When Kaldi looked up to check on the goats, they were gone. Kaldi went searching for them, playing his pipe as he walked through the fields and groves of trees. When he finally found his herd, he saw the strangest scene of his life – the goats were dancing. Kaldi thought they were possessed. He watched them for a while and discovered they were eating bright red cherries from bushes with shiny leaves. He ate some of the fruit himself and immediately began dancing with the herd. Later, Kaldi carried samples of this mysterious plant to a local Sufi monastery. After some skepticism, the monks partook of the strange beans. That night, their midnight prayers came easily. The monks stayed up for hours and they soon embraced the consumption of coffee as a vehicle toward mystical visions. The tale of Kaldi is charming, but the only truth within it is that coffee sprung from Ethiopia. It is also likely that the Oromo people, whom Kaldi represents, were among the very first human communities to experience the caffeinated verve of coffee beans.
There are two main types of coffee “beans”: these are Arabica and Robusta. Both grown in the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer which are along the equator. Arabica beans account for about 85% of all of the worlds coffee production. Arabica beans are a high grade coffee that produce excellent flavors and consistent taste. They require more care and attention than Robusta plants. Arabica beans are almost always picked by hand, rather than by machines. When used properly, Arabica beans will produce a higher quality and better flavored coffee than Robusta beans.
Things to remember about Arabica coffee:
- 85% of the world’s coffee production
- Higher-grade specialty coffee
- More distinct flavor characteristics
Robusta beans account for about 15% of the worlds coffee production. We at Java use 5% Robusta in our blend to produce more crema! The Robusta plants are easier to grow, harvest, and are a more durable coffee plant. Robusta beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. Robusta beans are typically used in instant coffees. This would be like the Folgers Instant coffee you see in the grocery store. Robusta beans are used for these types of coffee because of they have a long durable shelf life. They will produce a consistent taste for a longer amount of time. However, the taste is typically subpar compared to the Arabica beans.
Things to remember about Robusta coffee:
- 15% of the world’s coffee production
- Higher caffeine content
- Considered to be a lower-grade commercial coffee
A coffee tree typically takes about 3 to 5 years to mature. A single coffee tree produces between 1 and 6 pounds of coffee per year depending on the variety of coffee tree. Specialty grade Arabica produces around 1 to 2 pounds per year. Once the cherries are harvested and the fruit of the cherry is removed, the green coffee beans are shipped to coffee roasters who roast the beans in a number of different ways in order to produce the finished product of a coffee “bean” that you are used to seeing. At Java Espress, we use our custom made “espresso blend” of coffee beans for brewing espresso. Our espresso blend is a variety of different Arabica coffee beans from around the world that are blended together and roasted to our specifications to produce the flavor profile we selected.
The four main factors affecting your coffee are
- Roast Profile
Blends & Single Origins
Blends are composed of single origin coffees, each bringing unique flavor characteristics. Factors that make each single origin different
- Different Drying Processes
- Soil Content
Because of these inconsistencies and the fact that espresso magnifies them, it’s best to use a blend. A blend is a combination of different coffees paired together. Espresso is almost always a blend because it ensures a:
- Well-balanced flavor
Roasting is the process by which the natural flavors of green coffee are skillfully coaxed from the beans using heat and airflow. The way a coffee is roasted should complement the flavor characteristics of the particular bean. The lighter a coffee is roasted, it will have more acidity, sweeter flavor, and cleaner aftertaste. The darker a coffee is roasted, the more bittersweet flavor is developed, there’s less acidity and more of a lingering aftertaste.
Freshness is affected by two main things:
- Air / Oxygen
Key Fact: For proper storage of your coffee, always make sure it’s in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, cleaning agents, or extreme heat from equipment. Also, NEVER store your coffee in the fridge or freezer. Coffee sealed in a valve bag releases C02 for two to three days after it’s roasted. When sealed, the coffee is ideal when used within two to three weeks. Once the bag is opened, it should be used within seven to ten days.
Espresso is 94% to 95% water while Drip Coffee is about 98% water. Key Fact: The quality of your water not only affects the taste of your espresso, but also prolongs the life of your espresso machine. The brewing temperature of your water should be between 198 °F and 202 °F. Water temperatures above this range can cause Over Extraction: this is when you pull too many flavors from the coffee that are undesirable, resulting in a burnt or bitter taste. Water temperatures below this range can cause Under Extraction; this is when you don’t pull enough of the desirable flavors from the coffee, resulting in a weak and/or sour taste.