The idea of coffee has been around for centuries, many people drink it to date, and it has become a personal experience for every individual.
Understanding this one thing that nature has provided us, helps you to appreciate what you have in that mug in front of you, or in any coffee shop or roastery you walk into, not to mention gives you a better idea of what to buy to suit your needs.
Taking a step back, and paying heed to the history of coffee, maybe a good place to start.
The Heritage of Coffee
The coffee that we drink almost daily, has a very rich heritage, it is grown worldwide and has its roots dating back to the ancient forest of Ethiopia. From an erotic stimulant to a spiritual anecdote, it was first discovered in the 17th century.
From the legend of ‘Kaldi’ to throwing berries into a fire that filled rooms up with an intoxicating aroma, the roasted beans were harvested, ground up into a powder and mixed with hot water to create what we know today as the popular brew. Click here to read a few fascinating facts about it.
Some may agree that drinking a hot cup of jo is a personal experience and depends on an individual’s taste and preference. There are many different strengths of coffee that many may not know about. From the strongest to the weakest. We touch on this briefly below.
The Many Types of Coffee
Every cup has its unique flavor and strength. The number we see on bags on the shelves of seller’s stores ranges from 1 to 5 but this does not necessarily dictate how strong it is. In some cases, you can also find versions that go up to a 7. Although these numbers describe how dark the beans are roasted they do not define the amount of caffeine in them but rather the type of roast it is.
Depending on the processing methods, the range goes from light roast to dark roasts, as per below:
Light: in many countries is it also known as “blonde”, “cinnamon”, or “City”, and can be anything from a light to a light medium. They mainly taste fruity and have slightly rich flavors and aromas. Some may think that these varieties taste more bitter than sweet. It also depends on the quality of the specialty, and the higher the quality, the more complex the taste.
Dark: this can be anything from the “Light French”, “Italian”, to the “Vienna” or “Full French” and are comprised of a much darker roast. Again, the darkness will depend on the processing methods.
Medium: this is also referred to as a “Full City”, and is slightly darker than the medium. It is an in-between variety that is not too dark, nor is it too light.
The darkest is possibly the Espresso coffee.
Taking all this into consideration, there are now more than 20 different types of coffees that are found in shops and cafes, including black, cappuccino, latte, espresso, americano, red-eye, doppio, cortado, galao, mocha, flat white, affogato, frappe, lungo, macchiato, Irish and café au lait, which is the more commonly known ones. Recipes on how to make each of these and more can be found here.
Roasting Coffee and How to Extend the Life of Yours
As you can see the roasting methods pretty much determine the outcome in most cases. Because it transforms the physical and chemical process of the brew it is what is responsible for producing the rich tastes and varieties of different tastes.
The unroasted beans mostly contain higher levels of acids, caffeine, sugars and proteins in comparison to those that have been thrown into the fire. In the world, the large majority of it is found commercially and treated on a large scale, ensuring the freshness is maintained as much as possible from the factory to the shelf.
Common roasting methods are typically performed using the green beans which are dried and then processed and heated at high temperatures of between 180 to 250 °C (356 to 482 °F), for up to 20 minutes in some cases. This is what determines the dark, light and medium outcomes, as mentioned above.
The method releases carbon monoxide, steam and carbon dioxide. You would also get the decaffeinated versions which are done through a chemical process. This removes any residues of solvents. The process also helps to lessen the weight of the beans and give them their rich shades of dark brown to light brown. If done too long, it can risk hindering the aroma and flavors.
Some of the ancient methods of this are still practiced by a few companies and this involves the use of a metal cylinder, containing the product and rotated on top of a source of heat such as charcoal, electricity or gas stoves.
The rotating action makes sure all the beans are heated evenly. Once everything is done, it is cooled via a stirring method or a blower propeller and separated according to the different types i.e. light, medium, dark and others. It is then bagged and shipped to the relevant sellers and cafes.
If you want to extend the shelf life of yours, it will need proper storage in the right temperatures as well as the packaging which is also an important factor. The optimum environment entails keeping it away from light, heat or oxygen.
The typical shelf life is 2 weeks for most roasted coffees and only 15 minutes for ground, and if a preservation method is not included, it risks becoming stale, and you can tell this by the taste and smell when preparing it.
Specialty coffees are usually packed in a vacuum-packed bag which is then de-gassed over a few days before it is opened and used. Those who are keen on getting their hands on some of the best brands such as this one view website can opt for a monthly subscription so you never run out.
These are usually sourced from many different countries including America, Asia, Africa, with different types of blends to choose from. So, there you have it, some quick knowledge about that cup of jo you drink every morning to slip into your next coffee shop endeavor.
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