history & facts about coffee         

Origin      

According to legend, a goat herder named Kaidi discovered coffee. He noticed that his goats become frisky and danced around the fields after chewing on the berries from certain wild bushes. He tried a few himself, and was soon as overactive as his herd. A monk walked by and scolded him for "partaking of the devil's fruit." However, the monks soon discovered that this fruit could help them stay awake for their prayers and became uncannily alert to divine inspiration.

A second legend tells us that an Arabian named Omar was banished to the desert with his followers to die of starvation. In desperation, Omar had his friends boil and eat the fruit from an unknown plant. The broth saved their lives and the residents of the nearest town, Mocha, took their survival as a religious sign. The plant and its beverage were named Mocha to honor this event.

 

The first drink made from the coffee tree was wine. It was made from coffee cherries, honey, and water. In fact the word coffee has its origins in an old Arabic word "Qahwah", meaning wine. It fell out of favor with the spread of Islam and its sanctions against the consumption of alcohol.

Coffee is indigenous to Kaffa (coffee) region Ethiopia. It was taken to Yeman by the Arabs and cultivated there in the sixth century. The original coffee received its name from the Arabian port ofAl Mukkah (Mocca) on the Red Sea. It became world famous because it was the sole source for theworld's coffee. With the opening of the Suez Canal the port was by-passed for Aden at the tip ofthe Arabian Peninsula. Coffee has not shipped from Mocha in over 100 years. In the 1600's, smugglersbroke the Arabian monopoly in coffee growing. They took seven seeds of unroasted coffee beans from the port of Mocha to the western Ghats of southern India. In the early 1700's, the Dutch began cultivating descendants of the original plants in Java.

Growing & Processing

Coffee beans come from the coffee tree (actually it is a tropical evergreen shrub). It has the potential to grow to 100 feet, however it is kept much shorter for ease of harvest. The leaves look similar to the leaves of a laurel bush and the blossoms have a Jasmine like aroma. The average coffee tree produces an annual yield of 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of roasted coffee. It takes about 4,000 handpicked green coffee beans tomake a pound of coffee.

Coffee beans are really seeds or pits of the fruit called coffee cherries. These cherries are plump and  red in colour. They look like the cherries we eat, except each cherry normally contains two beans and there is less fruit pulp. An exception is the pea berry, which only grows one bean to a cherry.

The coffee cherry has a thin skin with a slightly bitter flavour. Next, comes the fruit, which has a texture similar to a grape and taste quite sweet. The bean is protected by a parchment, which is covered with a slimy layer of mucilage. The coffee bean is bluish green in colour and is coated with a thin layer called the silver skin.

 

Growing Regions

The tree grows in tropical regions, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which have abundant rainfall, year round warm temperatures averaging 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and no frost. It grows at altitudes ranging from sea level to 6,500 feet and above. It takes about five years for a coffee tree to bear its first full crop of beans. It will then be productive for about fifteen years.Growing coffee plants is difficult as the soil warmth is a critical factor, with the optimum temperature hovering at 27.7 degrees Celsius. Propagating the plant through cuttings is equally difficult and requires the maximum of light plus a humidity reading of close to 90%. Rooting can easily take three or four months.    

 

Coffee must be picked by hand, a process that takes from three to four visits per tree each year. This is because coffee cherries do not ripen at the same time. A branch of a tree might simultaneously bear blossoms, green fruit, and ripe cherries. A good picker can pick about 200 pounds of coffee cherries in one day. This equals about 50 pounds of green coffee beans or 39 pounds of roasted coffee. Once the coffee cherries have been picked, the beans must be removed from them. Three methods may be used in the extraction process.

Processing

The Wet Method or Washed Coffee - This is used in regions where there is a plentiful supply of fresh water. A machine first strips away the outer layers of skin and fruity pulp. The beans, still enclosed in a sticky inner pulp and parchment wrapper, are soaked for 24 to 72 hours in fermentation tanks.

This loosens the remaining pulp through a series of enzymatic reactions, which is then washed away. Time in the fermentation tanks is critical, as too much or too little time will harm the beans. These coffees will generally have a higher acidity and cleaner flavours than their dry cousins.

The Dry or Natural Method - The cherries are allowed to dry on the tree or are laid out to dry in the sun for three to four weeks. When the pulp has dried, a hulling machine strips away the outer skin and pulp.

Although the beans are not always consistent in quality, the acidity of the beans is reduced and the body and earthy flavor is increased. Producing high quality coffee with the dry method is challenging because the beans are exposed to climatic conditions during the drying process. Some of the dry method coffees are Sumatra, Ethiopia Harrar, and Yemen. 

Semi-washed Method - In Sulawesi, the coffee cherries are washed and sorted as in the washed method,but are not placed in fermentation tanks. Instead they are set out to dry. Sulawesi coffees are a bit more cleaner and smoother than their Sumatra cousins.

After the wet or dry process, a mill removes any remaining parchment and the silverskin - a thin covering that clings to the bean.

Roasting

While roasting coffee in a large commercial company is simply science, specialty roasters use both art and science to achieve the ultimate roast. Specialty coffee is roasted in small batches. The green coffee beans are placed in a hopper, which pours them into a rotating drum located on the inside of a roaster.

The roaster is pre-heated to around 400 degrees F. by gas flames. It is kind of a cross between a hot-air popcorn popper and a clothes dryer. After five to seven minutes the beans turn yellow, indicating that they have lost about 12% of their moisture. Now they begin to make a crackling noise that reminds you of popcorn popping. They are actually popping open, which causes them to double in size.

Since each variety and lot of beans requires a different roast length, consistent rapid-firing samples of the beans are taken during the roasting process. This is done by using a trier - a spoon-like prong that pulls samples of coffee from the roaster.

Roast master’s uses smell, sound, and sight to determine when the type of roast they want has been achieved. After about seven to nine minutes the beans “pop” and double in size, and light roasting is achieved, mass-market roasters typically stop here.

At ten to twelve minutes the beans reach this roast, After 12 to 20 minutes, depending upon the type of bean and roasting equipment, the beans begin hissing and popping again, and oils rise to the surface.

Just before the beans reach their optimum color, they are released into a large metal pan called a cooling tray. Roasters generally remove the beans at this point. Large fans air-cool the coffee to room temperature in about four minutes. During this time period the coffee will darken one final shade.

The major time lengths of roasting are:

Commercial coffee makers roast their coffee for a short period of time, about 8 or 9 minutes...it saves money...in labor, fuel, and only 10% to 14% of the weight is lost during roasting as compared to 18% to 25% for specialty roasters. Also, the soft beans of lesser-quality beans would burn up if left in the roasterlonger. This is called a cinnamon roast for the color of the beans. The green flavors of the under-roasted beans predominate and the full flavor complexities are not developed.

Commercial coffees typically use a blend of lower quality Arabica and Robusta beans.

Aliases: light, half city, New England, institutional. Flavor: Light-bodied and some what sour, grassy, and snappy. Specialty roasters use a city roast, where the coffee is roasted from 10 to 11 minutes. The color of the coffee becomes an even, light brown this is used by most specialty coffee companies. Aliases: medium, American, regular, breakfast, brown. Flavor: A bit sweeter than light roast; full body balanced by acid snap, aroma, and complexity.

Some specialty roasters use a longer period of roasting, from 11 to 15 minutes, called a full city roast.

The beans turn a rich chestnut brown with this type of roast. This allows the full flavor potential of the bean to be reached. Aliases: dark, high, Viennese, Continental. Flavor: Somewhat spicy complexity is traded for rich chocolaty body, aroma is exchanged for sweetness.

Two other roasts are the Italian roast and the French roast; where the color of the beans goes from a chocolate brown to nearly black respectively. In a French roast, you mainly taste the roast, not the bean. The roast period can go as high as twenty-two minutes. Flavor: Smokey. Roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide. Most of it is released within the first few hours. At this time, oxygen cannot harm the coffee. This is because the pressure of the carbon dioxide being released from the bean is greater than the air pressure around it. Once the rate of the carbon dioxide being released begins to decay then the pressure drops, which allows flavor-robbing oxygen to attack the bean. Oxygen is one of the worst enemies of coffee...it is what causes it to go stale. Quality roasters either produce small batches and ship them right away, or package them immediately in air tight bags that have one-way-valves (sometimes called belly-buttons) which allow the remaining carbon dioxide to escape, but do not allow oxygen to enter. The coffee can also be placed in hoppers that are pumped full with nitrogen gas to replace the oxygen. The nitrogen gas is inert, so it does no harm to the roasted coffee beans. The coffee can then be allowed to sit for six to eight hours to allow the majority of the carbon dioxide to be released before being packaged.

 

There are two other elements that are harmful to roasted coffee:

 

Ř   Light - Always store the coffee in an airtight container that cannot be reached by light. If it is a clear glass container, then put it in cupboard. 

Ř   Moisture - Store coffee in a cool dry place.

Interesting Facts

·     In the 17th Century, the first coffee house opened in London. These coffee houses became known as "penny universities" because a person could buy a cup of coffee for 1 cent and learn more at the coffee house than in class! The London Stock Exchange grew from one of these coffee houses.

.     In 1686 the first cafe serving coffee is opened in Paris - Le Procope...it is still in business today!

·     In 1909 the first instant coffee was produced.

·     Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels outlawed alcohol on board ships. He ordered coffee become

      the beverage of  service on the ships, hence the term "Cup of Joe."

 

·     Because sailors are generally cold, they wanted their coffee hot. The term hot cup of Joe was

      used, then it was shorten to hot Joe, then hojo.

 

·    Europe was cut off during war time and Napoleon's countrymen had to drink chicory instead of coffee. Chicory does     not have caffeine - probably why he lost at Waterloo because his soldiers were not wide awake enough to win.

 

·    Coffee was once believed by some Christians to be the devil's drink. When Pope Vincent III heard about this he decided to taste it before banishing it...he enjoyed it so much he baptized it, saying "Coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it."

 

·     In 1475 a Turkish law was enacted that made it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee.

 

·     In 1732 Johann Sebastian Bach composed his Kaffee-Kantate. Partly an ode to coffee and partly a stab at the movement in Germany to prevent women from drinking coffee as it was thought to make them sterile. "Ah! How sweet coffee taste! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee."

Introduction to Preparation of Coffee Production

Coffee being the second largest export in the world brings with it a massive amount of products equipment, and knowledge. This leads to varying styles of coffee making procedures and terminology. Like with most products and services in today’s competitive market place, coffee making has evolved, bringing with it vastly improved techniques and methods. Espresso machines vary in size, shape, brands and especially quality of design and performance. The use of espresso machines depends on the demand of coffee making from either home use, or to busy café’s and restaurants etc. As with many hands on work environments, practice will ultimately make perfect. The demands of a particular establishment will also test the all round ability to produce and handle the pressure and demands of a coffee maker.

The barista, which is the term used of a person who is an expert in espresso coffee production and service. The barista will provide top quality coffee production at all times with no exceptions. This starts from setting up and maintaining  the espresso machine, selecting quality coffee beans, grinding the coffee bean to the exact particle size for extraction, milk texturing and presentation. Every aspect of the coffee making process must be at the highest level of quality and accuracy at all times, there are no exceptions to the rule.

The coffee culture in today’s market place has hit unprecedented levels. Customer awareness through media exposure has resulted in customers seeking out the best cafes. Competition for the market share has led a wide interest in further education for the cafe, coffee maker and especially the accredited barista.

A FEW POINTS TO REMEMBER

1. All coffee cups and latte glasses must be pre-heated before each use for optimum final delivery temperature.   

2. All ways leave group handle locked in group head after use. This will keep the handle at the correct temperate.  

3. Wipe porter filter basket with a dry clean cloth before each use. This will wipe the oils around the filter acting as a pre- seasoning to increase overall flavor properties.  

                                          

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