What is Coffee:
Coffee is a widely consumed beverage prepared from the
roasted seeds commonly referred to as beans of the coffee
plant. Though sometimes served cold, it is typically served hot.
A typical 7 fluid ounce cup of coffee contains 80-140 milligrams
of caffeine, depending on the bean and method of
roasting and preparation. Some people drink coffee "black"
(plain), others sweeten their coffee or add milk, cream or non-dairy
creamer. The majority of all caffeine consumed worldwide comes from
coffee, as much as 85% in some countries. Coffee, along with tea
and water, is one of the most popular beverages world-wide, its volume
amounting to about a third of that of tap water in North America and
Europe. In 2003, coffee was the world's sixth largest agricultural
export in value, behind wheat, maize, soybeans, palm oil and sugar.
The English word "coffee" is believed to be derived ultimately from
the Arabic word qahhwa; it is called bunn or bunna in Ethiopia in
Amharic and bunni in Tigrinya, and other variations on the original
bunn in other languages. Coffee's Arabic name, qahwa, is a truncation
of qahwat al-bunn, or wine of the bean. Traditional Islam prohibited
the use of alcohol as a beverage, and coffee proved to be a suitable
The Arabic qahhwa was borrowed by Ottoman Turkish as kahve, which
in turn was borrowed into Italian as caffè with French, Portuguese and
Spanish as café. Early forms date back to the last decade of the
16th century, but the word "coffee" itself did not come into use until
the early to mid 1600s.
History of coffee:
The history of coffee can be traced to at
least as early as the 9th century, when it
appeared in the highlands of Ethiopia, from
which it spread to Egypt and Yemen, and by
the fifteenth century had reached Persia, Turkey,
and northern Africa.
From the Muslim world, coffee spread to Europe,
and became popular there during the seventeenth
century. The Dutch were the first to import it
large-scale into Europe, and eventually smuggled in
some seedlings in 1690, defying the Arab prohibition
on exporting the plants or unroasted seeds. The
Dutch later grew the crop in their colony of Java.
In 1538, Leonhard Rauwolf, a German physician,
after returning from a ten-year trip to the Near East,
gave this description of coffee:
"A beverage as black as ink, useful against
numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach.
Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly,
in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which
each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the
fruit from a bush called bunnu."
When coffee reached the American colonies, it was
initially not as successful as it had been in Europe,
as colonists found it a poor substitute for alcohol.
However, during the Revolutionary War, the demand for
coffee increased so much that dealers had to hoard their
scarce supplies and raise prices dramatically; this was
partly owing to the reduced availability of tea from British
merchants. After the War of 1812, in which Britain had
temporarily cut off access to tea imports, the Americans'
taste for coffee grew during the early nineteenth century,
and high demand during the American Civil War together with
the advancements of brewing technology secured the position
of coffee as an everyday commodity in the United States.
Today coffee is a common beverage of the North American
breakfast and morning commute.
There are two main species of the coffee plant,
the older one being Coffea arabica. Coffee is
thought to be indigenous to south-western Ethiopia,
specifically from Kaffa, from which it may have
acquired its name. While more susceptible to disease,
it is considered by most to taste better than the
second species, Coffea canephora (robusta). Robusta,
which contains about 40-50% more caffeine,
can be cultivated in environments where arabica
will not thrive and probably originated in Uganda.
For this reason it is used as an inexpensive substitute
for arabica in many commercial coffee blends. Compared to
arabica, robusta tends to be bitter and has little
flavor, with a telltale "burnt rubber" or "wet cardboard"
aroma and flavor. Good quality robustas are used in some
espresso blends to provide a better "crema" (foamy head),
and to lower the ingredient cost. In Italy, many espresso
blends are based on dark-roasted robusta. The large
industrial roasters use a steam treatment process to
remove undesirable flavors from robusta beans for use
in mass-marketed coffee blends. Other species include
Coffea liberica and Coffea esliaca, believed to be indigenous
to Liberia and southern Sudan respectively.
Arabica coffees were traditionally named by the port
from which they were exported, the two oldest being Mocha,
from Yemen, and Java, from Indonesia. The modern coffee trade
is much more specific about origin, labeling coffees by
country, region, and sometimes even the producing estate.
Varietal is a botanical term denoting a taxonomic category
ranking below species, a designation more specific than
arabica or robusta and unrelated to the coffee's place of
origin. Coffees consisting entirely of beans from a single
varietal, bourbon, for example, are generally so referred
to, with a reference to their place of origin (as in:
Rwanda Blue Bourbon). Coffee aficionados may even distinguish
auctioned coffees by lot number.
Most arabica coffee beans originate from one of three growing
regions; Latin America, East Africa/Arabia and Asia/Pacific.
Beans from different countries or regions usually have
distinctive characteristics such as flavour (flavour criteria
include terms such as "citrus-like" or "earthy"), aroma
(sometimes "berry-like" or "flowery"), body or mouthfeel,
and acidity. Acidity refers to a tangy or clean-tasting quality,
typically present in washed or wet processed coffees. It does not
refer to a coffee's pH level. (Black coffee has a pH of around 5).
These distinguishing taste characteristics are dependent not only
on the coffee's growing region, but also on its method of process
and genetic subspecies or varietal.
A peaberry, (also sometimes called a "Caracoli" bean) is a coffee
bean that develops singly inside the coffee cherry instead of the
usual pair of beans. This situation occurs 5-10% of the time.
Since flavour is concentrated when only a single bean is grown
inside the cherry, these beans (especially Arabica) are highly