The first appearance of the coffee plants dates back over a thousand years ago. Due to some studies can be deduced the common tendency to locate in Ethiopia the shrub discovery in the year 858, on the Abyssinians plateau. The nomads used to prepare a drink with a decoction of the fruits picked up on the shrubs. The beverage obtained seemed to do their case, because it was used as an energetic and stimulating remedy. They dried beans to the sun, by grinding them in a coarsely way, and mixing them with the fat, in order to obtain the biscuits easy to carry out during their migrations.
However, the story of the coffee bean would be untold if we ignored the countless legends, result, for some, of real events. The most believable story certainly refers to the Yemeni shepherd named Kaldi. The shepherd decided to leave at daylight looking for the goats whatched, Worried because didn’t get back, he finally found them very excited and full of energy. Intrigued by their strange behavior, he followed them, noting that the goats seemed to enjoy the small fruits of a shrub growing plenty in the country. Kaldi picked up some fruits and he brought it at Chehodet Monastery, where, the monks cooked a decoction with the fuits received. Amazed by the excited beverage effects that kept them awake during prayer vigils, they called this drink “qahwa” in memory of the Persian king Kavus Kai that would be rise by the heaven on a winged chariot.
The Arabian Wine
There are many theories why the coffee plants has reached the Islamic world. The first theory is about the slave traders that kept reveals the beans during the shipments from Ethiopia. However, according to another hypothesis, the Muslims, who every year were travelling from Ethiopia to Mecca would know the coffee through the "happy Arabia" which brought together Saudi Arabia and Yemen.The conversion process of the drink green bean is also very controversial. The stories of the early European botanists reveals, that the Ethiopian residents used to chew raw coffee beans in order to benefit from their stimulating effect. Other documents mention a wine made by the juice’s fermentation of the ripe drupes. This wine, well known “qahwa” in Arabic, is the coffee, and due to the fact that the Koran forbids the use of the exciting drinks then the coffee was called " The Arabian Wine”
The coffee Dawning, was exclusively used as a part of religious ceremonies and also for healing up advice; once the doctors verified the virtues of the drink, they began prescribing it for the treatment of certain diseases. To therapeutic drug untill the XV century, the coffee followed the path from Mecca and reached across Saudi and later Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
Europe discover coffee
During the era of the Renaissance, the horizons widened all at once because of the great discoveries and the conquest attitude, on the surge of well-being because of his beneficial side effects, the West did not take so long to hear about coffee, thanks to traders that encouraged people to taste the Arabic coffee throughout the mediterranean. Since the beginning of the XVII century, the Venetian merchants imported the first coffee, purchased in Cairo: this would be the beginning of a prosperous business for the Middle East, which it will have the monopoly for over a century. At that time, the Ethiopia and Yemen were the exclusive producing countries and the coffee exportation was very controlled, in fact in, every coffe bean that was dispatched by sea was roasted or boiled. The Dutch at that time were longer active on the european markets of Venetian , in fact while the Dutch founded the East India Company, Venetians received the first green coffee.
In France, in Marseilles, the coffee’s promoter was Jean de la Roque in 1644, where the beverage met prejudices by some suspicious people, because of its being too dark color for Christians. At the end the final decision was left to the Pope who was seduced by the drink and silenced all the wrong-minded. The Marseillaises begin suggest the coffee. Now the delicious nectar must only conquer Paris and King Louis XIV . The Turkish ambassador, offered the drink at the Court ; It was too unsweetened for some people ,so they think to add sugar. It is the beginning of the great success of coffee.
The coffee’s metamorphosis
Prior to torrefazione, the coffee is born and is transformed in the tropics around the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Each coffee has its origins, each planting, its processing methods, its quality requirements, its yields and prices.
The coffee plant and its main species
The coffee plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family. It grows thanks to a warm and humid climate under low and middle latitudes. It’s planted protected from strong winds and also repaired from the sunlight because of banana tree natural shadow and others leaf trees planted in proximity. The arbust does not produce any fruit for several years and requires a great care. Providing a careful treatment, the arbust after about 5 years gives its first products and reaches the ripening production in two years, by continuing to offer its result for over 10 years even up to 100 years. It’s not uncommon to find together in one shrub, flowers, green and ripe fruits which give an amazing chromatic ensemble of white, green, and red colors. The coffee plant gives one or two main harvests, sometimes a secondary one, since the seasons change according to species and location. The main species grown are the Arabica Coffee, the Arabica Linnè and the Canephora Pierre Coffee.
• Arabica Linnè Coffee
The Arabica coffee is the most ancient known specie, is grown between 800 and 1,500 meters high, sometimes up to 2,000 meters on the mountain plateus or on the side of vulcanos. It blooms after every rainy season. The fruits become ripen after about nine months. In one year the coffee plant produces less than 5 kg of products which will give only 1 kg of coffee beans. This very special specie exists in Central and South America and even in some African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenia, Zimbabwe and Oceania, all in a high ground areas. Its scented flavor, its mild taste, sometimes fruity and tangy others, gives joy to the estimators. The Arabica coffee accounts the 70% of the worldwide coffee. This specie is most expensive due to its difficulty in growning it. It is more vulnerable to disease, parasites and frost. Among the several types of Arabica coffee, we here mention a few, such as Typica and the Bourbon which are the most famous one, that created other types of coffee such as the Tico, Kent, Moka, Blue Mountain, Mondo Nuevo and Marella.
• Canephora Pierre or Robusta Coffee
The main difference between this specie and the type of “Arabica” besides having a robust appearance, is the price for its superior resistance to hot temperatures and diseases. Currently it is grown all over the tropical area, but the largest quantity is provided from West and Central Africa, South East Asia and Brazil, where the plants grows up to 700 m. Robusta type gives a full-bodied coffee, Strong, tonic, but with a less aromatic fragrance. Not so appreciated as “Arabica” rappresents the 30% of coffee worldwide production. Robusta is commercially used in blends where is enjoyed for its strong flavor. The most common varieties of Robusta coffee are the Cotillion Brazil, the Giavaineac, named Robusta . The life of a coffee plant is around 50 years and its survival is threatened by several deseases and/or parasites, of course without forgetting about the unexpected natural disasters.
The most dangerous desease for the coffee plant is the rust, appeared for the first time in Africa in 1860. In fact, this epidemy had completely destroyed the coffee industry in Ceylon. While Rust is fatal to the plants of “Arabica” for plants of Robusta it is not so, which are richer in caffeine and copper. In fact the Robusta plant is more resistant to disease and that’s the reason why its growing is so fast. Furthermore, threat is made by beetles colonizing the trunks creating galleries and causing massive damage; an additional cause but not less important is the invasion of the red ants and bugs that affect flowers and fruits. A technique to preserve the integrity of the shrub is the hybridization which consists intersecting a variety of sensitive plants, for a disease and / or parasites with another variety of plants naturally resistant; This can reduce the losses, but do not stop the most common scourges in all varieties of coffee.
Harvesting and processing of drupa
The harvest time depends and changes according to the high ground, the plantation and the climate. When the drupes (the drupe or cherry is the fruit of the coffee plant) are ripe they must be immediately harvested, thing not so easy, considering that on the plant we can find fruits with different ripening stages. The pickers proceeds in various ways.
• The picking: this type of process is the most expensive one, it consists in picking the ripe drupes manually and individually according to their ripening stages. The picker is bound within its waist a basket in which lays the fruits. Using this method requires skills and dexterity. The picking frequency in the bushes, changes from country to country: in Kenia 7 picking per year are required. In Giamaica, and for the Blue Mountain, the pickers must pick every time is necessary. Picking allows a more homogeneous harvest.
• The Stripping: the picker holds the branch with two fingers and knocks all the drupes, ripe and not. The return will be good, but the coffee quality will be lowest, because of the difference of the drupes ripening stages. The third method is to go through the branches, with a large special comb with soft teeth that simply detaches the ripe drupes, protecting the green drupe and leaves. Other gathering are done manually in large plantations plain, such as in Brazil. There are machines which gently shake the plant by dropping the ripe drupes that will be collected in large cups.
The coffee drupa
Before reaching the final product, as the coffee bean that is well known to all of us, you have to overcome some steps. Once fertilization is complete the flower of the plant quickly dries and it falls, to give space to the fruit. It looks like a cherry in color and shape. Drupa slowly begins to take its shape and will grow into a period of between eight and twelve months according to their belonging kind. The green color will progressively become a bright red and once riped, grenade. Under the skin lies there is the pulp, whose humidity rate is 70%. After removing the pulp, appear two beans, bonded each other. This two beans are protected by a hard shell: called the pergamino, to reach the green bean duly covered by a very thin film is necessary to proceed to the last process called decortication. Occasionally the coffee plants produce small drupe containing a single bean that is called Caracoli. The Caracoli bean does not have a flat side, and so, is much appreciated by roasters, because there would be much more flavor due to the concentration in a single bean.
The picked drupes are at first selected in order to remove the leaves, vegetable waste and damaged drupes, then it starts the drupes treatment to extract the coffee beans.
• The dry method – the drupes are first divided and then placed in drying areas, letting the sun's heat dry the pulp. Gradually by the evaporating of the water, pectin disappears, obtaining the coffee <pergamino>. It will then moved into a machine that removes the pulp hardened by drupe and also from the permamino, to finally reach the green coffee bean that will be selected, calibrated and bagged.
• The moist method – This method is extremely much expensive because of the material, labor time and water required, but the results obtained are much better then the one obtained with the dry method. The freshly picked drupes are processed in a bobbin winder device whose features is a jet of water that removes the pulp itself; late after are immersed into a large fermentation tanks where the remaining pulps is completely removed. The beans recovered by pergamino, once flushed are smooth and clean. Now only remains to dry them, using the moist method. During the fermentation they must be very careful because an exeeding drying may make them vulnerable, as well as a low drying exposes them to the fermentation, therefore developing of fungi and bacteria. The coffee is then placed in jute bags or sisal, then taking the path of its final destination: the roasting. Without roasting, the coffee does not exist; It’is the primary operation that makes the green bean reaching its final step, through physics and chemistry process, and get the distinctive amber color. In the old Europe and United States the roasters were initially simple handicraft; nowadays, the city roasters toasts coffee once or twice a week. They reverse it into a roasting cylinders, which capacity is approximately 12 kg. The coffee roasting industry use machines which push hot air out on a large quantity of green coffee and regularly toasts them deeply. The roaster is the most delicate operation: its primary effect will generate the coffee fragrance, via complex chemical changes induced by heat.
The method of traditional roasting
The green coffee is introduced into a rotating heated cylinder where the temperature changes between 100 up to 250°C. With its fixed feet, it’s constantly remixed; roasting will last around twenty minutes, according to the desired color. The most critical moment occurs when the beans begin to crackle and getting dark; at this point the man replace the machine and when he believe is the right time, opens the valves. Hot coffee is quickly poured into a cooler, a large horizontal container. The bottom consists of a perforated sheet where it comes out a very powerful breath, that cools the coffee very quickly in order to fix the aromatic substances via a rough condensation. Finally it’s cooled outdoor, and headed toward packaging silos. The slowness of the treatment is considered the only means to preserve the all Arabica coffee refinement, cooking the beans deep to its center. There are two others roasting methods: the one is a very quick method that requires only 10 minutes and the other one faster, that only requires 90 seconds but the coffee quality loses.
Learn about coffee
The major producer countries
Brazil holds undisputed world record by over a century in the coffee production, first as coffee “Arabica” and second of “Robusta” type with its two million hectares of land planted with coffee, especially in the state of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo region. Since 1900, the crisis onset occured because of the overproduction which occasinally leds to destruction of surpluses. Even today, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee with 1,600,000 tons. This is the largest trend prices indicator: a climate catastrophe, as freezing – that occurs every fifteen or twenty years – enough to change the world prices of Coffee Maker. Nowadays the 85% of Brasilian plantations provides Arabica, which represents almost a third of global output. The other countries, where the Arabica is produced are Colombia, second largest producer by 800,000 tons, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras providing the world's most famous coffees. The coffee cultivation is well present in the Antilles: Jamaica, on the slopes of volcano, in Saint John's Peak grows the legendary Blue Mountain. Africa, Ethiopia, Kenia and Zimbabwe holds leading positions among producers of Arabica. Asia is rather dedicated to the cultivation of Robusta, except India, whose Karnataka lands situated in the south-west of the country, produce both Arabica and Robusta. Coffee maker are also remarkable in the Pacific islands, such as Hawaii, or in Papua New Guinea. The biggest producer of Robusta is Indonesia which meets about 20% of world demand. Vietnam, reached latest in coffee growers, in 2000, produced almost 900,000 tons of coffee, worthy of respect, compareble to the coffee produced by its neighbors. Black Africa, usual supplier of Robusta full-bodied, medium quality, became slowly bypassed: the Ivory Coast, Uganda and Cameroon produces coffee at good price, vital to the economic balance of the region; enough to think that coffee is more than 90% of the Uganda trade balance.
The road of fine coffees
Even If the majority consumers are satisfied with ordinary and sometimes subtle blend, among many kinds of coffee surveyed in the world, there are few extraordinary blend , which deserve to be consumed pure. One of this is the Jamaican Blue Mountain, we dare say that is the real “caviar” of the coffee. It was imported from Martinique in 1728 by an english man named Sir Nicholas Lawes. Located in the eastern part of Jamaica island, the Blue Mountain plantation grows at an altitude of 2,000 meters, under the shadow of banana and avocado trees, on a prosperous volcano ground, wich helps the coltivation of the big coffee plants. These conditions explain the qualities of its coffee beans and the reason why the beans are a little bluish, the flavor is finely tangy, fruity aromas and light body. These rare beans are stored in wooden casks of 70 kg each, the only packaging that replace the convetional jute bag. Sice demand exceeds supply - they are produced only 170 tons per year - prices reaches astronomical amounts, not at all deterrent for the Japanese, who, every year, purchase almost 90% of production. Concerning the Kona of the Hawaii, costs at least half of the Jamaican rival, but according to some, would have exceeded the little acid flavor and sweet aroma. In Guatemala is located the San Cristobal, the Antigua, chocolate flavored, and the Coban, acidulous and full-bodied aroma at the same time. In Mexico, however, are grown the Custepec, Altura, Chiapas Tatachula and the Maragogipe, which big beans gives the best perform when they are grown on the slopes which dominate the pacific Ocean. In Costa Rica, which is the paradise of good coffee connoisseurs, grows the Tournon, a full-bodied and fragrant coffee which combining together body and flavor, derived from volcanic land; in Salvador we found the Pacas or otherwise called the Pacamara, and in Nicaragua there is the Patagalpa or the Jinotega. In south America they speak about the supreme virtues of Colombian, a flushed Arabica Bourbon type, taste soft and slightly sour; in Africa, the birthplace of the coffee, recalls the Ethiopia Sidamo with its wild taste, in Kenya, rated AA, by an exorbitant price, acidic and fruity, one of the finest Arabicas in the world.
The work processing into a holding of roasting of both Arabica or Arabica Robusta blends, it’s a a matter of patience and team work, because the aim, is to get a permanently product with a peculiar and constant character. Such as the art of perfume, where the use of the nose is required, also the art of coffee uses taste buds. Each kind of coffee has its own features: harmoniously blending differents type of several flavors and aromas, starting from a pure neutral origin, you will get the desired aroma. Blender will proceed by adding small quantities of coffee, of differents origins, who, will submit to the judgment of tasters, bearing in mind the financial aspect of the future product, so as to achieve the best value for price and taste.
The final blends formula made by the tasters, of course is kept secret, The discretion of production policy is strictly required by the manufacture. However, in order to meet all budgets, will always remain for sale Robusta-Arabica blends, which is less flavored of pure Arabica, always keepping in mind that a good quality blend will always be proposed at a higher price.